I’d like to start off by saying happy holidays and I wish everyone the best.
Now on to your Alternative Comics Beat, a recommendation to take you out of your comics comfort zone and introduce you to something new (or at least new to you) and exciting!
For Your Consideration
This week’s Alternative Beat is a story about fathers, sons, and a situation like something out of the Twilight Zone. After everything I read this week that was a contender for the slot, this original graphic novel stood out as the strongest in terms of storytelling, artwork, and heartfelt moments. The graphic novel in question was written and drawn by Jeff Lemire and published by Top Shelf.
The Underwater Welder
Underwater welder Jack Joseph is feeling pressure from both his job and his pregnant wife. While diving on an offshore oilrig in Nova Scotia, Jack discovers a pocket watch at the bottom of the ocean. The watch is something more than just an old relic, and Jack soon finds himself caught in a strange world that he must escape from.
Jeff Lemire – Writer
Jack Joseph is instantly a likeable character. Jeff Lemire has always been able to portray his protagonists in a way that makes you connect with them and care about them from start to finish. Jack’s feelings about parenthood and his experiences with his father can ring true to just about anyone, and the moments with his wife seem like they’re lifted from documentary footage. They feel that real.
Jeff Lemire – Artist
The artwork is done in Lemire’s signature style. There are many expressive lines and the environments are given a great setup through pacing in the story. Even though the drawings aren’t completely realistic, the emotion that the characters show in each panel is very true to life. When characters are upset, angry, or crying, you can feel it through the artwork. Lemire has always been able to pull this off with his technique, and it still serves him really well. He also makes use of nine panel grids in an interesting way, which makes it look like a camera is panning across the character or scene.
What Makes This Different
What makes this story different than your usual comic book fare is that it’s a story about the importance of family with an interesting science fiction backdrop. The story isn’t afraid to breathe and many of the panels are about atmosphere and tone. There are no explosions, no stakes to save the world, just an epic journey of one man and his role as a father.
Why You Should Pick This Up
If you’re a fan of Jeff Lemire’s work on Animal Man or Justice League Dark from DC, or if you’ve read Sweet Tooth from Vertigo, you’d be doing yourself a favor by checking this out. It’s a great story that you can share with family members and friends, or get as a gift for someone this holiday. I do admit that this is a little late, but if you are looking for a last minute gift for someone who loves reading, comics, or old Twilight Zone episodes, this is right up their alley.
This, like every Alternative Beat recommendation, is a story that can show you what sequential art can really do with characters. The comic book medium can tell just about any kind of story, and this original graphic novel is proof that they can be just as touching as an award winning film.
Ken Porter also writes comic books with his latest being "Ink Ribbon" from Visionary Comics.