Saturday, May 1, 2010

Tales from the Farm

The first book in a trilogy set in Essex County, Canada, Tales from the Farm contains the story of Lester, a 10-year-old orphan who lives with his uncle on a farm. Isolated and with no other company than his laconic uncle, Lester starts wearing a mask and cape and escapes into a fantasy world. He befriends Jimmy Lebeuf, a huge man who runs the local gas station, when Jimmy slips him a free comic book. Jimmy used to play professional hockey but an injury has left him a changed person. The two play pond hockey, talk superheroes, and fight alien invaders (!) until his uncle forbids them to hang out any more.

Tales from the Farm melds fiction, biography, and fantasy. The art is done in black and white and is spare, scratchy, and evocative. Its creator Jeff Lemire has won a slew of awards, including a Shuster Award, the Doug Wright Award, and the American Library Association's Alex Award for Adult book with teen appeal. Currently, he is working on the series Sweet Tooth for Vertigo and is writing for DC Comics.

In terms of reviews, they are mostly positive, with most criticisms coming about Lemire's sketchy art and slow pacing. Aaron Albert said that the book "is a touching story about growing up, loss, and finding ways to cope with the hard times." Leroy Douresseaux called it "a broad universal tale with which many young adult readers may identify." Nisha Gopalan likened it to an "indie film" and said that "patient readers will appreciate this Podunk comic's languid pacing and stark, jittery visuals."

More information about the Essex County Trilogy can be found in this review by Wes Walcott. More information and news about Jeff Lemire's work can be found in his blog.

A preview is available from the publisher Top Shelf.

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