If you haven’t heard, TKO Presents has released new graphic novels and three new short self-contained limited edition zines in their three-wave release. One of those includes Night Train, a short by Steve Foxe, Lisandro Estherren, Patricio Delpeche, and Steve Wands. It’s a story about a family living in a tough part of town. A new baby is added to the family and the story’s 10 year-old protagonist is asked to help.
This is a good short story, not so much for what it does, but for what it deftly doesn’t do. It’s never overt with any one idea or its characters introducing a setting and a family that are familiar and average. It establishes a young boy’s perspective as his mother expecting and how that throws his life into disarray. The stresses of being a 10 year-old boy are felt as well as their confusion and difficulty understanding exactly the situation they are in.
It’s a story I suspect many of us can relate to. Foxe has captured the odd solitude that comes with being a child with parents who can’t quite pull off being parents. No parent is fully equipped for what is in store, but many parents are smart enough to know they are putting their kids in a bad position they don’t have the tools to understand or escape from. The parents in this story mean no harm, but certainly do harm. In this, Foxe explores the perspective of a child who can’t escape their situation and it’s a situation that is nobody’s fault.
There is a supernatural element introduced that works well with the obtuse nature of the calamity and conflict of the story. It does in fact involve a night train, but it’s an element that plays as if a daydream — or in this case a dark nightmare under the guise of a dream — with a symbolic meaning to it that only becomes clear when you finish the book. It’s in the ending that this short story truly shines, coming together like a finished puzzle you weren’t aware you were attempting to complete.
Art by Estherren adds to the dreamlike quality of the train and the narrative as a whole. Colors by Delpeche add to the dreamlike nature of the story with attention to shadow through windows and the night sky that seem to dance on the characters as they are dancing lost in their own lives.
Many of us have or are sleepwalking through parts of our life, and Night Train does so in a haunting sort of way. Like an accident that is nobody’s fault you witness and can’t stop, Night Train draws you in with a familiar narrative that’s relatable and darkly rendered. This is a story that cracks like a whip the minute you put it down.
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