While many on this website are Action Figure Junkies, I’m definitely more of a book Junkie. I have books everywhere in my apartment: stacked on my nightstand, sprawled on my coffee table, and wedged and crammed on bookshelves. I’m a mess, but I’m always on the hunt for more.
Every few weeks I’ll swing by my local Goodwill (I only allow myself to get books used because of my book-buying habit), and just the other day, I stumbled across Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O’Malley. The title didn’t jump out at me immediately, but it is not often you come across a comic book at Goodwill, so I took it off the shelf. I saw the cover, recognized the art style of Scott Pilgrim, and knew it was an insta-buy. (50 cents for a comic book from a highly rated artist/author? Easy.)
I finished it that night. To put it simply, this little comic (which celebrates its 15 year anniversary this year) is sweet, fun, and relatable.
Lost at Sea is a weird story of an awkward, and sometimes accidentally funny, girl named Raleigh who believes she has no soul (and, oddly, that her soul is in a cat). She is making her way back home from California to Canada in a small sedan with three classmates that she barely knows. It is clear early on that Raleigh is confused as to how she feels about her life, whether she has any real friends, when her soul left, what to do about a boy she met online – there is a lot in this comic, despite how short it is.
One of the main themes in this coming-of-age story is perspective and how it shapes our reality. A simple example is how Raleigh hates the fact that she is tall, while (fellow student road-tripper) Stephanie envies this about her. Another example, which is more integral to the story, is her parents’ conflicting perspectives on what defines love, which confuses Raleigh when it comes to her own relationships.
This struggle to make meaningful relationships causes Raleigh to become isolated, and it’s not until the events of the comic that she starts on a path to reclaim her soul when she opens up to Stephanie, who takes her seriously. She climbs out of that depressive isolation when Stephanie explains that everyone has problems. Not everyone is as put-together as they seem from the outside, and sometimes it’s the harsh critical inner voice that blinds us to our strengths. We know all of our faults, all of our crazy thoughts, all of our feelings. When you step out of that, you can look at yourself the way the world sees you.
The isolation Raleigh feels is even found in the art and panel design. Often, until she starts to become friends with the rest of the group, Raleigh is separated into her own panels, and her thoughts are white lettering on a black, void-like background.
Bryan Lee O’Malley’s art is certainly its own style, which I didn’t really like until this book. I always thought it looked odd; somewhere between a comic book and a manga. Nevertheless, his style suits the story well: minimalistic and simple yet expressive. Lost at Sea completely changed my perspective, so much so that now I’m thinking of diving into Scott Pilgrim.
My final thought: this is the kind of slice-of-life comic book that is easy to relate to if you have ever felt confused about where to go in life and what it all means. It is phenomenal.
Tell me in the comments, Junkies, have you read Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comic Lost at Sea? What did you think of it?
Weird, but couldn't put it down