Broken Lines

Tom Pappalardo. Object, $12.99 trade paper (226p) ISBN 978-0-9983278-1-5

Pappalardo’s playful illustrated novel (after One More Cup of Coffee) tells a bizarre and frenetic story of pyromaniac demons dressed as firemen and a group of avenging heroes. Maggie, a waitress, asks for a ride home from work when her car won’t start, and she’s obliged by two characters named Cowboy and Spaceman. After she arrives home, the demons (ominously depicted in drawings with captions such as “WE’RE HERE TO BURN AND KILL”) set fire to her trailer park. Cowboy and Spaceman rescue Maggie, drawing her into a fundamental fight of good against evil. They travel in a rented moving van on a hellish road trip as the demons pursue with orders from their “Chief.” Sometimes the humor is just silly, but it can also be laugh-out-loud funny. The characters are well defined, and postmodern commentary bubbles to the surface. (Cowboy, during a pit stop at Pump ‘N’ Zoom, says to a kid enthralled by their quest: “Life ain’t a comic book and this ain’t an adventure!”) Lurid mixed media illustrations and satirical collages reminiscent of Adbusters add to the charm (an ad for Pump ‘N’ Zoom shows a customer gleefully putting a nozzle to their head like a gun). This author is bound to find an audience that has been waiting just for him. (Self-published)