No Man's Land - illustrator Blexbolex's new psychological odyssey
While it’s always a treat to see the new offerings from graphics publishing platform No Brow, new book No Man’s Land, by French illustrator Blexbolex, is rather extraordinary.
Without giving too much away, the story begins with our protagonist, a detective, at the heart of a national conspiracy. He fires two shots to his own head; yet rather than immediately dying, his brain reels into overdrive and a frantic synaptic fight for survival ensues. The entire story takes place in this split second reaction time.
Page after page of stunning print work paints a satirisation of the mind’s ability to ‘seduce itself ‘– a tale of dreamlands, psychological intensity, life and death.
The language and imagery are seamlessly balanced – deceptively simple and measured, yet profoundly disturbing. ‘The city is ablaze’, the book opens. ‘For a moment, I pause on the rooftop, taking in this apocalyptic spectacle.’
The narrative – our protagonist’s thought processes – flits wildly between disparate scenarios, varying from the violent to the mundane. Monkey-bear-type creatures carry a ‘slumped suited man’ before an apocalyptic scene is before us where ‘buildings collapse in screams, asphalt liquefies, white-hot geysers spit out manholes.’
The state of perpetual half-awake half-living is palpable – the chaotic imagery mirroring the weird psychosis of the text.
It’s a visceral tale that belies the simple, resonant imagery. It’s unerringly vicious and, at times disturbing – ‘Now I’m being subjected to a rigourous beating: hard, precise, meticulous blows. My legs become incapacitated with pain. I collapse.’
But we won’t give too much away…
No Man’s Land is published on 17 June by No Brow, priced £19