Graphic Novel Review – Lost at Sea
Bryan Lee O’Malley is well known nowadays for his work on the Scott Pilgrim series. O’Malley is working on a new intellectual property called “SECONDS” at the moment, and his earliest published work with ONI Press is titled Lost at Sea. Lost at Sea is radically different compared to the Scott Pilgrim series. It does focus on young people, but far more attention is paid to internal monologue, wavy visuals and an ungrounded narrative.
Plot Summary: The story is set, unlike the Scott Pilgrim series, in a realistic setting, although the visuals aren’t realistic in any sense and the main character’s imagination effects the panels (which could arguably be all that’s going on in Scott Pilgrim). The main character is named Raleigh, a high-school graduate who just doesn’t get it. She’s hitched a ride with three acquaintances from her school, a spunky girl named Steph, a raven haired introspective guy named Dave and a hot head named Ian. The majority of the actual narrative is told in disjointed backstory as Raleigh, a fledgling writer, communicates her thoughts journal-style and pieces together her story. The majority of Raleigh’s issues stem from her lack of perspective, and the journey she takes follows her gaining that perspective.The characters also try to catch cats. So there’s that too.
Visuals: The motif of the line work in the novel is set on the first page spread, showing off a hilly landscape appearing as if it were the waves of the sea. The novel features the idea of buildings, square-headed humans and very simple looking cats. There’s a bunch of cats. While nothing too great to look at compared to the majority of other novels out there, the focus of this novel is set on text, which is hand drawn (from the looks of it) and contains no sharp edges. It’s sort of strange looking at this loopyness of this novel compared to great balance of curves and sharp angles in the Scott Pilgrim series.
Themes: The Scott Pilgrim series features an idiot who is stuck in his own head breaching through and understanding how he effects people. Lost at Sea features a fairly normal person being unable to relate to others due to her own confusion about herself and just about everything around her. There’s a certain vanity to the teenage years that sticks teenagers in their own heads, incapable of escaping until they find somebody else they can relate to on an intellectual level. I’m not certain how much verisimilitude Raleigh’s somewhat extreme detachment garners compared to anybody else’s personal experience, but I think a lot of people have been as confused as she has at some point. However, hearing her drone on about it for pages upon pages of “maybes” doesn’t make for all that interesting of a book, at least for popular appeal. The novel and film adaption of “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” provides a more interesting look at this mindset than this graphic novel does.
I checked out Lost at Sea out of artistic and formalist curiosity. I was quite certain that I wouldn’t find anything to relate to in the book, and wanted to compare how O’Malley adapted this story compared to ones that thematically oppose it. This novel can be suggested for anyone who has that same curiosity, as well as a curiosity for some of O’Malley’s early work. Maybe someone who is particularly young can find something to heavily enjoy about it, but I would suggest “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” instead.
Some links, for those who are curious