Red Eye, Black Eye

Writer(s): K. Thor Jensen
Artist(s): K. Thor Jensen
Publisher: Alternative Comics
ISBN: 978-1891867996
Price: $19.95
Page count: 304
Year Released: 2007
Status: in print
Original Source: n/a
Other Collected Edition(s): n/a
Genres: autobiography; slice of life; travelogue
Recommended for Fans Of: travel writing (Gen-X style)
Possibly Objectionable Material: coarse language; mild violence
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Also in This Series: n/a

Plot Summary
In the final months of 2001, Jensen lost his job, his girlfriend, his New York City apartment, and his grandmother. Then, he watched the World Trade Center towers fall. Shortly after that, Jensen put his belongings into storage, bought a Greyhound Ameripass (which allows the holder to ride as many buses as he or she wants for a certain period of time), and began traveling the country. Over the next two months he visited 18 cities, staying with friends or people he met on the Internet. In each city he allows his hosts to show him around, and asks them to tell him a story, which he then translates into comic book form. Along the way he heckles an inept accordion player, gets tossed out of a bar, visits the Mall of America, helps out a stray dog, dances crazy for money, gets pelted with nickels, and rides a burning sofa tied to a truck. It is a story filled with memorable characters, memorable events, and even a couple of good laughs.

My Own 2 Cents
This book has its charms, but I couldn't help but feel the same disappointment the author himself felt that, as he put it, "In all the [travel] books, you travel and have these grand epiphanies about your life and your place in the world . . . but none seem to be forthcoming" from his journey. Though the life of a drifter has been romanticized in books from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to On the Road, Jensen's journey--though full of interesting bits and pieces--is not particularly life-changing.

But Jensen's story is a story of real life, not fiction, and so the mundane aspects of his journey should be expected I suppose. Besides, as one person he meets late in the book puts it, "Take what you've lived through and learn from it, turn it into something useful." The something useful that Jensen turned his journey into, of course, is this book. Based on enthusiastic reviews from Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal I'd been hoping for more. But that has nothing to do with what Jensen has created. If you're interested in what a real journey across America would be like (without having to spend 60 days on a Greyhound bus yourself), then this might be the book for you.