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Love between the lines

Bungalow 5

Maarten Vande Wiele

In 1950s Hollywood, Newland Archer and May Welland are the glamour couple du jour. When George Manson, an old friend of May’s, returns from Broadway to start making films again, it’s clear that he was forced to flee after a scandal. He had been living with a man in New York and didn’t make enough of an effort to conceal his identity. The studio boss is giving George a second chance, provided he leaves that life behind. Newland is tasked with trying to convince George to choose his career, but soon discovers that he’s not entirely immune to George’s charms.

A fascinating gem

With ‘Bungalow 5’, Maarten Vande Wiele breathes new life into ‘The Age of Innocence’, published more than a century ago by the American novelist Edith Wharton. By moving the story to Hollywood, Vande Wiele can indulge in beautiful modernist buildings in Beverly Hills, stylish hairdos and stunning red-carpet outfits. But the switch from a female protagonist to a male one really lifts the story to another level. The scandalous nature of a homosexual relationship and the guaranteed destruction of a career as soon as the press gets wind of it hangs over Newland and George like a shadow. There’s a prominent role for that shadow in Vande Wiele’s black-and-white pencil drawings, as it sometimes helps illuminate or obscure his characters. ‘Bungalow 5’ is a subtle exploration of a forbidden love.

The uncrowned glamour king of Dutch-language comic strips has produced one of the best books of his career: a crime noir drama without villains, in which nearly everybody is guilty.
De Poort
His most powerful graphic novel to date