Page 45 Review by Stephen & Mark
"This is hard to admit but I am terrified of everything."
Raleigh doesn't have a soul. A cat stole it - or at least that's what she tells people - or at least that's what she would tell people if she told people anything. But that would mean talking to people, and the mere thought of social interaction is terrifying.
"Maybe I'll waste away. That would be very literary."
Raleigh accidentally gets invited along on a road trip. Never the biggest socialite in her year she slowly realises, as do they, that it's an accident that she's there, in the car, watching the world speed by. Or pretending to be asleep. Sometimes that's easier, but lying awake in a motel bed is hard.
"All my stupid little thoughts beget stupid little thoughts, rampantly speculating every possible outcome of every possible situation until they're all done to death and none of them could ever be true."
Does that sound familiar?
So much will ring bells: the feeling that you're the only person who thinks they're fucked up or at the very least clueless. Rudderless. Drifting aimlessly, especially when young. It'll all make sense in the end.
It's such a beautiful summer, California doing what it does best, and Ian, Dave and Steph turn out to be good travelling companions. They turn out to be what Raleigh hasn't had for four years since her best mate left: friends she can actually related to, trust and enjoy.
There's a fabulous passage which demonstrates this bond during which the four of them catch cats in the middle of the night in the hope that they can find Raleigh's soul. There are an awful lots of cats: they seem to follow Raleigh everywhere she goes. Each is presented to her in turn, some scrabbling frantically, hilariously, others just hanging limp as Raleigh stares into their big, inky, dilated pupils to see if her soul is inside. Where O'Malley succeeds where others might fail is that Raleigh's new-found friends take the task seriously: they don't think she's crazy or an attention-seeking idiot, nor are they boozed-up or high on drugs. It's magical.
Gradually Raleigh's real story unfolds: why she was away from home and what she was doing the moment before the call came through inviting her on the road.
O'Malley's art ten years ago met at a perfect point in between Andi Watson and early Kochalka and his story is somewhere near those two as well. It's coloured in a deep salmon pink which makes the blacks look blue - oh wait, they are!
There's one great panel early on where Raleigh is in the back seat of the car and Bryan's got the light just right as it fall on her face, as she stares out of the window. More accurately it's two great big panels set at slightly different angles which would ordinarily form an impossible wide-angled double-page spread, but the gutter in between isolates Raleigh, introspective and mournful, from Steph who is equally lost in her own little world, but it's a loud one as she belts out a tune, eyes scrunched up, mouth wider than a train tunnel.
And he draws good cats. Bryan draws very good cats. Do you like cats? You will love this!
Includes previously uncollected LOST AT SEA short scenes at the back.