November 4, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 36  

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Lyrical Life: A lyrical love story

Lyrical Life
Author: Casey Jones
Illustrated by: Mark Malloy
Three Rivers Press, 144 pages, $14.95

Here is the story of a hurricane of a relationship: boys goes to bar; boy spots hottest girl at bar; boy and girl hook up for some sweet lovin'; boy finds girl with another boy; boy goes crazy and is institutionalized; boy recovers, makes up with girl, lives happily ever after, the end.

But since everybody's got a story to tell, Casey Jones tells it a bit different. Lyrical Life is a graphic novel that uses 200 lyrics from popular songs to tell its story.

In this story, it's the soundtrack for Luka (from the Suzanne Vega song) and Lola (from The Kinks song) who get their wild thing going. She is working as a waitress in a cocktail bar when she meets him - he wants to stop the world and melt with her. And then they get busy - Lola on top: "More more more!" Luka: "How do you like it? How do you like it?"

Then things fall apart. Luka finds Lola tempted by the fruit of Mickey, who is oh so fine he blows her mind, and that crazy little thing called love sends Luka off the rails on a crazy train.

It's incredibly amusing - especially when random, unimportant characters start showing up to make use of more song lyrics (such as the cross-dressing pedestrian that makes Luka exclaim, "Dude looks like a lady!") - but Lyrical Life can't dig deeper into life the way the lyrics of a song can; instead, its use of fragments from so many songs comes off as just a fun experiment.

The real gold is art and designer Mark Malloy's illustrations that mix hand-drawn pictures with digital imaging, an approach resulting in a highly-textured cut-and-paste collage which straddles the line between realism and the sketch world of A-ha's "Take On Me" music video. And like music promo clips, the visuals are bright, colourful and busy with energy.

-Brian Wong



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