I admire how restless Jeff Lemire seems to be. Look at the career trajectory the Toronto cartoonist has charted for himself, look at how urgently he’s laid down every penline and brushstroke — you get the sense that this guy needs to tell stories. In 2007, following a Xeric Foundation grant and a self-published debut, Lemire released Tales From the Farm, a coming-of-age story that finds parallels between hockey, fatherhood, and superheroes. Another two volumes followed in what became his Essex County trilogy, each growing in ambition. Upon their completion (Top Shelf published all three as one massive collection last year), Essex County had become a multi-generational family chronicle that pieced together the lonely lives of kind-hearted brutes, pensive boys, and determined women.
Lemire’s cartooning is expressive without calling attention to itself, pointing instead toward the importance of plot, setting, and character. After Essex County, he created The Nobody, a loose adaptation of The Invisible Man that leavens Wells’s masterpiece of misanthropy with the addition of a sympathetic narrator (a teenaged girl). Vertigo, one of comics’ big-name genre-fiction imprints, released The Nobody, and is also publishing Lemire’s monthly title Sweet Tooth. The series, featuring an antlered boy “hybrid” and his grim survivalist companion, is something of a post-apocalyptic take on the cartoonist’s concerns with small towns and family units, and the allegiances formed and broken within. To discuss his rapidly expanding body of work, Lemire graciously set aside some time to chat on the phone with me. (more…)