A new emerging talent in the Belgian alt scene, Shamisa Debroey immediately goes for the throat with a stunningly rendered tale of parental loss.
Brecht Evens and Randall C are both responsible for inspiring a whole new generation of artists thanks to their innovative way of looking at the page, composition and graphic styles of the comic medium. After a disappointing publication of Randall C adept Delphine Frantzen, it is Shamisa Debroey’s turn to shine in the spotlight and graphically speaking, she turns out to be quite the revelation.
Lost is about a girl whose mother works for an NGO and spends all her time abroad while her father is just a largely unknown cipher whose only connecting thread to his daughter is that he sends her a new exotic fish (still alive) for every birthday. Lost without any parental figures, she grows up amidst her grandparents.
It is a fragmentary, poetic rendering of the inner troubles of this girl in a semi-autobiographical style. The beauty of this debut graphic novel is in the skill presented here. Shamisa uses a poetical line that collides with colour blocks, more often than not crossing each others boundaries. Her simple linework exudes a universal strength which adds to the impact of the story; child-parent relationships and the subsequent struggles involved often have the strongest impact on one’s life and it is this subtext that Shamisa taps into quite adequately.
That is not to say that the story has a severe impact though. The general impressions are too fleeting to have any lasting effect apart from an instinctive personal reaction. Shamisa shifts between scenes quite often going from dreamlike reminiscences to daily life, enlarging her ‘weird’ habits like fear of flying and ordering two cups of coffee when at a bar – one for the lost father- but we don’t ever get the feeling that we really get to know our protagonist. Though undoubtedly a cathartic experience for the creator, the process of acceptance sketched out here is too broad, too general.
Graphically speaking Lost is a pure visual feast. Shamisa Debroey utilizes the barest of outlines, letting the line clash with spots and blocks of colour that give rise to mountains, rivers, cafes and street views with equal ease. She is an exciting new voice imbuing comics with colour and freshness. Give this woman a script with more depth and some truely great character work and her next graphic novel could be an instant classic.
Lost by Shamisa Debroey is published in Dutch by Oog & Blik. It is a full colour softcover counting 128 pages and retails for €24,90.