Uptown Girl: The Lazarus Heart
Words and Art: Bob Lipski
Publisher: 7 C Press
Available soon from UptownGirlComic.com
Uptown Girl: The Lazarus Heart is a story that is 14 years in the making. It started with a self-published all-ages comic that a guy ran off monthly at his neighborhood copy shop and sold to friends and fans that he’d meet at local comic conventions. His first books made good use of the circle template for heads, but no rulers to make the panels square. He eventually started to use a ruler as well, and collected his first 12 issues in 2005 in Uptown Girl: Begin the Begin. All of the main characters have names taken from songs, and I started reading around issue #7. The art style was deceptively simple, but what drew me in was the charm and humor of the storytelling. Lipski has collected the full monthly run of Uptown Girl into six trades, all of which are sadly no longer in print. He also did a series of Uptown Girl graphic novels in smaller trades, of which this is the sixth. Lipski declares that this is the last Uptown Girl story.
If you aren’t familiar with our hero, Uptown Girl is a reporter who writes for the Twin Cities Times. She’s best friends with Ruby Tuesday, an artist, and Rocketman, a video-game addict and data pusher at an unnamed financial institution. Her editor and boss is Mean Mr. Mustard, who really isn’t so mean, and has a healthy rivalry with Susie Lightning from channel 6 news.
The beginning of The Lazarus Heart is a departure in that it tells the story of three men in search of an artifact rather than with Uptown Girl and friends. The men have devoted years to finding the artifact, and then a cave-in separates the team at the moment of discovery. The Lazarus Heart remains in the hands of Alvarez. He is presumed lost to the rest of the team, but had actually gone away to hide the artifact and care for his orphaned niece, Ruby. Cut to today, Ruby Tuesday is discussing the death of her Uncle Alvarez with her best friend Uptown Girl. He has left her everything, including the house, and she has to decide what she wants to do next. Through a series of events, it seems that someone wants the heart locket that Uncle Alvarez gave her, and the police just don’t seem to help. Time for Uptown Girl to put on her investigative journalist hat to find some answers.
This is not just a mystery story, though. It’s a story about growing up and dealing with the not-so-pleasant parts of adulthood – a job you might not like, seeing your friend fall in love with someone you don’t trust – along with things like house break-ins, ninja and robot attacks, and help from a super-hero who is definitely NOT Batman. You wonder if frienship can survive all the changes going on in their lives, yet somehow you have faith that everything will be all right. Just as it should be.
Lipski’s art is just as charming as ever, yet there has been a confidence especially found in his graphic novels that wasn’t as clear in the original monthly run of Uptown Girl. He knows his characters well and draws them with affection, cleverly insinuating action that might not be of interest to younger readers but older readers will find appealing. Adorable, even.
Thanks, Bob, for the journey you’ve taken us on over the last 14 years. It’s been a wonderful adventure, and I’m glad you invited us along for the ride.