The Nobody by Jeff Lemire

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The Nobody
By Jeff Lemire

jefflemirethenobodycoverThere are only five stories in the world—or maybe six or seven. The number varies slightly between tellings, sure, but the adage remains more or less the same. When boiled down to their purest essence, mankind has, in a sense, been reliving the same basic conceits since the dawn of storytelling. The moral, of course, is that the skill ultimately lies not in the story itself so much as the way it’s told. It’s one of the first lessons a low-level instructor will impart on you toward the beginning of nearly any creative writing course.

The concept is embraced to its fullest when artists opt to eschew the illusion of fresh storytelling in favor of an open retelling of some much-loved piece of art. Upon wrapping up his oft-lauded Essex County trilogy for Top Shelf, that’s precisely where Jeff Lemire went, choosing as his jumping off point H.G. Wells’s beloved science fiction allegory, The Invisible Man.

In adapting (or perhaps more appropriately, reimagining) the story, Lemire embraced yet another bit of creative writing 101: write what you know. For a backdrop, the artist provides us with Large Mouth, a small, rural town though ought prove rather familiar to those acquainted with the streets and farms of Essex County.

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KGB Bar Comix Reading 11/30/08

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It was standing room only on Sunday night—or kneeling, rather, as audience members contorted bodies around the projector’s beam cutting through the center of the room. The consensus, it seems, amongst nearly everyone packed into KGB Bar on Manhattan’s East 4th st. was that the bi-annual comics event had finally outgrown its old home amongst the strangely homey décor of Soviet-era Russian memorabilia lining the walls.

Over the years the event has become one of the best-loved in the New York indie comics scene, hosted by Tom Hart twice-yearly—on Easter Sunday and the Sunday following Thanksgiving, the latter of which happily boasts the tagline, ‘Come digest that tryptophan with comix!’

Despite said poultry-induced sluggishness, widespread jetlag, the stormy weather, and the innate desire to spend the bulk  of the weekend on the business end of a treadmill, the turnout seems to perpetual increase, year after year, thanks in no small part to the consistently stellar lineup of comics artists reading their work alongside panels projected large on a bedsheet pulled taut along the front wall of the bar.

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The Alcoholic by Jonathan Ames and Dean Haspiel

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The Alcoholic
By Jonathan Ames and Dean Haspiel

Admission is, of course, the first step on the road to recovery. Where penning a graphic novel on the subject falls amongst list of steps, however, is a bit tougher to say. As plenty of past autobiographical comics have shown us in the past, the process can be incredibly cathartic, a prolonged session of sequential art therapy.

With a thinly veiled protagonist named Jonathan A., novelist Jonathan Ames, makes no bones as to the autobiographical nature of his first graphic novel, in spite of the fairly tongue-in-cheek insistence on the book’s back cover that the character “bears only a coincidental resemblance to [his creator].”

Still, catharsis seems to be far from the primary purpose for the existence of The Alcoholic. Ames, for his part, appears to have decidedly less selfish reasons for having penned the book. Confronting demons takes something of a backseat to the author’s desire to creating an engaging, interesting book, a fact in part clear from the author’s almost film noir-esque framing of his story.

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