Nutshell Review – Essex County Vol. 2: Ghost Stories by Jeff Lemire

Posted by on Jun 19, 2015 in 2015, 4.5 stars, Book Review, Graphic Novel, Jeff Lemire, Nutshell Review | 2 comments

Essex County Vol. 1: Tales From the Farm by Jeff Lemire

Essex County Vol. 2: Ghost Stories by Jeff Lemire

Genre: Fiction
Format: Graphic Novel
Series: #2 in the Essex County Trilogy
Publisher: Top Shelf
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 223
Source: Library

The Book:
From the back cover:

Now the tale continues with Ghost Stories, the second volume in a trilogy of graphic novels set in a fictionalized version of Lemire’s hometown of Essex County, Ontario, Ghost Story follows the lives and relationship of brothers Lou and Vince Lebeuf over the course of nearly seven decades. In this volume, eldest brother Lou, now a deaf and lonely man, lives out his final days on his farm full of guilt and regret for the decisions he made that tore his family apart. From their childhood on the farm, to Toronto in the 1950’s (where they both played professional hockey), Lou is left to revisit his life, his decisions and his regrets. A silent observer, haunted by his own memories

My Thoughts:
Well, once again Jeff Lemire has created characters who have wrapped themselves around my heart and will stick with me for a long time. It’s no secret that I think Lemire is a talented genius. He has the ability to tell a complex and emotional story in spare and raw black and white images often with little or no text on the pages.

The events of this volume primarily take place many years before the events of volume one. It’s clear based on the character names that there is a connection with at least one of the main characters from the first book. That relationship isn’t clear until late in this volume. Also the titular Country Nurse of volume three is introduced here.

I already have volume three out from the library to read soon but I have also requested the collected one volume edition of the trilogy for a couple of reasons, The first is that I want to re-read volume one because of new information I now have. The second reason is that it also includes two additional shorts that Lemire wrote that are connected.

Once again I’m going to recommend that you read anything you can get your hands on that Jeff Lemire has done. He’s amazing.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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Essex County Vol. 1: Tales From the Farm by Jeff Lemire

Posted by on Apr 21, 2015 in 2015, 4.5 stars, Book Review, Jeff Lemire | 0 comments

Essex County Vol. 1: Tales from the Farm by Jeff Lemire

Essex County Vol. 1: Tales From the Farm by Jeff Lemire

Genre: Fiction
Format: Graphic Novel
Publisher: Top Shelf
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 112
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Ten year old Lester lives with his uncle after his mother’s death and they just don’t seem to understand each other at all.

Why I Read It:
I am unabashedly a huge fan of Jeff Lemire’s work. I have been looking forward to reading this trilogy that comes highly recommended by several friends.

The Book:
From the back cover:

Xeric Award-winning cartoonist Jeff Lemire illustrates the tale of Lester, a recently orphaned 10-year-old living on his Uncle’s Farm in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. As their relationship grows increasingly strained, Lester befriends the small town’s hulking gas station owner, Jimmy Lebeuf, a damaged former hockey star. The two escape into a private fantasy world of super-heroes, alien invaders, and good old fashioned pond hockey. Tales From the Farm is the first in a trilogy of graphic novels set in a fictionalized version of Lemire’s hometown of Essex County, Ontario.

My Thoughts:
Personally I think Jeff Lemire is an extremely talented genius. I am amazed at the emotion he can convey in a sparsely drawn page with no text. After reading his Sweet Tooth series and a couple of other stand alones I was eager to start this trilogy that has been so highly recommended.

Lester’s feeling of loss and being lost in a life where his uncle just doesn’t understand him just oozed off the page and drilled into me as I read it. His uncle never expected to be solo parenting a child and feels unable to build a relationship with a loner child who likes to wear his superhero cape and mask all the time. I felt for everyone in the story. I really liked the way that the black and white art was done in a lighter gray for the flashback scenes.

When Lester meets Jimmy it’s a case of two damaged people helping each other to cope with the world by living a rich fantasy life. Their unlikely friendship helps them both to move on from their losses.

