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The Collected Essex County Paperback – September 14, 2009

4.9 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Top Shelf Productions; 1St Edition edition (September 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160309038X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603090384
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.7 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By K. W. Schreiter on September 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Collected Essex County compiles three different separated volumes revolving about the lives, present and past, of the same characters living in Essex County (Ontario) Canada: Vince, an ex-hockey player and his brother of Lou Lebeuf, also an ex-hockey player and tram driver who is in a age care asylum; Lester, a weird orphan kid and her uncle farmer Mr Kenny, and nurse Annie Quenneville.

Book 1 (Tales from the Farm), follows the friendship of Lester with Vince and his alienation from his uncle. Book 2 (Ghost Stories) tells the story of demented deaf Lou, who mixes past and present in his head; most of the story is set in Toronto in the 1950s. Book 3 (The Country Nurse) tells us the story of the nurse's grandma, and of the nurse's daily life. The book ends with some bonuses, the graphic story of the Essex Country Boxing Club, the mini-biography of The Sand and Lonely Life of Eddie Elephant-Ears and other scrap drawings.

Lemire's talent shines bright in Essex Country for many reasons. This graphic novel has the masterly of a talented painter, the atmosphere of classic movies, a good character creation (both in imagery and psychology), engaging narrative and stories, undeniable and genuinely Canadian themes, but also a universal way of depicting the human heart.

There is something in the characters that speaks to all of us, because they are not heroes, not even anti-heroes - just "normal". It is their humanity and loneliness but their willingness to connect. They are all lonely struggling people, alienated from their families, emotionally depleted or starved, hard working, down to earth. They are not handsome characters, they are tough looking, edged and angular in their bodies and facial features.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Essex County is really three books in one, with common themes of hockey, isolation, and disability. Book 1: Tales From the Farm is the story of a boy growing up on his uncle's farm in the modern day. He befriends a gas-station worker who played one game with the Toronto Maple Leafs and got brain damaged from a hit in that one game. Book 2: Ghost Stories takes place in the modern day with flashbacks to his life, starting with his career as a minor-league hockey player in the 1950s, along with his brother. Book 3: The County Nurse is about the nurse from Book 2. Book 3 ties together the characters from the previous volumes. Also included are "The Essex County Boxing Club" and "The Sad and Lonely Life of Eddie Elephant Ears."

I'd read Jeff Lemire before, but nothing prepared me for this. I'd read Joe Matt, Seth, and Chester Brown, but I wasn't ready for Jeff Lemire's Canada. This is really one of the comic world's masterworks, up there with Craig Thompson's Blankets and little else. The three books and the two short stories add up to over 500 pages of this wonderful volume. I can't wait to share it with my family and friends. *****
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Format: Paperback
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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