Essex County Archives | Robot 6 | The Comics Culture Blog

Top Shelf reveals SDCC exclusives from Lemire and Campbell


Top Shelf Productions describes its pair of Comic-Con International exclusives as “jaw-dropping,” and it’s tough to argue with that.

The first is a gorgeous deluxe slipcase edition of Essex County, collecting Jeff Lemire’s award-winning trilogy about life in a rural community in Southwestern Ontario. This foil-stamped edition features a letterpress bookplate signed and numbered by Lemire.

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Get great comics at cheap prices from the Top Shelf Massive $3 Sale

It’s an annual tradition to look forward to: The alternative comics publisher Top Shelf has unveiled its “Massive $3 Sale,” in which they’re pricing down their catalog to near-ridiculous levels — in many cases $3, and in many more cases just one lousy American dollar. For very little money, you can rack up a big chunk of one of the best comics publishers’ best comics.

What would I get? At the $3 level, Kolbeinn Karlsson’s The Troll King — a surreal collection of intertwined short stories that for once lives up to the overused, rarely true label “fairy tales for grown-ups” — is basically a must-buy. I’d also be sure to pick up Andy Hartzell’s Fox Bunny Funny, an unpredictable and impeccably cartooned funny-animal allegory about conformity and self-discovery. Lilli Carré’s remarkably assured debut collection of satirical short stories, Tales of Woodsman Pete, is another no-brainer. If you’re interested in rounding out your Alan Moore collection with some of his more off-the-beaten-path efforts, you can get all eight issues of his underground-culture zine Dodgem Logic, his prose novel Voice of the Fire, and his poetry/photography collaboration with José Villarubia The Mirror of Love for three bucks a pop. And you can pick up all three issues of Jeffrey Brown’s one-man action anthology series SulkBighead & Friends, a return to his genuinely funny superhero parody characters; Deadly Awesome, an 84-page mixed martial arts fight comic; and The Kind of Strength That Comes from Madness, a grab bag of sci-fi/fantasy/action/adventure spoofs — for a buck apiece, which is a steal.

Beyond the deepest discounts, you’ll rarely find the publisher’s heavy (literally–these books are big) hitters priced as low as they are now: Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s From Hell, Campbell’s Alec: The Year’s Have Pants omnibus, and Jeff Lemire’s complete Essex County are all $20, while Craig Thompson’s Blankets is just $22.50.

And hey, if you’re totally new to all of these books, so much the better. Maybe DC’s New 52 initiative has you in an “I’ll try anything for $3 a book” mood? If so, put a few bucks aside and get some full-fledged graphic novels for that price or lower. You’ll be glad you did.

Comics A.M. | Borders lists closing stores, assures ‘normal’ business


Retailing | Struggling bookseller Borders Group, which filed for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday, told shaken publishers it’s developing a long-term plan to “reposition itself,” even as it released a list of some 200 stores set to close by the end of April. The closings include 35 locations in California and 15 in metropolitan Chicago. On a website dedicated to the reorganization, the retailer — the second-largest book chain in the United States — assures customers that “Borders’ Business Operations Continue As Normal.”

In its bankruptcy filing, the company listed $1.29 billion in debt and $1.27 billion in assets. It owes $272 million to its 30 largest unsecured creditors, including $41.1 million to Penguin Group. Diamond Book Publishers, which stopped shipping to Borders last month, is on the hook for $3.9 million. [The New York Times]

Retailing | Meanwhile, REDgroup Retail, which owns the Australian booksellers Borders (owned independently of the U.S. chain) and Angus & Robertson, has entered into administration. Angus & Robertson is the country’s largest book chain, with more than 180 stores nationwide. [The Australian, Guardian]

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Comics A.M. | Borders nears Chapter 11; Diamond’s secret shopper results


Retailing | The financially troubled Borders Group reportedly could file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as soon as today or Tuesday, setting the stage to close about 200 of its 674 Borders and Waldenbooks stores and eliminate thousands of jobs. [The Wall Street Journal]

