Sequential Art in Motion
It’s clear to anyone reading this blog that I’m a big nerd when it comes to bicycling and food. What may be less obvious is how much of a “traditional” nerd I am. This passion for stereotypically geeky things led me to spend the last two gorgeous weekends inside a hotel, talking to other fans. That’s right – I was at two separate comic book conventions. But as life so often does, even my passion for bicycling crept into this arena. At the Small Press Expo (SPX), I saw a number of artists using bicycle motifs in their work. As these events and my bike’s recent tendency to get flat tires has kept me from riding lately, I thought I’d share some of my favorite comics to feature bikes in some way.
– The Skids and The Shortcut by Sally Carson: Sally had a table at SPX, and of course, I’m morally obligated to pick up any comic with a bicycle on the cover. The Skids is about her adventures as a bicycle messenger in New York City. There’s only one issue so far, but she’s in the process of writing more. The Shortcut is a short, humorous comic about an ill-fated shortcut – haven’t we all had one of those?
– Octopus Pie by Meredith Gran: Another comic represented at SPX, Octopus Pie is about Eve, a 20-something living in Brooklyn and her friends. As residents of Brooklyn are legally required to own a bike, a number of the storylines involve bicycling. The second storyline involves Eve discovering her bicycle has been stolen and a later one is about a loosely fictionalized version of the Five Boroughs ride. But my favorite bike-related comic in Octopus Pie is a one-off flashback where young Eve convinces her little brother that he’s turning into a Bicycle Person.
– Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson: Calvin and Hobbes is one of, if not my favorite comic of all time, and that’s saying a lot considering the size of our graphic novel collection. One of the most hilarious characters in the strip is Calvin’s dad. Along with telling Calvin that he was bought at KMart and that camping in the rain “builds character,” Calvin’s dad is also a cyclist. He expresses the joy and the pain of bicycling so well that I suspect that Bill Watterson has spent some time on a bike.
– Hark a Vagrant by Kate Beaton: A comic focused on making historical figures and pseudo-historical situations hilarious. I know I’ve linked to it before, but her interpretation of old illustrations arguing against women cycling are pretty much amazing. They make me want to ride my bike around recklessly in a huge Victorian skirt.
– PhD (Piled Higher and Deeper) by Jorge Cham: A strip chronicling the ongoing saga of a bunch of graduate students. While the comic doesn’t deal with biking much, anyone who has struggled to find bicycle parking will appreciate this particular strip.
There are also a few bike-related comics that I know of, although am not as personally as familiar with.
– Yahuda Moon and the Kickstand Cyclery by Rick Smith: As far as I know, this is the only long-running comic focusing on cycling. The strip follows the absurdities of running a bicycle shop and the main character a laid-back cyclist who will find his way to the shop in any weather.
– Sprocket Man: Sprocket Man is a superhero originally created in Stanford in 1979 who is really, really, really into bicycle safety. The Consumer Products Safety Commission picked up the character at some point and printed a number of comics about him. I think my favorite line is “the anarchy of the cyclist can be afforded no longer!” Also, the person hitting a “low traffic sign” and saying “ow” is pretty great. It’s available in a few places in print, and at least one issue is accessible online.
– Bikeyface: This is a journal comic where the author chronicles her bicycle rides. Although I haven’t read much so far, it combines slice-of-life comics with biking, giving it a guaranteed spot on my bookmarks list.
Do you know of any other comics that feature cyclists? What are your favorite comics or blogs about cycling?