Thursday, January 29, 2009
I'm not a big reader of comics and graphic novels, though I've got several friends trying to turn me around on that point, but Abandoned Cars by Tim Lane came out of nowhere last year and knocked me on my ass. What caught my eye first were the gorgeous graphics, romantic renderings of nowhere middle America in all its muddy, Ichabodliness. The stories too, linked only by theme and tone, were alternately tragic and funny, grim only to the height of the low stakes, each exploring the endless nuance of ways to waste a life. And the writing itself was possessed of the remnants of Kerouac, Fante, Bukowski and other such chroniclers of the American dream's morning after. The sense of place was spot on too. Lane is a fellow St. Louisan and, though not integral to the reader's enjoyment of the stories and artwork, I got a kick out of the many references to local color and legend. The story of Stagger Lee, perhaps St. Louis's most famous murder, I'd caught serialized in the Riverfront Times, but blown up to book size, it's power and command of the page are remarkable. If Abandoned Cars creates an appetite for more barfly graphic work, I'd also recommend Rude Awakening, the Dennis McMillan published collaboration between Purnell Christian and Joe Servello, (adapted from Christian's short story collection Modern Physics and Other Tales). Visit Tim Lane at jackienoname.wordpress.com.