A little while ago I mentioned how excited I was about the impending release of the new book by Kenan Rubenstein, Last Train to Old Town. With only a few pages on line, and a body of work which I hold in high regard, I hastily sent off my payment. Now, with the book in hand, I can safely say that it is truly fantastic.
Last Train to Old Town opens with our protagonist, the proverbial 98-pound weakling, going about his normal mundane existence at Newton High School. He is jostled, ignored, bullied, and shunned as he goes from class to class. Rubenstein’s deft hand creates a setup that is so beautifully illustrated and so well paced that it is clear that this is going to be a depressing and emotional book about bullying.
Until it isn’t.
Part of the way through the first chapter, the protagonist, who is mockingly referred to as “Two Shoes” (as in Goody Two Shoes), is summoned from class by a hall monitor who assures the teacher that it is time for a scoliosis screening. Suffice it to say that to Two Shoes’ (and the reader’s) surprise, instead of heading to the nurse’s office, the pair, joined by two other students, leave the building all together and head for the train station. They tell Two-shoes that they are headed for Old Town.
I’m going to stop there. To say any more would be to spoil the fun. Suffice it to say that by the time I hit the last page the entire story had been turned on its head and there is no telling where any of it is going. Rubenstein assures me that this is just the first chapter in a much longer story, a story longer than anything he has ever written. All I can say is, “Bring it on!”
Last Train to Old Town is everything that is right with comics. It is well-written, superbly illustrated, and takes chances. Rubenstein could have left this as a story about bullying. We all would have nodded our heads, agreed it was sad, and then moved on. However, he has taken a risk and started the story that way and then moved it beyond the obvious…beyond the mundane. Isn;t that what we have been waiting for all along? Isn’t that what we were al waiting for all those afternoons in the cafeteria? Something new and exciting to happen? Last Train to Old Town is that new and exciting!
What is even more impressive is that Rubenstein is bucking a second trend with this book. While everyone else is going the route of Kickstarter and Indiegogo, placing the financial risk and burden on others, Rubenstein is producing the book entirely on his own. There are no “rewards” and tiers of suport. There isn’t even an advertisement on the back cover for the printer. All of this is crafted by hand by the creator.
I canot recommend Last Train to Old Town enough. Top to bottom it is one of the finest examples of graphic storytelling you will see. And, the best part? It is just the beginning! There are more chapters to come! You can find out more about Last Train to Old Town by clicking here. Already sold and just want to buy the book? You can do so here.