In 1995, writer and artist David Lapham embarked on a mission of comic book self publishing by launching the crime-noir fiction series “Stray Bullets” which won awards and received praise all around for its depiction of the criminal life. “Stray Bullets” ran for 40 issues over ten years and then the final issue ended on a cliffhanger leaving fans to wonder if they would ever find out what happened. Now nearly nine years later Lapham has returned to finish his original series and start and a new one.
This month, simultaneously, Lapham released through Image Comics, “Stray Bullets” #41 and “Stray Bullets: Killers” #1. While the 41st issue wraps up previous plot threads, “Stray Bullets: Killers” starts a whole new series with no continuity other than one character who appeared in the first series. No prior knowledge is necessary for the new series and Lapham wants it that way.
Lapham has expressed dissatisfaction with the modern era of comic books that lacks accessibility to those who visit the comic book store infrequently. With this in mind he launches “Stray Bullets: Killers” as a done in one issue story that has a complete tale that is multi-faceted making it a worthwhile read many times over.
“Stray Bullets: Killers” features Eli Goldburg a boy coming of age in the suburbs with an overworked mother and unmotivated father. When Eli follows his father into the Cock’s Crow, a local strip club, Eli gets more than the sexual education he was looking for when he runs into the club manager Spanish Scott.
Eli’s youth and naivety make it hard for him to comprehend the events that unfold around him and that naivety will have lasting consequences. Through the narrative Lapham takes you into Eli’s emotions as he deals with his friends, family, and situations he will never be ready for, its an empathic state of worry and intrigue as the events unfold.
It’s Lapham’s artwork that paces the story. His clean and clear pencils really pop with the black and white pages. The narrative flows from panel to panel along the pages unveiling the events as they happen to Eli. The artwork tells the story with different pieces to the story that enhances and builds off the information in the dialogue.
“Stray Bullets: Killers” #1 accomplishes what Lapham wanted, it provides an entry point into the writer/artist’s work without the baggage that comes from reading an existing series. This hard crime series depicts a subtle suburban level of crime that could be right around the corner, but perception of the world around it hides the truth. While characters and themes may repeat, each issue is planned to be self contained, to be picked up and read in what order the reader discovers them.
“Stray Bullets: Killers” #1 is priced at $3.50 for 36 pages. It is a nice pick up to understand what type of stories Lapham is telling.
With the return of “Stray Bullets,” Image Comics has published a collection featuring all 41 issues of the original series in the “Stray Bullets: The Uber Alles Edition.” This hefty tome reproduces all of Lapham’s original stores and it is a stunning representation to see how the artists abilities have changed and grown over the years.
David Lapham will be signing and meeting fans at The Comic Bug in Manhattan Beach, Saturday March 29 from 1 pm to 3 pm. The Comic Bug has plenty of copies of “Stray Bullets: Killers” #1 as well as the massive “Stray Bullets: The Uber Alles Edition” on had to meet any crime fiction fans needs.