Filed under: Features | Tags: Bestof2012, Essex County, jefflemire, Lost Dogs
I’ve already had my favourite comic of the year (Punk Rock Jesus) but this choice goes to my favourite Graphic Novel of the year – The Underwater Welder.
Just 5 minutes ago, before sitting down to write this, I went over to my book case and ran my finger along the shelves of graphic novels to see what other books I’d bought this year. I did this because other than Welder, I couldn’t really think of any other original graphic novels (i.e. not previously single issue comics) that I’d bought – and no wonder – since the list consisted of Batman Earth One (which I’ve already poo pooed) and Queen Crab. Now I know that’s my own little bubble, and I’m sure there’s been plenty of excellent graphic novels this year (Dotter of her Father’s Eye especially), but it’s no real surprise that Welder stands out on my shelf.
In fact Welder stands out overall as one of best of all time. Don’t just take my word for it either – Gary gave it 10/10 earlier in the year – and for good reason. I discovered Lemire’s Essex County in the middle of last year after some word of mouth praise and couldn’t believe what I was reading. It no longer felt like I was reading a written story, but peering into someone’s soul. It felt like an incredibly personal piece of work which was made up of an accumulation of experiences in Lemire’s life, but at the same time there was no physical possibility that he’d experienced some of it. For someone so young to write and draw with such emotion on the concepts of growing old seemed impossible – but the boy’s got talent.
Between then and Welder we were treated to a reprint of Lemire’s first book – Lost Dogs – a book with just as much raw emotion inside of it, but clearly from a time where he was still refining his artistic style. It helped mark the stepping stones from here to Essex County and then Welder that outline the progression of his artwork. If Lost Dogs was a home-made movie, and Essex County was a low-budget Indie film, then Welder is a Blockbuster!
Not only does it have another deeply personal plot which parallels Lemire’s experience of becoming a Dad for the first time, but it’s almost one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. Lemire has eye for framing and panel progression like no other – every page is different from the last, but thought out and designed to match perfectly with whatever is going on in the story at the time. There’s way more single and double splash pages in this book than you would think possible, and everyone of them deserves just as much time attention as every other normal panelled page. In short – you should go out and buy this book.
I’ve already praised Lemire in our highlights this year for his work on Animal – which is awesome – but I especially look forward his next written & drawn work Trillium due out next year.
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