Thursday, 30 November 2017

The Smell of Starving Boys Review (Frederik Peeters, Loo Hui Phang)

There’s not much of a story to The Smell of Starving Boys. It’s set in the 19th century on the American Frontier where a sleazy American, an Irish photographer with a shady past, and a teenage assistant are surveying Comanche territory. There seems to be a bounty hunter after the photographer. And… that’s it?

Frederik Peeters’ art is strikingly beautiful, particularly the romantic scenic desert vistas of unspoiled nature that make up the American west. The characters are very expressive and their outfits are detailed - he’s clearly done his research on the era. The colours are vivid and lovely. It’s definitely an artistically accomplished book.

Loo Hui Phang’s script though is so boring! Besides a limp story, most of the characters are lazy and unmemorable archetypes. The American surveyor is an obvious villain-in-waiting while the ghoulish bounty hunter and magical Indians are one-dimensional at best. You can tell almost right off the bat that the assistant isn’t who he says he is and it’s not in the least bit convincing that they weren’t revealed to the group earlier. The Irish photographer’s past - and present for that matter! - wasn’t interesting and I had no idea what the point of all that supernatural guff was. The whole thing is such a dull, unimpressive read. 

The Smell of Starving Boys is a dreary, clichĂ©d Western not worth bothering with. I highly recommend Frederik Peeters’ far better other books, Pachyderme and Blue Pills, instead.

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