By Zack Quaintance
Jeff Lemire revealed at a career spotlight panel on Thursday that he has finished writing the pilot for a TV adaptation of Essex County, the trilogy of stories from Top Shelf that first helped Lemire make a significant name in comics nearly 10 years ago.
If greenlit, Lemire said, Essex County would be a six-episode mini-series he would write entirely himself. Lemire said he expects a decision will be made “very soon.” Essex County, which is a heartfelt story about the specific part of rural Canada where Lemire grew up, was first optioned for TV in late 2015 by Canada’s CBC network. Lemire said work on a pilot has been underway since then, but the series just didn’t work with other writers. So, Lemire wrote the pilot himself, you know, as if he doesn’t already have enough to do.
Speaking of which, much of the rest of the panel featured various participants—including moderators, collaborators, and fans—expressing their various levels of disbelief that one guy gets as much done as Lemire does (in the time since Essex County was optioned, for example, he’s created an estimated 18 new comic series, some of which he has also drawn).
Speaking of which again, Lemire also revealed that he’s writing and drawing a new 12-issue limited series to be colored by past collaborator Jose Villarrubia, who also sat on the Jeff Lemire Spotlight panel. Although it’s not time yet for a formal announcement of the series, he said it would be set in the world of Black Hammer, Lemire’s ongoing homage with Dark Horse to superhero comics, horror comics, Vertigo comics—basically, to comics.
Lemire also elaborated on another comic that was formally announced this month: Ascender, a sequel set 10 years after the events of Descender, Lemire’s sci-fi epic with Image Comics that’s set to wrap up this coming Wednesday.
The panel spanned much of Lemire’s career—from his indie beginnings to his superhero work with both Marvel and DC—before wrapping up with a surprisingly astute and to-the-point set of audience questions.
Here are some of the highlights…
>Lemire on how he picks collaborators: “I just tend to gravitate more toward friends and people who I like being with and like work with. I’ve been lucky that those people are also very talented. I have a pretty crazy work ethic, and so I tend to choose artists who also do and can keep up with me.
>…on hitting deadlines: “I’m never late with anything. I think that’s helped my career, especially with Image books. There’s always so many new Image books, but so many of them launch well and then they just sort of don’t launch consistently. So, I think if you’re going to do creator-owned books especially, you have to put it out every month if you’re going to keep doing it.”
>…on how he stays so prolific: “My schedule is everything to me. If I don’t stick to my schedule, I kind of go crazy. I’m very schedule-oriented person to begin with. My days are always the same. I get to my studio at 8 a.m. usually. It’s outside my house so I leave to go to my studio at 8 a.m. Monday to Friday in my studio I’m drawing, because that takes so much longer than writing.”
>…on what he’s learned from David Lynch: “My favorite artist is David Lynch and my favorite quote from him is ‘Negativity does not breed creativity.’ When you’re not feeling good and you’re not feeling positive and happy, that doesn’t promote good art. The idea of a tortured artist is a myth.”
>…on working in new genres he hasn’t yet worked in: “I’d like to do something for young readers at some point, but every time I say that, I start writing it and it’s really inappropriate for a younger audience.”
>…on how fatherhood has affected his work: “I think my whole career took off right around when we had our son. That changed everything. Sweet Tooth took off right around the time we were having a kid. Basically, everything I did from Sweet Tooth on has been informed by parenthood in some way, most of my work is.”