Writer/Artist: Jesse Lonergan
Publisher: Bulgilhan Press
WHAT IS IT?
A racing comic filled with over-the-top characters and experimental sequences of comic book storytelling which push the medium to its limit.
Faster is a mixture of Speed Racer's eccentric roster of racers and a dash of the auto carnage found in Deathproof.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
The Bonzo International Speedway is home to the finest gathering of talent in the sport, with the reigning champion, Kona Demille, on the hunt for her sixth trophy. Molly Vox, a well-known party animal and perennial runner up to Kona, wants nothing more than to end the streak. To do so, Molly must test her mettle against a colorful cast of racers, each with their eye on the prize.
Will this finally be Molly's year? In a sport where speed is king and one wrong turn spells certain disaster for any driver, nothing is certain.
Jesse Lonergan is a remarkably versatile creator, which he puts on full display with each page, crafting the story, artwork, coloring, and lettering. Each component of comic storytelling feeds into each other as part of a singular vision that's a rarity in American comics.
The writing style operates under a "less is more" approach with many scenes having little dialogue but using what dialogue there is to show the reader a lot about the cast, even the characters with only one or two scenes.
Lonergan's artwork is the true star of the show. We're treated to phenomenal illustrations of cars and their internal parts, which will likely go underappreciated because he makes it look so easy.
The use of color to delineate flashbacks from the present day was an inspired choice, managing to stand apart from the present-day panels on the same page without clashing.
The lettering has a tactile quality to it that pops off the page, especially with the sound effects which expertly capture the roar of dueling engines and the build-up to the start of a race.
Conveying a race or car chase is arguably one of the most difficult things for an artist to do in comics. But, credit to Lonergan, his decision to map the race track and using those map lines to visualize the twists and turns of a race, thereby guiding the reader's eye to a specific panel was an inspired choice.
Faster's supporting characters felt appropriately theatrical with names such as Bala Klava, Soda Pop, and Action Verlaine, and felt right at home as a familiar spin on popular racing adventures Speed Racer and Wacky Racers.
There's an understated wit to Faster's sense of humor, with the flashbacks delivering the bulk of the laughs and balancing out the story's tone from being overly gritty.
The aftermath of the race and especially the final conversation is a poignant moment, taking the racing genre out of its usual story beats, choosing to end on an introspective note.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
While the experimental page layouts are admirable in conveying motion in a genre where motion is crucial, some pages are difficult to get a sense of what order they should be read. With the way the map lines are laid out sometimes, you're following them from left to right then going right to left to bring you back to the left-hand page.
The lack of sound effects from the cars apart from the build-up to the start of the race is an unfortunate omission. The sound effects used on that page were so creative, it makes the corresponding pages feel like the cars don't have the same force behind them.
A couple of caption lines come across as unnecessary with the artwork making it clear what we're supposed to take away from a panel, such as a character from the beginning reappearing at the end.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Faster is an excellent showcase for Jesse Lonergan as a creator, tackling one of the most difficult genres in comics with inventive page layouts you wouldn't expect from any comic. The passion that Lonergan brought to each stage of production is a marvelous achievement and served as a strong showcase for Bulgihan Press' brand of single-creator comics.
Though the ambition is commendable, Faster still stumbles in places with the lack of sound effects during the race and the experimental layouts occasionally tripping up the flow of the story. But even with those issues, Faster serves as a prime example of how to adapt the motion and sound-heavy racing genre into comic book form.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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