In his first new graphic novel since 2001's acclaimed Mail Order Bride, Mark Kalesniko delivers a 416-page tour de force chronicling a single day—a few hours, even—in the life of his recurring dog-headed alter ego, Alex Kalienka.
Stuck in a horrendous traffic jam on his way to his increasingly miserable job as an animator at Babbitt Jones Studios, a burnt-out and depressed Alex alternately rages, reminisces, fantasizes and hallucinates. Thus flashbacks to his earliest days as a starry-eyed young animator snagging his dream job, through the increasingly depressing political battles and creative compromises, with a love affair gone badly wrong along the way, alternate with scenes of an increasingly agitated present-day Alex, who imagines a series of increasingly violent deaths for himself.
Then again, are they in fact fantasies, or prescient flashes? Is a threatening car tailing Alex just a paranoid fantasy or a genuine threat? Readers will have to wait until the very end of this hugely ambitious graphic novel to find out.
Moreover, woven into this narrative fabric is a series of imagined moments from two generations ago, a Golden Age of animation, when an earlier Alex made his entry into a much different Babbitt Jones Studio—as imagined by the increasingly despondent present-day Alex.
Loaded with fascinating insider information on two different generations of animators, skipping seamlessly among present and several different pasts, reality and fantasy, Freeway is another step forward for a major cartooning talent.