Secret Path by Gord Downie

Posted by on Jun 22, 2017 in 2017, 5 stars, Book Review, Graphic Novel, Jeff Lemire | 0 comments

Secret Path by Gord Downie with art by Jeff LemireSecret Path by Gord Downie with art by Jeff Lemire

Genre: History
Format: Music plus graphic novel
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 96
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

Secret Path is a ten song digital download album by Gord Downie with a graphic novel by illustrator Jeff Lemire that tells the story of Chanie “Charlie” Wenjack, a twelve-year-old boy who died in flight from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School fifty years ago.

Chanie, misnamed Charlie by his teachers, was a young boy who died on October 22, 1966, walking the railroad tracks, trying to escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School to return home. Chanie’s home was 400 miles away. He didn’t know that. He didn’t know where it was, nor how to find it, but, like so many kids—more than anyone will be able to imagine—he tried.

Chanie’s story is Canada’s story. We are not the country we thought we were. History will be re-written. We are all accountable. Secret Path acknowledges a dark part of Canada’s history—the long suppressed mistreatment of Indigenous children and families by the residential school system—with the hope of starting our country on a road to reconciliation. Every year as we remember Chanie Wenjack, the hope for Secret Path is that it educates all Canadians young and old on this omitted part of our history, urging our entire nation to play an active role in the preservation of Indigenous lives and culture in Canada.

My Thoughts:
I heard about this book and music in my LibraryThing group. I was immediately interested because Jeff Lemire did the artwork and as you know he’s one of my favorites. It wasn’t readily available but I was able to get a copy throuth interlibrary loan.

This is much more than the graphic novel. The music is an integral part of Chanie’s story. The only text in the graphic novel is the lyrics to the songs by Downie.

Secret Path Screenshot

After reading the book I watched the animated film that was created from Downie’s music and Lemire’s art. It’s about an hour long but in my opinion the best way to experience this story.

In all of it’s formats Chanie Wenjack’s story is heartbreaking. In the music of Gord Downie and the art of Jeff Lemire it is one of the most beautifully heart wrenching stories I’ve ever experienced.

This is the film which is about an hour long followed by an hour long panel discussion. Secret Path is bookended by Downie’s visits with Charlie’s family. Save this link and watch it when you have time.

5 stars Rating 5/5

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Roughneck by Jeff Lemire

Posted by on Jun 9, 2017 in 2017, 5 stars, Book Review, Graphic Novel, Jeff Lemire | 0 comments

Roughneck by Jeff LemireRoughneck by Jeff Lemire

Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Gallery 13
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 272
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

Derek Ouelette’s glory days are behind him. His hockey career ended a decade earlier in a violent incident on ice, and since then he’s been living off his reputation in the remote northern community where he grew up, drinking too much and fighting anyone who crosses him. But he never counts on his long-lost sister, Beth, showing up one day out of the blue, back in town and on the run from an abusive boyfriend. Looking to hide out for a while, the two siblings hunker down in a secluded hunting camp deep in the local woods. It is there that they attempt to find a way to reconnect with each other and the painful secrets of their past…even as Beth’s ex draws closer, threatening to pull both Derek and Beth back into a world of self-destruction that they are fighting tooth and nail to leave behind.

My Thoughts:
Yes. I know, another Lemire. He’s being rather prolific this year and I can’t help it. I love his work and this one is no exception.

For this one he’s back to doing his own artwork. He has a distinctive style and I’m happy to see it again. He’s done the main story is blues, white and black. It’s the colors of the landscape in wintertime in remote northern Canada. He’s done the flashbacks in more color as well as the danger and violence in the present to underscore the connection.

The story, as with much of Lemire’s work, deals with emotional issues. It’s about family dysfunction, loss, healing, and breaking the cycles of violence and abuse. It’s a dark story but one that draws you in and tugs at your emotions.

Here’s a video from the publisher that include some of the first few pages and some comments from Jeff Lemire.

I know I always highly recommend Lemire’s work but seriously do yourself a favor and read this one.

5 stars Rating 5/5

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Black Hammer: Secret Origins by Jeff Lemire

Posted by on May 16, 2017 in 2017, 5 stars, Book Review, Comics, Jeff Lemire | 0 comments

Black Hammer: Secret Origins by Jeff LemireBlack Hammer: Secret Origins by Jeff Lemire with art by Dan Ormston

Genre: Superhero Fiction
Format: Trade Paperback Comics Collected Edition
Series: #1 in the Black Hammer series
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 184
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 1 is a compilation of issues 1-6 of the comic series
From the publisher:

Once they were heroes. Now, banished from existence by a multiversal crisis, the old champions of Spiral City lead simple lives in a timeless farming town. But as they attempt to free themselves from this strange purgatory, a mysterious stranger works to bring them back into action for one last adventure!

My Thoughts:
I know. Another Lemire. I can’t help it I love his work and this one is no exception. This is the first trade paperback collection of this new series. Lemire wrote it and Dean Ormston did the artwork. In fact, Dean Ormston did the artwork after suffering a brain hemorrhage that affected the right side of his body. He’s right handed and had to recover from having his drawing hand partially paralyzed. It’s a bit of a superhero story about the making of a series about superheroes.

This is a superhero story but with a distinct Jeff Lemire feel to it. The characters’ superhero days seem to be behind them. They are living in a farming community and hiding their identities and talents. How they got there and whether they can leave is unknown. Each issue focuses on one of the main characters and both gives their background as well as filling in bits and pieces of the story.

