An invisible friend never fails. It appears every time it is needed, it is delivered without hesitation and remedies failures and betrayals of the real world. Just like Pantera, the creature that comes out of a drawer to animate Cristinita. He is the son of kings, crown prince of Panterlandia, tells extraordinary stories and his soft belly is perfect for a little nod. Maybe even help the little girl to forget the recent death of her cat.
For several pages, the comic Panther (Astiberri), from the acclaimed Belgian author Brecht Evens, play to deceive the public. Like its changing protagonist, at first it takes the form of a fairy tale. Colors, joy, the beginning of another inseparable friendship. Little by little, however, the atmosphere darkens. The creature is still adorable; But, then, why is he lying? Cristinita can not and does not want to see it. The reader, on the other hand, gets restless. "It's a strange book. I started it as a dark and adult story disguised as a children's story. It may not be very well seen, but I expected some to confuse it with a play for children, "says Evens (Hasselt, 1986).
It is clear that Panther it is not. At least, not only. The author says that there are children of four or five who have read and enjoyed his comic. Adults will appreciate its bitter aftertaste. And critics, directly, have put Panther through the clouds and consider it a Calvin and Hobbes somber. Several readings, like in the Pixar cinema. Although it is hard to imagine how a child can assume the references to abuse and pedophilia. Or the shocking open ending of the comic. "I really like the ellipsis. It was not a good idea to reveal any meaning, it would be comforting, "smiles Evens.
And his work, of course, does not want to be. "I was looking to bring back the real monsters, not the style of Beauty and the Beast. Normally, in the stories, they end up being subjugated by the protagonists. Panther is shown as a creature of Disney, empathize with him, but at the same time it is intuited that it will be the worst, "says Evens. The artist declares himself a fan of The Pan's Labyrinth, although somewhat disappointed by the goodness of the world of monsters compared to that of men. In Panther, there is no easy victory, no triumph of good. Rather, doubts, helplessness and discomfort.
The visual style of the Belgian also contributes. With his first work, The wrong place (Sins Entido), Evens received the prize of the Audacity at the Angoulême Festival 2011. And, since then, her courageous zeal has been consolidated. In Panther the author alternates drawings barely sketched with other elaborated ones; long dialogues between two characters and sequences dominated by chaos. The colorful tide of brushstrokes gives way, at times, to melancholic blue and black. Some forms and subjects are only intuited and overlapped in large double pages that Evens conceived as "fabrics". Not for nothing, besides writing and drawing comics, also exhibits in art galleries.
At the same time, the comic was infected by the depression that the author suffered some time ago: "In a year I made about 80 pages. Then I had a year and a half 'sabbatical' not very pleasant. I finished it while it was healing me and it cost me a lot. The book is dying towards the end. " Like the cat of the protagonist. And like his innocence.