Eight-Lane Runaways

Fantagraphics. Jun. 2020. 96p. ISBN 9781683963110. $24.99. Rated: Teen+. humor
DEBUT Runners compete in a seemingly endless race across a surreal landscape in McCausland’s elaborately illustrated, idiosyncratic debut. For Natalie, the race is an occasion to award herself a self-made merit badge. Bobby claims to have been gifted amazing running ability after falling into a bowl of boiling blackberries as a child. Oplo sees the race as an opportunity to search for his lost cat, Khoklakola participates at the behest of her magic coat, and Freddo identifies as a frog. McCausland uses double-page, eagle-eye panoramic views reminiscent of the “Where’s Waldo” series to offer glimpses of the strange world surrounding his cast as they continue along the track. Weird dreams are discussed and dismissed as meaningless, and strange characters, such as a group planning to fly a manned kite to the moon, are encountered. In the aftermath of a sudden flood, the cast is separated and beset by increasingly bizarre obstacles—one person struggles to decide how to replace her severed arm, another wanders into an alternate dimension, a pair are tempted by a juice made from every fruit and berry in existence, others push ahead in hopes of achieving victory.
VERDICT Fantastically ambitious, funny, and delightfully weird.

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