Poor Young Liars, you will have died too soon. We hardly knew you.
There are only a few issues left of David Lapham’s Young Liars (Vertigo), and I’m going to miss this one. It ranks right up there with my favourite ongoing series’ at the moment. It’s one of the only books I pick up monthly that I immediately read and don’t let stack up until I have a short run to read. It’s so trippy; I have no idea what is going on. I can only hope that Lapham has a good resolution the finale.
This story has so many twists and turns, it’s difficult to pin down. It’s best described as Archie comics if David Lynch directed a script based on a William S. Burroughs novel. It’s punk rock on acid. I imagine Warren Ellis to be a big fan.
In the first issue Lapham introduces us to a cast of flawed characters down and out in NYC: Danny Noonan, our unreliable narrator, Sadie Dawkins the daughter of a crazed business tycoon who happens to have a bullet lodged in her brain, heroine addict and cross-dresser Don Diego, anorexic model Jackie, groupie Cee Cee, and silver spoon Truman Runco. They have few redeemable qualities and many flaws: low self-esteem, unrealized dreams, lack of self-control, the list goes on.
For the most part, the story is told through Danny, who may or may not be the lead character. This honour could very possibly go to Sadie (or another as-yet-to-be-identified character). We’ll know when this all wraps up.
When the series opens, Danny is a wanna-be. He wants to be a rock star. Wants to move out of his small town. Wants to live a big life. Wants to fuck Sadie. However, the answer to who is Danny is not easy to answer. During the course of the series, he is possibly committed to a mental institute. Is possibly a spider prince from the planet Mars sent to Earth to save his queen Sadie (honest). Is possibly bone fide rock star Danny Duoshade. Is possibly living at the centre of a huge reality conspiracy.
(This is probably a good place to mention that the series is anchored by music. Each issue opens with two recommended music tracks courtesy of Danny Duoshade. “Young Liars” is also title of the first major release by NYC band TV on the Radio.)
The story is at turns Twin Peaks, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and The Truman Show. The one thing the reader knows for sure is that nothing in Young Liars is as it seems (as the title suggests).
This series also reads really well as a monthly. Lapham so convincingly writes each issues from the perspective of the character featured in that issue, he makes it difficult for readers to know with any certainty whether what you’re reading is the truth, a lie or the truth as that character understands it. All will be revealed in the end. Or will it?
Sadly, I understand why the sales on this title were sinking. This book is at the opposite end of the spectrum from superhero fans. It also frustrates most readers who like to know where the story is going before it’s over.
For the same reason, I think this title had a lot of potential. It’s one that would appeal to non-mainstream comic readers. It would have needed marketing outside of comic book shops. This series could have benefited from some guerrilla, non-traditional efforts. I could see posters displayed in bars, small clubs and galleries across major North American metropolitan cities and and copies for sale at the bar during local rocks shows and art shows to appeal to hipsters who want to say they read comics but wouldn’t be caught dead handling something so commercial as Superman or Spider-man.
But alas, none of that happened and the series comes to a close in two issues. There are two paperbacks currently available. Go pick them now.