Park Bench

Moby-Dick and Alone introduced English-language audiences to award-winning artist Christopher Chabouté's striking black-and-white illustrations. Park Bench builds upon the artist's distinctive storytelling depth as he depicts a community through the seasonal comings and goings that take place around a solitary bench.

The graphic novel opens with two youngsters carving "I ♥ u" into the wood, which sets the scene around how individual groups in the community use, abuse, ignore and partake of this one object. There is the dog marking his territory on the same corner of the bench, an elderly couple who sit and share a treat, a skateboarder who uses it as a ramp, the homeless man seeking respite every night and getting shooed away by an annoyed patrolman, and the maintenance worker charged with the bench's upkeep. A man who passes it on his daily trek to work eventually takes a moment to sit down, take off his shoes and enjoy the views unfolding before him. Through the passage of time the bench, and this particular scene, comes to symbolize love lost and found, desire and pain, happiness and suffering.

Chabouté's artistic prowess lies in the details. In the space of three to six panels per page, he portrays the slices of life he observes in that singular, wordless scene, adding power and philosophical depth evoked through black-and-white illustrations. Where Alone was a case study on how imagination sustains the soul, Park Bench emerges to represent a pantheistic everyone's story, where each page explores a moment in time that will at once be recognizable and familiar. --Nancy Powell, freelance writer and technical consultant

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