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The Collected Essex County Paperback – September 14, 2009
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"...Essex County delivers a collection of characters so genuine that by the end you'll swear they're real." —Complex, ranking Essex County as one of "The 25 Comic Books You Need To Read Before You Die"
"It is a wonderful, thought-provoking, lovingly-produced work of fiction. I'm still not sure that this review does the book justice. I honestly cannot recommend this book enough." —Pajiba
"Lemire’s portraits of people are honest, and sad, and are full of broken dreams. All of these characters are living lives different than what they expected, and yet none of them really give up. And that is why a comic like this is so important – it is far more aspirational than a Batman story, even though no one in this book could do what Bruce Wayne does. But all of us can pick ourselves up, shake off the dust of disappointment, and try to live the best lives we can." —Multiversity Comics
About the Author
Jeff Lemire is a prolific, award-winning comic book writer and artist from Ontario, who's known for creating literary stories depicting the frailties, fears, and hopes of the human condition.
He's worked extensively with all the major comic book publishers, penning well-received runs on Animal Man, Green Arrow, Hawkeye, and Old Man Logan for DC and Marvel. His creator-owned works, which are even more highly aclaimed, include The Underwater Welder, The Essex County Trilogy, and Lost Dogs from Top Shelf Productions; Descender, A.D. After Death (with Scott Snyder,) and Royal City, from Image; and Sweet Tooth, Trillium, and The Nobody from Vertigo. His original graphic novel Roughneck was published by Simon and Schuster in 2017.
Jeff won the Joe Shuster Award for Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Cartoonist in 2008 for Essex County, and again in 2013 for The Underwater Welder and Sweet Tooth. He's been a nominee for multiple Eisner awards, a Harvery Award, and the Ignatz Award. Descender and The Underwater Welder have both been optioned for major motion pictures.
He lives in Toronto with his family.
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Top customer reviews
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. Real life people, with big noses, small lips, elephant ears, and cracked hands.
The novel offers a post-modern multi-voice inter-connected story set in rural Canada, which will speak to both Canadian and non-Canadian readers. At a narrative level, this multi-voiced approach is far from new or innovative, but it works well for the story.
Lemire's black and white is glorious, his landscape compositions are simple but marvellous, his use of shadows masterly, as well as his depiction of snowy and night landscapes. The framing and POV of the images is very dynamic and cinematic and the pages flow with ease.
I love the way Lemire composes some of his rural magical landscape images, sometimes a full-page image, some others a severed or slanted full page that allows the reader to focus on individual elements in the same image, while others the landscapes are semi-fractured images with different elements of action. Lemire can go from minimal composition and drawing, to the extreme detail with which he depicts the urban environment of Toronto in the 50s. His depiction of movement in sports is also fantastic, with the images on hockey playing really full of action and very dynamic visually. I found most remarkable the way Lemire uses his versatile pen to visually describe how dementia feels in the mind of an elderly person, and how past and present are a fuzzy-line reality at times. Thus, the fully bodied tick black and white ink transforms into light pencil traces and sketched images, which allow the reader to dive into the same fuzzy territory that the character does.
The 500+ pages of Essex County are awesome. This is Comic with capitals, the sort of comic that you show to people who say that comics are for kids or freaks. The sort of comic lovers crave for. Lemire's talent and versatility are just wow.
The Kindle edition is gorgeous, cheap and user-friendly. The double tap system works well with this novel, especially in those pages in which there aren't many vignettes.