Hubert by Ben Gijsemans

Hubert by Ben Gijsemans

Publisher: Jonathan Cape

Buy:  Foyles

Hubert began as a project on Ben Gijsemans’ master’s degree. His tutors were suitably impressed, and he was later awarded funding to work it into a complete graphic novel.

Middle-aged Hubert leads a lonely existence. He appears to do little other than visit art galleries, paint and eat alone while watching old films. When he does interact with others, the conversation always centres around art and Hubert seems almost incapable of discussing other subjects.

His relationship with women is also focused on art, and exists only in the realm of the imagination. He hones in on classic paintings of beautiful women, gazing at them for extended periods of time in galleries and taking photos in order to create his own painted copies at home.

He also begins to see one of his neighbours in this way, fascinated by the sight of her from his window at her and even painting her. Unfortunately for Hubert it is not the same neighbour who tries to seduce him, but his landlady making a move in the form of a misguided artistic reference.

There are many wordless panels which show how Hubert uses his lonely hours. The smallest details of his life are depicted, right down to turning on his laptop; actions rendered beautiful by Gijsemans’ skilful execution.

Expertly drawn lines combine with a subdued colour palette to create a muted, restrained yet emotional vision of a lonely life.

Published by Jonathan Cape, who continue to impress with their catalogue in this field. They describe Hubert as one of the most beautiful graphic novels they have ever published, a claim which cannot be contested.

The story is so beautifully and economically told that the reader may be left wanting to know more of Hubert’s story. It would be great to see more from Gijsemans; hopefully he has a long career in comics ahead of him.

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