Thursday, February 9, 2012

Lost At Sea

by Bryan Lee O'Malley

Once again, I'm a little surprised at where some of the gaps in my comics reading lie.  You would think, after getting so much enjoyment out of Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim series, that I would have snapped up Lost At Sea ages ago.  But no, for whatever reason, I waited until now.

Lost At Sea is O'Malley's first published work, and it is a very different beast than Scott Pilgrim.  Where that comic's charm lay in its humour, this is a much darker comic, although still structured around a likeable young person.

Raleigh is an eighteen year old woman who feels completely soulless and adrift in life.  She traveling with three other people by car from California to Canada (presumably somewhere in BC).  The other people - two guys and a girl - went to the same private high school as her, but are not really her friends.  Raleigh doesn't really have friends.  She's still mourning the fact that her best friend moved away in middle school, and she hasn't really taken the time to develop a new one in the intervening years.

Instead, she prefers to just sit around and examine her own feelings of alienation.  She's managed to convince herself that she doesn't have a soul, thinking that perhaps her mother sold it away in exchange for commercial success.

I know that I'm making this book sound like a whiny self-involved teenage existentialist novel, and in some ways it is, but because it's done by O'Malley, there is a lot of charm in this comic.  The other characters are pretty likeable, and there is something about a road trip story that draws me in every time.  As the story progresses, and Raleigh confronts some of her fears, I found myself drawn further and further into the story.

O'Malley's art looks much the same as it does in Scott Pilgrim, but without any of the jokey or cute self-awareness of that title.  He shows a wide range of emotions in his art, and paces the story very nicely.

This book is a nice companion to novels like The Outsiders, or to comics like Ross Campbell's Wet Moon.  It's good stuff.

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