Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"You're not leaving are you?"
"Yeah I am!"
"Yes, stay with us!"
"Dance with us, drink with us, tell us tales!"
"Okay, hold on, hold on! Let's dance... the Groviglia di Figa!"
"It goes like this... We all squeeze in together like a pack of spaghetti."
"Then the water begins to boil and our legs go all limp!"
"And slowly... that's right, you've got it!"
"And now we're just about al dente..."
"No, a bit longer!"
"Two coats please... I mean 'our coats'."
"Coming right up Robbie!"
Have you ever had a friend, who on the face of it, your friendship with them is utterly incongruous in every single way, with whom you don't really have a single thing in common, and yet you're just simply firm friends? So it is for the somewhat dull and dreary Gary, whose childhood chum Robbie is now the brightest, shining star in the nightlife firmament. A veritable social supernova, beloved and much lusted after by women, and admired and envied in equal measure by men, he's the absolute centre of attention wherever he goes. Everyone, but everyone has a story or three to tell about Robbie, and he's even inspired a cult of wannabe imitators who dress like him, hang out in all the same places, and even try and act exactly like him. Gary on the other hand is just... rather boring, and you certainly get the impression that everyone who's turned up to his flat to party has only done so because he's told them Robbie will be there.
THE WRONG PLACE is all about contrasts, that is for certain, but it's not the sort of book that requires much analysis of the underlying narrative to provide its entertainment, because this story is all about the flow of the festivities, the recounting of the anecdote, the telling of the yarn, the surviving of the evening's debaucheries. And much like everyone at Gary's flat who are absolutely desperate for Robbie to finally arrive to get the party started, so too are we the readers chomping at the bit to finally meet this larger than life character. And when we do, he certainly doesn't disappoint as we're eventually taken on a hedonistic, bacchanalian night out to the club which Robbie has made into his very own pleasure palace, and where he is the King. Poor old Gary is like a fish out of water by this point, of course, but nonetheless his gregarious chum treats him with a tender kindness reserved for those true friends who will always have a special place in our hearts.
"Hmm. Hey Gary, come here!"
"Come to Daddy."
"On your lap?! Um. I'm quite comfortable here thanks."
"People are looking."
"Thanks for the offer though. Really."
"Thanks for the... Ha ha. Don't worry Gary. I'll dump my surplus affection elsewhere."
"Sorry, I, it's... stupid."
"Nooo, someone in your position... news spreads like wildfire in the playground."
I suppose it's inevitable whilst reading THE WRONG PLACES that you might ponder whether you are / were more of a Gary than a Robbie, or vice versa, and also whether you have or have had just such an unlikely friendship which, despite all the apparent social differences, has flourished. This work is great fun and I have to say I also adored the entirely borderless coloured pencils and watercolour art. At times, it strongly put me in mind of some of my favourite bits of James Jean's PROCESS RECESS 3 sketchbook, such is the vibrancy and freedom of it, which probably seems a strange connection to make, but hopefully indicates the level of artistic ability that I believe Brecht Evans brings to his storytelling.