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BIO

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.

IN PRAISE OF SLECHTE MEISJES

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

Today I’d like to talk to you guys a little bit about one of my favorite webcomics. Dutch for “bad girls,” slechtemeisjes is a bizarre weekly strip starring a group of nearly identical teen girls who live with a professor? I’m not sure how much of a continuous storyline runs throughout the episodes, but I get the feeling that isn’t really the point. A typical strip consists of the girls getting involved in some surreal adventure or circumstance, punctuated by the odd, matter-of-fact dialogue that more or less narrates the scene, until culminating finally in some kissing and/or missing clothes…

…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

BACKTALK

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OFF THE WALL

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Secret Acres
Facebook IconApril 18, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Secret Acres updated their cover photo.

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Secret Acres
Facebook IconApril 18, 2014 at 3:55 pm

JOY! It's Publishers Weekly's Panel Mania with an exclusive preview of Corinne Mucha's Get Over It! We've been looking forward to this one for what seems like forever, and now you can, too, because, really, you're gonna love it. Corinne's quite wise for her years, certainly, but that's probably because she's learned from her mistakes. She made a lot of mistakes. A lot. But everyone's got to find their own way back to sanity. Speaking of smartypantses, Zainab Aktar is responsible for this one, writing for PW instead of her usual Comics and Cola, which you really should check out. She writes things like, "The visualization of that process is often reflected in very compact, text heavy pages, simultaneously rich and yet precise in execution and clear in intent." She's way too smart for us. Sigh. What are we babbling about? Go read Get Over It! or at least a bit of it...

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Panel Mania: Corinne Mucha and the Post Break-Up Blues

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In her first adult graphic novel in six years, Corinne Mucha addresses once again the subject of relationships, or, to be accurate, the getting over it part after a relationship's end.

Secret Acres
Facebook IconApril 11, 2014 at 8:46 pm

Hello! Are you in New Jersey or have you escaped? If you are still in Jersey or anywhere near it, you ought to stop by the Asbury Park Comic Con, which is right along the historic boardwalk, which is the site of some terrible goings on in Brendan Leach's Iron Bound. Of course, Brendan will be there, and we promise it's much safer than you would think after reading his book. If you don't have a copy of Iron Bound handy, you can pick one up from Brendan at the show. If you do have a copy, you might want to wait to read it until after the show. You can still play pinball at the Silver Ball Museum, though. Even more ridiculous, Jersey boy Mike Dawson is crashing the party. He's back living in Jersey now, but his latest book, Angie Bongiolatti, is all about life in New York post 9/11. His other books, Troop 142 and Freddie & Me will give you all the non-scary Jersey you need. Get over there and get some comics and take a little stroll along the beach, where the "Jedi" play "Tatoine," as the kids say. We actually saw that last year. It was HILARIOUS.

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Asbury Park Comic Con | April 12 & 13, 2014 Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel, Asbury Park NJ

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Asbury Park Comicon will be held at the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel on Ocean Ave. and expanding to two days April 12 and 13, 2014! Featuring 200 plus exhibitors! More comic creators! More dealers! More comics! More panels! More cosplay! Advanced tickets $18.50 for Saturday/ $17 for Sunday / $30 for 2…

Secret Acres
Facebook IconApril 11, 2014 at 3:28 pm

HEY! Are you in Portlandia or something? Because Edie Fake is in Portland, Oregon, doing some Linework. Linework NW, kinda like Edie himself, is blurring the line between comics, fine art and illustration work. They have Jim Woodring and Michael Deforge and some pretty killer events planned for the show, including an evening of Edie at the legendary Floating World Comics. We'd tell you what Edie is doing there, but the Lineworkers say it best, "Fake will be giving a short and colorful experimental lecture on the sexuality of patterns that weaves together fabric, the tarot, the concept of individuality and jeggings." Yes, sexy fabric and jeggings. Now you have to go! Read all about it here...

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EVENTS

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In addition to a bustling showroom with dozens of exhibitors selling their wares, Linework NW also features a wide-ranging set of programing. Full details will be announced as we get closer to the...

Secret Acres
Facebook IconApril 11, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Hi! Are you in Ohio someplace? Because Sean Ford is in Columbus, Ohio, aka SPACE, the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo. Sean's got the brand new edition of Only Skin and a brand new issue of Shadow Hills, which is the third of that series (!). There's lots of fun programming, but you can also double dip and go check out the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum right next door. It's probably the largest collection of comics anywhere and, in conjunction with the SPACE Jam (that's a thing), they're opening up the Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes, duh) and Richard Thompson (Cul de Sac, duh) exhibits, too! Now that's worth the trip. Make sure you get Sean to sketch your books out. That guy acts like every day is Angouleme. Deets at the link!

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What is SPACE?

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