‘night animals’ (pamphlet)
Resting somewhere between Little Nemo and Little Ego, Brecht Evens’ Night Animals is a wordless investigation into love, lust, and beyond our control animal-brain sexuality. It isn’t saying anything different than The Wrong Place and it is equally amused by silly human behavior, but by occupying a fairy tale/nightmare milieu instead of something regular and urbane, it sneaks out of played-out alt-comix territory and becomes weirdly universal.
The first story, “Blind Date,” is the fun adventurous cutesy one, with a dumpy guy dressing up like a rabbit and going on an extended, meandering adventure to meet but basically fuck an equally dumpy girl. In between, he’s leered at by hard-asses in a bar, pecked by birds, gets his flowers stolen by a giant rabbit, and stares at the rabbit’s butthole. There’s plenty of birth canal imagery (he goes through a toilet, then a dirty sewer, then underwater, and then underground) and menace is never far away. It’s almost a screwball comedy though a tad darker (think Scorsese’s After Hours or even, Kyle Baker’s I Die At Midnight) and ultimately, it’s about doin’ it. Evens employs motion arrows throughout the comic and the final panel features an arrow pointing to the girl’s crotch, telling readers that’s where the comic and main character’s been headed since the start. Think: Where The Wild Things Are rubbing elbows with a Craigslist hook-up.
“Bad Friends,” the more interesting and complex story, is a surreal look into menstruation and maturation: A girl has her period and runs back to her house. Once there, she’s picked up by a beast and taken to the woods to party in the woods. What begins as wild fun soon gets sexual and that’s cool too, but then it ends as a gang-rape. Tastefully, Evens doesn’t draw the violation, but bounces right from a page of all the animals circling the girl to a two-page spread of the empty woods the next day. It’s haunting. The “trick” here is how Evens’ art, cutesy and dashed-off in way that communicates twee innocence, is employed to investigate some really dark, ugly things. Namely, the precarious balance between pleasure and pain and the exciting, awful feeling of being nearly out of control.