I love comics, I have tons on my bookshelf, I’ve read and re read my collections, and I’m constantly on the hunt for new additions. Park Bench by Christophe Chaboute isn’t normally one that would catch my eye, with the plot surrounding such a mundane object as a park bench, it doesn’t exactly jump out and grab your attention. But despite the seemingly dull subject material this comic has stuck with me ever since I turned the last page, and I’m so glad I was able to experience it.
The narrative follows the titular park bench throughout the seasons and the various people that have their lives touched by the bench. The story opens with a couple marking their initials in the wood of the park bench, a marking we’ve all seen a million times before, but it sets the tone for the rest of the story and how the bench is a character in the community. The homeless man trying to sleep, the skateboard kid working on his grind, the lovelorn man waiting for his blind date, the constantly visiting dog using the legs of the bench as a personal toilet, all of their stories and struggles are overseen by the inanimate bench which serves as an unexpectedly important part of their narratives. Seasons change, couples break up, skateboard tricks go unlearned and life moves on. The reader, much like the park bench, has to quietly and impassively watch events unfold. Some are funny, some are heartbreaking, some are simple quiet moments, but they all revolve around the bench.
I adored the simple stark art style in black and white, and no dialogue was needed for me to fully experience the ups and downs of every single page. To tell a story with no words is not an easy task but Chaboute manages to deftly tell a rich and emotional story with the art alone. I cried and laughed, I couldn’t put the book down and once the story was over and the park bench was alone again, the story stayed with me for weeks. If you get the chance to pick this up I highly recommend it, it’s a quick read but it’s worth it. I’ve picked it up a few times after finishing it and loved revisiting the old park bench.
Park Bench by Christophe Chaboute is available from Simon and Schuster publishing. If you are looking for an unorthodox addition to your bookshelf or coffee table Park Bench is a perfect fit.
All photographs taken by the oldblackgoat.