Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Darwyn Cooke Visits Essex County

The Essex County Complete

The collected edition of my trilogy of graphic novels "Essex County" (Tales From The Farm, Ghost Stories, The Country Nurse) will be available in both hardcover and softcover editions later this summer.

This new complete edition will not only reprint the complete trilogy, along with two new short stories and 50-pages of new bonus material, it also features a brand new introduction by oneof my cartooning heroes DARWYN COOKE!

Here is an excerpt from Darwyn's intro...

"It would seem Jeff Lemire is a haunted man. I don't mean this in any melodramatic, ectoplasmic sense. I refer to a more serious condition common amongst many great storytellers. His head and his heart seem to carry remembrances of the quiet beats in which people stand revealed. With a casual grace that would make the late Raymond Carver envious, Lemire's stories build out of innocuous and seemingly unconnected moments that gather and gain weight when viewed in a cumulative light. His instinct for where to start and end a scene and where to place that scene within the larger tapestry is sublime.

The ease with which Essex County flows from past to present to future to fantasy shows the kind of mastery that most cartoonists are incapable of after a lifetime of practice. While Essex County is laced with sentiment, it all seems natural and hard earned. Lemire has either cannily or intuitively avoided the pitfall of many far more celebrated cartoonists;the pitfall of self pity. Many of our best cartoonists have a conflated sense of their own suffering and isolation, and large passages of their work seem engineered to give this type of self absorption a heroic context. Lemire's characters weather their lives with resolution and quiet despair. We feel for them because of Lemire's talent for revealing their inner strength, not their outer weakness.

In Tales from the Farm, our cast are all people trapped in a life they didn't ask for or expect. Lester, Kenny and Jimmy are all caught in a stasis brought about by external forces they couldn't forsee or control. It seems their only substantive way forward is to endure and abide. The road out of the woods is laid stone by quiet stone. Lemire's approach is so devoid of melodrama that when he does go all in we're taken aback, and shopworn cliches take on a heartbreaking freshness. The life of Vince in Ghost Stories is so spartanly laid before us that when he passes we expect yet another moment of quiet despair. When off panel tapping spurs us to turn the page we see Lemire has dove in with both feet. Vince's team stands before us, offering that most Canadian sign of masculine respect; the quiet clicking of sticks on the ice. This moment of melodrama is timed so perfectly it sneaks past our cynicism and floods our hearts with something we forgot we had inside us."

To read the rest of the intro you'll have to buy the book! It is in the current Previews catalog so ask your local comic shop or book store, or CLICK HERE FOR ORDERING INFO AND DETAILS.