The tiny, isolated fising 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 curiousity, 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? A Q&A with Jeff Lemire Question: The Nobody
is loosely based on The Invisible Man
by H.G. Wells. What about that classic novel piqued your creative impulse?
Jeff Lemire: I’ve always been a big fan of H.G. Wells; in fact The Time Machine or The Invisible Man may well have been one of the very first science fiction novels I ever read as a child. But, specifically with The Invisible Man, I have always been fascinated with the idea of a bandaged stranger. On a purely visual level, it is just a cool character design, and on a deeper level he is the perfect cipher, like an empty vessel with which you can do anything. I think that’s why there is such a long history of bandaged characters, particularly at DC, with Unknown Soldier, The Doom Patrol, and Hush. Also, anyone who knows my work, knows that I love to explore small towns and rural life, and the original novel has this amazing set up of this bizarre outsider showing up, and setting a tiny community abuzz. As soon as I started thinking about that, it seemed like a natural mix with my own ideas and interests.
Question: When referencing a classic work like The Invisible Man, how do you remain true to the spirit of the original while making something wholly new and contemporary?
Jeff Lemire: For me that was easy, because, as I’ve said before, all of my past work has been set in small rural communities, so this was no different. It was basically me taking Wells’ set-up then twisting it into my own thing. And, while there are allusions and nods to the original text, it really does go off on its own path from the start. But, at its core it is an exploration of madness, loneliness and the dark side of rural life, which to me lines up perfectly with Wells’ vision.
Question: What do you think H.G. Wells would think of your graphic novel?
Jeff Lemire: That’s a really tough question to answer, and one I had to stop thinking too much about while working on The Nobody, because the work of a master storyteller like H.G. Wells is something I could never hope to live up to. But, having said that, I would hope that he would recognize that the book was created with total respect of the source material, and as a testament to the iconic character he created so many years ago.
Question: Your artwork in The Nobody speaks volumes with its sparse text and subtle panels. What artists and authors have influenced your work?
Jeff Lemire: I do tend to try and say as much with the artwork as possible, and when I do use text; I generally try to strip it down to the essentials. And, that tends to reflect the often sparse and cold settings of my work, and the loneliness of the characters that inhabit them. I think the main influences of this style of storytelling would be cinematic. Filmmakers like Wim Wenders, Ingmar Bergman, Tarkovsky and Kubrick. And, a very large influence on The Nobody was also David Lynch, particularly Twin Peaks, which I’ve been a devoted fanatic of since it originally aired in the early 90s. All that weirdness going on under the surface of a Northwestern logging town obviously rubbed off on me and found its way into The Nobody.
From a comics point of view the bold, expressive work of cartoonists like Jose Munoz, Igort, Paul Pope, Gipi and Dave McKean are big influences.