Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Toys in the Basement

Stephane Blanquet
Toys in the Basement

Fantagraphics, 2010

At a costume party for young children a boy sits on the couch alone: instead of a pirate costume his mom bought him a costume of pink bunny, and now the other kids laugh at him. Another boy, a bespectacled cock with a comb on his head, complains that he has a broken leg and asks the Rabbit-boy to come down to the basement to check his girlfriend dressed as a cat, she somehow delayed. When the Rabbit comes down to the basement, the Cat-girl shows him to dump toys. Basement is full of old broken toys for destruction. Toys, however, begin to move, and the green bear, without one eye and with damaged head, takes a boy and a girl for real toys, not the costumed children. The bear and the other toy, armless superhero, say the children that they need to be rescued and they all dig a tunnel to crawl back to where all broken toys hide. Children are in a big danger.

This slim graphic novel is nominally novel for children, but the art of the Frenchman Blanquet takes a children's story to an unexpected level. Costumes worn by the boy and girl, are as if one whole with the children so that children look like more as an animals capable of violence without explication. Not without reason toys are so afraid of children: a mangled dolls know who made them disabled, who scoffed at them. All faces of those heroes of the novel, both children and toys, has some wild expression, both horror and disgust.

For children who are reading this book, toys have been brought in a completely different light than they are accustomed to see them. They live and they have an instinct for survival, too.

This surrealist book by writer-artist Blanquet brings to the young reader a simple message: retribution will come, and you never know from which side.

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