By Dustin Cabeal
Park Bench is one of the most brilliant silent comics I’ve read. For those that are unfamiliar with the term “silent comics,” it’s the term the industry came up for a comic with no dialogue or narration. The artwork tells the story without any support, and you might think that it’s easy to do. It is not; it is one of the things a lot of creators fail at because it’s all about the panels and the pacing.
Park Bench is about a park bench. It starts with a little boy carving “I heart you” on the bench, and from there it develops a cast of characters that develop routines around the park bench. From the dog that pees on a particular leg, to the homeless man and his cop counterpart. There are so many characters that you see over and over as the story spans years. During all this time the bench is used and abused and rarely praised.
What Chabouté captures so well is the interconnectivity of people. The gravitational pull that you feel at times when you run into the same people over and over without saying a word to them. This is that complete look at the picture, the things you don’t see, but someone staring at the same spot all day would easily be able to notice. At times its deeply moving as different people go through rough spots in their lives and other times humorous and uplifting. Chabouté captures the range of life that way because no one is just one emotion all the time.
The artwork is brilliant. It’s in all black and white with think lines. While it’s not heavy on the inks, the contrast of black and white works. It keeps the fine details from being blown out. Usually, I would complain about the excess white page, but here, it’s just perfect. I don’t know how else to describe the art other than perfect. The pacing, the panel choices, the emotion on the characters faces; it’s all spectacular storytelling. The characters all look different and capture many walks of life. There’s also a range of ages that the book covers, from babies, kids, to the elderly it feels as if ever range of life is represented.
Despite being a silent comic, Park Bench is not a quick read. The art is engaging, the characters are realistic and hold your attention. You want to stay with them and see what they’ll do while visiting this underappreciated bench.
Park Bench is one for the collection. This is a book I could easily read over and over which just goes to show the level of mastery that Chabouté has when it comes to storytelling. If you’re a fan of comics, hell if you’re an indie creator, this is a master class on storytelling that everyone should read.
Publisher: Gallery 13 Comics