Tag Archives: DC Comics

Dear Lina, Have You Read Jeff Lemire’s Essex County Trilogy?

Hello and Happy Easter, Passover, etc!

It’s been too long since we’ve seen one another.

I’ve been meaning to send along some information about, Essex Country Trilogy, the comic book I chose for you at Christmas! I hope you’ve been able to spend some time with the book. It’s definitely worth reading over a few times and really soaking in the pages. If I’ve learned anything about Lemire’s work is that it’s deceptively simple. There is a quiet deliberateness to each panel – try to absorb each line on the page for the full effect.

So who is Jeff Lemire? Well you probably know by now that he is a Toronto-based comic artist. He lives in my neighbourhood, actually. He shops at the comic book store where I pick up my books, in fact.  You can read a short bio from him on Wikipedia.

He published a few independent books – one of which won the now-defunct Xeric prize, which used to award self-publishing grants to comic book creators – before he scored a graphic novel deal with Vertigo, an imprint of DC Comics (Superman, Batman) who publish comics geared at adult readers. The book, The Nobody (Vertigo), is a unique take on the Invisible Man character and was met with praise from both readers and critics alike. He followed that up with a popular ongoing monthly series, the post-apocalyptic tale Sweet Tooth (Vertigo), which is only a few months away from celebrating its third anniversary in publication. It boasts fairly impressive monthly and graphic novel sales for a creator-owned series. In addition to Sweet Tooth, he currently writes two mainstream titles for DC Comics, one of which, Animal Man, turned out to be a surprise hit series with everyone, including Lemire.

Why Essex County? In that collection, Lemire brings us heartbreaking stories of contemporary rural Ontario in a style reminiscent of Alice Munro. I was deeply moved by the tales of each of the narrators who share their story with the reader. We are voyeurs into dark family secrets, unfulfilled dreams, the difficult birth of new relationships. Onto those, Lemire layers Canadian cultural touch points like hockey, lumberjacks and Catholic orphanages. These are themes and iconic images that create powerful stories, a feat rarely achieved in comics.

Later this year, Lemire will release a follow-up with the same publisher, Top Shelf Productions. Underwater Welder is due out in August 2012. Lemire says it’s the closest piece of work he’s created to date exploring similar themes and styles as Essex County. I expect it will be a very strong piece of work considering how much his craft has sharpened between Top Shelf books based on the schedule he’s been keeping with DC/Vertigo the past few years.

He’s definitely one to watch over the next few years.

Some links I hope you enjoy

* A review of Essex Country from Geist literary magazine:  Jeff Lemire: The Essential Canadian Comic Book Creator

* Essex Country was included in CBC’s Canada Reads 10th anniversary edition, the first and only graphic novel to enter the competition

* Not surprisingly, it was unceremoniously dumped by panellist in the first round. When you read the following critique of the Canada Reads panellists’ decision, take special note of Darwyn Cooke’s word. He’s a prominent, popular and well-respected artist.

* I also follow Jeff’s blog.

We’re nearly finished watching Battlestar Galactica. Hope to see you soon so we can dissect the series.

Cheers,
Derek

Read also: Lina Responds

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All good things must come to an end: Dick Grayson retires the cowl

So long Dick. Thanks for the good times.

This week, Detective Comics #881 hit stands. Arguably the best of DC’s current stable of Batman books, it’s the last issue before the “new 52” launches and completes a brilliantly creepy run by scribe Scott Snyder started last fall, about the time I started buying Batbooks by the bundle.

While I (sort of) understand why DC is putting Dick Grayson back in the Nightwing unitard, it doesn’t mean I have to like it – but not for the reasons you might think.

For the most part, I’m behind the coming DC relaunch. Anything that boosts the publisher’s bottom line is good news for readers. (More sales tends to lead to more books on the shelves = more variety to choose from.) In fact, there are so many interesting books and creative teams, I’m having a difficult time deciding which titles to follow.

Read also: Why I like the DC relaunch

What I won’t miss are all the Batmans running around as part of Grant Morrison‘s expansion of the franchise. That was becoming confusing and a little silly. The premise wasn’t sustainable for very much longer, and Morrison must have jumped at the pass handed to him by Dan Didio and Jim Lee, saving him from needing to write himself out of that plot corner.

