This is a high concept if I ever saw one. Omni-Visibilis written by Lewis Trondheim and illustrated by Matthieu Bonhomme is a graphic novel that asks that one question: what would happen if one day everyone saw from the eyes of an ordinary man as soon as they closed their eyelids.
I always love the concepts in Trondheim’s work. He is one of my favourite comic artistes with his “Lapinot” series, it just rings so emotionally right and is very funny and absurd. So when I see a work of his, I cannot walk past without itching to read it. Sadly, in this case I am less a fan of Bonhomme’s illustrations. There is something very urban/street about them that makes them unpleasant to me, despite how sleek and impeccable proportioned they are. I liked the flat black and cold blue colour on every page. It’s efficient, and does make everything quite cold and alone. We feel like we are stepping into the night, everything is overshadowed. But, despite it being flawlessly drawn, that’s about all I liked. I missed Trondheim’s unperfect cartoony hurried-up style.
I wanted some of the cheerfully crazy anthropomorphic characters I love in Trondheim’s work. The illustrations used tainted the whole book with a more vulgar gritty feel. I was repulsed by the main character. Some of it is on purpose, obviously, but that was too much – I really disliked him and wanted to cringe when I saw him or his seriously loser friends. They are sweet in the end, they care about him, but are not people I would want around me. In fact every single person behaved awfully and looked a little disgusting… to me obviously, I can’t answer for other people’s feelings. They were all abominable and insufferable. Was that the point of the comic? To point out the pettiness of people? Make it a modern tragedy? In that case I guess it really wasn’t for me.
From the beginning the main character is not just a “normal” everyday guy, he’s a very unlikable character which didn’t help. Truthfully as soon as he thought about cheating on his girlfriend I was rooting against him and hoping the whole thing would finish badly for him. It felt definitely more geared towards the male audience and while I loved the idea I quickly read through without much enthusiasm.
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