Over the last few years, comics artist Frederik Peeters has proved that he can turn his remarkable talent to any subject whatsoever, from autobiography (Blue Pills), through surrealism (Sandcastle, Pachyderme), to high science fiction (Aama). Now, in a collaboration with the writer Loo Hui Phang, he reinvents another genre: the Western.
Phang is an experienced comics writer whose own wide-ranging career has seen her produce plays, films, performances and installations, and collaborate with illustrators from Blexbolex to Ludovic Debeurme.
In The Smell of Starving Boys, Phang crafts an intense and philosophical Western that explores the clash between two worlds: one defined by rationality and technology, the other by shamanism and nature.
Set in post-Civil War America, the book follows an expedition led by the geologist Stingley, who is looking to capitalise on “unclaimed” land to the west of the Mississippi. As they enter the native Comanches’ last bastion of resistance, the boundaries between the “civilised” and the natural worlds begin to blur, social conventions dissolve and an ambiguous relationship burgeons between Stingley’s travelling companions, the photographer Oscar Forrest and the young assistant Milton.
Intrigued? An extract from the book can be read courtesy of Broken Frontier.