What I’m reading: Essex County

Cover of "Essex County" graphic novel

Superheroes, history, hockey, heartbreak … all done with a Candian twist.

I dove through all 500 some pages of Jeff Lemire’s Essex County collection in one sitting, with the copy that combines all three of his graphic novels into one hefty volume.

The setting is a fictional hometown set in Ontario’s Essex County, with a tangled web of relationships between characters and their respective histories: an angry orphaned boy living with his uncle, two hockey playing brothers and a slightly busy-body nurse.

They’re solemn stories—humble, and introspective, but with moments of whimsy. Which means it’s going to bore some people. Probably the same people who find Saved By the Bell‘s “hot issue” after school specials filled with subtle moral reflection and deep soul searching.

“Essex County” may be fiction, but I find it aligns more with Chester Brown’s biography of Louis Riel than your average graphic novel meant for the typical geek consumer.

My own Scene from Lemire's "Essex County" where boy dressed up as a superhero meets a hockey player on a tractorfamily has in some shape or form been in Canada since at least the 1800s, complete with farm in rural Southern Ontario. So I’m probably biased towards the stories in Essex County since they could quite easily be my own family’s stories.

Oh, and the art is so beyond nifty!

With just black and white, it can drift between a feeling of light and fantastical, and then onto a somber mood where needed.

I am quite sad that I have to take this one and release it back into the wilds of the local library. Safe voyage, my dear, ridiculously-even-thicker-than my-Bone-compilation book.


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