You & A Bike & A Road by Eleanor Davis
I watched the MICE panel on Graphic Memoirs, and it reminded me of one of my favorite works of the form. It tells the story of Davis biking from her parents’ home in Tucson, Arizona, to her own home in Athens, GA. Most of the comics were written during the trip and posted on twitter. I think a few pages were made to make it a cohesive work as a book (my guess is some of the maps as she crosses states borders). But mostly, it chronicles what happened during the day, the stand out moments, or her thoughts.
One of Davis’ frequent themes is the power of stories. How our own stories can make us strong, or how stories about other people can shape them. And that theme is at play in You & A Bike & a Road. On the first page, it shows how Marshstation road looks on a map, a simple line on the page, and then follows up the next page with how it looks to bike on it, the road dipping before her, cacti and other plants crowding the sides. The map makes it seem easy (on Day 6, her parents drive out to meet her covering the distance in a few hours) but biking changes her relationship with the distance, with the trip itself. And these themes pop up throughout the book. When people ask if she’s travelling alone, she lies and says she’s with her husband, because when they fear for her, that infects her. Their version of her story can overwrite her own. And as an outsider, doing something unique, when she meets people, they feel free to tell their stories.
Davis’ style always feels a little loose and that’s particularly true here as she was drawing on the go, but there are also pages crammed full of detail, like a day spent in Austin, where we can feel how overwhelmed she was to once again be in the city. But mostly she catches detail. Bits of scenery, postures and expressions.
The book at Koyama Press: http://koyamapress.com/projects/you-a-bike-a-road/