Review: The Nobody by Jeff Lemire
Greetings and Salutations Readers,
This month has been hectic. Diablo 3 and work have been eating up most of my time, it’s been taking me away from my comics for longer than is healthy for me. Because of this disturbance to my usual schedule I thought I’d review a book I had picked up at the library some months ago. The Nobody by my personal favorite local comic genius Jeff Lemire. The Nobody is a rather interesting little book, taking some queues from the famous H.G Wells novel, The Invisible Man. Jeff Lemire revisits the iconic, bandaged main character but spins a tale around the notion that he is now a wanderer, visiting a small town and doing his best to keep his head low. The book is rife with Jeff’s typical style of art and storytelling, fans of his work will only find good things here, people who are less knowledgeable will find something deeply engaging and fluent enough in content to keep them settled until their next comic craving. The books, both the H.G Wells story and the Jeff Lemire comic, are both favourites of mine and I though I’d share some of my thoughts about the comic in this month’s trade paperback review. Read on to follow my experience with this expressive story.
The story opens up with John Griffen, our protagonist, wandering his way into small community, acting as inconspicuously as he can. Griffen stows away in a restricting hotel room in the rural town of Large Mouth (like the fish), secretly conducting experiments in the confines of his living quarters. Naturally, news of the drifters appearance and demeanour spreads quickly throughout the small town and he soon finds himself in the thick of a whole mess of rumors and myths surrounding his looks and his purpose. The story really begins to pick up when a local girl, by the name of Vickie, takes interest in the mysterious figure that is Mr. Griffen. She quickly makes a few minor attempts at making friends with him and they quickly become involved. She visits him often and keeps the lonely figure company, its the least she can do for such a solitary person. That is more or less the premise of the comic, minus a few spoilers about events that take place once Vickie and Griffen are found out by her father. The Nobody isn’t exactly an action packed comic but nonetheless it puts in some hard work at making you care about the characters and the interactions between them.
The plot of The Nobody is nice and simple, little time is spent over-complicating the plot line with useless exposition and fruitless events. Each of the plot points that Jeff brings to the table are used efficiently and completely in progress of a cohesive, attention grasping story. Each of Jeff’s characters has a voice of their own and something worth saying on each page, the book isn’t too long so this is a very important trait. Pages are spent fleshing out characters and their motivations, little character gristle is left on the plate at the end of this multi-course meal. Jeff Lemire’s trademark attention to detail transfers over nicely to The Nobody, both in plot and art design. Jeff’s skill in depicting subtle changes in facial expressions and how characters physically communicate is used well and to great effect, my only gripe is that fact that the main character doesn’t have a face to emote with leaves some character interactions feel a tad dry. Character design is in the same vein as previous Lemire books, such as Essex County, characters often appear as caricatures of their personalities; bulky, meaty characters appear obtuse and blocky, wiry, spry characters are stringy and angular. Characterization is taken above and beyond to make readers connect with Griffen in a meaningful way, this isn’t easy seeing as he is a tormented soul with little to no physical presence. With so much good to be said and such few negative thoughts, The Nobody truly shines as one of the most interesting re-imaginings I’ve read/covered in a long while. The overall level of polish and tonal accuracy in The Nobody makes it a book worth having on any collector’s shelf.