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#60 [Dec. 8th, 2008|02:36 pm]

100 COMICS TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE (or grow out of them)

#60 LOST AT SEA – Bryan Lee O’Malley

“It all really makes a lot of sense but it’s a pain to explain all at once.”

Raleigh is a teenage girl on a road trip with three schoolfriends she doesn’t know very well. While they chatter nonsense and joke and sing along to the stereo she thinks and overthinks, the narration written as a letter she’s composing in her head, rambling and honest and coloured by teenage pretensions. Through this transcript of her thoughts and memories it becomes apparent that something is going on beneath the surface story of four wacky Canadian kids on holiday in America discovering the true meaning of friendship and all that. Something unexplainably weird involving cats and souls and dreams.

Bryan Lee O’Malley’s characters are button-eyed and fluid, filled with a sense of energetic motion whether they’re jumping on a bed or chasing cats in the dark. When trapped in their car and an endless procession of roadside diners you can almost see them coiling like springs, their eyes growing dark as they prepare to shoot off into the next scene. This cute sense of fluidity is something developed further in his Scott Pilgrim books, but here it perfectly captures the youthful energy of his characters and makes their moments of boredom, broken-down in a nowhere town, that much more dreary for its absence.

Lost At Sea is reflective and introspective, just like Raleigh herself. Maybe she’s crazy, too. The book doesn’t focus on whether something supernatural is actually going on or she’s hallucinating some things and reading too much into others, because being a confused teenager and being crazy are close enough that if you were both at once, well, how would you know? Raleigh’s too young to understand exactly what’s going on or to have the language to explain it, so neither does O’Malley, leaving things ambiguous and open to interpretation. What it’s about are the awkward moments where we realise the differences between who we think we are and who other people think we are. It’s also about how we reconcile both, the ways we figure out our own identities (or souls) through our relationships with others – discovering the true meaning of friendship and all that.