Lone Racer, by Nicolas Mahler. Published 2006 by Top Shelf. Graphica.
Lone Racer is a graphic-novel short story about a nameless drag racer past his glory days who spends most of his time at the bar- his wife is ill and hospitalized, and he can no longer keep up with the game. Everything's become faster, more dangerous and more daring- and he's just become older. One of his bar buddies, a policeman, suggests they hold up a bank- but what follows isn't what you might expect.
What attracted me to this little book was the offbeat visual style and coloration. The driver, the other characters and the scenes are made up of some of the loosest, simplest sketching I've ever seen. The driver himself is just a collection of long lines and exaggerated features, especially his elongated proboscis. His wife is a shape under a sheet with a tiny, tiny head, perhaps a metaphor of her diminished status in the world. However diminished she may appear, she is a huge presence in the narrator's life and his love for her is what drives him, figuratively but literally as well. The book is slightly larger than quarter size and divided up almost uniformly into two horizontal panels per page with narration on top of each panel, giving it the feel of movie or television screens. The coloring is black and white except for the hero, who is colored in orange. Occasionally other elements of the scenery is orange as well, such a woman's legs, or tire marks on the road- elements that express movement. The hero is almost always in motion, either running or swinging his loopy, spaghetti-thin arms and body around a panel. Mahler's art definitely keeps the eye moving around the page.
I was surprised and taken aback by the ending, and the book ends up being a bittersweet meditation on redemption and the power of love- with the emphasis on sweet. With some adult language and sexual content it's another one for the grownups but I'd recommend Lone Racer as a quick, very enjoyable read.
FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review from the publisher.