Publisher Top Shelf
Writer/Artist Jeff Lemire
Format TP B&W 6”x 9”, 100 Pages
This year I finally discovered Jeff Lemire. I don’t know about you but when I find a new writer or artist I feel like it was a discovery and of course I like to share my opinion and spread the word. Jeff sure doesn’t need my help as his talent is self evident.
I started out with Nobody, an OGN from Vertigo, that I thought was good, but I had some quibbles with elements of the story. Still the book showed that Jeff was a talented writer & artist and someone to look for in the future. The goofy title and odd looking character for the new Vertigo series Sweet Tooth, almost made me pass up on the book, but I got it and now I’m hooked on Mr. Lemire’s work.
Then Lee gave me (he must have found it for a super sale) the trade “Tales from the Farm”, Essex County Volume 1. This I believe was Jeff’s main indy work and had drawn a lot of critical acclaim and for a damn good reason, this is a beautiful story.
The story on paper is simple. A young boy’s mother dies and he is taken in to be raised by his uncle. Neither the boy nor the uncle knows how to make it work, but ultimately they both learn to grow up a little and make a family together.
It sounds so simple, but it is the story is one of those heartfelt stories they stays with you for a long time. Lester is constantly wearing a mask and a cape, leaving in a make believe world. He is stuck with his Uncle Ken who tries to do right by Lester, but doesn’t know how to talk to him. Since Lester is constantly in a daze and wearing his costume the other kids make fun of him. He is befriended by another local outcast Jimmy, an ex-NHL hockey player, whose claim to fame according to the townspeople is his being busted up in his first and only professional hockey game.
As the story unfolds we see Les and Ken try to connect, we see Jimmy and Les connect, gets hints that Jimmy maybe Les’s Dad, we see via flashback’s the death of Les’s Mom and Ken and Les first getting together. At the end Les abandons his imaginary world and realizes what Ken is doing for him. For his part Ken is starting to learn how to be a real parent for Les.
It is a touching story and feels very real and as true to life as possible. It feels autobiographic in nature, it is that good. Even with the few bad words in the book, this is an all age book in the best possible sense of the word, in that I think it speaks to anyone. If a child of grade school age was reading it, I would read it with them to explore all the themes together.
Overall Grade A. This is a truly heartfelt and beautiful tale that is so simple yet so complex and deep all at the same time. Lemire is a story teller of high caliber and understands how to connect to an audience.