cover image the bus

the bus

Paul Kirchner. (, $20 (96p) ISBN 978-2-84841-022-7

Here’s an English-language edition of a French reprint of the wonderful, surrealist strips of Kirchner (Dope Rider), originally published in Heavy Metal magazine beginning in 1978. The strips feature, by and large, a middle-aged protagonist who spends his time reading the newspaper while waiting for, riding on, and getting off the bus. What happens to him, and to the characters, landscapes, and buses he interacts with are like something out of a painting by Escher or Magritte. Kirchner’s experimentation is wonderful, whether in having his buses defy the laws of physics or treating them, in some cases, like other objects or even people. His unflappable protagonist fascinates us as well, both when he seems to perceive the surrealist events around him as perfectly normal or when he gives them at most a curious glance. In his wordless sequences, Kirchner is at his most effective. In the narrated strips that insert buses into incongruent historical contexts like the Titanic’s maiden voyage or the development of the Communist Manifesto, he is less so. In addition, as brilliant and wonderfully inventive as the concept of the bus is, Kirchner acknowledges in the book’s postscript that the humorous and unexpected can eventually give way to the incomprehensible. (Mar.)