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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Relatively Serious Comics Reviews: Red Eye, Black Eye

Most of the time that I indulge my delusions of critical grandeur with a Relatively Serious Review, it's because I've managed to con a publisher into actually sending me a free copy of something with that express purpose in mind. Occasionally, though--like after I read the incredible Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service--I'll find something so awesome that I feel like I have no choice but to let people know about it.

K. Thor Jensen's Red Eye, Black Eye is one of the latter.

Like a lot of people, I first became aware of K. Thor Jensen as the co-founder of Portal of Evil. For anyone who's ever read one of my reviews of Tarot, it should come as no surprise that I have a pretty healthy interest in the hilariously awful corners of the internet, and I still consider my first exposure to the works of the inimitable David Gonterman as a defining moment in my career as a conoisseur of the horrible.

So needless to say, Thor's always been one of those guys that I've been aware of--and ostensibly a fan of--and yet I somehow managed to completely miss the fact that he was coming out with a graphic novel until the day it came into the store. It ended up being a special order for Phil, who offered to let me borrow it when he was finished.

I did, and within 15 pages, I ordered one for myself. It is excellent.

At its heart, Red Eye, Black Eye is a phenomenally enjoyable travelogue of a modern-day hobo, telling the story of Jensen's road trip around the country after he finds himself in New York with no job, no apartment, and no girlfriend. He decides to buy a 60 day Greyhound Bus pass, and then bums around the country and staying with people he met on the internet, so as you might expect, it reads a lot like what I'd imagine Carnet de Voyage would be like if it was created by someone from Portal of Evil.

But it's not just Jensen's stoy, and that's one of the many things that makes it excellent. Everyone he stays with through the course of two months on the road has a story of their own, from ghost stories to anecdotes about weird coworkers and the almost-mandatory College Roommate From Hell, and they weave into his own odyssey as he wanders around the country kicking up hijinks and worrying about whether his landlady's going to bounce another check and leave him destitute.

The idea that everyone, whether they spend their time dragging Jensen around on a flaming couch through the mud flats of Alabama or just drinking a lot and writing term papers in Austin, has a great story in their life is a no-brainer, but Jensen presents them in such an incredibly entertaining way that by the end of the book, I wanted to hop a bus myself and start interviewing strangers.

Fortunately, Red Eye, Black Eye makes that completely unnecessary.

It weighs in at 300 pages for $19.95 at your local shop--or a little less on Amazon--and it's worth every penny, but to quote LeVar Burton, you don't have to take my word for it. The same fifteen pages that convinced me are available as a free preview on Jensen's website, along with a bunch of other free comics like the absolutely fantastic "Teen MODOK."

And if that doesn't convince you to buy Jensen's work, nothing will.

More Relatively Serious Reviews:

| ALIEEN and Sardine in Outer Space |
| American Born Chinese |
| The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, v.1 |


Blogger Phil Looney said...

I was planning on scanning that one panel from the page above and saying "Chris Sims - Age 4"

2/19/2007 8:24 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great! You really should do more of these, you know.

2/19/2007 8:59 AM

Blogger Kevin Church said...

That'd involve him reading more things with less face-punching. I agree, though.

It is a fantastic book; Jensen's a talent and a half.

2/19/2007 9:26 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it wrong for me to think of Sesame Street's Monsterpiece Theater when I see that Relatively Serious pic?

2/19/2007 11:35 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that's what Chris is going for, dan.

2/19/2007 3:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, he has to make it complete by snapping the pipe in half and eating it.

Ever watch the bits of Monsterpiece Theatre they put on YouTube? AWESOME.


2/19/2007 3:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In which week was this book released in stores?

2/19/2007 6:14 PM

Blogger Greg said...

Anonymous - this came out on 7 February, unless I'm misremembering badly. I agree with Chris - it's a very good book.

2/19/2007 7:27 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Greg.

2/20/2007 4:31 AM

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