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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 89

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we take a look at the first collection of David Lapham’s Stray Bullets, titled “Innocence of Nihilism”…

Innocence of Nihilism collects the first seven issues of Lapham’s Stray Bullets, but I don’t want to be misleading and suggest that this is one complete story. It is not.

You see, Stray Bullets tells the tales of a group of people over the period of about twenty years, generally speaking from youth to adulthood. Each issue takes place in a different year in this twenty-year span, showing the characters at different stages in their lives (each issues spotlights one of the characters).

And, well, let’s just say that their lives are pretty damned messed up.

Oh, and, of course, I would be quite negligent if I did not mention the most famous part of Lapham’s Stray Bullets – Amy Racecar.

Amy Racecar is a fictional character created by Ginny Applejack, one of the characters in the book. Amy Racecar is basically Ginny, only with wish fulfillment stories told about her. They are trippy and awesome (and sad since you realize who is writing them and why).

To wit, here is Amy Racecar hanging out with God…

And here she is on one of her famous bank robberies…

As you can see, this is definitely coming from the mind of a very troubled girl.

Issue #4 is one of my favorite single issues of all-time, as it details Ginny running away from home and getting picked up by an…interesting fellow.

There’s plenty of other twists in the series featuring the other characters (particularly the uber-tragic Joey, who we meet in #1 and later learn exactly why he is what he is as we see him in the past – but also Led’s story in issue #3 has a clever ending), so I don’t mind spoiling this twist for you (especially as I already did when I featured it as a Cool Comic Book Moment) – so, after this man convinces Ginny that they’re going to be bank robbers together, well, see for yourself…

That’s the kind of awesome twists and turns you can expect out of Stray Bullets – a character driven social drama with brilliant artwork by David Lapham.

I’m sure I’ll be returning to future volumes of this series for the Year of Cool Comics…

NOTE: Blog pal Dan Felty found that Lapham has the first four issues up online for you to read FOR FREE! Awesome!

Here is the link.


I see Lapham’s been workin’ the eight-panel page setup for quite a few years before using it so effectively in Young Liars.
That was pretty cool. I should track these down.

Mario – I can’t recommend the series highly enough. There are peaks and valleys, but Stray Bullets remains one of my favorite series. It’s not as demented or complex as Young Liars, but it’s full of great moments, heartbreaking events, and cool characters.

I got the second issue, “Victimology,” as half of the FCBD flipbook with Lapham’s Matrix story, and for some reason couldn’t stand it; it turned me off to the series for a long time. I ended up getting the second trade, however, and loved it–so I recommend anyone who might have tried Stray Bullets and disliked it to give it a second chance.

I don’t recall why I disliked #2 so much. I’ll have to go back & re-read it. I just heard a college professor mention using it in class, in fact.

I really need to buy more Stray Bullets. I’ve got a couple of the trades and a few singles (including #4), and they’re very good.

I want to buy the hardcovers, but Amazon doesn’t seem to have them anymore.

I don’t recall why I disliked #2 so much. I’ll have to go back & re-read it. I just heard a college professor mention using it in class, in fact.

I’m curious, too, Dan.

I can see #1 putting people off, but while obviously #2 had a downer ending, I think it otherwise was a really well-executed piece, especially the work Lapham does developing the various personalities of the different characters.

Go re-read it right this instant!! :)

I think I will, because I found that Lapham posted the first four issues free online here: http://www.innocenceofnihilism.com/SBFREEREAD.html

OK–I guess I just wasn’t ready for everyone to be acting so horrible to everyone else. Lapham did show characters’ personalities, but aside from Ginny’s dad, they were nasty brutes. I think the issue’s theme that selfishness can have dire consequences is shown less bleakly elsewhere in the series. Characters like Orson and Nick aren’t so much more relatable than those in this issue (perhaps less so), but they are more understandable.

By the way, Brian, here’s a quote from Lapham’s message board over at Standard Attrition:

For all you “sell out” screamers out there, there’s nothing wrong with freelance work. The first project I did was a run on Detective Comics, and I’ll tell you this when I wrote that first issue, I knew it was the best thing I’d ever written. Period. What’s more, initially Bill Sienkiewicz was supposed to draw it. And indeed, he did draw the first issue and it’s the most awesome thing I’ve ever seen and in my mind I was thinking “this is going to blow Dark Knight out of the water.” For various reasons that didn’t work out and the series was started over with another artist, Ramon Bachs, who drew his ass off. In the end, the graphic novel is a darn good read I think but much steam was taken out of the process during the initial phase, and I’ll admit it didn’t turn out to be the all-world thing I’d hoped. I’d still give it a strong B+ though.

So is there a finished issue of Lapham/Sienkiewicz Batman sitting out there unreleased? I’m prepared to start this rumor if it’s necessary for you to find out!

This is top-tier great comics. When I was 14, Stray Bullets convinced me to venture beyond the big two and discover some amazing comics.

Dan, I don’t know that the entire issue has ever released to the public, but Jock posted this link to low-resolution copies of the the first 12 pages on Lapham’s Standard Attrition message board:



March 31, 2010 at 5:36 pm

I wish Lapham could re-release trades of this, or strike a deal with another company to get it happening again – I read a post where he said he didn’t want to give Stray Bullets to another publisher, and then have it not sell, because then he’d have to fight for the rights etc.

I’ve got a few scattered issues of the series, and it’s amazing!
I liked his Silverfish and Batman, which was the first of his I read, but Stray Bullets is just the best.

Is Murder Me Dead good as well?

Dan, I don’t know that the entire issue has ever released to the public, but Jock posted this link to low-resolution copies of the the first 12 pages on Lapham’s Standard Attrition message board:

Sweet Jesus that’s good!

It was a pretty solid story, with truly horrible twists and turns, but he’s right about the series losing some energy… although good, it does slow down too much at the end.

In my book issue #2 is probably the most heart-breaking single issue comic I’ve ever read. And that’s a good thing.

I never liked the Amy Racecar stories, but other than that I love Stray Bullets.

It’s cool beans!

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