Damn my keyboard for not having the upside down exclamation mark! This is a huge telling of Nick’s trip through Mexico, stopping at all kinds of little cities (and places that aren’t even cities) along the way. He was nice enough to provide a map on the inside front cover, so I won’t list a bunch of them pretending that I have any idea where he was. Mostly there’s a lot of introspection, some meditation, a bit of intimidation here and there, and an almost complete loss of understanding of the “civilized” world, whicih is exactly what Nick seemed to be shooting for. These “travel diary” style comics are a tough thing to get exactly right (see Peter Kuper and Justin Hall for examples of just that), as people tend to either be too wordy or too sparse in the details of their trip, and Nick threads that needle beautifully. I love his complete lack of word balloons, how all of his thoughts are wrapped up inside of the images of his trip. Great, beautiful stuff, that artwork won me over in the last issue and kept right on going in this one. There’s also a funny Leonard Cohen story from an airport, just to name drop a little for the man. It’s $7.50, which may seem a bit hefty, but this is a hefty book, something that shouldn’t be missed by people who enjoy travelling vicariously through people like Nick.
Burn All Stations
If you’re looking for a simple book, or something to validate any justifications you have for being OK with this shitty world, avoid this at all costs. It’ll challenge you, confuse you, and make you think, not necessarily in that order. It’s the story of a young man named Jimmy walking through life, free associating about everything he sees, decrying the world as a whole and just trying to get by. Along the way he deals with horniess, an old revolutionary ripped out of time, boredom and a bullet to the head. These are the sort of comics that defy any sort of conventional review, as the story, although seemingly linear, takes you all over the place and has no interest in settling things down with a nice ending. It’s poetry, but not the standard rhyming kind. This is the stuff that makes you question it all, or wonder why you stopped questioning it. It hit me while I was in the right mood, obviously, as this is not a lazy day type of comic. There is, however, plenty here to reward those who are willing to dig, from the sometimes dense prose to the clumpy and black artwork. This is also one of those cases where the website will tell you everything you need to know, as he has a blog there as well a daily strip. Do a bit of digging there to see if this for you, but with the almost total lack of a social conscience in most comics, this did me a world of good. $5