Eight Lane Runaways

Henry McCausland. Fantagraphics, $24.99 (96p) ISBN 978-1-68396-311-0
McCausland debuts with a gentle, technically gifted work of character-driven surrealism. Atmospherically resembling Where’s Waldo crossed with Chris Ware and Winsor McCay in its bird’s-eye perspective and precision, the story centers on a nigh-infinite track upon which a group of eight runners attempt to complete a cross-country race. Much like the track itself, the runners’ world is peculiar and uncanny. One runner possesses a magic coat that tells her what decisions to make, while another carries an implausibly intricate system of strings to try and find his missing cats, and their race carries them through adventures like a runaway train and a flood (providing McCausland an excuse to riff on Hokusai’s “The Great Wave”). McCausland’s figure drawings are spare but sprightly, and his elaborately mapped routes pack on the charm with puzzle-page story lines in which characters find or learn their one great purpose/lesson. But though each escapade is momentarily resonant, there’s not enough linking the narratives to provide a lasting emotional take away. Possessing a wry appeal, the experiment at the end still seems rather circular. (July)
Reviewed on : 04/23/2020
Release date: 07/07/2020
Genre: Comics
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