Jensen, K. Thor – Red Eye, Black Eye
There’s a great, simple setup for this book: Thor, in a very short time span, loses his job, girlfriend, apartment and grandma. Oh, and then there was 9/11. Faced with all of this and at a loss as to what to do next, Thor decides to buy the longest continuous bus pass possible (the Ameripass, something that lets him go wherever he wants in the country for two months) and wander the country. Anybody coming to this book looking for an epiphany or a set of easy answers is in for a disappointment though. Assuming this is all chronological, Thor travels to Boston, Concord, Cleveland, Columbus, Champaign, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Seattle, Eugene, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, El Paso, Austin, Birmingham, Atlanta, Gainesville, and finally back to New York (not to spoil the ending or anything). Along the way he encourages people he meets to tell the best story they have and he does end up with some doozies, no doubt about it. There’s also the constant worry about money, as he has a $1000 check from his old landlord that keeps bouncing and he’s rapidly running out of cash. It’s hard not to relate to the guy throughout this book. His wandering, his searching for meaning (but settling for a good amount of booze and decent company instead), and the question that runs underneath it all: why go back? What’s waiting for him in New York anyway besides his stuff? All told, this is one of the better graphic novels I’ve seen in the last few years. There’s angst, sure, but it’s not overpowering. It’s mostly just an earnest quest to wring some meaning from it all, and he’s confronted more than once with the fact that when it comes to telling the story of “the craziest thing that’s happened to you on your trip”, he draws a blank. It’s the journey more than the destination, and when even the journey is getting you down, well… This is one of those things that should be on the shelf of everybody who reads comics, one of those things that you’ll be able to show to friends who are entirely too cool for comics and still impress them. $19.95 but, as always, cheaper if you go through that Amazon link.