Retailing | Diamond Comic Distributors revealed that 98 percent of the more than 500 direct market stores visited by secret shoppers during the first month of day-early delivery were found to be in compliance with the program’s street-date requirements. According to Diamond, of the 10 stores discovered to be in violation of the agreement, one was reported by another retailer while the others were discovered by secret shoppers. []

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Comics A.M. | Essex County voted off Canada Reads, NYCC tickets on sale

Essex County, Vol. 1

Awards | Jeff Lemire’s acclaimed Essex County was the first finalist eliminated Monday in the Canada Reads literary debates to select the essential Canadian novel of the decade. Despite a defense by musician Sara Quin, the graphic novel was voted down by the five-person celebrity panel after the first hour, not because of content but because of format: Four of the judges just couldn’t get past Essex County‘s “lack of words.” This year marked the first time that a graphic novel had been a finalist for the prestigious Canada Reads program.

“Well, I was the first book voted off of the Canada Reads competition today, and I’ll admit that it stings a bit more than I thought it would,” Lemire wrote on his blog. “But, in the end I am really proud of the accomplishment of making it to the final 5. It’s a great sign for the future of graphic novels in this country, and their continued acceptance mainstream literary circles on a whole.” [Afterword, CBC News]

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Jeff Lemire and Sara Quin discuss Canada Reads finalist Essex County

Essex County

When last we left Jeff Lemire’s acclaimed Essex County Trilogy, it had been named as one of the five finalists for the CBC’s prestigious Canada Reads program, the first time a graphic novel has received the distinction. The next step is a series of debates, set to air on CBC Radio One on Feb. 7-9, in which celebrity panelists defend their choices on the way to determining the essential Canadian novel of the decade.

To prepare for the debate, Essex County‘s champion, Sara Quin, one-half of the indie-music duo Tegan & Sara, explains in a video why Jeff Lemire’s look at life in a rural Canadian community deserves the Canada Reads honor. (Watch the video after the break.)

Lemire also recounts the book’s creation: “At the time I was still working a day job as a line cook at La Hacienda restaurant on Queen Street West in Toronto. I’d work the night shift, which left me with my days free to draw. Generally I’d try to get a page a day drawn. Some days I’d do more, some days less. Doing comics is a marathon, rather than a sprint. It takes time…hours upon hours to render the same fictional moment that a prose writer might dash off in a few minutes. But to be consumed by something as big as Essex County was full of rewards as well.”

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Jeff Lemire’s Essex County among finalists for Canada Reads honor

Essex County

Jeff Lemire’s Essex County Trilogy is among the five contenders for CBC’s prestigious Canada Reads program, marking the first time a graphic novel has been considered for the distinction.

Lemire’s award-winning look at life in a rural community was selected from the list of Essential Top 10 Canadian Novels of the Decade by panelist Sara Quin, one-half of the indie-music duo Tegan & Sara. She will defend the book in February at the Canada Reads debate.

Published by Top Shelf Productions, the Essex County TrilogyTales from the Farm, Ghost Stories and The Country Nurse — is an award-winning examination of family, grief, memory and reconciliation set in an imaginary version of Lemire’s hometown in rural Ontario.

Essex County will go up against The Bone Cage by Angie Abdou, The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis, The Birth House by Ami McKay, and Unless by Carol Shields.

Lemire’s Essex County among the Top 10 Canadian novels of the decade

Essex County

Jeff Lemire’s Essex County has been selected as one of the Essential Top 10 Canadian Novels of the Decade, part of the CBC’s prestigious Canada Reads program. It’s reportedly the first time a graphic novel has been given that distinction.

As we reported a couple of weeks ago, 40 books — among them, Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki Skim — were initially presented for online voting. Now five of the finalists will be selected by the program’s celebrity panelists to defend during the Canada Reads debates in February. The titles and panelists will be announced on Nov. 24.

Published by Top Shelf Productions, the Essex County TrilogyTales from the Farm, Ghost Stories and The Country Nurse — is an award-winning examination of family, grief, memory and reconciliation set in an imaginary version of Lemire’s hometown in rural Ontario.

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