Tales From The Farm Review
Vitals:Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Jeff Lemire
Content Guide: Adult language, imaginary violence, scenes about death
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
The Story:Essex County Volume 1: Tales From The Farm is the first of a trilogy of graphic novels about life in a fictionalized Essex County, Ontario. This story focuses on a young 10 year old boy named Lester, who must go and live with his single Uncle Ken after Lester’s mother dies of cancer. Uncle Ken is a man who doesn’t know much about kids, let alone a boy who dresses as a superhero each and every day, even to school.
At every attempt of contact from Ken, Lester retreats to his fantasy world of comic books, fighting aliens, building forts, and generally living in a make believe world. Both of their lives, although they share the same house, are spent in isolation and sadness, being affected by the death of a loved one in different ways.
Things start to change when Lester meets Jimmy Lebeuf, a one time professional hockey player who is now a gas attendant after a career ending injury. The two become friends and Lester quickly turns to Jimmy to help him escape his current situation.
Review:Tales From The Farm is a wonderful story about growing up, tragedy, family, and the ways in which we cope through it all. I think one of the things that I liked most about the story was the emotion that Jeff Lemire captures in his art, writing, and pacing of the story. We can really see and feel the hurt that Lester and Ken are going through with the dark thick lines of Lemire’s artwork, the flashbacks that show Lester’s mother in the hospital, and the conflict between Ken who didn’t want to become a father and Lester who has been ripped from all he knows and thrust into life on a farm.
I know for me, I really identified with the young boy Lester, wearing a cape and mask, even to school. As someone who grew up with a larger than life imagination, making forts out of blankets, fighting imaginary battles with friends, and spending lots of time in my own little world, I felt a deep connect with this young boy who could easily have been me at that age. If you liked comics and superheroes as a kid, I imagine you will identify with him as well.
Conclusion:Tales From The Farm is a touching story about growing up, loss, and finding ways to cope with the hard times the world give us. If this first volume is any indication, the series of Essex County will hold some great tales for us.
Although Jeff Lemire’s art isn’t as “polished” as some other comic books in the industry, his thick lines and use of black help to set the mood for this sorrowful tale of life. I doubt an artist with a more realistic style could have pulled off the tone and emotion needed to tell this tale from the farm. If you are into small press and independent books, then I think you will really like this book, if you are a hardcore superhero fan, I think you will find the story contained in this book will greatly surprise you and bring you back to a time when the tree line held imaginary monsters and the only thing stopping them was you and your friends.