The Underwater Welder
Written and drawn by Jeff Lemire
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
I love Jeff Lemire, but I never thought he would be able to come close to writing anything as beautiful and well crafted as the award-winning Essex County. Essex County took years to write and draw and now Lemire is under contract with the machine that is DC and cranking out multiple stories to meet deadlines as fast as he can. Not that that is bad since his creator owned Sweet Tooth and the half a dozen other books he writes (Animal Man, Justice League Dark, etc.) are such top notch. I just know to really create a masterpiece it needs to be a passion project that is free from rushed deadlines. Luckily for us The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire is just such a book.
The story follows an young underwater welder named Jack Joseph who lives in a small town off the coast of Nova Scotia. He lives there with his wife and they are expecting their first child. Jack is scared about the possibilities of becoming a father and uses his work on the oil rig to run away from his fears. But as he dives he begins to find his fears are much bigger than he can hide and has something he can’t explain happen that leads him on a path of discovery that teaches him about life, memories, and his relationship with his own father.
I was not surprised at all to learn Lemire spent four years between projects working on writing and drawing this book. Reading The Underwater Welder I was amazed at how well crafted it was. Lemire fills his characters with so much emotion and truth that any reader could find multiple things to relate to. Lemire also goes back to his roots and abandons color in favor of black-and-white. His line work is really on display here and I forgot how much I loved his brush strokes and the way he renders his characters. He also uses an ink wash on certain pages as a story telling device which really help create a specific tone for his story.
The Underwater Welder is filled with everything fans of Essex County will love. While Essex County might always be the work that Lemire is most remembered for, it is nice to know Lemire is still doing work that is really close, if not equal to, the caliber of rich and layered storytelling he won so many awards for. Everyone owes it to themselves to check out The Underwater Welder.