Overview

Lost Dogs

Review

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Lost Dogs

Credits

  • Words: Jeff Lemire
  • Art: Jeff Lemire
  • Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
  • Price: $9.95
  • Release Date: Jul 26, 2012

A rare look at a master storyteller’s crude beginnings, Lost Dogs chronicles the early chapters of writer-artist Jeff Lemire’s quest to find his voice.

Lost Dogs is the ugliest story I’ve ever read.

First self-published in 2005 by creator Jeff Lemire with the help of a $5,000 Xeric Grant, Lost Dogs is a hard book to read and yet almost impossible to put down once you pick it up. Simple, brutish, and haunting, Lost Dogs is a fascinating study of a young cartoonist’s first tentative warblings as he strives to discover his storytelling “voice.”

Chronicling the tragic journey of a nameless hulking giant as he seeks a better life for his wife and daughter in the city, Lemire’s first attempt at the graphic narrative is, to put it mildly, a little rough around the edges. The artwork is raw and muddy, the storytelling clumsy in places, and the themes of memory, family, and loss that inform much of his current output, only just a gleam in the young Lemire’s eye. Still, Lost Dogs is a heart-wrenching little tale that lays the foundation for much of what would come in later works such as the seminal Essex County and Vertigo’s popular Sweet Tooth.

Compared to those books Lost Dogs feels like the tentative first steps of an artist only just realizing the possibilities of his chosen medium. And yet even as I write this, “tentative” seems like the wrong word entirely. Lemire dives headlong into his story with an almost desperate courage and the raw, scattershot intuition of someone realizing just how much they understand and love the graphic narrative. You can almost pinpoint the very panel where Lemire gives in, lets the story take him over, and finally discovers his voice.

Lost Dogs may be light years away from the polish Lemire attains in Sweet Tooth or Essex County but the visceral emotion, the bloody, beaten heart at the core of his work still shines through the gobs of ink drowning this, his first complete book.

Like I said, the ugliest story I’ve ever read. And thank the comic book gods for that.

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