And so the great dig-out of 2011 begins. I’m cutting back on the library for a little while. With all the review comics I get, some library books sprinkled in, and a few comic strip collections, and the prose books I squeeze in as often as possible, I’ve basically not read a single comic that I’ve purchased for myself since last August.
It’s gotten a bit ridiculous. I’m talking about nearly 70 books (including a few rereads, mostly for reasons that’ll become clear about two paragraphs down) piled up on my end table. They’re going to collapse one night and kill me in my sleep, I’m convinced. So it’s time to whittle that bastard pile down, come hell or high water.
So over the new few months, you’ll see some … not very timely reviews. But I’m going to get it all read, and you’ll see what I’ve been missing out on.
Young Liars v. 1: Daydream Believer
Young Liars v. 2: Maestro
Young Liars v. 3: Rock Life
Written & Illustrated by David Lapham
Colored by Lee Loughridge
Lettered by Jared K. Fletcher
Published by DC/Vertigo
I’m a huge David Lapham fan. Stray Bullets is one of the great series of all time, and the simple fact that the industry can’t support it is one of those nuggets that makes me wish the industry as we know it would die a horrible, ugly and immediate death. On my crabby days, that is! With Stray Bullets on undeserved hiatus, David came to Vertigo a few years ago with a new series, Young Liars. I’d read the first two books when they were new, loved them both. That third book, Rock Life, the damn thing sat on the top of my pile of books for nine months now, just taunting me. Well, it’s over, I got you! Those other books are all caught up or put aside, and I finally sat down to read the entire Young Liars saga. (Just to have it all fresh in my head, I had to pull out the first two books and run through the whole schebang!)
In Young Liars, Lapham follows a crew of losers and dreamers, the type of character he specializes in, into a series of increasingly dizzying circumstances. The series’ success stems from its creator’s ability to humanize the biggest f***-ups. No matter the levels of self-absorption or self-delusion Danny Noonan reaches, Lapham’s able to find that basic humanity in the guy. You can’t help but like him, even when you hate him.
And just when the series seems to make sense, a bunch of losers in search of some MacGuffin, Lapham pulls the rug out. The sci-fi conspiracy of the Spiders from Mars, dream lives (or was the other life the dream?), corporate ne’er-do-wells, rock n’ roll excess – all melding together to be both plot and metaphor. Each book adds another layer to the mania, while taking a cheese shredder to everything you thought you knew. By the end of the third book, I must admit, it was almost a relief that the series ended – the lies, misdirects and rewrites of everything-you-know started to feel overwhelming. I kind of wanted something solid to hang my hat on. Almost a relief. But a total ripoff, too. This series had a lot more to give, but I guess sales just weren’t there. Don’t blame me – I fell behind reading it, but I was still buying!
I love a good story about scumbags. Not hardass criminal jerks. Just selfish, short-sighted loser scumbags. David Lapham’s just about the only person telling these types of stories in comics, and Young Liars is a good one. It’s crazy sci-fi conquest conspiracy, but it’s really just a group of liars, con artists and semi-delusional dreamers and how badly they can screw up. Stray Bullets remains Lapham’s masterpiece, but Young Liars is a worthwhile venture if you can’t have the really good stuff.