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Award-winning Canadian cartoonist Jeff Lemire is the creator of the acclaimed monthly comic book series SWEET TOOTH published by DC/Vertigo and the award winning graphic novel ESSEX COUNTY published by Top Shelf. He also writes ANIMAL MAN, FRANKENSTEIN AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. and SUPERBOY for DC Comics.
In 2008 Jeff won the Schuster Award for Best Canadian Cartoonist, and The Doug Wright Award for Best Emerging Talent. He also won the American Library Association's prestigious Alex Award, recognizing books for adults with specific teen appeal. In 2010 Essex County was named as one of the five Essential Canadian Novels of the Decade!
Recently named one of Wizard magazines 25 "rising stars", Jeff is also hard at work on a new graphic novel for Top Shelf called THE UNDERWATER WELDER, due in 2012. He currently lives and works in Toronto with his wife and son.
This hardcover collects Jeff Lemire's trilogy of graphic novels (plus some bonus stories) set in rural Essex County in Ontario, Canada. Lemire provides both the story and black-and-white artwork in this fictionalized account of life in his hometown. The first book "Tales From The Farm" centers on middle-school age Lester who lives on his uncle's farm after his mother's death. Unhappy with home and school, Lester develops a friendship with gentle, childlike ex-hockey player Jimmy who now runs the local gas station. This first segment sometimes seems slow, but contains plot seeds that blossom by the third book. I enjoyed the references to the 1979 Topps hockey card set. The second and longest book "Ghost Stories" tells of the relationship between brothers Lou and Vince, primarily through a series of an aging and regretful Lou's flashbacks. This was the most interesting and powerful of the three graphic novels. The third book "The Country Nurse" follows the titular nurse on a few workdays around the county meeting characters from the first two books, as well as some history of Essex County. A common theme is undying love for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The book ends with a delightful genealogic chart that maps the trilogy's characters. I had a lukewarm reaction to the first book but enjoyed it more as I kept reading and would recommend this hardcover, especially to hockey fans.
This book collects together what I think is one of the greatest achievements in comics in the last 10 years, Jeff Lemire's Essex County stories.
Essex County is a part of Ontario, Canada, and the three books collected here - Tales from the Farm, Ghost Stories, and The Country Nurse - explores the area and it's inhabitants.
Tales from the Farm follows a lonely boy called who has recently lost his mother, never knew his father, and is in the care of his uncle. The two have an awkward relationship as they struggle to come to terms with grief and the balance of their relationship. Lester draws comics and dresses as a superhero, and finally makes a friend in the form of Jimmy LeBeuf, a gas station attendant who used to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs before an injury brought an end to his career. The two find a small measure of happiness in their bleak lives in their time talking together about comics and hockey.
Ghost Stories follows the story of two brothers, Lou and Vince LeBeuf, who play minor league hockey in Toronto. They both dream of making it into the big leagues but Vince (the more gifted of the brothers at hockey) meets a girl, marries her, drops hockey, and starts a family and farm out in the country. Lou tries to crack the major leagues but incurs a career ending injury and spends his life driving a tram in Toronto. A dark secret splits these once close brothers so that they never speak for decades.
The Country Nurse follows the story of Anne Byrne who looks after Lou LeBeuf as well as other people in Essex County. We find out about her lonely home life and her family's ancestors. The revelations in her family tie together the LeBeuf family and ties the trilogy together.Read more ›
I've been thoroughly enjoying Jeff Lemire's SWEET TOOTH series from DC Comics' Vertigo imprint, and had been interested in reading his collected ESSEX COUNTY book for awhile now. I finally purchased a copy at this year's (2010) San Diego Comic Con (from the publisher's booth) and devoured the thing in one reading. To put it simply, this is one of the best graphic novels I've ever read (and I've been a comic book reader for over 30 years). I was truly moved by the simple yet poignant stories in this volume. I especially love Lemire's unconventional and sparse artwork that still manages to convey so much depth and emotion in each panel. I hate reading comics that are cluttered with so many word balloons that it's an effort to read through a page. Lemire has a wonderful knack for creating stories with a minimum of dialogue but that are still complex and full of intersting characters. There are not many writer/artists who can do this as effectively as Lemire shows here (and as he also does in SWEET TOOTH, and his other Vertigo graphic novel THE NOBODY). Lemire is clearly a huge talent, both as a writer and an artist, and I look forward to enjoying his new works for years to come.
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A) Buy this right now. Not the kindle version. Spend the 20 bucks and treat yourself to one of the most beautiful, soulful graphic novels ever created. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll be different forever. I say this with no irony whatsoever. It's a work of art.
B) If you DON'T like graphic novels and think they're dumb, immature kids' stuff... refer to (A). Then thank me for opening your eyes.
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I read this after seeing it attacked by the panelists of Canada Reads, and quite honestly have fallen in love with this book. I'm a college student in New York, and this is definitely not a child's comic book but a full fledged novel (and a damn good one at that). I have recommended it to all of my friends and even my boss. Every one of them so far has enjoyed it as much as I did.