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‘Lost at Sea’: a graphic novel review

Lost at Sea is writer and artist Bryan O’Malley’s first major graphic novel. He would later write the popular indie comic Scott Pilgrim, you might’ve heard of it. When I picked this up I was expecting something similar to Scott Pilgrim, however, I was surprised it ended up far more like Craig Thompson’s Blankets (one of the few graphic novels I feel like everyone should read). With that, time to jump into Lost at Sea!


I was expecting something comedic when I picked this up, but instead I got something deeper. Is that bad? Hell no. The narrative was far deeper than anything I expected from O’Malley. It serves as a good look at some of the struggles of teenagers as they leave high school, as shown in this case by Raleigh, our protagonist. This isn’t angry teen angst, but rather musings about life. I found many points where I could identify with Raleigh’s thoughts. The writing is quick and easy, and very appealing. I found myself breezing through it, not only because of its small size (about a 160 pages), but because it was well written and I could easily put a lot of focus into the work. It definitely feels like Blankets though not as emotional, explored in greater depth, or as long, but the story works due to its specific focus on an aspect of Raleigh’s life.


The paneling scheme changes from the beginning to the end. At first the panels edges are rough and have black edging, and by the end they’re polished. I didn’t notice when reading this, but saw it quickly when skimming it again. There are a few full page spreads and they’re good, enlarged by O’Malley so he could show the larger scene without cramming it into a smaller panel. What I really like about the design in this book is that on a few occasions the words begin to flow on someone’s body. It’s cool to see the abandonment of strict word bubbles or word spaces. There are a few two page spreads, which I’m not normally a fan of, but they work really well here as a means of giving emotional weight to the novel.


Lost at Sea‘s art is reminiscent of that of Scott Pilgrim, but for those not familiar with the series I’ll go over it. In a word it can be described as cartoon-ish. This is to be expected considering it’s published by Oni Press, and nearly all of their material is cartoon-ish. O’Malley’s lines are very fluid, and at times can be ‘simplistic.’ It’s a nice contrast with the less-than-simplistic point in life that Raleigh is during the narrative. Backgrounds are also fairly simple, but they still create the setting. The art isn’t as polished as it is in Scott Pilgrim, but still good.

sample art

Final Opinion:

Lost at Sea has a lot of heart in it. The narrative is focused at a point most people go through at the ebbing of adolescence and makes it easy for the reader to identify with. It’s not extremely deep, hard to read, or look at it which makes it easy to pick up and quick to read. The art and writing, though more serious, isn’t as polished as it is in Scott Pilgrim, but that doesn’t mean Lost at Sea. For those who want a quick read or something with fun art Lost at Sea offers just that.

Lost at Sea is owned and created by Bryan Lee O’Malley. It’s published by Oni Press.

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