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Comic writer Jeff Lemire works his magic to stardom

In 2009, Jeff Lemire published a one-two punch of “Sweet Tooth” and “Essex County.” “Essex” was an honest look at the lives of several people living in Ontario, gaining praise for its frank depiction of a farming community.

“Sweet Tooth” earned no less critical acclaim, but followed the journey of a young, half-deer boy as he explored a post-apocalyptic world. Yeah, it was kind of weird. However, the Vertigo (the “mature readers” publishing arm of DC Comics) series brought Lemire into the spotlight.

When DC rebooted their entire line in 2011, Lemire was tapped to pen the supernatural title “Animal Man” and “Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.”

“I prefer the DC characters who are on the margins,” Lemire told Eagle News. “The C-listers like Animal Man are much more appealing to me than writing Batman or Superman. Those big franchises come with so much baggage that the more obscure characters are free of. You can make them your own.”

The obscure books quickly propelled Lemire from fan-favorite to the next big name in comics. Within a year, he took over writing duties on “Justice League Dark,” the headline comic for the magic side of DC, and has recently jumped on the increasingly-popular “Green Arrow.”

“I love Green Arrow because he is so grounded. He has no powers, at his core he is just a regular guy who is riddled with self-doubt,” Lemire remarked. “Emotionally, that gives me a lot to hook in to. Plus I’ve always wanted to try my hand at a really hard boiled noir/ crime superhero saga, like the best of Frank Miller’s Daredevil. So this is my chance to explore that.”

Perhaps the biggest indicator of Jeff Lemire’s rising star is that this summer, he will be co-writing DC’s first major “event” since the reboot. “Trinity War” will intertwine “Justice League,” “Justice League of America,” and “Justice League Dark,” as Superman, Green Arrow, and John Constantine duke it out over a yet-unknown catalyst. Geoff Johns, chief creative officer for all DC media, is also writing, and called the event an “action mystery,” in an interview with USA Today. So what does Lemire think about writing the most iconic characters in comics, alongside the superstar Johns?

“(It’s) pretty surreal to be honest. I never aspired to write mainstream comics at all, but I had these opportunities presented to me on the strength of my independent work and found I really enjoyed balancing my work between both my more personal indie projects and the big super hero books. So as long as I can keep doing both, I’m happy.”

You might call Jeff Lemire the Guillermo del Toro of print: Both wizards of the weird do mainstream work in-between their pet projects. In fact, recent rumors have suggested del Toro would like to bring a form of “Justice League Dark” to the big screen. Still, in the near future, Lemire seems content to just keep doing his thing, with both a pen and a brush.

“Well, despite all my writing work for DC, I am still drawing a monthly book of my own. I wrote and drew Sweet Tooth for four years and that just ended and I immediately launched into my next project…TRILLIUM is a time-sprawling deep space love story. It will be eight issues long, and I’ll be painting it as well. After that I have another stand alone, more grounded graphic novel that I’ll be drawing. It will come out in August from Vertigo.”

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