Langosh and Peppi: Fugitive Days, Veronica Post’s debut graphic novel, begins in Budapest. The protagonist, Langosh, is the fugitive in question, a man on the run from possible imprisonment/deportation back to Canada, where he awaits punishment for minor crimes. His dog Peppi, and loyal friend Yeva, are depicted with warmth and humour, and give the sense that though his life is precarious, this is the place he considers to be home.
One can’t help but think of another dog/traveller pair, Tin Tin and his dog Snowy, from the wildly popular comic series The Adventures of Tin Tin by Belgian cartoonist Hergé. Post shares Hergé clean drawing style, but instead of the bright, solid colours of Tin Tin, Post mostly uses pen with pale washes of grey. Occasionally pitch black is used to good effect, as the friends explore caves and a tunnel leftover from the country’s communist history.
Equal care is given to the classical architecture found in the city’s esteemed bathhouses, as to its graffiti-scrawled rough edges while the two go about daily life on the run. Scenes unfold with a steady rhythm as drawings alternate between enclosed boxes and those left to breathe, while full spreads show both bucolic landscapes and the city’s touristic vistas.
Langosh and Peppi manage to escape deportation one more time by crossing a border, discovering along the way that the countryside is not such a welcome place to visit. But on the return to the city, the Syrian refugee crisis has spilled into the country, with train stations and streets turned into tent cities overnight. Families are being separated and uncertainty is high.
The relative freedom that Langosh has, in spite of his challenges, becomes apparent, fully coming into relief in the book’s final scene.
This is a book for the times we live in, where the freedom to traverse global borders has come to be expected by many, but not experienced by even more. With a deft touch, humour and unflinching look at the issues she became familiar with while living in Hungary herself, Post has made a memorable addition to the graphic novel genre.