Jeff Lemire, one of the greats of American independent comics, winner of three Eisner Prizes – the Oscars of animation – is behind the adaptation of his three-part graphic novel “Essex County” (Filmin), his most personal work – it was him was born in a rural area like the one he portrays and was as reserved and lonely a child as Lester (Finlay Wojtak-Hissong), one of the protagonists – and who opened the doors to the cartoon industry for him.
After the release of Essex County (2008), first DC and later Marvel – the two giants of the superhero world – brought him out of the cult auteur's lair to try and let some of his stunningly unique grunge know-how permeate some of their series in progress. And what he did with Animal Man in DC marked a before and after in the conception of the modern and at the same time postmodern superhero.
It marks the first time that Lemire – as showrunner and lead screenwriter – has been at the helm of a television fiction based on his work. The adaptation was done with great skill, beautiful photography and an empathy for the characters that was able to put the viewer in the middle of this cruel and at the same time touching dystopian utopia called “Sweet Tooth” (Netflix), but Lemire was not responsible for anything at that time, and it may have been the difficulty of getting the Essex County project off the ground – talks about the adaptation began in 2011 and things seemed to get going in 2015, but that didn't happen then either – that compelled the cartoonist have to come out of their isolation. He studied film but switched to comics because he couldn't handle the exposure and couldn't commit to work. The result is modest and overwhelming at the same time.
Essex County has something of Raymond Carver – rough but seemingly small everyday stories, of an American or Canadian everyday life that expands the cliché about the torment of the imperfect family – and at the same time of Edward Hopper – the painter of lonely desolation and moments of introspection – and manages to transfer the disturbed atmosphere of the vignettes to the screen in a disturbingly perfect way. Strangeness is perhaps the element that stands out most in a work of fiction in a small community that doesn't care about your personal tragedy, much like Tales from the Loop (Amazon Prime), from which the fantastic component has been removed examines the consequences of every single decision that led you to the dead end that your life has become.
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