Jim Lawson’s Secret Garage (#1) – Jim Lawson

5 out of 5

A collection of Jim’s strips from CARtoons magazine, circa 2017 / 2018.

The era is telling of the style, here: very detailed, in Lawson’s stylistically clunky but lithe line, but lovely wayward lettering. The strips, for a non-car enthusiast, are actually pretty interesting, definitely leaning in to the culture with lingo and in-jokes, but understandable in terms of juxtaposing “old school” vs. “new school” mentalities, and then funneling that through 2 or 3-page strips that err toward contemplative, or silly, or weird. But the main takeaway is that they’re a lot of fun for a Lawson fan, keeping with his tonal sensibilities.

Nortock Diab, the producer of this fan-made collection, really goes above and beyond: we get an exclusive cover (with colors by Diab!) and bonus pages that give us some background on CARtoons, as well as Guzzi Lemans first appearance. The printing feels and looks professional; the issue is a labor of love, and I’m immensely glad to be able to reap the readerly benefits of that.

Yes, the rating is bias, given my fandom, but you wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t in a similar camp. However, given how Diab put so much effort in to this, and that the material is actually a good time, I think it earns it.