Abandoned Cars is Tim Lane’s first collection of graphic short stories, noir-ish narratives that are united by their exploration of the great American mythological drama by way of the desperate and haunted characters that populate its pages. Lane’s characters exist on the margins of society—alienated, floating in the void between hope and despair, confused but introspective. Some of them are experiencing the aftermath of an existential car crash—those surreal moments after a car accident, when time slows down and you’re trying to determine what just happened and how badly you’re hurt. Others have gone off the deep end, or were never anywhere but the deep end. Some are ridiculous, others dignified in their efforts to struggle to make sense of, and cope with, the absurdities, outrages, ghosts, and poisons in their lives.
The writing is straightforward, the stories mainstream but told in a pulpy idiom with an existential edge, often in the first person, reminiscent of David Goodis’s or Jim Thompson’s prose or of films like Pick-Up on South Street or Out of the Past. Visually, Lane’s drawing is in a realistic mode, reminiscent of Charles Burns, that heightens the tension in stories that veer between naturalism on the one hand and the comical, nightmarish, and hallucinatory on the other. Here, American culture is a thrift store and the characters are thrift store junkies living among the clutter. It’s an America depicted as a subdued and haunted Coney Island, made up of lost characters—boozing, brawling, haplessly shooting themselves in the face, and hopping freight trains in search of Elvis.
Abandoned Cars is an impressive debut of a major young American cartoonist.
2009 Ignatz Award Nominee: Outstanding Anthology or Collection
“Tim Lane’s stories resonate with a dramatic intensity and emotional life that’s genuinely rare in comics today. Heartache, hope, loss and redemption — all in their naked glory on every page. And his drawing is phenomenal!” – Glenn Head
“Fans of postmodern pulp auteur Charles Burns would do well to seek out Lane’s comics. What I love about Lane’s work is his eye for grotesquerie and surrealism combined with incredible precision of line.” – Illo Watch
“[Tim Lane] makes illustrations in that Brill Cream-soaked, hard-boiled, noir style with heavy hatching circa R. Crumb.” – Juxtapoz
"Rare is the comic book that envelops you with its lush artistic intricacies while knocking you flat with its raw emotional impact. Such is the case with the bold, brilliantly told Abandoned Cars... So if you’re looking for one of the summer’s best debuts — and want to eye-gobble some of the most gorgeous comic artwork in recent memory — definitely make sure to check out Tim Lane’s amazing book." – Fairfield Weekly
"The real comic book event of the summer... breathtaking... The book signals the arrival of a major new voice on the American literary landscape, with or without the illustrations." – Print
"Tim Lane's powerful debut book [sports] a lovely design and several muscular stories." – The Comics Reporter
"The stories take place along a vaguely defined stretch of scenery haunted by the ghosts of Kerouac, Marlon Brando, and Elvis, where visitors can probably hear the distant strains of a Tom Waits song or The Magnetic Fields' Charm of the Highway Strip playing in the background... Lane's art, reminiscent of Charles Burns and Daniel Clowes, but with its own unique dark shadings, remains stunning throughout. Here's one to watch... [Grade] B+" – The Onion A.V. Club
"...Tim Lane's... stories [are] an argument that the essential American state of being is noirish—black-hearted, ground-down, covetous, just about ready to crater emotionally and financially... I imagine... that Lane and [Paul] Auster would get along like a house on fire..." – Mark Athitakis' American Fiction Notes
"Tim Lane’s dark, comics-as-noir collection of graphic fiction, Abandoned Cars, is a sideshow of lost personalities and cheap commercial come on. It’s a comic-noir look at folks who have discarded the American dream and created their own nightmare. The stories, sharply drawn in shades of black and white, mostly take place in bar rooms, bedrooms, freight yards and behind the wheel of a car. In between, Lane takes time to hop freights and mull over his literary inspirations, more Jim Thompson (After Dark My Sweet), Harry Whittington (A Ticket To Hell) and Charles Willeford (Cockfighter) than Kerouac or Hemingway." – Inland Empire Weekly
"Abandoned Cars is a thrilling collection of short stories... [that] shows us both the appeal of, and the monumental fraud at, the heart of the now-ending American era." – Alan David Doane, Comic Book Galaxy
"At a time when America is grappling with its identity, there's something very penetrating about Tim Lane's Abandoned Cars - a collection of noir-ish narratives which explore the underbelly of the American Dream. Populated with characters who exist on society's margins, Lane's tales are pulpy (and oddly romantic) creations about hope and redemption - best exemplified in 'The Drive Home,' the affecting story of a man adrift, striving to regain the family he has lost. Lane's gorgeous black-and-white artwork - naturalistic with occasional leaps into the surreal - consistently lends tension as well as a quiet beauty to these various tales of struggle." – The First Post (with excerpt)
"...Startling new talents in the [comics] medium... continue to emerge with regularity. On the evidence of Abandoned Cars, Tim Lane is in this vanguard. Here employing an at-times fanatically detailed visual style as dark as that of [Charles] Burns, Lane also reveals an artistic debt to an earlier groundbreaking stylist, Will Eisner... [An] apt literary comparison might be to Raymond Carver... Abandoned Cars establishes Lane in the first rank of today's emerging comics artists." – Step Inside Design
"Lane’s beautifully crafted pen-and-ink drawing combines a master artist’s eye for detail with a predilection for the grotesque to produce a superb blending of unforgettable images and poignant meditation on life’s tragic undercurrents." – Booklist