"The Complete Essex County" or a story of the tree of life and some crows in between
Art: 4 Story: 5 Overall rating: 5
BEWARE! It might not look that way, but this book will emotionally damage you beyond repair.
“The Complete Essex County” gathers the Essex County Trilogy “Tales from the Farm”, “Ghost Stories” (my favourite) and “The Country Nurse” (which actually includes a couple of extra stories). And let it be know, I will read anything from the hands of Jeff Lemire from now on.
Some people will find the art off-putting, but truth is, I quite like it. Yeah, at the beginning it might look a little odd, and some people will confuse that with lack of talent. But there’s boldness to those lines, drawn with confidence that comes with years of practice and anyone who draws will notice that. It’s a whole other thing that THIS exact way of portrayal sets the mood, something I believe could never be accomplished if done in some generic drawing style. Also, I couldn’t help notice how the landscapes were impeccable and you can’t help like the characters, not for their beauty or design but for the human qualities they represent.
The story itself starts with introducing just one character, a boy named Lester living at a farm, and throughout the three volumes we meet people and see thing that are connected to this boy and how he got there. A storytelling method that gives the reader a trill of discovering bits and piece, putting a giant, exciting, even if sad, puzzle. I’m tempted to start talking about each volume individually, but I’m afraid of reveling too much and spoiling your own experience. And the thing is…it’s a story about family; about loneliness and regrets and fears and mistakes. Wishes.
It’s oddly realistic and painfully human; a little bittersweet like life itself. It is told in a different, and I stay my ground, unique way and I would be happy to have it on my bookshelf 20, 40 years from now.
If you are one of those people that didn’t read it because they didn’t like the art, brave it.
Craig Thompson’s “Blankets” is the by far, his most read and acknowledged creation. It’s an autobiography of Thomson’s teenage years and it talks about first love, family and how religion fits in all this.
I read “Habibi”last year, and I can see a defined pattern. Both stories talk about religion and how “love” and “good” struggle to fit into its norms. The art style is just as dynamic, if a little bit hectic, but that could be because of the different settings of the story, the different mood, or nearly ten years of practicing.
The story is as always, very abstract and spiritually bound, but while I could understand “Habibi” and at the end, I felt as I’ve learned something for myself, “Blankets’” ending left me wondering what was the point. From what I gathered, the only result that the events had on Craig was his re-definition of “faith”. And it’s good and all, but the relationship with Raina felt pointless. Why did we get so many pages of sighing and worshiping of her beauty? All it was was a simple, high school affair.
The only interesting part of the story was when the author talked about his relationship with his brother and while I loved it, it was pointless as well. What was the purpose of telling all those stories? There was no moral there, nothing to be learned or dramatically changed.
All in all, it was a nice graphic novel, but nothing special and couldn’t surpass my expectations seeing how popular it is. “Habibi” stays as Thompson’s best work on my list. ...more