Ever wanted to read a comic book about a young woman who keeps the tiny arm of her miscarried fetus in a small box in her purse? Has David Lapham got good news for you with this “flashback” issue of “Young Liars”! Yes, yes, yes, Lapham has once again zagged when you expected him to zig and delivers a wonderfully depressing and messed up story about the gang, particularly Cee Cee, back in spring/summer of 2007. To make things even better, he titled this issue “Get Happy!”
There’s actually not much in “Young Liars” #10 to be happy about, except for the sheer brilliance of Lapham’s writing and art. Almost everything that occurs in this comic book is bad, depressing, and just flat-out awful. The characters that make up this book are not just flawed, they’re downright awful in many cases. With each issue, the conflicting desires to root for them and wish them horribly painful deaths war with one another—and isn’t that fantastic? Isn’t that just utterly wonderful?
The story of these characters is constantly evolving, constantly revealing new things, new lies, new betrayals, new reasons to pity them, new reasons to hate them, and new reasons to turn the page. Stories conflict, some are made up, but they’re all heavy on emotion and told from a specific perspective. This issue is bookended by narration by Danny, who continually reveals new depths of selfishness and ends the issue with the words “You never know with us liars.”
That Lapham ends this issue with words suggesting that everything we read is unreliable demonstrates a crazy sort of confidence in his reader. It’s clear that he’s creating a challenging book that requires thought and intelligence to follow along and make sense of it—and to put up such unreliability.
If that weren’t enough, Lapham doesn’t just surprise on strictly plot and character levels, he alters his techniques issue-to-issue. This issue is told at a brisk pace with short scenes and covers a lot of territory, even providing elements of subplots that don’t revolve around Cee Cee but don’t feel like tangents. Each piece of plot seems carefully considered and places to reflect or contribute to the story taking place in the present. That the issue begins with Cee Cee pregnant will no doubt cause some to think it’s taking place in the present, but it isn’t, so the question becomes “What is Lapham trying to tell us about Cee Cee’s current pregnancy here?”
His art also evolves and grows with each issue. The emotions found on characters’ faces are always just as revealing as the words they speak, often more so. To match the quick pace of the writing, he draws a lot of stuff on each page, but does so with great skill, characters looking realistic one panel and appalling caricatures the next. If the words can lie, why can’t the art?
Harsh, brutal, uncompromising, and, of course, unpredictable, “Young Liars” #10 continues in the grand tradition of previous issues. While the contents may be depressing, the fact that such a comic comes out every month is reason enough to get happy.