By Jeff Lemire; Top Shelf Productions
There is something deeply fascinating about the comics of Jeff Lemire. I don't really know how to articulate it better than that, but... there is just a haunted, askance simplicity to his creator ownederish comics that I could just look at and read endlessly. The Underwater Welder is a pretty great example of what I mean. The comic tells the story of Jack Joseph, an underwater welder working on an oil rig in small town Nova Scotia who is also an expectant father. The Underwater Welder also tells the story of Jack as a boy and his relationship with his own father, a salvage diver by trade. Really though, The Underwater Welder is about isolation, doubt, and depression and, well, the obligations of fatherhood. All of which is delivered in this really spacious, expressionist depiction of the ocean as a visual metaphor: The Underwater Welder is really a visually striking and fascinating comic. This description probably makes The Underwater Welder sound like a heartbreaking, sad-inducing stereotypical art comic, which is pretty misleading because while you will experience some feelings, this comic really doesn’t wallow in misery and definitely contains some remarkable moments of triumph and humanity. It’s haunting in both the tragic and wondrous sense. At the end of the day I’d say that The Underwater Welder is an emotionally challenging and rewarding comic built around an accessible and profound story delivered by downright expansive artwork. And like much of Jeff Lemire’s comics work, I am endlessly fascinated by it.
Word count: 250