Sunday, December 4, 2011

Comic Review: Lost at Sea

I picked up Brian Lee O'Malley's Lost at Sea on the strength of his amazing and wonderful Scott Pilgrim series, which ranks up there as one of my favorite comic series of all time.  When I came across Lost at Sea, his debut comic, I figured I'd give it a go.

Lost at Sea is very different from O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim stuff.  The overall mood is much more emo, and the art is less developed than his work on Scott Pilgrim.  The story follows a teen aged girl, Raleigh, who claims to have no soul because it was stolen by a cat.  On top of being souless, Raleigh is friendless, and seems more or less listless on a day to day basis. So why is she on a road trip with three boisterous classmates she barely even knows?

If you've ever been eighteen, and had little to no direction in your life, you will probably find something to relate to in Lost at Sea.  This adventure of finding inner peace, and a bit of meaning in life is a story that I feel like many readers can relate to.  That being said, the overall tone is a bit on the melancholy side, which was a slight deterrent for me.  While I could relate to and connect with Raleigh's emotions, I often felt the book was a bit too whiny and inner-turmoil-ly for me.

This graphic novel shined brightest in terms of dialog.  O'Malley really has a knack for making his dialog come to life, and I really got the sense I was listening to bunch of teens converse when I read the word bubbles.

Raleigh's character is well written, and she comes across with a feeling of familiarity.  Compared to the other characters in the story she is by far, the stand out.  The other characters seem to mostly be there to offset Raleigh's mopeyness with their humor.  The Secondary characters in Scott Pilgrim served a similar offsetting purpose as well, but they were simultaneously memorable, and much loved.  The secondary characters in Lost at Sea don't have that kind of staying power, and the overall story pales in comparison for that fact.

Overall, this is a solid story, and one that most readers can relate to. However,I had a hard time fully connecting to the narrative.  Maybe I'm too far removed from the troubles that plague an eighteen year old to fully invest myself and care about what happens to that character, which may be the case here, but I think O'Malley goes a bit overboard with the emotions and doesn't give Raleigh enough other characteristics to make the reader become fully invested in her troubles. That's a writing trick that isn't easy to pull off, and O'Malley narrowly misses here, but I think he nailed it with the Scott Pilgrim series.

I tentatively recommend this as it is an interesting and entertaining look at the emotional processes of a young woman, and an interesting treatise on cat soul-theft, but in my opinion, not as strong or impactful as it could be. For Brian Lee O'Malley fans, this is definitely worth checking out.

Grade: C+

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