- Reading level: 16+ years
- Hardcover: 128 pages
- Publisher: Fantagraphics (28 August 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1560979186
- ISBN-13: 978-1560979180
- Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 2.3 x 24.9 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
Abandoned Cars Hardcover – 28 Aug 2008
It's the modern equivalent of the Raymond Chandler yarns that fill up the more exciting portion of your bookshelf -- a string of police chases and back-alley fist fights with a surprisingly introspective thread running in the background.
The book signals the arrival of a major new voice on the American literary landscape, with or without illustrations.
Dirty, greasy, and impossible to put down, Lane's hardcover debut was the perfectly-timed summing-up of The American Dream in all its power and tail-finned delusion.--Alan David Doane
Lane's gorgeous black-and-white artwork -- naturalistic with occasional leaps into the surreal -- consistently lends tension as well as a quiet beauty to these various tales of struggle.--Danny Graydon
The spirit of the Beats imbues the debut collection by Tim Lane... The stories are united by their sense of longing and melancholy. ... His pen and ink style, reminiscent of Charles Burns, is extremely detailed and noirishly evocative.--Mike Sebastian
About the Author
Tim Lane lives in St. Louis, MO, with his wife and daughter.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
This is a dark ride and after awhile the intensity of the intelligence and the bitterness of the truthfulness were like a Nietzschean poison, but Lane does a good job balancing a consistently pessimistic vision with moments of levity and absurd humor. Lane is obsessed with a kind of mythic America steeped in train hopping, Kerouac, lonely bars, isolation, smoking, cars of the 1950s, and music, from French songs to Bob Seger to jazz. As he writes at one point, many of these stories and characters are from the part of the American Dream in which that dream is missing, or fails, or can't sustain.
I was surprised the Onion AV Club only rated a B+. I would give this collection an A. My only criticism was as I mentioned there is a lot of writing thus a lot of reading, and it tends to be the kind of writing coming from a highly intelligent, caustic mind that overthinks things. Nonetheless Lane is to be commended for being both a highly talented writer and artist, and blends the two media excellently in this book. Highly recommended.
In his Afterword, Lane remarks – in very earnest prose – that the works in ‘Abandoned Cars’ represent his interpretation of ‘The Great American Mythological Drama’. The Drama, in Lane’s mind, is a sort of grand mélange of pop culture and sociological tropes, such as Elvis; cars with fins; eating hotdogs on the Coney Island boardwalk along with other members of the lumpen proletariat; and the unsettling knowledge that, deep down…………. the American Dream has its Dark Side.
There’s hardly anything novel in this approach; it’s one already well-tapped not just by indie comics artistes like Harvey Pekar, but by authors like Charles Bukowski, and rock musicians like Bob Seger.
So when Lane crafts comics about blue-collar types who are struggling with Existential Despair, and the need to overcome their own failings, it’s more or less like reading Bob Seger songs……. set to graphic art.
If you think that ‘Like A Rock’, ‘Main Street’, and ‘Night Moves’ are the epitome of Blue Collar Angst as an artistic expression, then Lane’s work – with its images of goateed bikers mourning Failed Relationships, and Alienated Graduate Students seeking the meaning of life among the bleak, existential landscapes of urban America - will appeal to you.
What if, however, you’re not a fan of determinedly poetic expositions on Blue Collar Angst ? Well, ‘Abandoned Cars’ still is worth a look, mainly because of Lane’s art. Its meticulous linework, shading and stippling, and the use of (what apparently is) scratchboard for some works , calls to mind the work of indie comic greats like Thomas Ott and Charles Burns.
Lane’s skills as a draftsman are particularly noticeable in the ‘Spirit’ series of comics, about his own Hobo-style adventures at riding freight trains across the Northern Plains in Winter.
Summing up, Tim Lane’s artistic skills are the best thing about ‘Abandoned Cars’. If you’re a fan of good graphic art, with an emphasis type of draftsmanship that is increasingly being lost as the comics industry places greater emphasis on PC-generated artwork, then you may want to get a copy.
Lane deals with what he calls the "Great American Mythological Drama," closely associated, but not to be confused with, the American Dream. His characters are mostly on the younger side of middle-aged and dealing with what can best be described as an emptiness related to the realization that the something--a feeling sold through the collective promise that is America--they were expecting to find later in life just is not there for a variety of reasons. It deals with the time when expectations and dreams meet reality and examines the rift between them.
They are mostly introspective characters, wandering in a noirish blur, staring down decrepit alleys, contemplating what life means without that feeling and how it got away, or if it ever existed. Some, as in a tale billed as autobiographical, are still trying to find a trace of it by any means necessary--in the case of the author, that means seeking the rush of hopping freight trains. The characters travel separate paths but deal with nearly identical feelings.
By its nature, some of the book's tales can be downright gloomy, and fittingly Abandoned Cars doesn't arrive at a clear-cut solution to the American Myth, but Lane's effort to understand it for himself is beautifully presented.
Each tale is drawn in greatly detailed black-and-white evocative of Charles Burns, and the characters, the action, and the environments (much like the stories themselves) are exaggerated, creating a surrealistic tone. Lane also takes small cues from Chris Ware and uses the medium of comics extensively. Readers are presented with cutout pages of American archetypes, fabricated advertisements that play into the theme and several panels Lane arranges out of traditional order and occasionally requires readers to turn the book to follow.
The Ware-esque devices, far from being gimmicky, successfully serve the purpose of actively including the reader in the process of self-examination. The reason it feels misleading to call Abandoned Cars a collection is that every last detail of the book seems perfectly devised by Lane to bring the stories together and make the reader join the inner dialogue on the subject of the Great American Mythological Drama. It is a brilliant debut.
-- William Jones