Tag: Jeff Lemire
Comics for Grownups Episode 21 with Alex Rothman is now out on iTunes. Direct RSS link for Android users here. In this episode we briefly discuss the upcoming Comic Arts Brooklyn show in November, and then review:
Alan’s War by Emmanuel Guibert
In this episode we discuss Secret Prison 7, an anthology from Retrofit.
Fables vol. 18: Cubs in Toyland by Bill Willingham.
Northlanders vol. 7: The Icelandic Trilogy by Brian Wood.
The One-Trick Rip-off + Deep Cuts by Paul Pope.
Hard Time vol. 2: Sixteen by Steve Gerber.
Red Colored Elegy by Seiichi Hayashi.
Jeff Lemire has been on a tear lately. There was Essex County (reviewed here), The Nobody (an updated version of H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man), and now Sweet Tooth, which launched last month, second issue just out this week. All good stuff.
I didn’t write about the first issue of Sweet Tooth because I wasn’t sure whether I was going to stick with it. It seemed promising and the art has a rough quality I’ve come to like from Lemire (his hands and feet in particular seem not quite right, and everyone is foreshortened as if seen from a little above or below eye level). But I couldn’t yet tell what was going on.
That’s largely because the story is told from the perspective of a nine-year-old hybrid deer-boy raised in isolation by his deeply Christian father. He doesn’t know what’s going on in the world so neither do we. The issue ends with him lured in with chocolate and trapped by a pair of hunters.
In the second issue he’s rescued, and his rescuer fills us in on a little of the expository background: there’s been some kind of plague that’s both killed off nearly all the regular people and caused the birth of various kinds of hybrid children. The hybrid children are immune to the plague, which is why normal people hunt and try to eat them. By the end of #2 the boy is alone again, needing to make his way in a world he and the reader have yet to discover or understand.
So now I’ve decided: I like it and plan to keep getting it. So should you.
Preview from issue #2 below the fold.
Essex County is an ambitious effort. It reminded me a bit of Faulkner’s The Bear. (Okay, not that ambitious. What’s another example of a book that weaves family histories in separate stories set in the same place over a long period? I’m tired and my brain isn’t working right.)
The collection brings together three graphic novels all set in a fictionalized version of author Jeff Lemire’s home of Essex County, Ontario, a farming county whose inhabitants only ever seem to make it to the city if they play pro hockey. Each of the graphic novels is centered on a separate family, but as the stories unfold it becomes clear that the families are all related–albeit in ways often unknown to at least some of the family members.
Yet their tragedies are the same even when they don’t know each other. These are all stories of men whose children grow up without them, men who spend their whole lives lonely because they are cut off from the families they should have. The last of the three is putatively about a woman, but most of what she does is try to force resolutions in all the male-dominated stories around her. I don’t mean this as a feminist critique of the work; graphic novels have less space to develop their themes than other kinds of fiction, and I think it works beautifully to have all the stories echo each other in this way.
The art reminds me a little bit of fellow Canadian Chester Brown but with heavier, unrulier lines. Like Chet Brown crossed with a German Expressionist woodcut. Everything looks very sad and empty. I was particularly impressed with the way Lemire managed not only to create instantly recognizable characters with relatively few lines and simple outlines, but fairly subtle family resemblances.
Partial preview below the fold. Much fuller preview here.