Monday, January 19, 2009
Word Balloon: Young Liars
For the New Year I thought we would start off with a brand new title currently being published by DC Comics Vertigo imprint. Vertigo is where DC publishes a lot of the edgier non super hero fare that it produces. Books like Preacher and Y-The Last Man that I have highlighted in this column before. This month is all about writer-artist David Lapham's Young Liars.
Currently sitting on 11 published issues, the first trade paperback was released last month entitled Daydream Believer and it collects the first 6 issues. Young Liars is about a group of 20 somethings living in New York, but the plot quickly spreads across America and into Europe. The main characters are Danny, a musician who is obsessively in love and often finds himself in extremely self destructive behavior. This includes multiple suicide attempts and infidelity, though he often tries to justify his actions through lies. The love interest is played by Sadie, the daughter of a wealthy owner of a chain of super stores that left with Danny to become musicians. We learn she has a bullet in her brain that causes her to act erratically, where she only wants to fight, dance, or have sex. We also learn that Danny has a very manipulative hold on her.
They are surrounded by a wide variety of character including Big C, a former groupie that initially dislikes Danny, Annie X, a bulimic former model, Donnie, a heroin addicted cross dresser, and Runco, a rich kid obsessed with get rich quick schemes. The story in the first volume is that the Runco gets the group to agree to go to Spain to retrieve a painting worth a lot of money. Along the way they get tangled up with the police at a nightclub, hijack a boat, and run afoul of Pinkertons who are hot on the trail of Sadie to send her back to her father.
We also learn a lot about the group of "friends." Mainly that most of them are lying to each other. The bullet lodged in Sadie's brain causes her erratic behavior, often times she claims that Spiders from Mars are out to enslave humanity and that they work for her father. We are never lead to believe if this is truth or just Sadie's injury talking, the story often times seems to make both aevenues a disticny possibility. We do learn a lot about Danny though and why he manipulates Sadie as he does. Even more importantly we learn why he hates himself so much more. It forces you to wonder untrustworthy your friends can be when money is involved, and how far you will go for the girl of your dreams.
There isn't really anyway to neatly sum up this book in a single sentence. It's one part true crime, one part science fiction, and one part drama. Creator David Lapham made his mark on comics in the 1990's with his crime series Stray Bullets (which I will preview at a later date) and he translates it so well into this series. Just when I think I have the book figured out, he flips my reality or changes the perspective. I love the feel of this book as it is really unlike any other being published right now. No capes, just the worst bits of some of the worst people you will ever meet, and yet you can really find empathy in these despicable characters.
Lapham has a great artistic look to the title as well. Penciled in a very grounded reality, its all the more surreal when he peels back that layer into the bizarre that lies beneath. It's the equivalent of an Indy rock feel while maintaining a really clean and actualized environment. Lapham is a very underrated artist who can capture emotion with some of the best.
All in all, Young Liars topped my list as my favorite new book of last year and I eagerly await each new issue to see what twist in the path has occurred this month. Truthfully, the out there nature of this comic might not apply to everyone, I would liken it to the gonzo journalistic approach of Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the truth is there, just beneath a varnish of lies and unreality. If your ready for something that is completely different, check out David Lapham's Young Liars: Volume 1 Daydream Believer; from DC Comics Vertigo. The book starts off at a 1000 miles per hour (the title of the first chapter) and never looks back. The cover alone seeks to find if you are prepared for what is within, asking "Are you ready for this?" That image alone had me hooked.
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