by Pieter Coudyzer
From the biographical notes at the end of “Outburst” I learnt that this was Pieter Coudyzer’s first graphic novel. His main work is in the field of animation, and to a sense, that’s how the graphic novel reads – as an animation short, almost as a high-fidelity storyboard.
The story is about Tom, an awkward kid, the misfit of the class, lightheaded and prone to daydreaming, bullied and harassed, dismissed by teachers, overlooked by family, scrutinised by peers for even awkward gesture, mimic or word. It is quite a frequently told setting about the bullied outcast and to that point the story does not surprise particularly. The transformation that Tom goest through later in the story is a surreal experience that could have been built upon. My personal feeling, however, is that P. Coudyzer was not aiming at world-building, but to create a flowing impression, melancholic and dark, and that is indeed why to me the book read like an animation short.
And even though a story about such character and setting have been told one too many times already, the artwork was elevated the book and what actually made me pick it from the shelf in the library. I just have a thing for scratchy textures, fuzzy lines and earthy colours. That dance between expressionism and grunge added the much needed extra layer of sensitivity to the dark and fatalistic narrative.