Graphic Novel from Peeters and Phang Smells Like a Western | Xpress Reviews

Week ending December 5, 2018

Peeters, Frederik & Loo Hui Phang. The Smell of Starving Boys. SelfMadeHero: Abrams. 2017. 112p. ISBN 9781910593400. $29.99. F
Peeters has written several critically acclaimed graphic novels, ranging from autobiography to mystery to sf. Regardless of the genre, they all feature barren landscapes, surrealist overtones, and multifaceted characters struggling to come to terms with their pasts. This latest work, cowritten with French creator Phang, explores another genre using this signature style, the Western. Set in Texas after the Civil War, it tells the story of an exploratory expedition of three adventurers. Stingley is a geologist with high ideals; Oscar Forrest is a photographer with a complicated past; and Milton is their young assistant who is more than he seems. As they travel across the landscape, they face numerous threats: from the terrain itself, the Comanche, and one another. With sublime artwork showcasing expansive views, gripping action sequences, and quiet moments of character study, it sets the time and place as well as the protagonists’ unsettled moods. Although the figures are stiff, careful attention to historical details is evident.
Verdict For fans of Peeters’s work (Blue Pills; Aâma; Sandcastle) and unusual graphic novels.—E.W. Genovese, Andrew Bayne Memorial Lib., Pittsburgh

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