A (Graphic) Novel Idea – Lost at Sea

[easyreview title=”Lost at Sea” cat1title=”Final Score” cat1detail=”Lost at Sea is by the same man that created the increasingly popular Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. It is his first original work, and a bit rough around the edges, but it provides a good look at how far Brian Lee O’Malley has come as an artist and storyteller.” cat1rating=”3″ overall=”false” icon=”star2″]

Lost at SeaThe Vitals

Lost, adrift a sea of information

  • Story and Art by Brian Lee O’Malley
  • Published by Oni Press

The Lowdown

18 and Life

Raleigh is a girl with no soul. At least she thinks she has no soul.  Suddenly finding herself on an unexpected road trip back to her home in Vancouver, she takes a journey of the spirit as well. As the trip and her memories unfold for the reader, we learn that she is soul-less—or, at the very least, soul-lost. As she travels with classmates that are practically strangers, we are treated to snippets of her life and how she has become the person she is today. We learn of her past and the loss of her once best friend.  We learn of her present, and her quest to find love in another country. And most importantly, we learn that she has lost her soul. It’s in a cat.

I won’t give away the whys or hows; suffice it to say, I’ve heard more ridiculous claims in real life. As Raleigh searches for her soul, she begins to bond with her classmates and they lend her a hand in her quest.

Lost at SeaThe Story

Some purrfect writing

So, if you are looking for comic book battles and a hundred pop culture and video game references, look elsewhere. This is not Scott Pilgrim. This is a slice-of-life story with a some supernatural elements interwoven. Though it is from a young girl’s perspective, I feel that many people can relate to the protagonist. Maybe not the part about the losing your soul and having it placed into a cat, but the feeling of being adrift in life with no real direction. The overwhelming pressure of everyday life, of meeting strangers, of journeying into the unknown.

The story is told through a combination of text from a letter written to her love interest, scenes from her car trip home with her schoolmates-turned-friends, and flashbacks to other parts of her life. At times, the dialogue gets crammed into each of the panels, while other pages have none. The characters are well portrayed as youthful and carefree. Even though it was published in the early 2000’s, the dialogue holds up and doesn’t seem dated, which is important for any story about young adults.

The Art

I don’t want to compare this book to Scott Pilgrim all review. So I won’t. The art is simplified, while retaining the necessary facial expressions. Some of the body language falls flat, but for a large portion of the story, they are sitting in a car or at a restaurant.  The backgrounds are varied, from the sparse, open road to a cluttered diner.

The panels are pretty standard, though there are a few flashback scenes that break convention and use background elements to separate the scenes. I wish more scenes like these were included, as they add a nice variety to an otherwise unremarkable layout.  The story is black and white, with screen tone. The line work is varied and organic. Even the text looks to be handwritten, which gives it a natural feel.

Lost at SeaThe Bad

You’ve got to be kitten me!

Swearing! Lots of it. Teenagers love to swear. There is also the whole metaphysical discussion of the transference of souls into cats and what not, but mostly it is harmless. In all, it is harmless.

The Final Word

Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow.

Lost at Sea is a nice slice-of-life story with an element of the supernatural thrown in. There is no extra content, which is mildly disappointing, but I’m not sure Oni Press does extras in its trades. It is relatively cheap, and the size of a regular book, making it a portable read for those of you that commute. If you are a fan of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s other works (that shall not be named), pick it up. Just don’t expect robots battles or a lesbian ninja.

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