Once again I’m strongly recommending another of Lemire’s books. This is clearly a trend. Every one I’ve read has been wonderful. His spare and sometimes rough artwork is so full of emotion that his characters always stick with me long after I’ve finished the books.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire

Posted by on Jan 22, 2015 in 2015, 5 stars, Book Review, Jeff Lemire | 0 comments

Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire

The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire

Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 224
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Jack Joseph is the titular Underwater Welder who lost his own father as a child and now faces the birth of his own first child.

Why I Read It:
I have become a huge fan of Jeff Lemire’s work so when I spotted this at the library I had to get it.

The Book:
From the publisher:

WARNING: CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE.

As an underwater welder on an oil rig off the coast of Nova Scotia, Jack Joseph is used to the immense pressures of deep-sea work. Nothing, however, could prepare him for the pressures of impending fatherhood. As Jack dives deeper and deeper, he seems to pull further and further away from his young wife and their unborn son. Then one night, deep in the icy solitude of the ocean floor, something unexplainable happens. Jack has a mysterious and supernatural encounter that will change the course of his life forever.

Equal parts blue-collar character study and mind-bending mystery, The Underwater Welder is a graphic novel about fathers and sons, birth and death, memory and reality, and the treasures we all bury deep below the surface.

My Thoughts:
In the introduction Damon Lindelof (of TV’s Lost) describes this as “the most spectacular episode of The Twilight Zone that was never produced”. He is absolutely correct.

I adored this book. After I finished reading it I waited to return it to the library until the day it was due just because I wanted to keep the characters and emotions near me as long as possible.

Jeff Lemire has an amazing ability to convey so much story and emotion with minimal dialog and often minimalistic art. It’s all black, white and gray but that doesn’t limit Lemire in the least. There are times when I turned a page and the art was full of so much detail, emotion and story that it took my breath away and there wasn’t a single word on the page.

Jack is a flawed man. He loves his wife but while she is eagerly anticipating the birth of thier son Jack is still troubled by the loss of his own father when he was a child. This book explores so much about relationships and what it means to be a son, a man and a father.

Preview pages are available at Comics Alliance.

Do yourself a favor and read this amazing book.

5 stars Rating 5/5

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The Nobody by Jeff Lemire

Posted by on Jan 9, 2015 in 2014, 4 stars, Book Review, Jeff Lemire | 3 comments

The Nobody by Jeff Lemire

The Nobody by Jeff Lemire

Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 144
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Inspired the classic The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells this graphic novel tells a similar yet different story that is a haunting tale.

Why I Read It:
After reading the Sweet Tooth Series I just had to read more of Jeff Lemire’s work.

The Book:
From the publisher:

The tiny, isolated fishing village of Large Mouth never saw much excitement — until the arrival of the stranger, that is. Wrapped from head to toe in bandages and wearing weird goggles, he quietly took up residence in the sleepy town’s motel. Driven by curiosity, the townfolk quickly learn the tragic story of his past, and of the terrible accident that left him horribly disfigured. Eventually, the town embraces the stranger as one of their own — but do his bandages hide more than just scars? Inspired by H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man, THE NOBODY explores themes of identity, fear and paranoia in a small community.

My Thoughts:
When I picked this up at the library I didn’t realize is was a retelling of The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells so I decided to wait to read this until I read the original. I’m glad I did.

When a strange bandaged man arrives in the small community of Large Mouth the locals are suspicious, then welcoming, then suspicious, then angry.

I liked the way that Lemire told this. He used The Invisible Man as a starting point but this story is different. There are similar characters with the same or similar names as in the Wells book but there are also characters and pieces of the story that vary widely. Vickie, the daughter of the owner of the local diner befriends the mysterious man and become the primary narrator. It’s told mostly from her perspective.

If you haven’t read The Invisible Man this is still an interesting and well told story. I was glad that I read them both close together. I think it helped me appreciate the similarities as well as the differences.

