An elegant young woman struggles her way out of a horrific accident and finds herself in a strange world. Thus begins the new graphic novel by Frederik Peeters, “Pachyderme,” published by SelfMadeHero. Peeters borrows from David Lynch’s dreamlike narrative style, specifically his landmark film, “Mulholland Drive,” and creates something wholly original and worthy of comparison. It’s not your typical reference. It’s more of a tapping into a similar wavelength or molding from the same clay.
In “Pachyderme,” Peeters starts with a similar jumping off point to “Mulholland Drive.” Peteers’s female character is caught in a traffic jam caused by the death of an elephant. Lynch’s female character is in a limo, about to be shot by some mobsters, when some joyriders crash onto the scene.
Peeters plays with the role of the main character by giving it over to this woman while Lynch sets his sights more askew. Peeters has his character, Carice, take over the journey that lays ahead while Lynch has his similar character, Rita, step back and let another character dominate. Peteer’s Carice bears a striking resemblance to Lynch’s Rita and that adds to the sense of everything emerging from a dream.
Carice has far more control over her life than Rita and, as we proceed, we see her will tested to its limits. Carice has a clear goal in mind: to find her husband who is in hospital after suffering an accident of his own. We don’t know exactly what happened to him except that Carice is trying to reach him. Due to the traffic jam caused by the elephant, it takes Carice a while to reach the hospital on foot. And, once there, her nightmare begins. Just recall your last hospital visit and then add noir intrigue and the surreal and you have entered the world of “Pachyderme.”
There is a satisfying bite to this story immersed in the fevered Cold War. Is the man in the little top hat and trench coat, with the penis-shaped nose, to be trusted at all? That is the sort of question that Carice must confront. She must also confront a number of other characters, including herself, all in fear of something yet unformed.
If you gave one hundred cartoonists the assignment of somehow riffing on David Lynch and going on to create their own mesmerizing work, you would get a lot of interesting results, no doubt. Let “Pachyderme” lead the way. This 88-page full color graphic novel is a keeper you’ll enjoy with every new read.
Drawn in a very confident and fluid style, the artwork of Frederik Peeters is a joy to behold. He is truly a remarkable artist/writer. It was a real treat to review his “Sandcastle” recently. You can read that here. And you can visit him here. “Pachyderme” is available starting in October, 2013. Visit our dear friends at SelfMadeHero here.