Merry Wanderer of the Night + TIME

Book Review: Essex County

To say I loved Essex County

is a gross understatement. This collection encompassed so much of what I love in stories. It clearly outlines the contrast between urban environments and rural environments. It clearly outlines the passage of time in one person's life. It clearly outlines the social aspects of tied to coming from a small place and having big dreams. The artwork is earthy while still maintaining the traditional black and white inking style comics are known for. The story is complicated and weaved, it constantly keeps you guessing. It's just beautiful.

It's the story of a young boy growing up in Essex County, Canada, trying to understand who he is and where he comes from. He loves to draw comics but he's having a difficult time adapting to life after his mother's death. It's the story of two brothers who love to play hockey even though it eventually tears them apart. It's the story of an old man and his nurse dealing with a deteriorating mind. And of course it's the story of these three stories intertwined.

Gah, I loved it.

To be fair, I knew I would love Essex County from the time I read Lu's review on Regular Rumination and was even more convinced when my comics professor handed me a copy and let me look at the artwork.

My favorite aspect of the graphic novel was the use of time and place. While in rural environments the drawing was looser and spikier. In urban environments it was clean and precise. I don't want to get into the story too much because there are many surprises to be found within these pages, but Jeff Lemire did an amazing job showing what it is to grow up in a place where you feel there is nowhere to go, to leave it and realize there is no place like home, and return to the place and realize it is not the way you remembered. I love that dynamic and it was captured in every aspect of this graphic novel.

Jeff Lemire is also a master at capturing expressions. I felt like I could read so much emotion in each character's face and that is really a talent I wish more comic artists had.

Just, please read Essex County.

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Book Review: Essex County + TIME