Jeff Lemire interview

August 26, 2010 | Interviews

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His first major work won him two national awards, earned him sweeping critical acclaim and helped put Essex County, Ont., on the map.

The pressure to match all that might crush some people, but Jeff Lemire is too busy rocketing to the top of comic book industry to let it get to him.

“I guess if you stop and think about all the early success, you can kind of get caught up in worrying about living up to it, ” says the 34-year-old Toronto resident, a featured guest at this weekend’s Fan-Expo 2010, the massive annual pop-culture extravaganza at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. “But at the end of the day I just have so much work to do.”

After bursting onto the scene in 2008 with Tales From the Farm and Ghost Stories, the first two parts of the Essex County Trilogy – for which he earned a Doug Wright Award for best emerging talent and a Joe Shuster Award for best cartoonist – Lemire kept up his momentum in 2009 with the third part, The Country Nurse, and began his superb new ongoing series for DC/Vertigo, Sweet Tooth.

While 2010 began with another edgy graphic novel from Lemire, The Nobody, it also took an interesting turn toward the mainstream as he signed an exclusive contract with DC Comics and began writing the Atom stories in Adventure Comics as well as the upcoming tales of Superboy.

“For me it’s all the same; it’s all just comics – whether it’s a long-form story or a long story that’s serialized, ” says the native of Woodslee, Ont.

“I think that good comics are good comics and it doesn’t really matter the subject matter or what genre you’re working in.”

Lemire says the decision to write stories he wouldn’t draw himself was motivated by a simple lack of hours in the day.

“The reality is I couldn’t write and draw three books a month, but I could write and draw one and then write a couple of other ones, ” he says. “I can focus on my creator-owned stuff, Sweet Tooth, and write and draw that every month, but then also have a lot of fun writing for other artists on the superhero stuff and get into that a little bit.”

Sweet Tooth, which follows life in a post-apocalyptic world through the eyes of Gus, a 9-year-old boy who sports the features of a deer, just passed its first anniversary and Lemire says readers can look forward to about two more years’ worth.

Lemire says Superboy, set to premiere in November, is the book he’s growing to love faster than a speeding bullet.

“I think anyone who’s read my past work knows that I really like to explore small towns and rural communities and family and things like that and these are all the same kinds of themes I’m bringing into Superboy.”

After delving more into mainstream comics, Lemire says the type of fans he meets at events like FanExpo is starting to change.

“Since Superboy was announced, and the Atom, you just get a whole new crop of fans who are just into the superhero stuff, who had never really bothered with my work before, ” he laughs. “Now they suddenly know who I am and now they’re going back and checking out Sweet Tooth and Essex County.

“It’s good to know that people are aware of the stuff you’re doing and that there’s actual people reading it.”

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