Many cartoonists choose to do one of two things: make the strange seem familiar or make the familiar seem alien. In Paul Kirchner’s strip, The Bus, he maintains the latter. While some of us remember Kirchner for his work on Dino-Riders, most know the monthly strip in Heavy Metal magazine from 1978 to 1985 and this well-designed landscape book offers choice selections.
Usually varying from six to eight panels a strip, Kirchner builds a surreal world around the one undeniable constant: the bus. Indefatigable is the wayward vessel of the everyman but reading the strip, you recognize rules we all must obey and slows everyone’s progress. Yet, the bus must also follow the rules laid out before it, whether it is stopping at a bus stop not matter what axis it is on to exact change for a fare, no matter how bad the environment.
The balding bus rider meets a number of oddities on his travels; to where is rarely important. Delightfully, these pantomime comics are often punctuated by a news-reel-esque description of buses in their time out of work or from the dawning of time.
For more tripsy fun, read The Bus by Paul Kirchner and pardon the pun, enjoy the ride. Also, a big thank you to Evan Dorkin who donated the book to the Schulz Library. Anytime I see a box with Dorkin’s name on it, I know I will be surprised and delighted.