There is a quiet brilliance about these stories. I've just finished the first two volumes and I take my hat off to Mr. Lemire for making me cry before I realized I was going to. Volume Two, Ghost Stories, follows two brothers who grow up and eventually move back to a fictionalized farm in Essex County, Southwestern Ontario. Different from each other, even physically, the brothers stay together out of a mutual love for hockey. Then a woman, as they inevitably do, changes everything.
Now old and alone, the brothers must care for each other and work through the divisive incident that tore their family apart in the 1950's.
I don't know anything about hockey or unspoken bonds between men or brothers but Jeff Lemire conveys every subtlety and nuance of these themes with surprisingly sparse text and evocative, at times perfect, illustration.
Volume One, Tales from the Farm, has received a lot of attention for having teen crossover appeal, winning the YALSA Alex Award. 10 year old Lester's mother has died of Cancer and her older brother, Lester's estranged Uncle, has taken him in. Lester's Uncle truly cares for him but has no way of expressing it and finds it hard to connect with Lester's infatution with superheroes and capes. Jimmy, the "slow" gas station attendant, connects with Lester immediately and they hide out in an imaginative world of alien invasions and flying heroes. Jeff Lemire illustrates impeccable magical realism, the world around Lester and Jimmy segues flawlessly into the superhuman.
Snap up the complete collection in August; Essex County will steal your heart.
Next up for me is the third tale, The Country Nurse.