Saturday, September 06, 2008
Reading like a gene-splicing of Charles Burns, David Lynch and Jack Kerouac, this collection of illustrated short stories places the reader firmly within the seamy netherworld of a semi-retro America populated by assorted low-lives, drifters, stoners, manic depressives and other types common to noir and pulp fiction, but unlike many such entries Lane’s stories feature an unusual level of introspection in their characters. With each panel the reader gets to know and understand the average Joe protagonists and as a result there’s far more emotional investment to be had than with the average comics offering. There’s a palpable sense of despair and the disturbing in the stories, and while in way feel-good material, the tales are all compelling, particularly a three-part autobiographical “Spirit,” in which the author recounts his experiences as a rail-riding hobo. Especially affecting is the near-silent two-pager “Those Were Good years,” a look at a senior citizen’s first attempt to cope with the loss of his wife and a piece representative of the eloquent sense of sadness that pervades the volume. Not for all tastes, but definitely worth perusing.