It is 1986 and in New York City the pursuit of money, success and happiness is in full swing. But young secretary Barbra Roberts couldn’t care less. Barbra is dreaming of a prince, like those in her beloved soap operas. She falls head over heels for wealthy Kenneth Castelson, a manufacturer of… soap. When Kenneth proposes to her, all her dreams are about to come true. Or so it seems.
But what happened to Kenneth’s ex? The ravishing Rachella Kabuki disappeared ten years ago and her body was never found. Did Kenneth ever get over Rachella? Why does he never mention her? Was Rachella perhaps murdered?
Glitter, glamour, love, jealousy, intrigue, tears and above all lots of pink: this is Maarten Vande Wiele at his best. His elegant, black brush strokes give playful expression to a world he clearly adores: that of Dynasty and other vintage soap series. With lots of humour, wordplay and plenty of absurd situations, Vande Wiele depicts a series of deliciously superficial characters, the kind you only find in soaps. We’re already looking forward to the denouement in the second part of the series.
‘There are aspects of chicklit in his books, but of the rather evil kind. Barbie meets the Dynasty-vixens.’
Vande Wiele brings total dedication and control to his distinctive drawings. We tend to avoid all soaps, but we love Barbra and Ken.
‘No other comic book author is more at home in the soap genre.’
Anneleen, in a drunken burst of enthusiasm, auditions for an ABBA tribute band by voicemail. Together with Bert, Bavo and Astrid, she forms the Honey Honeys – they perform at birthday parties and cheesy song festivals at first, but find their way onto larger stages before long. Anneleen and Bavo fall in love, and the tribute band, too, is soon made up of two couples. As their success grows, their lives start to run increasingly in parallel with those of the original ABBA members, with all the associated drama.
Maarten Vande Wiele’s typical cartoon style is a perfect match for this story about glamour and gloss. The simple design and the bright and cheerful colours, which are evocative of the 1970s, create a book that is nicely in keeping with the subject. Vande Wiele’s unabashed love for ABBA leaps off the pages. For one thing, he incorporates translated song lyrics into his dialogues – it’s up to the reader to spot the many references.
Maarten Vande Wiele adapts five short stories by Guy de Maupassant. In order to create an element running through the stories, he decided to give a character in one of the tales, Inspector Bermutier, a role in each of the other stories too. Bermutier switches between narrator, extra, hero and villain.
These evocative stories share a negative view of humanity: cowardice, egotism and a lack of empathy are the order of the day – an attitude that has become Vande Wiele’s trademark. With his approach, he has put his own stamp on De Maupassant’s imaginative short stories, making them his own.
In ‘Monsieur Bermutier’, Vande Wiele has moved away from his earlier graphic style, with the black planes and clean look giving way to playful watercolours, bright compositions and swirling lines. It is no easy task to transform De Maupassant’s dark mood into an extravaganza of colours, and yet Vande Wiele succeeds with aplomb.
A pleasure to leaf through
The book grabs hold of you and does not let you go
Pleasant reading that captivates the reader from the very first pages
‘Paris’ must be the most exquisitely dressed graphic novel the world has ever seen, where designer labels and vintage couture play as much of a role in the story as the debauched characters themselves. Full of beautiful people with ugly ideas, this book is an unhealthy cocktail of ‘Sex & The City’ and ‘Vogue’, with a generous splash of ‘The Valley of the Dolls’, and a covert dose of Chuck Palahniuk’s ‘Invisible Monsters’ for bite.
This sordid tale of one city consists of two parts: ‘I Love Paris’ and ‘I Hate Paris’, each charting the rise and dramatic fall of three fashionistas trying to make it in the cut-throat modelling industry. Faith hopes to make it as a singer, Hope has faith that the disfiguring scar on her once flawless face can be fixed with a strategic ‘do, and Chastity is willing to do literally anything to get her bejeweled fingers on a mountain of cash. But the three of them categorically fail to live up to their names in their grim desperation to make it big.
Vande Wiele has illustrated a knowingly ridiculous yet loving portrayal of a world he clearly adores, bringing an elegant black line to the page as he pays tribute to the most superficial of the brilliantly superficial.
This is a no holds barred trash graphic novel.
The Comics Journal
A fresh and frank satirical twist to the cliche ‘fashion victim’
‘Doctor Carnacki’ is a renowned paranormal detective. No ghost or goblin is safe when she is around. But when Alice Carnacki gets invited to Iastrae Castle to investigate a mysterious room, she might be facing her most dangerous case yet.
‘Doctor Carnacki’ is a three part mini series that will make you laugh and scream!