Review: ‘Track Suit Man #1’

Writer: Len Mihalovich
Artists: GB, Michael Kelleher

“Be warned this is not a traditional comic book. This is a chronicle of adventures told through the use of social media.”

TSM_01So sayeth the warning on Len Mihalovich’s Track Suit Man #1, and for this we could not be happier. We love our traditional comics here at Panels On Pages and always will, but – as has been discussed – the goal of #PoPCSR has been, “to look outside the normal delivery channels and find some excellent reading.”

This is typically where we would give a summation of the story to catch you, dear reader, up on the goings-on in the title – but that’s where this gets different. The title character serves as the villain of the piece, and all of this is based on true events. The book chronicles Mihalovich’s observations during his weekly flights out of the airport each Monday, when he would encounter a man who not only always wrote a track suit, but would go to any lengths to ensure he was the first on the plane. Mihalovich began documenting these true-life tales of pure inconsideration on social media and slowly gained a following of readers who were engrossed by the foul deeds of Track Suit Man. From those adventures, a comic book was born.

The presentation of Track Suit Man differs from the norm and mostly for the motif described above. Several pages are laid out in spreads as a story is narrated on one page, followed by the social media reaction on the next. These layouts and the very clean art by artists GB and Michael Kelleher serve this style of story perfectly and make this both very easy to follow as well as hilarious.

The way the set of micro-tales in Track Suit Man is told is brilliant in how entertaining it is. Aside from the art and page layouts, Mihalovich narrates the stories in first-person, and his observations are tremendous in setting the mood. Even better, the concise but witty style of commentary he uses in his narration is perfect in this environment. Nothing too dramatic, but the gravity of Track Suit Man‘s antics are not overlooked, either. The overall package presented these pages is brilliantly entertaining, but the book is not without its faults.

What interrupts the flow of the book is after the narrative style strays from the layout that involves the social media aspect. About halfway through, the stories switch to being told in the 2-3 panel layout, but without the social media recap afterward. That in and of itself isn’t so bad; good to switch things up rather than wear out a novel approach too quickly. However, there are single-page splashes that almost seem like credit pages (and in some cases are!) that detail the real-life inspiration behind the book – and then the stories continue. This doesn’t completely ruin the book, but it does go to significantly disrupt the narrative. In fairness, the comic reads more like a collection of smaller tales, so there is no single storyline to be ruined here.

Track Suit Man has facets of its storytelling that it needs to work on. However, these can be overlooked as continuity and perfect form do not rule the day here. There are ways the book can be improved, but it would still be difficult not to be thoroughly engaged in what is contained in these pages. Track Suit Man #1 earns 4 out of 5 Backpack Smacks.

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Who ARE these people!?

Michael Melchor has covered pop culture in all its forms for several publications and websites, including BackStage Pass magazine, 411Mania.com, and Examiner.com. He's been an avid comics reader since Barry Allen was first put on trial for the death of Professor Zoom. He's also been an avid wrestling fan since Dusty Rhodes beat Harley Race for the NWA World Championship. He now brings his fandom of comics, music, and wrestling to PanelsOnPages.com.

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