By: Natasha Tar, Peak Associate
Lost at Sea (2003)
With its heavy doses of cats and angst, Lost at Sea was one of my favourite graphic novels when I was a teenager. The story centres on Raleigh, who apparently has no soul, as she sits through an unintentional road trip with fellow classmates she doesn’t like. Raleigh’s emotional stream of consciousness reflects how I felt in high school, and is expressed well by the simple, haunting art style. O’Malley was obviously not thinking too much about money when he published this first book, as it’s quite experimental and may seem melodramatic to older readers.
Over a decade later, this hardcover slab seems to have been created by a whole other person. In Seconds, O’Malley honed both his writing and art. Each page is full-colour and the level of detail is so high compared to Lost at Sea that it’s like comparing a quilt to a pillowcase. However, a lot of the deep emotion he evokes in Lost at Sea is forgotten in Seconds. The protagonist here, Katie, also shares her thoughts with the reader, but they seem more self-absorbed and flimsy when compared to Raleigh’s existential musings. Katie is also much older than Raleigh and the book focuses on career and choices, rather than growing up and questioning things. Seconds also provides a solid plot to follow, unlike the randomness of Lost at Sea.
While I love both books, Lost at Sea is the better work. Seconds is beautiful and polished, but it lacks the emotional depth, and doesn’t resonate with me as much Lost at Sea does. I may be less attached to it now that I’m past my teen years, but it remains one of my favourite books.