The Wrong Place is a snapshot of life, albeit a rather contrived one, told in an acerbic and witty tone accompanied by a beautiful wave of watercolour artwork. The graphic novel is a story of loneliness and awkwardness, perhaps even the human need to ‘fit in’. There are essentially three stories within the pages, one of Gary the plain friend of sexual dynamo, Robbie. Then there’s Naomi, a girl so desperate for a confidence boost she gives herself to Robbie in a drunken indulgence and lastly, Robbie himself as he lives the highlife surrounded by those who worship him.
Robbie is one of those guys that get all of the girls. Everyone loves him, women want to be with him and men want to be him. He is the life of the party and overshadows everyone around him, much to Gary’s dismay. The awkwardness of the characters jumps off of each page, through both the art and the dialogue. The novel opens with perhaps the most cringeworthy moment of Gary throwing a house party and everyone asking where Robbie is, ultimately leading Gary to try to impress his friends.
Then comes Naomi who seems desperate to be loved and wants nothing more than a companion in life. Sadly she goes about it entirely the wrong way by jumping into bed with Robbie after being swayed by his glamorous night life. On face value there is very little in the way of depth to these stories, but that’s mostly because we as the audience can easily fill in the blanks. We know what happens to a heart that is lonely, we know that Naomi will wake up alone and we know that Gary will soon learn to live his own life. Having said that the story is still rather basic, though it captures modern life and conversation brilliantly.
One thing is for sure, the artwork is sublime. The transparency of watercolour lends itself brilliantly to each scene and of course the medium works well in both bright and bold colouring, but also melancholy settings. Evens’ art style is lovely and moves through different styles as the story progresses. This is seen best in the sex scene in the middle of the book, which starts with wonderful bold sweeps of the brush and becomes more scattered as the scene builds, finishing in a surreal Picasso-esque climax.
It’s worth noting, although rather obvious, that this is not a graphic novel for the younger audience. There’s plenty of adult content and the sex scene in particular is incredibly graphic. On the whole it’s a great story that makes you think beyond the pages. Brecht Evens’ first English work is a triumph, both beautiful and absorbing, despite its plainness. Though to be honest, the plainness matches the concept perfectly.