Haunted: Running Through Your Personal Nightmare

Roughly sketched, Phillippe Dupuy's graphic novel Haunted is a homage to failure & self-doubt set in a nightmarish imaginary realm.

Dupuy is part of the French cartooning team that includes Charles Berberian and is best known for The Monsieur Jones novels. Haunted is Dupuy's second solo outing.

The graphic novel is framed by Dupuy's dreams in which he is on his morning run, dipping in and out of reality.

On one run he stops to take a leak and accidentally does so on the doorstop of an art-collecting duck who invited him in. The duck shows him his massive art collection and that he's collected on his wide travels. Now he is home, desperate to slow down and rediscover his inner life, but trapped by his possessions that he cannot bear to part with.

A reoccuring theme is fear of the loss of a hand, oddly enough. In the beginning a dog is left bereft of his limbs and left to die alone.

Another story illustrates the lives of a group of forest creatures (meant to parallel the inanities of male water cooler talk). One of the friends, left without limbs, leaves to cope with an unnamed problem. They cannot understand his choice, cannot bear his pain and when he comes back they include him but the atmosphere is uneasy. Their attempts to discuss what he might be going though are superficial at best.

By stepping outside the norm, Dupuy effectively corners the private fear we all harbour of being alienated (for differences we strive to conceal).

The drawing in the book is a little too sketchy for my taste and I wish the story was more cohesive. That said, Haunted, for all its bizarre characters and frayed rope of a storyline, has been written and drawn in all seriousness as a meaningful exercise to understand the negative spaces that define our lives.

Haunted: A Novel/ Drawn & Quarterly / HC, 2008

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