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Graphic Novel Review 327/365: park bench

Please keep up with all of my old Graphic Novel Reviews here as I quest for 365 in 365 days! Or search #GN365 on Twitter.

I was going to get back to finishing my 52 Free Comic Book Day issues after yesterday’s review of the film Hereditary, but I have so many good graphic novels stacking up on my shelf, I decided to keep the issues in the back seat for a while and dig in to some longer stories.

Hope you don’t mind!  I know you won’t; these next couple of books are great!

Title: park bench  

Author(s): Christophe Chaboute

Publisher: Gallery 13/Simon and Schuster (2012/2017)

Age Rating: 13+

I am in love with the works of Chaboute!  Whether it’s in the middle of the ocean (Moby Dick), middle of a light house (Alone), or middle of a public park (park bench), Chaboute is a master of finding beautiful minutia in specific locales.

park bench is a masterful work of graphic fiction with no words.  We follow the wonderful life of a park bench in a bustling park over the course of years.  We have recurring characters, and with only minimal appearances and no dialogue, Chaboute finds the humanity in slight glances, raised eyebrows, body language, and a dog’s willingness to take a pee.

Very large black and white panels, often with no border or background, help us focus on the moment of each page.  We are placed in the scene with our park bench, and we are forced to relate in human ways to the events that pass through the life of this bench.

I spent a good number of my teen years hanging out at Owens Park.  It was my neighborhood park.  We played basketball, baseball, flew kites, laughed, fought…almost daily at Owens Park.  We’d even shovel the basketball court in the winter, and we supplied the nets for the hoop.  There was an awning-covered picnic bench in the middle of the park, and my friends and I would sit there for hours, laughing, carving, drawing.  And when the rain came, that small metal awning kept our haven nice and dry while we’d sit there and listen to the rain dance on metal, often creating a sound that was deafening.  We would stick out or hands and catch the stream of water as it fell from the roof.

Then the sun would come out, and it’d get humid as hell.  And we’d go play more basketball.

Those are the moments I’m reminded of when I let myself fall into park bench.  We all have different experiences with public, nature settings.  From zoos, to trails, to Owens Park…park bench not only reminds us of the little things that make us human, it reminds us of times in our own lives that we’d like to go back to, are currently experiencing, or will experience.  It’s an absolutely beautiful book, and I hope you love it as much as I do.

Gallery 13, let me blurb on the back of his next book!

Happy reading!

Eric

Twitter: @comics_teacher

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