I don’t suspect that Night Animals is the sort of book that many libraries will be adding to their collections. At 48 pages it’s barely more than a standard pamphlet, and would get lost in most library’s graphic novel collections. But it is a a visually interesting (if slight) sexual phantasmagoria that fans of arty comics might want to take a look at.
The book consists of two short, wordless stories by Belgian cartoonist Brecht Evens. In the first, a man puts on a bunny suit while waiting for a blind date. He is apparently stood up, but in his disappointment notices a set of glowing arrows which lead him on an odyssey through subterranean caverns haunted by strange creatures, to a cute (if not really surprising) resolution. The second story provides a dark twist on Where the Wild Things Are; a young girl gets her first period at school and runs home humiliated. She disappears from her room, swept away by monsters to a wild bacchanal where she is stripped of her clothes, parties the night away… and apparently meets an ominous end.
Both these stories are beautifully drawn. Evens’ art displays crisp line work and an intriguing use of color which causes pages to practically glow. Similarly, the character and creature designs offer many beautiful details, and his cluttered compositions contain countless dark corners to explore. However, I wish that the stories had more to offer. The first is little more than a well-designed joke and the second, which is at least haunting enough to leave an impression on the reader, doesn’t really seem to have much to say about the themes of adolescent sexuality that it brings up, outside of offering a bleak view of puberty that it does little to justify. It is very pretty though, and makes me want to see more from this clearly talented artist.
Top Shelf, 2011