Books: Abandoned Cars

Forget about Marvel’s Secret Invasion or DC’s Final Crisis. The real comic book event of the summer comes in the unassuming guise of a hardcover collection of illustrated short stories. Abandoned Cars (Fantagraphics) is the breathtaking debut book by St. Louis writer/illustrator Tim Lane. Lane drew on a number of inspirations—everything from “pre-Comics Code” comics like Will Eisner’s The Spirit to Bruce Springsteen’s concept album Nebraska to inform this collection of atmospheric tales about the human condition. “Over technique, over stylization, more important than anything else is emotional impact,” he says. This isn’t to say that the book lacks either technique or style, but that for all its visual dazzle, there’s an emotional tug, sometimes sympathy, sometimes revulsion. Refreshingly, the book isn’t slavishly devoted to genre or to its inherent comic book-ness (no tights or monsters). So why not just write a straight-up short story collection? “The stories I like to tell are conducive to comics,” he says. The book signals the arrival of a major new voice on the American literary landscape, with or without the illustrations.  DREW TAYLOR

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