Joe is an American in the strange land of Turkmenistan who finds a good friend in Azat, a Turkmen dreamer whose optimism knows no bounds. With tales of doomed desert cab rides, nights of endless vodka shots, unlikely Turkmen business schemes, and secret girlfriends, Lonergan captures not only the bizarreness of living in a country where the president for life launches copies of his poetry books into space, outlaws gold teeth and renames the months and days, but also reveals that there is hope in seemingly hopeless situations. Based loosely on Lonergan’s Peace Corps experience in the former Soviet republic.
"Older readers will find this entertaining graphic novel an eye-opening glimpse into a strange and very different way of life."
"You’ll smile, chuckle, cringe, and roll your eyes plenty as you follow Joe and Azat through their adventures." -Smithsonian
“Lonergan follows his graphic novel, Flower & Fade, with this charming and engrossing study of a friendship that transcends cultural borders. A simply illustrated charmer that grips readers from its opening pages and remains on the mind well after it has been read and absorbed.” -Publishers Weekly
“Lonergan’s clean, sharp lines, minimal backgrounds, and pure black and white (no grays, not even via shading) make another story of a youthful, probably temporary relationship vivid and affecting.
Altogether excellent.” -Booklist
"Cartoonists have long tackled travel writing in a variety of ways. For Lonergan, who was inspired by the short stories of W. Somerset Maugham, he hoped to inject some humanity into a country that’s known mostly for its eccentric dictator."
-The Wall Street Journal
“You only read about the crazy politics and it doesn’t give a sense of reality. I wanted to focus on what life was like for people there rather than the dictator who names January after himself,” says Lonergan. This is a real place and that can be lost in the stories I read.”
-Canada's National Post
"If you like graphic novels with strong characterization and crisp art, determined to open your eyes and your heart, definitely grab a copy of Joe and Azat.8 out 10.”
"A warm, humorous comic, solidly crafted, and well worth picking up."
"Lonergan’s art is cartoony but effective. “Joe and Azat” is a quick read, and a pleasant diversion. Who knows? Maybe by the end you’ll want to go to Turkmenistan.”
-Andrew ‘Capt. Comics’ Smith, Scripps Howard News service
"Bombarded with naïve questions concerning American customs from curious locals, overcharged for toothpaste at the village bazaar and constantly in danger of being forced into bribing someone, Joe is surviving by following the basic rules of Turkmenistan. When Joe accidentally breaks the most important rule of all (Never lose your passport), an acquaintance named Azat lends a helping hand and becomes his best friend. Often comical and at times achingly heartfelt."
-Comics Waiting Room
6x9, 104 pp., B&W trade paperback: $10.95