Friday, November 19, 2010 |
Essex County (the book) introduces people to Essex County (the place) across three generations and explores how the place and its people, and the relationship between the two, change over time. If Essex County makes the final five, it will be the first graphic novel ever defended on Canada Reads. However, its themes — family, community, land, loss, change and growing up — are synonymous with Canadian literature, so it shouldn't have a hard time fitting in! As the AV Club puts it, "Jeff Lemire's Essex County trilogy represents one of the most remarkable recent achievements in indie comics: three interlocking graphic novels about the mysteries and melancholy of a small Canadian farming community, rendered in a distinctive style and turned out surprisingly quickly."
Toronto-based writer and illustrator Jeff Lemire is busy making a name for himself in the comics world. Essex County has racked up awards nationally and internationally, and Lemire's adaptation of Superboy for DC Comics is sure to make waves with superhero fans.
Pitch Canada your novel in three lines or less.
Essex County follows a fictional family living on a farm in Essex County, Ontario. Over the course of several generations we see the things that pull the family apart and then bring them back together. There's also a lot of hockey and quilting.
Which Top 10 book would you want to defend on Canada Reads (other than your own)?
William Gibson's Pattern Recognition was one of my favourite books of the last decade. There is very little I can say about Gibson's work or the man himself that hasn't already been said, but this was the book where his sci fi and our reality finally crossed over. Brilliant, prophetic and extremely readable.
What's your favourite bookish place in Canada?
The Beguiling is like the greatest library of comics in existence. You can walk around the store for hours and find new authors and new worlds to explore. As a young cartoonist, new to Toronto, I found so much inspiration inside the store, and still do.
Which Canadian author (alive or dead) would you most like to meet?
William Gibson. Although I think I would be too intimidated to speak.
Who is your favourite fictional character and why?
That's a tough one. I love John Constantine, Alan Moore's chain-smoking magician from his classic Swamp Thing comics of the 80's, but I also have a soft spot for Lawrence Breavman from Leonard Cohen's The Favourite Game and Doc from Steinbeck's Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday.
What did you want to be growing up?
A comic book artist or a left winger for the Toronto Maple Leafs. I'm still holding out for Brian Burke to call.
What would you be if you weren't a writer?
Very frustrated. Also, probably a line cook at some restaurant in Toronto.
What's your favourite encounter with a reader or most memorable fan moment?
Well, I've had two fans tattoo images from Essex County onto themselves, which is fairly memorable. I was also shocked and delighted to learn that Dave (Watchmen) Gibbons has been reading my work when I met him this past summer. But I meet fans and readers all the time who reinvigorate me and surprise me. It's one of the best things about what I do.
What book has moved or affected you most in the past year?
George Sprott by Seth. It managed to capture the melancholy of old age, and the nostalgia of small-town Ontario in one incredibly moving, humorous and beautifully illustrated package.
Which Canadian personality do you want to have defend your book?
David Cronenberg or Wendel Clark.