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The Bus.
October 13, 2013 2:01 PM   Subscribe

Paul Kirchner's The Bus is a surreal gag strip that ran in Heavy Metal magazine in the early 80s. It can be bought as a book, but the book is out of print. Here it is on Imgur. Downright scrumptious, old-fashioned flavor with that 70s east-coast anomie vibe.
posted by Nomyte (44 comments total) 100 users marked this as a favorite

 
How weird. How wonderful. Thank you, Nomyte.
posted by RakDaddy at 2:14 PM on October 13, 2013


Oh wow, I remember. It is still excellent.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:17 PM on October 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is awesome!
posted by evisceratordeath at 2:19 PM on October 13, 2013


Thank you--love this.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 2:21 PM on October 13, 2013


These are great!
posted by blueberry at 2:29 PM on October 13, 2013


Great find.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:33 PM on October 13, 2013


It was exactly this bus design that I rode long ago, when I was of an age to ride the bus and read Heavy Metal. Why the forward leaning windows? Was this purely an aesthetic choice or is there some functional explanation?
posted by Meatbomb at 2:37 PM on October 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Buses of the Pliocene. This has made my day.
posted by heurtebise at 2:40 PM on October 13, 2013


Holy crap I love this. Especially this one.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 2:51 PM on October 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shop Schapp's [linens|stationery|hardware|sundries|flotsam|offal]
posted by JHarris at 2:56 PM on October 13, 2013


Why the forward leaning windows? Was this purely an aesthetic choice or is there some functional explanation?
Everybody loves a rhombus? Perhaps they gave the bus more of a "rapid" look...?
posted by blueberry at 2:56 PM on October 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ha! This one one is beautiful.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 2:59 PM on October 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


That apprehensive look!
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 2:59 PM on October 13, 2013


I really loved this comic, remember thumbing through the book in the dollar racks at used bookstores. Wouldn't mind getting a copy of my own finally. Hmmm...
[checks availability on Amazon]
[shudders a little, closes browser tab]
posted by ardgedee at 3:11 PM on October 13, 2013


Also the creator of Dope Rider for High Times, also available online, with commentary by the author.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:16 PM on October 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


This strip is pretty similar to Will Eisner's cartoon vignettes about New Yorkers (City People Notebook, etc.). I really miss this kind of stuff: the balding, middle-aged everyman versus the impersonal surrealism of the big city. It feels like cartoons have turned a lot more personal, in a navel-gazing way, since then. Everything is some kind of autobiography. As much as I like stories about the hapless misadventures of down-on-their-luck, 20-something cartoonists from middle-class professional families, at some point it gets repetitive.
posted by Nomyte at 3:24 PM on October 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Meatbomb: GM New Look Bus. It evolved out of the "old look" Yellow Coach bus, and a variant is still made today as the Classic. If you ask me, the windshield -- assembled from six pieces in a rhomboid configuration, giving it the nickname "fishbowl" -- was primarily designed to give the driver maximum visibility of pedestrians crossing in front of the bus, as well as improving the visibility of other road traffic.
posted by dhartung at 3:26 PM on October 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love The Bus, but never thought of looking for more stuff from him-- thanks! Here's a bit more on Kirchner.
posted by zompist at 3:27 PM on October 13, 2013


Oh, God, I only remember seeing this in print once or twice (I wasn't much into sequential art then, and only a little bit later...), but these are brilliant, especially so if you can identify with them as a commuter/regular bus rider. I mean that I can imagine someone doing a strip like this simply because they like the idea of the bus as a motif, but it's very, very clear that Kirchner did his time on the line, so to speak.
posted by dhartung at 3:49 PM on October 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


> It feels like cartoons have turned a lot more personal, in a navel-gazing way, since then.

Autobiographical comics stemmed from a reaction to the dominance of superheroes in comics (IMO, it descends from Harvey Pekar et al's call for realism and naturalism, but the easiest way to do that is to write about what you know, and what you know best is what goes on around you...).

I think part of the reason for the rarity of Kirchner's variety of perceptual/observational surrealism is that it's hard to come up with gags that are both novel and well-done. It can't be accomplished by many people, all that often. And a topic can exhaust itself rapidly. The Bus was a really standout little filler item in Heavy Metal in part because it seemed so out-there, and in part because you only got a little half-page entry in each issue of a little black-and-white comic in extreme contrast to the full-color high adventure bloodletting and campy cheese going on in the rest of the magazine. When The Bus is assembled in book form, you can see where the artist is repeating himself, and when he's stretching to meet a deadline. The beauty of this form is a fragile thing, when it's at its best.
posted by ardgedee at 3:58 PM on October 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


oh this is wonderful.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:07 PM on October 13, 2013


I'm a sucker for the sudden perspective change thing, like this one
posted by en forme de poire at 4:12 PM on October 13, 2013


It's like Lewis Carroll does the MTA.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:14 PM on October 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Reminiscent of McCay's Dream of the Rarebit Fiend. A mundane activity that serves as a springboard to the surreal. Excellent. Thanks for posting it.
posted by the sobsister at 4:32 PM on October 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


It was exactly this bus design that I rode long ago, when I was of an age to ride the bus and read Heavy Metal.

