by Sam Juliano
Lisa Brown’s The Airport Book is a study in words, pictures and voice bubbles of the unique experience of traveling on a plane. Specifically it chronicles the fast and furious pace that greets an interracial family of four from the moment they wake to complete the packing of their suitcases, on through the taxi ride to the airport , and the seeming mass confusion and endless lines that invariably challenge even the most patient of passengers. Brown’s vision of a travel day is one rife with confusion, tight security, and long lines that inform each and every new step of preparation leading up to takeoff. People of all ages, races and vocations are united in their enlistment for air travel, and no matter what walk of life one hails from they must all play by the same rules. Much like a visit to a theme park, or a tour of our nation’s capital every requirement or imperative activity requires toiling on a line from the moment one enters the airport. Brown’s vibrant and vivid India ink and watercolor on paper vignettes project urgency, but also a measure of exhilaration. Aside from business travelers who spend a good part of their weeks in the air, planes are filled by first-time passengers, those who rarely fly and some that may board maybe once or twice a year.
Brown sets her travel day in motion by spotting some of the family members in their apartment house on the end papers. The boy is readying for a shower while the young girl is seen with her sock monkey. Throughout the book she haunt the rest of her family for its whereabouts in a narrative thread that recalls Mo Willems’ Knuffle Bunny. Mom and Dad hasten the pace before entering a taxi that takes them over a “flat ground” highway during a cloudburst to an international airport, which intimates their geographical destination. Upon arrival on the departure deck the air is prevalent with emotional send-offs, physical embraces and tears. Curbside check-in includes some items -like a violin case – as easily discernible, while other makeshift pieces are insoluble. A crosswalk procession features travelers with carry-ons, cases on wheels and backpacks, while the age old airport declaration of insecurity is heard in an air shuttle when a wife curtly asks her husband if he remembered the tickets, to which he responds in the affirmative. Meanwhile our quartet of adventurers, having checked in are heading inside. (more…)