Bries is a Belgian publishing house that focuses on the creative aspect of comic books. It was founded in 1999 by Ria Schulpen and is currently still going strong under her guiding hand.
It has launched the careers of international greats like Olivier Schrauwen, Pieter De Poortere, Brecht Vandenbroucke and Ephameron – artists who have seen their books published by the likes of Drawn & Quarterly and Fantagraphics. Ever the champion of the innovative non-commercial artist, Bries opened its own gallery space in 2011, exhibiting talent from all over Europe, and curated a book fair called Klaxon, where art meets comics, in Antwerp, Belgium, on Saturday, May 9th.
With graphic novels becoming ever more popular and the public embracing more and more expressive means of communication, 2015 is turning out to be a very productive year for Bries, with some outstanding publications. This month Crossing Borders celebrates Bries with creator interviews, in-depth looks and reviews of their latest releases.
Once more elevating comics to preternatural heights, publishing house Bries unleashes an attack upon the senses and processing structures of the human retina by way of Dominique Goblet and Kai Pfeiffer’s More if it Clicks (Plus Si Entente in French).
Creating a graphic novel by having pages go back and forth between countries for over three years, with the artists working on either one panel at a time or both on the same panel, Belgian artist Dominique Goblet and the German artist Kai Pfeiffer noticed a tendency for story to come into existence. Looking over the numerous panels they had drawn, they re-arranged it all until “something” started to emerge.
This “something” is the story of a single woman who pines for her daughter, a celebrated swimmer who has flown the nest and was the result of a hook-up with a policeman with anarchistic tendencies.
However, the daughter seems to have drowned, lost in a fantasy world of erotic lobsters and mysterious ocean floors. The woman then loses herself in the world of online dating, meeting a plethora of suitors, all of whom she invites home to work on her never-ending swimming pool, until it all culminates in a rather surreal and woeful orgy.
Dominique Goblet, recipient of the prestigious 2010 École Européenne Supérieure de l’Image and the subject of a solo exhibition at Angoulême in the same year, employs a visceral approach to comics. She creates from the guts, with line work that manages to be delicate and savage at the same time. Her instinctive coloring always sets the right mood and she is one of the country’s great talents.
Kai Pfeiffer, resident in Germany, also taps into that intuitive creative sphere but works in a slightly more refined way, with brighter coloring and more delineated line work. Both styles are absolutely complimentary, and more often than not it is quite hard to keep them apart in this collaborative graphic novel.
More If It Clicks represents a plethora of styles from both creators, with the look and feel of an art book. Although this sad tale of a mother whose chaotic universe intrudes upon the outer world of online dating definitely has a larger story to tell, in the wrappings of a comic book it is a reflection of the inherent solitude of contemporary life; of a generation struggling with emotions that uses new technology to suppress its feelings; of personal struggles to be buried; of sexuality and its many forms of escape.
Goblet and Pfeiffer have created a difficult book, meant both to be read and to wash over the reader. It has a visual level of complexity that speaks to the subconscious and raises questions of knowledge of oneself and one’s loved ones.
The often fairly abstract storytelling further enhances this. Different readers will make different interpretations of the events, no doubt. It is exactly a book like this that makes it clear how much we need publishers like Bries, who still have the guts to put this kind of material on the market.
More If It Clicks by Goblet and Pfeiffer is a complex and nuanced graphic novel. It is hilarious, deeply sad, visually stunning and succeeds in finding beauty in banality. Their introspective story of a single mother trying to reconnect with society and her inner self by the means of online dating is of singular melancholic beauty, due to the strength of the concept and its visual storytelling. Highly recommended.
Plus Si Entente (More If It Clicks) by Dominique Goblet and Kai Pfeiffer is published in Dutch by Bries and in French by Fremok. It is a full-color oversized hardcover counting 180 pages and retails for €33.
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