Track Suit Man is a self-published piece from Lenovations Press and was submitted to me by Len Mihalovich with the intriguing line ‘…I lived this story, it all happened’.
Len is a guy who over the years has earned many, many air-miles, as part of his job. The concept of business travel can’t help but conjure up such words as odious, tedious and dreary. Nevertheless, it’s a fine arena in which humanity can reveal itself either at its most praiseworthy, and as I’m sure you’d agree, at its most cretinous.
In this instance, Mihalovich has discovered a character that is without doubt, leaning towards the despicable. Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you Track Suit Man. He’s the stand-out villain of this piece. He’s a character that I think anyone who has travelled on any kind of communal transport more than once in their life, will recognise. This comic is devoted to the slings and arrows that are inflicted on poor commuter Len. He carries the burden of the misfortune to share a regular domestic air-route with this maddeningly self-obsessed individual.
We all know the type. The one who jumps the queue. The one who’s convinced that rules and regs. are for ‘other people’. The one who knows that Johannes Kepler was wrong and that the world indeed, revolves around him. The one who wouldn’t get ‘good manners’ if they were smacked across his face. With a crowbar.
There are a number of admirable approaches to the storytelling in this comic. The design and layout style they have chosen to adopt is perfect. Do you remember scrapbooks? Well, that’s essentially what springs to mind. A sustained ‘grid’ with relatively few panels, reminiscent of opportune photo-snaps, sitting in clean space with assorted ‘travel stickers’ in the background. From the first page it really helps in getting you in the mindset of the constant air-traveller. It also considerably complements the narrative prose in which the bulk of the story is delivered. Dialogue is used sparingly, but effectively throughout.
Another fine framing device is the ongoing online commentary, between Len and his own peer group; often reflecting hilarious reactions of disbelief, as he regales them of the latest outrages and crimes against airport etiquette, committed by his developing nemesis. Once again, uncluttered, unfussy design wins the day with smart phone screen close-ups. The dialogue provides fine moments of light relief, one particular favourite being impatience from a buddy as he awaits news of the next Track Suit Man encounter.
It’s enjoyable watching Len go beyond his initial astonishment, experiencing natural frustration, anger and eventually, the thirst for sweet revenge. This is thankfully however, not a tale that descends into ridiculous overkill of any kind. The events are real, they happened and the joy is in the ample opportunities for humour and observation that this ongoing saga provides.
Then, out of the blue, a rude interruption. Just as I’m ¾ way through this piece, engrossed, amused and in the moment, the tale is interrupted by four pages of material that’s quite simply in the wrong place; Artists’ bios, social media archetypes, actual photographic evidence of the Track Suit Man, himself! Now, each and all of these things make for ideal supplementary material, but surely, at the back of the book? It’s confusing too as there’s just no apparent logic to it. This section is then followed by the actual closing two pages and of itself, the ending works just fine. Unfortunately, by this point I’m not ‘in the zone’ which ultimately spoils a fun, light-hearted drama.
Pagination notwithstanding, I enjoyed this book very much. It has some great moments, skillfully conveyed and it’ll be interesting to see where Mihalovich and his team go from here. I hope to see more from them, soon. Witness the outlandish machinations of Track Suit Man, departing from this location. Track Suit Man is also available from IndyPlanet, Smashwords, Comixology, Nook, Kindle and iTunes.
What impression did Track Suit Man make on you? Have you ever suffered the company of a comparably wretched fellow traveller? If so, share your pain with us!