The GM New Look (previously).
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:49 PM on October 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is amazing. Thanks so much!
posted by curious nu at 4:58 PM on October 13, 2013


Autobiographical comics stemmed from a reaction to the dominance of superheroes in comics (IMO, it descends from Harvey Pekar et al's call for realism and naturalism, but the easiest way to do that is to write about what you know, and what you know best is what goes on around you...).

I think this is a bit of an oversimplification. Sure, there were superhero comics, but there is also the entire history of alternative comics that's rooted in stuff like Krazy Kat. Going to shows like SPX, it feels like the vast majority of stuff today is either intensely personal autobiography, adventure comics of the sci-fi/fantasy/steampunk types, or internally consistent Saturday-morning type stuff. Not a lot of people make things like Roz Chast and Jim Woodring make, to pick two wildly different examples. I'm not saying that stuff people make today is inherently bad, it's just things like The Bus, for all of their universal banality, are kind of a lost art. Artists don't think that way today, artists don't draw that way today, artists aren't really interested in things like that today.
posted by Nomyte at 5:00 PM on October 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


very cool - and as far as i know, they don't do things like this anymore - the guy can really draw and i think that's a prerequisite for this kind of thing
posted by pyramid termite at 5:31 PM on October 13, 2013


Many thanks--this is really fantastic.
posted by equalpants at 5:37 PM on October 13, 2013


What a great read! Great post!
posted by wittgenstein at 6:38 PM on October 13, 2013


Lovely! Here's the one that got a chuckle.
posted by TreeRooster at 6:58 PM on October 13, 2013


I only stopped in to applaud the use of "anomie"... it's an underused but, IMHO, a relevant and important philosophical concept in the 21st century. The conflict between individual and societal priorities is going to be the turf war of our time in the cultures that value both democracy and capitalism (read Western). It'll be interesting and terrifying to see/participate in how this plays out. A bit of a derail - my apologies!
posted by jackrational at 7:43 PM on October 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, I remember this now--it's been decades since I saw a strip.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:18 PM on October 13, 2013


I really need to learn how to draw.
posted by gucci mane at 12:19 AM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, man. This is awesome. This is so, so awesome.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:15 AM on October 14, 2013


Great post. This is awesome.
posted by djeo at 5:19 AM on October 14, 2013


I get the impression of this being a time-capsule of a mindset of a different age, between the psychedelic 1960s and the Reagan era, when cities, their interdependent systems and numerous and varied inhabitants were seen as a boundless wonderland of the exotic and fantastic, rather than as a terrifying place that the unworthy poor who can't afford to live in gated communities and cut through the chaos in their armoured SUVs had to put up with.
posted by acb at 5:58 AM on October 14, 2013


Oh god, I loved that strip.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:53 AM on October 14, 2013


Heavy Metal in that era was just the greatest thing, and strange little strips and features like The Bus were a huge part of it.
posted by Mister_A at 7:34 AM on October 14, 2013


I managed to buy a copy years ago, don't remember where. Probably about 20 years ago in the UK, some second-hand bookshop - it's got '75p' written inside in pencil. We keep it in the toilet.

Hmm, I wonder if it's worth anything...

[tapity-tap]

Holy crap! $100?
posted by daveje at 1:05 PM on October 14, 2013


So so so good.
posted by bokononito at 5:29 PM on October 14, 2013


Hello there,

Thank you for your interest in "the bus".

We are a small comics publisher and we did last year a complete hardcover collection of the "bus" strips (the original edition was not complete), with additional material. We did an edition in French (we're a french publisher) and another in English.
More informations : http://www.tanibis.net/#/the-bus/.

This book is not very well distributed in the United States, but I can assure you it's not (yet) out of print.

We are currently working on an anthology of others Paul Kirchner's works.

Best.
posted by Tanibis at 7:09 AM on October 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Welcome to Metafilter, Tanibis!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:27 PM on October 15, 2013


I just found that Imgur album and came to MeFi to post it. Great stuff!
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:19 PM on October 16, 2013


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