Friday, September 14, 2018

Reader's Diary #1904- Jeff Lemire: Roughneck

I've read most of Jeff Lemire's output and the record shows I'm a huge fan. But when I started to read Roughneck I wasn't sure at first that I'd get into it. Revolving around a ex-professional hockey player named Derek Ouelette, he's one of Lemire's most off-putting protagonists, hard drinking and choosing to "solve" problems with his fists.

But it's a testament to Lemire that he managed to squeeze some empathy out of me. Ouelette is a victim of domestic violence himself and like many such victims, unfortunately, he's perpetuating the cycle. As is his sister, newly returned into his life, pregnant, with an opioid addiction, and on the run from her abusive ex. Through Derek's concern for his sister, I became hopeful for some redemption (nothing could make up entirely for his past wrongs), but was kept on my toes wondering if he was already too far set in his ways.

Along the way, Jeff Lemire's scratchy style works well for the hard living themes and the watercolouring adds to the melancholy atmosphere. There's also a dog that makes an appearance for symbolism but I'm a little undecided about that as of yet; maybe too similar to the crow character in Essex County?

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