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Davis, Eleanor – You & A Bike & A Road

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You & A Bike & A Road

One of the true joys of this “job” is that I get to watch amazingly talented artists as they develop; search for her name or click on her tag if you don’t believe me. I got a few minis from here in Athens, Georgia in early 2005, got a few more in 2007 and then kind of lost track of her. Which happens way too often and is entirely my fault. Anyway! Since I can’t afford to buy all of the comics in the world, much as I would like to, I’ve been using the local library system a lot lately (if you live near Columbus, Ohio, go nuts with it, you can read damned near anything), which finally brings me to talking about this graphic novel. The idea behind it was simple enough: Eleanor got a new bike from her parents in Tucson, Arizona. She was dreading figuring out some way to get it back to her home in Athens, Georgia, and riding her bike gave her a kind of peace that she couldn’t get anywhere else, so she got the idea to just ride her bike all the way from Tucson to Athens. If you’re curious, that’s right around 1800 miles. This book is the story of that journey, how she handled the mental and physical wear and tear, and some of the people and things she met along the way. There’s also the constant question of whether or not she’s going to make it, as her knees started giving her trouble relatively early in the journey. There’s a lot to love about this book, and it often reminded me of Jeff Zenick (sadly, that’s probably not a familiar name to most of you) and the stories he would tell about his travels. For what it’s worth, that’s as high of a recommendation as I can give for an autobiographical comic. I knew the border patrol was active anywhere near the border, but she saw helicopters and vehicles of their pretty much constantly, along with one particularly memorable episode involving an immigrant (?) who was trying to get away from them and the tactics (lies) they used to bring him down. Despite the seemingly simple premise, there’s a lot going on in this story, from the reactions of all the people she met along the way to everything she learned and experienced to her pushing the boundaries of her own physical limits. At the end of the day it’s just a great story, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this inspired more than a few people to try something like this for themselves. $12