The Smell of Starving Boys

Frederik Peeters and Loo Hui Phang, trans. from the French by Edward Gauvin. SelfMadeHero, $29.99 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-910593-40-0
In this stunning graphic novel, the familiar setting of the American West is transformed into a fantasy landscape drenched in rich color and detail. It’s the waning days of the Wild West, and a trio heads out for the territories west of the Mississippi to photograph and document the land and people before they change irrevocably. Stingley is a big-talking opportunist with dreams of constructing an industrialized utopia; Oscar is a winsome photographer drummed out of polite society for running spiritualist scams and sleeping with men; Milton is a fresh-faced farm boy with some secrets held close to the vest. Together in the wilderness, they awaken hostile forces—embattled Comanche troops, a relentless bounty hunter, mustang stampedes, ghosts, and things even stranger than phantoms, like horses drained of blood. As the characters surrender to the dizzying “horizontal vertigo” of the frontier, the lines between man and woman, human and nature, living and dead blur, but Peeters’s stunning clear-line art remains as unflinchingly crisp and honest as a photograph. Peeters is already well known to European comics followers, but this richly drawn epic will appeal to broader readers, too. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/2018
Release date: 12/01/2017
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