Writer: Jeff Lemire, Pencils: Phil Hester
Family Tree #1 is a tale by Jeff Lemire and Phil Hester that has already planted strong roots among readers.
As always, Jeff Lemire kicks off a new series with a gripping first issue that delivers a strong intro to a new world usually about to fall into chaos. One of the things I seem to be enjoying in Lemire's books as of late is the focus on the family unit as a means to get through the varying hardships that he presents his characters, and the cast of Family Tree is no exception.
We're quickly introduced to the family unit with a primary focus on Loretta Hayes, the matriarch of the bunch. Downtrodden and tired, we get to see how circumstance is quickly giving Loretta some pep in her step as opposed to we see her presented in the earlier pages. It's a common adage where people often find themselves stuck in the mundanity of everyday activities that don't present room for growth and excitement, and it appears that Lemire is going to great lengths to explore this human condition.
For many, having to actively preserve the family unit through any means necessary can be stressful, but it can be quite... exciting from an outside point of view, and this is where Lemire excels. Such a smooth and sudden shift in tone can be a difficult thing to accomplish, but when done well, it creates a captivated audience just like Lemire has done with Family Tree.
Now before I keep shooting out praises for the writing, the unique art style of this story is probably one of the things that helped the writing perform as well as it did. Normally I'm a sucker for detail and attention to all of the little things, but Hester's rather simple linework that focused more on the overall shape of things rather than their minute details allows the reader to zero in on the tale that is being told. Something to be said about this is that expressions are much clearer because of the lack of noise, be it in the characters' posturing or their facial expressions, these emotions are visible at a mere glance.
While there are quite a few panels of just background signs and such, these actionless spaces help Lemire expand without much distraction on the fact that the tale is being told in the past tense, and the silence that you can feel from these panels helps create the ominous feeling of foreboding.
If you can grab yourself a copy or ten of Family Tree #1, do it.
It's a great start to a story with a lot of promise, as are most Lemire books.
Available as of 11/13/19 at your Local Comic Shop (LCS), or your favorite Online Retailer (Midtown's links are in the photos)!