Jeff Lemire Is A Genius and Here Is Why You Should Buy Trillium and Everything Else He Writes
Jeff Lemire’s art may be unconventional and not as pretty as a lot of books on the market but it helps tell some of the most heartfelt, original, and genuine stories I have read in the last few years. I first read Jeff Lemire when i came across this DC Vertigo’s Sweet Tooth. This book sounded so interesting and unique when I first read the synopsis. Dubbed by some as “Mad Max meets Bambi”, it takes place in a mostly rural post-apocalyptic setting where a virus is killing humanity and every baby is born as a human/animal hybrid.
Lemire’s 40 issue epic tells the story of Gus, who happens to be half boy and half deer like creature. We learn that Gus has been raised in isolation by his father in a cabin in the wood. We learn the reason he is hiding is because there is a pandemic that struck the world a decade earlier. The book opens with the death of his father and poor Gus has to fend for himself. While trying to survive on his own he meets a drifter named Jepperd who promises to help him. We are taken for a wild ride on a journey into post-apocalyptic America in the search for others like Gus and the fabled “Preserve” where he can live in peace. I finally finished his story last week and it had a great payoff. This book was always heart felt and I loved how it ended. This book, from start to finish, was enjoyable and well done. I read the first two volumes (Into the Woods and Captivity) in a matter of an evening, thats 11 issues of the series. As of now, all 6 volumes have been released and I cannot recommend this book any more highly.
From there I found out Jeff Lemire was hired to write the new Animal Man series for DC Comics massive company relaunch of their super hero line dubbed “The New 52”. Im sure most of you reading this have said Who is Animal Man? Yes his name sounds stupid, but he is far from. Lemire’s take on Animal Man is Brilliant. In September of 2011 when DC Comics re-launched their entire universe from scratch I gave some of the new ones I never read a chance. I chose this book solely on the name Jeff Lemire. I have not been disappointed. I believe this book, along with Swamp Thing & Batman by Scott Snyder are the best books DC is producing.
Animal Man tells the story of Buddy Baker and his family. We learn in this new series that Baker is forced to take his family on the run after he discovers that his daughter Maxine is the avatar of The Red (the force which sustains all animal life), and that agents of The Rot (the elemental force of decay and death) are seeking to kill her. Swamp Thing is a tie in and crosses over with this book. Swamp Thing is the avatar of The Green (the force which sustains all plant life). The first 18 issues tell a massive story that builds to a shocking conclusion and an even more shocking death. Again, this is the best book DC is putting out aside from Batman.
Next I moved on to a small graphic novel called Lost Dogs written by Lemire in 2005. This was one of his first books he wrote and luckily because of all of the success it is back in print in a new format. The art in this book is extremely raw and flowing with emotion. Obviously Lemire has honed his art and you see his beginnings in this book. The story is depressing, rough, raw, and devastating. This is a quick 104 page read that tears through you and leaves you feeling like you lost something inside. I rarely am affected by a comic book in the way that this book affected me. This story made me think for a while after and made me say to myself, what is the next book I have to read by Jeff Lemire.
I searched for more of Jeff Lemire’s work and i have purchased The Underwater Welder. I admit, this 250 page heavy is on my shelf waiting for me to read it when I find a weekend to sit and devout to him once more. The preview had me hooked and i bet it will make you want to check this out if you know his human stories. “As an underwater welder on an oilrig off the coast of Nova Scotia, Jack Joseph is used to the immense pressures of deep-sea work. Nothing, however, could prepare him for the pressures of impending fatherhood. As Jack dives deeper and deeper, he seems to pull further and further away from his young wife, and their unborn son. But then, something happens deep on the ocean floor. Jack has a strange and mind-bending encounter that will change the course of his life forever. … Equal parts blue-collar character study and mind-bending science fiction epic, The Underwater Welder is a 250-page graphic novel that explores fathers and sons, birth and death, memory and truth, and treasures we all bury deep down inside.”
There are only a few other books I have yet to read from Mr. Lemire, the previously mentioned The Underwater Welder at 250 pages, the 144 page The Nobody (his take on H.G. Wells the Invisible Man) and his 512 page Magnum Opus called Essex County, which was named one of the five Essential Canadian Novels of the Decade! This will be one I sit down to read over a month one day I am sure.
Finally that brings me to the newest Jeff Lemire comic that hit the shelves 2 months ago. Trillium is Jeff Lemire’s newest creator-owned adventure and he describes it as follows.
“It’s the year 3797 and botanist Nika Temsmith is researching a species of strange plant-based life forms on a remote science station near the outermost rim of colonized space. It’s the year 1921, and war-scarred explorer William Pike leads an expedition into the dense jungles of Peru in search of the fabled “Lost Temple of The Incas,” an elusive sanctuary said to have strange healing properties. Two disparate souls separated by thousands of years and hundreds of millions of miles. Yet they will fall in love and, as a result, bring about the end of the universe. Even though reality is unraveling all around them, nothing can pull them apart. This isn’t just a love story, it’s the last love story ever told.
Are you hooked yet? I sure am after reading the first two issues. The first issues was absolutely brilliant and was told in two separate stories, flip book style. One side was told from Nika Temsmith’s perspective in the year 3797 and if you flip the book over we get the English explorer William Pike’s side of the story. I chose to start in 3797 and I loved it. The future is trying to stop the decimation of the human race and save the some 4000 humans left. Humans turn to this alien species to try and figure out how to save the human race. The 1921 side is an expedition into the ruins of an ancient civilization. We meet the characters and find out how both stories are connected. The ending of both sides of the book hooked me and made me want to come back for more. This is an 8 issue mini series with both issue 1 and 2 out, if you can find them still. Hands down this is the best book of the year and I cannot wait to see where this story goes. If it finishes as strong as it started, it will cement Lemire as one of the best writers out there.
Jeff Lemire even said “It will be my most ambitious creator-owned project and my most challenging. ” If you pass up on this one you are not only crazy but are literally throwing away an investment into greatness.