Authors on My Radar (AMR): Jeff Lemire

This is part of a new series of posts in which I will discuss certain creators that I find intriguing, interesting, and relevant or just want to talk about.  The series will be called “AMR” for “authors on my radar,” since I like the acronym better than CMR (creators on my radar). 

Jeff Lemire 

On my radar right now is Jeff Lemire.  He’s’ a comic creator who I’m leaning to put on my “Must Read” list of comic creators (which includes Steve Niles, Robert Kirkman, and Bill Willingham).  I first came across his work in Essex County:  Tales From The Farm.  I thought it was an enjoyable and moving tale about a young boy lost to the world.  Lemire went off my radar for a while until 2 months ago when I picked up The Essex County Complete which included additional volumes.  It had been over a year since I read the first volume, so I read through the whole thing and I was flabbergasted.

Lemire has a powerfully subtle way of telling stories, light on text, simple in art, but profound in effect.  The Complete Essex County traces the relationships among several families and generations within the rural community.  Fathers and sons, brothers, lovers, and other kin battle their inner demons, the confinements of rural life, and one another to try to make sense of life.  It’s quite strong stuff and Lemire dishes it out with simple but powerful art, using silence are powerfully as sound throughout his work.

What I notice best about Lemire’s work is that he’s so interested in awkward relationships.  Relationships between people (often youth with an older and at least within the social world of the story, more suspect character).  In many ways, this allows for the quiet awkward tension that permeates his work and is quite perfected in The Complete Essex County.

This evening, I sat down to read The Nobody, Lemire’s own take on or rather, extension of HG Well’s The Invisible Man.  Besides providing a plausible continuation of the story, Lemire also manages to tell a story that is poignant and doesn’t require a working knowledge of  The Invisible Man.  Again, he’s selective and impressive with his moments he chooses for his panels.  The story mimics comics in a way in that it provides a clear story, but allows reader to draw conclusions (perform "closure" as Scott McCloud would say) about different plot strands within the story.  It doesn't beat readers over the head with every plot element, but does provide guidance for reader to follow along.  

His most recent (and apparently ongoing) series, Sweet Tooth (which will be covered in another post in the Vacation of the Mind posts), reinforces this and is certainly enjoyable; different with the others herein, in that it jumps into the full color scale whereas The Nobody was limited in color range.

I look forward to Lemire’s future work; he seems to be the kind of comic artist that uses the form exceedingly well to tell deep stories and unlike other artists, he balances text and image impressively.   

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  1. Is this comic anything similar to Fun Home? If so, count me in. Nothing I like more than a little family history drama that climaxes is a big fashion....especially when its in a comic book. I' really into that sort of realistic comic that involves various generation of emotions. From the panels it looks like its dark, dry, and high with emotion style of art. I also like that its a and white. I really like that. However is it worth the purchase? I want to by a comic that I can read then spread to my friends. Whats the premise? A distinct character and his families lineage or is it a cast of characters from a neighborhood and how they age? Is it constantly disturbing to the common conception of family? I hope so. I like to read comics and watch movies to be disturbed, not entertained. I want to read this and be like...excuse me? Thats what I am hoping for? Is this the comic for me?


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