The Bus originally ran in Heavy Metal from 1979-1985; Kirchner’s done
a few over 40 new strips over the past few years, as he notes in a recent memoir-piece at The Boston Globe. The new strips will be collected in The Bus 2 from Editions Tanibis. Editions Tanibis also has collected the original run of The Bus in an edition that’s more complete than the Imgur page.
I’ve enjoyed posting the strips tremendously. I first saw a few strips at an image forum I frequent, and quickly found the Imgur album. Posting one each Sunday was my way of, well, not bingeing on them.
The Bus is a profound strange wonderful trip. Kirchner’s visions often evoke Escher’s paradoxes, and the best of his strips make us attend closely to what we’d otherwise dismiss. The Bus is subtle and sly, occasionally (very occasionally) dark, but also, I would argue, sensitive—there’s something deeply endearing about the strip’s central human protagonist, an often passive (even hapless) passenger, a kind of late-20th century Everyman.
The Sunday blog posts of The Bus have gotten more “I don’t get it” or “Can someone explain it?” comments than anything in recent memory—a good sign, I think. (There are also plenty of appreciative “That took me a minute” or “Subtle!” comments too).
What The Bus does best—better than amuse or provoke or entertain (which it does very well)—what I think The Bus does best though is play with our notions of a stable reality. Kirchner’s strip allows us to imagine—perhaps along with his passenger protagonist—a world as utterly banal as our own but one that might tip over into surrealism at any moment. Excellent stuff.
But my writing about The Bus is really no good—it’s like trying to explain why a joke is funny or why a song is soulful. Better to read view experience it yourself.