Michiel Budel lives and works in Amsterdam (Holland). He wishes to become a director of horror movies. Sadly, since he has no cameras and no education in this field, he enjoys writing and drawing his own comics.
IN THE EMPORIUM
Michiel’s comics can be found in the Secret Acres Emporium here.
Greatest Comic of All Time | Wayward Girls (Slechte Meisjes) #1
Wayward Girls follows the adventures and mishaps of a group of nameless pubescent girls who seem to be part of a combination school/scout troop with heavy fascistic leanings (swastikas are a common sight). The one- and two-page strips collected in the print edition maintain a special focus on uncomfortably) the girls’ sexual lives and (just bizarrely) geopolitics. An epic double-pager focuses on one girl’s decision to join the US Army after receiving a recruitment letter — “she thinks they are heroes”, a disembodied face tells us through her mail slot — and her subsequent torrid romance with an Afghani girl whose family is all but certainly smuggling heroin into America “via the ports of Newark”. The final panel shows both girls locked in a passionate nude embrace, with a word balloon whose source isn’t quite clear proclaiming that “love has no cultural boundaries!”
…Wayward Girls, then, is a child-molesty comic with Nazi overtones, and it’s also the proof that even something that sounds that uncalled for can feel absolutely essential if it’s done skillfully enough. This comic is both side-splittingly hilarious and fascinatingly strange, the kind of thing you want to re-read immediately once you finish just to see if you can figure it out once you’ve wiped away the tears of laughter. There’s very little narrative cohesion to be found here, though recurring plotlines touch whimsically (to say nothing of erotically) on heavy topics like the war in the Mideast and the Grecian debt crisis. The real joy of reading these comics is in the push forward, the anticipation of seeing what Budel will come up with next…
This is drawing to change people’s ideas of what exactly “beautiful comic book art” looks like, and it’s also the perfect match for the surreal, logic-light world of the stories it brings to life. It’s rare indeed to see a comic both this far removed from anything else and this aesthetically unified, but here it is: something that manages mastery with almost no visible influences. There isn’t a whole lot else like Wayward Girls, and there certainly isn’t much else this good out there at the moment.
- Matt Seneca, CBR
Slechte Meisjes, one of the weirdest and off-its-kind comics ever to come from the Netherlands, is currently getting an English run as Wayward Girls. A second twenty four page comic is currently available from Secret Acres, arguably the best publisher of artistic comics around for the moment.
Wayward Girls is the brainchild of Dutch art teacher and cartoonist Michiel Budel, who has no previous experience in creating comics. His narrative and artistic style are just beyond compare. The stories all feature a range of unknown young teenage girls who discover life in all its facets, but always with a serious twist, as if a strong lens has been put over the world as we know it.
The girls are easily interchangeable as they experience sex, death and everything in between, and the artwork looks as if some loon had been keeping a secret diary in a notebook. All the art is executed in colored pencils, and mistakes are simply taped over and redone, which gives the pages a delightful faux-naive look and feel.
Like I said, you just can’t describe the incongruent logic and narrative that Budel applies in his strips, you have to experience them.
- Wim Lockefeer, Forbidden Planet International
…I couldn’t help but think of Paul Chan when I first saw the strip above, where the girls meet Scott McCloud. You have the similarly youthful and innocent girls who have that Darger simplicity to them, the nonchalant nudity and carefree sex thrown on top. And through it all you can sense the keen mind behind it that’s having just having fun as much as making some subtle, subversive commentary.
The author of this work is pretty mysterious – after exchanging a few messages with them, I’ve learned they live in the Netherlands (obvi), are an art school graduate and that this is their first comic. I was also tipped off that the similarities to Darger are coincidental, and that the main influence is Dutch artist Joost Roelofsz (see below). The artist has also adopted the name of the strip as a pseudonym, which I suppose is just as well since this is so far their only comic.
I think this is a great and hilarious strip, and it’s one of the few webcomics I’ve been reading on a regular basis. I love the drawing style and the colored pencils, and especially the bits of tape or pasted on word-balloons (perhaps a result of translating to English?) that show up from time to time. There’s a very physical quality to how it’s presented, the online presentation is very close to what you’d see in person, which is refreshing after seeing so much computer generated work on the web (not saying that’s bad!).
The true reward is that as it goes on, slechtemeisjes is getting better. I hadn’t read the earliest strips until just before writing this, and was somewhat surprised at how different they are. From what I can tell, the comic was begun this past February, and seemed to be much more focused on the lesbian sex aspect initially. Of course, these earlier strips are untranslated, also, so I can’t really gauge the other level that’s taking place. Still, it’s more clear from the first pages, with the blank background and lack of panels, that things were only just beginning to take to the air.
As the months go on, you can see more and more control being taken over the tone and the compositions. The girls are given space to exist in, and the panels allow for a nice rhythm that makes their varying tilted poses even more fun. September has to be my favorite month, as well, as we saw one of the girls get pregnant somehow from fooling around with each other in the woods, the girls do laundry, and the day when one of the girls forgets to do their homework for genius class (spoiler: it all turns out ok). This comic is weird and absurd and silly and baffling in the best ways possible. The humor is as strange as they come, but importantly, it does it all with a straight face, there’s no winks to the audience, beyond of course just how silly it all can be. This is the kind of thing that’s right up my alley.
Hopefully I’ve whetted your appetite enough by now, so you should go read the rest of the girls’ adventures and check back every week too see more.
- Kevin Czap, Comix Cube
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