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May 9-15, 2007

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'Red Eye, Black Eye'

Red Eye, Black Eye
(By K. Thor Jensen; Alternative Comics; 304 pages; $19.95 paperback)

Laid off, evicted and dropped by his girlfriend, the cartoonist goes on a trip around America. The results: this sour and depressing graphic-novel account of a 60-day Greyhound Ameripass. If basically nothing happens on such a 10,000-mile quest, it's less because of too many hours on too many interstates than it is because the narrator had his eyes closed. Since Jensen has a fan base in many of the cities on his travels, he almost never gets up against the wall like a real hobo; he's treated like a celebrity in one town after another. Graphically, Red Eye, Black Eye is monotonous, too. It's drawn in the strict minicomics style—head and shoulders above all other comics, since essentially all you see are the heads and the shoulders of the characters. The harder Jensen's road gets—in Vegas, for instance, where he's broke and homeless—the more interesting the story. But he's on a tight schedule for the most part, and there's never really any serendipity or detours on this trip. Jensen's apparent lack of interest in anything besides creature comforts wears on the reader.

Review by Richard von Busack


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