This is clearly an introductory and stage setting book with much of it devoted to filling in who the characters are more than moving the story forward. It’s a twisty story too. Time and space shifting keeps the settings interesting and give Dean Ormston plenty of opportunities for creating different scenes.

I’m hooked and highly recommend this. I don’t think I’ll be able to wait until the next collected edition is released. I’m going to have to subscribe to the individual issues of this series.

a9741-rating_5stars Rating 5/5

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Descender Book Three: Singularities by Jeff Lemire

Posted by on Apr 14, 2017 in 2017, 5 stars, Book Review, Comics, Jeff Lemire | 2 comments

Descender Book Three: Singularities by Jeff Lemire
Descender Book Three: Singularities by Jeff Lemire

Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Descender #3
Format: Comics Collected Edition
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 128
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 3 is a compilation of issues 12-16 of the comic series.
From the publisher:

One young robot’s struggle to stay alive in a universe where all androids have been outlawed and bounty hunters lurk on every planet. A rip-roaring and heart-felt cosmic odyssey that pits humanity against machine, and world against world, to create a sprawling space opera from the creators of Trillium, Sweet Tooth, and Little Gotham.

My Thoughts:
I pretty much love everything I’ve ever read by Jeff Lemire and this series is no exception. This volume is a bit of a break in the action of the story but it’s a good respite. Each issue in this volume focuses on one of the characters introduced since the beginning.

In each case it’s the background and history up to the point where the story left off in book two. I enjoyed the background stories but I ended up feeling sad for almost all of them. These are some damaged characters and this applies even (and almost more so) to the robots.

The artwork by Dustin Nguyen is wonderful. It’s done in watercolors but it’s vivid and varied in all of the different settings.

The lettering in this series by Steve Wands continues to be as much artwork as Dustin Nguyen’s artwork

While the break in the story to explore some of the characters more deeply was nice, I’m counting the days until the next volume comes out in July.

I highly recommend this series.

a9741-rating_5stars Rating 5/5

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Descender Book Two: Machine Moon by Jeff Lemire

Posted by on Mar 21, 2017 in 2017, 5 stars, Book Review, Comics, Jeff Lemire | 4 comments

Descender Book Two: Machine Moon by Jeff Lemire
Descender Book Two: Machine Moon by Jeff Lemire with art by Dustin Nguyen

Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Descender #2
Format: Comics Collected Edition
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 120
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 2 is a compilation of issues 7-11 of the comic series.
From the publisher:

Young Robot boy TIM-21 and his companions struggle to stay alive in a universe where all androids have been outlawed and bounty hunters lurk on every planet. Written by award-winning creator, Jeff Lemire, Descender is a rip-roaring and heart-felt cosmic odyssey. Lemire pits humanity against machine, and world against world, to create a sprawling epic.

My Thoughts:
Lemire has a way of telling a story through the innocent eyes and trusting nature of a child. In this case the ‘child’ is a childlike android who was designed to help people as a companion robot. He has “proprietary empathy settings” that adapt and make him seem like a member of the family both to his human companions and Tim-21 himself.

Not surprisingly since it’s also from Image Comics, the imaginative story reminds me of Saga with the combination of robots, human and human like characters as well as some distinctly non-human creatures.

The artwork by Dustin Nguyen is wonderful. It’s done in watercolors but it’s vivid and varied in the different settings.The lettering in this series by Steve Wands is notable for its variations that clearly designate different types of speech (human, machine,creature) as well as volume.

I have purposely not said anything about the plot because pretty much anything I say would be a spoiler. It’s a bit of a thriller with some wonderful moments of humor.

I highly recommend this series.

a9741-rating_5stars Rating 5/5

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Trillium by Jeff Lemire

Posted by on Jun 14, 2016 in 2016, 5 stars, Book Review, Comics, Jeff Lemire | 0 comments

Trillium by Jeff Lemire
Trillium by Jeff Lemire

Genre: Science Fiction
Format: Trade Paperback Comics Collected Edition
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 192
Source: Library

The Book:
This is a collection of the 8 issues of the limited series.
From the publisher:

It’s the year 1921, and renowned English explorer William Pike leads an expedition into the dense jungles of Peru in search of the fabled “Lost Temple of the Incas,” an elusive sanctuary said to have strange healing properties.

It’s the year 3797, and botanist Nika Temsmith is researching a strange species on a remote science station near the outermost rim of colonized space.

Two disparate souls separated by thousands of years and hundreds of millions of miles. Yet they will fall in love and, as a result, bring about the end of the universe. Even though reality is unraveling all around them, nothing can pull them apart. This isn’t just a love story, it’s the LAST love story ever told.

My Thoughts:
It should come as absolutely no surprise to regular readers to hear that I adored this. I’ll admit that I am predisposed to love all things Lemire but he keeps finding ways to drill his characters into my heart.

Nika and William are from two different times and places but an ancient temple allows them to connect and fall in love. When the connection between them becomes a rip in time and space the story becomes even more complicated. They are still inexorably drawn to each other while the future of the human race hangs in the balance.

Lemire’s art is as always roughly drawn but this time around the coloring is interesting. Some of it was colored digitally by Jose Villarrubia and parts were hand done in watercolors by Lemire. Initially it shows a clear distinction between the two time periods but as the two blend so does the coloring style.

Once again Jeff Lemire has come up with something completely different that his other work and created characters and a story that will be with me for a long time.

5 stars Rating 5/5

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