Archive for August, 2010
His first major work won him two national awards, earned him sweeping critical acclaim and helped put Essex County, Ont., on the map.
The pressure to match all that might crush some people, but Jeff Lemire is too busy rocketing to the top of comic book industry to let it get to him.
"I guess if you stop and think about all the early success, you can kind of get caught up in worrying about living up to it, " says the 34-year-old Toronto resident, a featured guest at this weekend's Fan-Expo 2010, the massive annual pop-culture extravaganza at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. "But at the end of the day I just have so much work to do."
After bursting onto the scene in 2008 with Tales From the Farm and Ghost Stories, the first two parts of the Essex County Trilogy - for which he earned a Doug Wright Award for best emerging talent and a Joe Shuster Award for best cartoonist - Lemire kept up his momentum in 2009 with the third part, The Country Nurse, and began his superb new ongoing series for DC/Vertigo, Sweet Tooth.
While 2010 began with another edgy graphic novel from Lemire, The Nobody, it also took an interesting turn toward the mainstream as he signed an exclusive contract with DC Comics and began writing the Atom stories in Adventure Comics as well as the upcoming tales of Superboy.
"For me it's all the same; it's all just comics - whether it's a long-form story or a long story that's serialized, " says the native of Woodslee, Ont.
"I think that good comics are good comics and it doesn't really matter the subject matter or what genre you're working in."
Lemire says the decision to write stories he wouldn't draw himself was motivated by a simple lack of hours in the day.
"The reality is I couldn't write and draw three books a month, but I could write and draw one and then write a couple of other ones, " he says. "I can focus on my creator-owned stuff, Sweet Tooth, and write and draw that every month, but then also have a lot of fun writing for other artists on the superhero stuff and get into that a little bit."
Sweet Tooth, which follows life in a post-apocalyptic world through the eyes of Gus, a 9-year-old boy who sports the features of a deer, just passed its first anniversary and Lemire says readers can look forward to about two more years' worth.
Lemire says Superboy, set to premiere in November, is the book he's growing to love faster than a speeding bullet.
"I think anyone who's read my past work knows that I really like to explore small towns and rural communities and family and things like that and these are all the same kinds of themes I'm bringing into Superboy."
After delving more into mainstream comics, Lemire says the type of fans he meets at events like FanExpo is starting to change.
"Since Superboy was announced, and the Atom, you just get a whole new crop of fans who are just into the superhero stuff, who had never really bothered with my work before, " he laughs. "Now they suddenly know who I am and now they're going back and checking out Sweet Tooth and Essex County.
"It's good to know that people are aware of the stuff you're doing and that there's actual people reading it."
Joshua Hale Fialkov, Noel Tuazon
**** (out of five)
Private investigator Frank Armstrong just got the biggest payday of his rather pitiful career: $10,000 for a week’s work.
Unfortunately, he may not have seven days left in him.
Frank’s got a brain tumour, a really nasty one that’s giving him all kinds of fits — from raging headaches and blackouts to hallucinations and time lapses — all as he’s trying to make good on one last case.
He’s searching the filthy streets and rat-infested back alleys of Los Angeles for the daughter of a notorious gangster — a girl who bears a striking resemblance to his late wife, a situation that’s making is awful hard for the dying detective and his misfiring grey matter to distinguish between past and present.
Frank knows he won’t survive the case, but he’s got to try. He’s got to save the girl. Since he couldn’t save his wife.
Tumor, the first original comic book series distributed via Amazon’s Kindle e-reader, finally arrives in printed form and it proves well worth the wait.
The brainchild of hot American writer Joshua Hale Fialkov and talented Toronto artist Noel Tuazon, the tandem behind 2006’s critically acclaimed, and Harvey Award-nominated, graphic novel Elk’s Run, Tumor captures the best elements of modern noir fiction — including true-to-life characters, authentic settings and the palpable stench of death — and gives it a vicious new spin.
The authenticity that Fialkov puts into Frank’s suffering through his tumour is visceral and frankly jarring at times and made even more so by the dramatic effects of Tuazon’s alternating use of thick, black inks and soft, washed out greys.
This second example of Fialkov and Tuazon’s combined skills is just as impressive as their first and is sure to keep readers’ eyes out for more to come.
Atheneum Books For Young Readers
**** (out of five)
Hope Larson may not be a Canadian resident anymore, but it’s nice to see her time made a deep impression.
The Eisner Award-winning graphic novelist behind such fresh and fanciful works as Salamander Dream, Gray Horses and Chiggers lived in Nova Scotia for a good while with husband (and celebrated Scott Pilgrim creator) Bryan Lee O’Malley, inspiring the setting for her superb new book, Mercury.
Set in the fictional town of French Hill, N.S, Mercury weaves together the lives of Josey and Tara Fraser, two girls with a lot in common, in spite of the fact they were born 150 years apart. Each is coping with the complications of being a teenager, discovering young love and is surrounded by some rather unusual, perhaps even magical, influences.
Josey has fallen for a mysterious stranger who has promised to help her family unearth a hidden treasure on their farm. But can she truly trust him? And Tara finds herself drawn back to the same land a century and a half later with a strange feeling that she might solve her family’s current woes by helping clear up some past misdeeds.
With a mix of elegant art and well-chosen words, Larson crafts an intriguing tale of Canadiana, full of mystery and magic, almost a love letter to her life in the Great White North that may even help ease the blow of losing her and Mal, who have since relocated to her hometown of Asheville, N.C.