They Found The Car

By Gipi
32 pages, two-color
Published by Fantagraphics Books and Coconino Press

A good title can get you, just like that. They Found The Car is such a nebulous, mysterious statement that it leads the reader to start guessing before they’ve even opened the book. Was the car deliberately or accidentally lost? Is the discovery a good thing? And what will this car’s finding set in motion? It’s a whole set of questions created by the reader, and what makes it even better is that in Gipi’s new comic his goal seems to keep the reader continually questioning just what’s going to happen next.

A phone call in the middle of the night wakes him up. “They found the car,” the voice at the other end solemnly states. For a brief moment, confusion and a lack of understanding is the result. And then the pieces fall into place. What happens next is a car trip that will reunite four different people, some of whom haven’t seen each other in seven years. But now that the car has been discovered, all the loose ends need to be tied off immediately.

It’s probably not fair to try and classify They Found The Car as a mystery, even though it’s the reader’s first instinct. That’s because Gipi leaves so many aspects of this book deliberately hidden from the reader. What exactly happened seven years ago that made them hide the car? What were the items that they took from it? What are these people’s names? Even as you move with these characters through this long night and following morning, you don’t know. You can guess the answers, make logical assumptions, but some pieces of the puzzle are being withheld from you. A better description of They Found The Car is to call it a thriller. Gipi slowly builds the tension up throughout the book, as our protagonist begins to get more and more uneasy with the sequence of events that he’s been pulled into. He’s clearly very different than he was seven years ago, having become a very religious man that is distinctly uncomfortable back in his old life even for an evening. And while each action and thought of his exists as yet another clue to what’s going on as well as what happened, you never are going to find it all out. Instead, the tension is just going to increase as Gipi tantalizingly pulls you through a sequence of conversations that are interspersed with moments of violence. It’s a rather wonderful book in that it’s able to make the conversations in many ways more unsettling than the violence that preceeds them, as our protagonist hears more and more from his old partner from seven years ago. It’s the kind of book that really is a page-turner, the momentum never letting up all the way to the final page.

Gipi’s art in They Found The Car is just like his writing; moody, sketchy, and atmospheric. Gipi draws his characters with a minimum of lines, adding depth and texture with a green-grey ink wash across the page. The end result is beautiful, a cloudy and ominous view into these characters’s world. Gipi has a good sense of pacing, using panel size to dictate pauses and the speed in which the reader should move through the book. With panels of roads winding through twisted trees to a man in pyjamas being dragged out into the rain, each is composed perfectly. If I had a sole complaint, it would be that looking at the cover of They Found The Car made me wish that we’d had this book in full color, it’s so beautiful. (Don’t get me wrong, I love the interiors, but the four cover images—front, back, and the two interior flaps of the dustjacket—are fantastic.)

The second in Gipi’s Wish You Were Here series of Ignatz books (the first was The Innocents) is a real treat. Add in the oversized 8.5×11″ format, the attractive dust covers, and the heavy paper stock and you end up with an object that you appreciate for its construction as much as its actual content. I’ve been reading more and more of the Ignatz books this year (and more reviews will be forthcoming) and have yet to encounter a dud. With books as good as They Found The Car, it’s easy to know why.

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