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Calamity Coach
posted August 9, 2010


Creator: Aaron Costain
Publishing Information: Self-Published, mini-comic, 16 pages, 2007-2008, $6
Ordering Numbers:

imageYou don't need to most folks that bus trips are death (Roger Langridge, for instance). Like many of my friends, my most nightmarish travel stories involve a bus. When you're a kid in Midwest, you tend to use Greyhound and its regional equivalents for trips between locations your parents won't allow you to drive and that no one will take with you: summer camp reunions, seeing your best friend from third grade, a weekend spent as a statehouse page. I've taken enough bus trips to know about both "Fat Man's Privilege," that if you're large enough people will choose to sit next to you last, and the "Overnight Exception To Fat Man's Privilege," that the people who tend to take longer bus trips choose their seating partners by race first, gender second, width third.

Calamity Coach brings back a lot of those memories, none of them pleasant, in what the inside back cover copy calls "an examination of the effects of panic disorder, agoraphobia, and depression." It's a Gashlycrumb Tinies for Maddencruisers, the presentation of various baroque avenues of doom with verse describing what we're seeing ensconced underneath each visual. It's a conceptually sound idea for a book -- most people have a bus story and likely wouldn't mind seeing a series of them destroyed -- but it only gets a C+ for execution in its current form. I love the cool color palette and the way many of the pictures are staged, but some of the drawings are a bit restrained. I think that may be for tone, but it doesn't work for me here. The gags lack the consistent ingenuity one might think would come in a book this short. In other words, I don't remember a single picture, and I probably should. Still, this book falls short for me as a matter of degree, not as a wholehearted rejection of what it's trying to do. I'd like it to be sharper; you may give it a kinder verdict.