Incidents in the Night by David B

Here is the blurb for David B’s new book:

“In Incidents in the Night David B. sets out to explore the uncharted territories of overflowing and dusty shelves of Paris’ legendary book shops. His journey quickly turns into an obsessive vision quest in pursuit of a mysterious nineteenth-century journal: Incidents In the Night. Mountains of books become sites of archeological digs as the author excavates layers of myth, fact and fiction in search of the elusive thread that links them all. Along the way he stumbles on fanatical Bonapartists, occult conspiracies and the angel of death. Incidents in the Night is an intricate, ever-expanding web of dream and reality exquisitely translated by Brian Evenson.

David B. is one of France’s finest cartoonists and one of the co-founders of the legendary L’Association collective. He is the author of many books: The Armed Garden and Noctural Conspiracies, among many others. Epileptic was was awarded Angoulême International Comics Festival Prize for Scenario and the Ignatz Award for Outstanding Artist.”

I’ve been a huge fan of David B’s comics since I first read Epileptic a few years back, and I think this new title is my favorite of his so far.  I really like the surreal nature of Jorge Luis Borges’s stories, and David B’s comics often share the same fascination with dreams and labyrinths.  This book in particular takes a very dreamlike, scholarship-as-labyrinth, style of storytelling, and simultaneously remixes it with a textbook on the history of religions and a pulpy crime novel.  It’s a very strange story, but it’s very captivating.

What I love most about David B’s comics is the way he is able to create such metaphor-rich visuals.  Every panel of his features some interesting iconic juxtapositions done up in a noir-ish flavor, and this particular book offers a very surreal, yet sophisticated aesthetic.  Each drawing clearly presents his technical proficiency, yet his lines are executed with a shaky rhythm that kind of reminds me of the older Peanuts comics from Charles Schultz, and I think this little suggestion of sloppiness gives the dreamlike imagery its authenticity.  All of my dreams are fuzzy and often difficult to remember, so it seems to me that this story would be interpreted very differently if done up with very sleek line work.

In the translator’s afterword to the book, Brian Evenson writes: “David B. understands that subconsciously we search books for magics that help us avoid being confronted by our own mortality, and he has made this the conscious subject of Incidents in the Night.  Other writers have done this, but few have done it so well.  David B does it both with words and images, and does it marvelously and with great impact.”

Check this title out and see if David B’s book was successful in saving him from being forgotten.

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