It’s time to look through this week’s shipping lists for hidden gems!
The Book I Think You Should Buy:
by Jeff Lemire; Top Shelf, $9.95
I guess Top Shelf released copies of this book early for TCAF, because I’ve had mine for over a month now. Here’s what I had to say when I first read Jeff Lemire’s debut graphic novel:
In Timothy Callahan’s introduction to this new edition of Jeff Lemire’s first published graphic novel, Lost Dogs, he talks about how when he saw the first edition at MoCCA just after it came out, he almost passed on it due to the roughness of Lemire’s art. This reminded me of a time a few years back, right before Sweet Tooth began, but after I’d read the Essex County books, when I was in a complete hole in the basement comic book store (we’ve all spent too much time in places like that) in Toronto’s north end, looking for some back issues. They had a copy of Lost Dogs, I think priced at $10, but for some reason I don’t recall, I didn’t buy it. Reading today that there was only a 700-copy press run for that book (it won a Xeric grant), I definitely regret not picking it up.
Anyway, thanks to Top Shelf, the chance to read the book, now with legible lettering, has come around again. Lost Dogs is a pretty rough piece of work, but it’s not hard to see the seed of Lemire’s later brilliance in this very heart-felt graphic novel.
The book is about a gentle giant of a man who wears a red and white striped shirt, set some time in the late 19th or early 20th century. He lives in a rural setting with his wife and daughter, and shortly after the book opens, they take a trip into a big city. When the daughter begs to look at the boats in the harbor, the family is attacked by ruffians. The man tries to fight back, but is overwhelmed and dumped in the water. Later, he is found by some fisherman, and through a strange course of events, he ends up being used in some bare-fist boxing match to defeat the unstoppable Walleye Thompson.
As I said, the book, and Lemire’s art, are both very rough. Lemire slops ink all over the place, and that creates a very distinct look for this comic. Some of his panels and figures are awkward, but his better pages look very much like what we are used to seeing from him today. I enjoyed this book as a piece of comic book archaeology, and as the only published piece of work by a creator that I admire a great deal that I have not read yet.
So, what would you buy Were Money No Object?
Tags: Jeff Lemire, Top Shelf