Unlike many readers, I don’t really give a crap about continuity, which is one of the reasons the “reboot” doesn’t bother me. There are, however, a few changes coming in the DC relaunch I consider disappointments because they provided really interesting motivations for their characters’ actions: erasing Barbara Gordon’s disability and the return of Swamp Thing’s human alter ego Alec Holland, for instance. But putting Dick Grayson back into the Nightwing togs is the biggest disappointment.

I got turned on to Batman books with the launch of Morrison’s Batman and Robin in 2009. (Frank Quitely‘s art in the first arc was half the appeal.) It was a fun and entertaining read that lived up to the feel of classic hero/sidekick stories but written for a modern audience. There were some crazy new villains and Morrison kicked off a bizarre storyline I’m still not sure I’ve completely figured out.

But I kept coming back for more.

Then, at the end of the enjoyable Return of Bruce Wayne mini-series, I guess the marketing worked because I went on a bit of a bender and started picking up Snyder’s Detective, Tony Daniel on Batman, Morrison’s Batman Inc., David Finch‘s Batman: The Dark Knight, and there was Paul Cornell‘s Knight & Squire mini-series. For the most part, all strong books – Dark Knight being the exception from the pack.

What made them so compelling were the stories of an insecure Dick Grayson trying to live up to the ideal set by his father figure Bruce. In many ways, these were coming of age stories and offered some fascinating moments throughout the titles. Here was Dick thrust into the role of watching over the Robins sooner than he’d liked despite being an entirely capable leader. (My favourite scene is a moment between Jim Gordon and Dick Grayson as Batman, in which Gordon confesses that his officers like working more with Grayson than they did Wayne. I’ll try to dig up the exact book and issue number.)

I’ll go so far as to say Dick Grayson taking on the mantle of Batman has been a more interesting and effective character development than Bucky picking up the Captain America costume and shield over at Marvel.

But like the headline says, all good things must come to an end. So I will cherish these rare stories and commit myself to rereading them next time I wonder what Dick Grayson is up to.

(image by DeclanShalvey, check out his cool DeviantArt gallery.)

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Justice League heroes can be cute

Can’t wait until August for the big DCU relaunch of Justice League? Imagine what could have been had Dan Didio tapped artist Franco Aureliani at Blindwolf Studios rather than Jim Lee (who is that guy anyway?) to handle art duties on the company’s flagship title.

Check out Franco’s Etsy store for more paintings (like this cool Batman trio). Or better yet, buy a print!

Previously on Comic Book Junkie:
Hipster Justice League don’t need your pity
JLA goes punk

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How to sell a comic book on television

Only the hottest heroines get the DC seal of approval. “These ain’t your daddy’s comic books, fanboy!” so says Lobo.

And you don’t eff around with Lobo. You can’t kill him and he’s the last of his kind – after committing violent genocide of his race . (Sort of like Dr. Who when you think about it….)

Unfortunately, this spot won’t get into any hall of fame for best local TV ads, but it does the job, and then some.

We aren’t sure when it ran originally for Comics on Parade (sometime in the early 90s?), a comic store in Metairie, Louisiana – we think.

Fast forward a few decades, and we get the following ad for Vertigo Comics, which aired on BBC America in 2010.

Still playing up the sex and danger.

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Swamp Thing is back

(by SaturnoArg)

The search for Swamp Thing begins this week. Constantine and company could have completed the task a lot quicker had they just run a search on Deviant Art.

I know a lot of people are pissing on the DC reboot (or whatever the company is calling it), but there are some things to get excited about based on the few details released so far from the master plan. Amongst them is Swamp Thing by Scott Snyder and Yannick Paquette.

I enjoy each of their work. Snyder’s done an excellent job jumping from the solid Vertigo title American Vampire (which I didn’t want to like when it was first announced) to Detective Comics, possibly the best Batman title I’m reading at the moment. Paquette’s art on Batman Inc. is a joy to look at.

Hopefully the publisher can keep its “The Dark” family of titles suitably dark and moody.

In the meantime, enjoy more Swamp Thing fan (and some pro) fun.

(by Robbi462)

(Swamp Thing and Abigail by Xenomorph71)

(by DC artist Rafael Albuquerque)

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