This month I grabbed two titles from the junior/senior high graphic novel collection. Essex County Vol.1: Tales from The Farm by Jeff Lemire, a winner of the ALEX Award, published in 2008. The other graphic novel I chose was Astro City: Life in the Big City – which I have yet to read.
I don’t know that I have ever read a more compelling depiction of alienation and grief, as the depiction in this graphic novel. The artwork is fantastic, as the boy, Lester, and his Uncle, have conflicts, the art mirrors the despair they both feel. The use of light and dark in the drawings, as well as the frames that slowly build to tell a compelling story, are a study in how the graphic novel form works best. The use of technique to clearly convey flashback sequences was also highly effective.
I am far from an expert in graphic novels, but I found myself thinking that the artwork in this piece was really teaching me a great deal about what works in graphic novels are done well.
Students who like to read stories of loss and reconciliation will enjoy this beautiful graphic novel, and they may learn something about composition from a clear master.