Lemire’s art is like his story telling. Minimalist in many ways but packed with emotion. It’s all in black and white and his rough hewn drawing style works well to convey the parts of the story that isn’t told by the words.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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Sweet Tooth, Vol. 6: Wild Game by Jeff Lemire

Posted by on Aug 22, 2014 in 2014, 4 stars, Book Review, Graphic Novel, Jeff Lemire | 3 comments

Sweet Tooth, Vol. 6: Wild Game by Jeff Lemire

Sweet Tooth, Vol. 6: Wild Game by Jeff Lemire

Genre: Science Fiction (Graphic Novel)
Series: #6 in the Sweet Tooth series
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 199
Source: Library

The Short Version:
In the finale of the series the fate of both mankind and the animal hybrid children is at stake.

Why I Read It:
This series captivated me from the very first issue. Once I started I had to continue.

The Book:
This volume 6 is a compilation of issues 33 – 40 of the comic series.

From the publisher

THE HUNT IS OVER

At long last, the hybrid animal-boy called Gus and the big man called Jepperd are on the road to the remote Alaskan outpost where the answers they seek are waiting. It was here, years ago, that the wrath of the gods was unleashed, a plague was released … and a forgotten race reborn.

But Gus, Jepperd and their friends are not the only ones seeking the source of the apocalypse that has all but extinguished mankind. The bad man called Abbot is on the way as well, swearing death to anyone who stands between him and a cure for the plague.

And, if no cure can be found, death for EVERYONE.

The stage has been set for a final battle, an intimate Armageddon with the fate of human and hybrid alike in the balance. And no one knows who will be left standing when the wild game is up…

My Thoughts:
This is finale of a fascinating post-apocalyptic series that has surprising gentleness and strength. While I was sad to have reached the end of Gus and Jepperd’s journey the ending was exciting, wonderful, awful and surprisingly emotional.

Trying to explain this series to someone is difficult but Gus the part human, part deer boy is a gentle soul who will stick with me for a long time. His protector Jepperd and the rest of what became like a family to them throughout the series are wonderful characters and their story has been fascinating.

While not everything is wrapped up in a neat tidy bow, this ending to the series is quite satisfying. The epilogue worked well and the final pages left me near tears.

Lemire as both author and illustrator has been able to tell his story well. Although his drawing style is harsh compared to some other richly drawn and colored comics (Fables or Saga for example) but it is highly evocative. He conveys action and emotion so well and particularly for characters who don’t (or rarely) speak.

This is a series I highly recommend and I’m looking forward to reading much more of Jeff Lemire’s work.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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Sweet Tooth Vol. 5: Unnatural Habitats by Jeff Lemire

Posted by on Jul 31, 2014 in 2014, 3.5 stars, Book Review, Graphic Novel, Jeff Lemire | 0 comments

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Sweet Tooth Vol. 5: Unnatural Habitats by Jeff Lemire

Sweet Tooth Vol. 5: Unnatural Habitats by Jeff Lemire

Genre: Science Fiction, Grapic Novel
Series: #5 in the Sweet Tooth series
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 159
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume contains issues 26-32 of the comic series
From the publisher:

As the mysterious Captain James Thacker and his crew man a deadly expedition, they will uncover secrets centuries old, but what does any of this have to do with Gus and Jepperd? Plus, while Jeppard, Singh and Gus make plans to head to Alaska, things start to deteriorate for the rest of the group back at the sanctuary!

My Thoughts:
This volume initially takes a detour to the past to an expedition to Alaska before returning to the original timeline of the story. This adds some fascinating elements and along with some potential connections it also adds many questions. Back in Gus and Jeppard’s time things at what most of the group of travelers thought was a safe haven change quickly.

This one provided some answers to the mystery of the plague, the animal hybrid children and how all of this got started. At the same time however, the final volume has a lot to resolve and I cannot wait to read it.

The art in the Captain Thacker story is by Matt Kindt which helped give that story a distinct feel. The return to Gus and Jeppard’s story returns to Jeff Lemire’s now familiar gritty work.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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