Few comics can truly grab and run with readers’ emotions like Park Bench Kensington does. Peony Gent has created a beautifully lyrical piece that takes readers on an emotional journey, even if they may not fully understand everything they experience.
The comic lulls the reader in and out of a fragmented conversation taking place on a park bench. Woven into this conversation are the ideas of immigration, love, and pain. We have no notion as to who the two people are that are talking to one another but that doesn’t matter. Gent is able to convey so much emotion in just a few simple words. Hopelessness and hope are constantly at odds throughout the conversation.
The art and panelling is very unique. Each page is comprised of six square panels, with half those panels comprising of white squares with just the conversation written. Gent forces the reader to focus on the words, on the pain and loss in each sentence. On the desperation to be hopeful. The layout is a visual poem, telling us when to focus on the words and when to focus on the images. Of course, Gent breaks her usual six panel format when necessary but the lyrical nature of the piece is still very much there.
Just as the words that are carefully chosen and crafted, Gent’s illustrations focus on the raw emotion. Images are messy, obstructed, scribbled over to convey what has been lost and the inner feelings the characters. Colours are muted, adding to the sombre tone with splashes of red here and there. The white in half of the panels gives the comic an empty yet exposed feeling. It’s as if a soul is laid out before you and at times it feels wrong to look at.
This comic will not appeal to everyone. Though it may not be a long comic, it’s full of raw emotion, emotion that on one hand you feel strange looking into but on the other cannot help but to look away. Peony Gent has created truly a work of art, one that combines the strengths of the medium to form a beautifully poetic piece. Crafting something as poetic and lyrical is not an easy feat in comics but Gent excels at every turn. She is a true artist, one that you will want to keep an eye on.