Canada has a vibrant and often eccentric comic-book industry that is little see outside of North America. From the tender, off-beat memoirs of Seth, to Chester Brown‘s historical graphic novel Louis Riel, and outwards into the pop-culture obsessed, manga influenced Brian Lee O’Malley, Canadian comics seem to eschew the familiar trappings of American super hero narratives in favour of personal insights and dialogues on national identity.
Standing above them all is Jeff Lemire‘s trilogy of graphic novels, Essex County; the quintessential Canadian comic-book. Tender and harrowing in equal measure, the novel follows three generations of family secrets, stunningly realised through Lemire’s scratchy, black and white artwork. The book works as a deconstruction of conservative Canadian gender politics, a penetration into the country’s cultural obsession with Hockey, and an elegant and powerful coming of age story, all hidden beneath an endless winter snow.
Lemire has a wealth of original material to his name, however he has recently become a big name in DC and Marvel’s current revival; writing for Hawkeye, Animal Man, Justice League and Extraordinary X-Men. Lemire has announced that Essex County will be adapted by Canadian network CBC for television; with Aaron Martin (Being Erica, Degrassi: The Next Generation) set to script.
Ted Adams (30 Days of Night), Chris Staros, Martin and Lemire will executive produce. With source material as visually striking as this it will be interesting to see how this show translates to the screen; however with such a complex and human story at its centre I look forward to the adaptation. Here is a short synopsis from Lemire’s website:
“Based on award-winning cartoonist Jeff Lemire’s much-loved graphic novel trilogy, published by Top Shelf Productions, this series intricately weaves the genealogy of a family’s origins across generations. The novel is an intimate study of an eccentric community and a tender meditation on family, memory, grief, secrets, and reconciliation”.