Royal City Volume 1 – the Affairs of the Family of Jeff Lemire | Review


Published on Oct 28, 2017


There is no better way than to quote the title of one of the songs of Alter Bridge album ABIII, to get in the right mood, and to allow us as well to talk about the Royal City the new ongoing series from Jeff Lemire is publishing for Image Comics, and that in Italy is proposed by Bao Publishing became the home of the canadian author.

When the patriarch of the family Pike, Peter, is hit by a heart attack, the family gathers around him, and to his wife Patti. I'm so “forced” to cross again, their roads the 3 the couple's children – Tara, real estate with a marriage in pieces, Richard, a worker with a problem of alcohol and hounded by debts, and Patrick the writer in the crisis which had moved to the “big city” – and gather in the Royal City, a small town in New Jersey that has seen better times after the factory, which has determined for decades the wellness navigates in difficult waters.

It is immediately clear that the intention of the author to build a choral story, but equally evident is the main theme of this story-arc: the inability to communicate.

Two aspects that apparently do not go well together, and indeed, the family of Pike soon appears as a family of “strangers”, people who have lost sight or would prefer not to contact the word, and in which everyone has a secret, a not-said, grudges and frustrations.

Tara no longer has much to say to her husband especially after it was made the spokesperson of the project to close and redevelop the factory in the city where he is the head of the department, Richard is a fool and lonely that he no longer has any relationship with the brothers and with the parents, if not when it comes to asking for money, finally, Patrick is a writer in the bands downward which puts in doubt his own talent and everything that was his life-including a marriage to a movie star repeatedly unfaithful.

Each then develops its own narrative line, stand-alone and whose only common element is the fourth brother Tommy: everyone “sees” at a different age and under a different perspective of the now unwelcome presence is now a source of security and love, or even guilt and regrets. And then there is a year 1993, the year that according to Patrick, he “tied” his family – time that we are sure will form the core of the next volumes of the series.

For what the author wants to make a story realistic, however, does not waive that magical realism in which everyday life is “suspended” in favor of a tone more poetic and “extraordinary” a bit-there is Wes Anderson, if you allow the comparison to film, but more introverted and melancholy.

Lemire consists of a series of dynamics dysfunctional: the 3 children, rarely do they meet – and when they do, the moments are very dramatic – but the focal point remains at the bedside of the father and the mother figure is extremely possessive, and as we discover towards the end of the volume, even hypocritical, that represents a novelty in the literature of the author who in his earlier work had focused on the father figure.

Series such as Royal City are currently on the market there are indeed probably there have never been this is because the author not only delves deeply into his subconscious – obvious are the references autobiographical – but also because, from a formal point of view here really tries to combine a narrative that sinks its roots in the great novel of the generation with a rhythm borrowed from a certain television series and then “order” in the safety of serial monthly typical of comics in north america.

A series that with its “simplicity” and for the issues dealt with, with which different types of readers can interface, it calls for a level of involvement and attention definitely different compared to the products that you normally find on the shelves.

As for Nothing to Lose – our review here – also for the Royal City, Lemire chooses to treat the graphics part and is also the first regular series that the canadian author decides to draw from the times of the great Sweet Tooth – series written and drawn for Vertigo.

As already highlighted in the review of the graphic novel mentioned a little while ago, and in spite of the time spent away from the drawing table, Lemire has honed his art by showing a greater mastery of the pencil with a style that remains unchanged and recognizable, strongly impressionistic and stylized – but the stretch is secure so you can focus a lot on facial expressions, made with a play of lines, sometimes nervous, and obsessive – and the eyes, particular that ideally marries with the core narrative of this first story-arc.

And’ are your eyes, or better, the looks, the pivot on which Lemire builds his own table, never too crowded and with a predilection for the horizontal panels that tighten or dilate according to the rhythm of the dialogues and exchanges between the characters but also of their stream of consciousness relegated to the captions. It is also interesting to note as we get closer to the end of the volume will increase the splash page is almost to want to underline the turning points for each character presented.

Always with the peculiar technique of watercolor, Lemire colors the events, preferring a palette from pale tones and cinerei with grey, white and pink that cover the city a heaviness in the middle between the pollution caused by the factory and the monotony of the small town of the province.

Even to the Royal City Bao Publishing choose the format hardback from the valuable care (carto)-a technique in which the great translation goes with the graphic excellent. If you're a fan of canadian author, or is just now discovering, surely the editions which the publisher is reserving are among the best from the point of view of purely economic and combining a format of value with a price in line with those of the present in the Italian market.

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