Described as a fictionalised mash-up of her diaries from 2012-2015, Veronica Post’s travelogue Langosh & Peppi: Fugitive Days, depicting the 2015 European migrant crisis, is nonetheless based on real events, ensuring an eyewitness quality to the scenes she depicts. Drifter Langosh, accompanied by his canine friend Peppi, is touring Hungary and the Balkans, after being force to flee his native Canada when he found himself on the wrong side of the legal authorities. He’s also dealing with the traumatic repercussions of police brutality back home; something that continues to haunt his thoughts and dreams in vivid flashbacks.
Taking chances with his border-hopping travels due to his illegal status, Langosh explores the countryside, discovering derelict buildings, an abandoned underground surveillance station, and other echoes of the region’s war-torn past. But Langosh, Peppi and their friend Yeva will soon experience a far more immediate connection to the transient existence when they meet a group of abused Syrian refugees and see what it truly means to have had the concept of home ripped away from you…
Veronica Post’s debut graphic novel is well worth investing in, despite what may feel like a first half that is somewhat meandering in presentation and where progression in plot and theme seem less defined. As slow as that build-up may appear, however, it serves a purpose in establishing Langosh’s status as someone whose displaced lifestyle is largely a choice rather than a necessity. In that sense it provides stark contrast to the book’s second half where Langosh and Yevi encounter the refugees whose plight takes over as the narrative focus. Here Post quietly invites us to reflect on the differing fugitive statuses of her protagonist and a group whose entire lives have been uprooted; people who should be given empathy and understanding but as we see here are instead at best treated with cruel indifference, and at worst brutality. It’s a thoughtfully realised reminder that privilege is a layered and complex reality, defined by relativity rather than absolutes.
Post’s visual style places caricatured characters who immediately acquire our investment for their stripped-back representation on more realistic backgrounds and environments. An always efficient cartooning device for ensuring our connection with a cast, and one that ensures that the poignant scenes towards the book’s denouement are all the more affecting in their simple truths. Post’s visual characterisation is subtle and nuanced in that regard, providing occasional moments of comedic respite (Langosh’s complacent rural nudity) through to the heartbreaking inevitability of the final section of the book.
Examining the topic from an intriguingly different perspective Langosh & Peppi: Fugitive Days makes a valuable contribution to the growing list of comics works on the refugee crisis we’ve covered at BF in recent times (When Stars Are Scattered, Escape from Syria, Vanni, Threads: From the Refugee Crisis, among others). Another excellent example of Conundrum Press’s ever admirable approach to showcasing the widest variety of approaches to the form.
Veronica Post (W/A) • Conundrum Press, $20.00
Review by Andy Oliver