The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire

Fangirls, I need to start off by saying that I’m not a huge fan of this story. It’s a bit confusing and sad and way more heavy than I was expecting. But I read this book when I was in California because my friend Laney invited me to go to a comic book club at her local shop.

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Once a month, Beach Ball Comics hosts a comic book club. The workers at the shop choose a book that everyone can read (it is an adult crowd, so the books don’t seem to be child friendly), a group of people read them, and then everyone comes in and discusses the book. It’s something that I would love to be a part of regularly, but as I live in New York, and this shop is in California, it’s a bit difficult.

But the open discussion and friendliness of (almost) all of the attendees, was incredible. Though I was one of five women in a crowd of over ten men, I felt welcomed and safe, and like I could speak my mind. That stood out to me more than anything else. At the book club, we discussed everything about the book; the story, how everyone interpreted it, the art, the strengths and weaknesses of everything. It was a fantastic experience.

But the book.

The story is of a man who is an underwater welder. He prefers spending time underwater to spending it with his pregnant wife. The book spans over a couple short days, in which he seems to have a panic attack underwater, his wife gives birth, and he almost dies. It’s a lot to handle in such a short graphic novel (only 229 pages). There are some incredible flashbacks that shed a ton of light on who this man is, but I just didn’t like him, and that’s a big part of why I didn’t like the book.

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This art, though, Fangirls. It’s beautiful. The book is done in inks and washes. It’s phenomenal. Lemire does both the writing and art for this, and I really prefer the art to the story. There are some splashes and single page pieces that are jaw-droppingly beautiful.

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I didn’t expect to have an appreciation for this book, but I know the comic book club really helped show me the positives and intricacies of The Underwater Welder. I can’t say it’s something I would recommend to people with tastes similar to mine, but if you enjoy darker, moodier comics and graphic novels, this may be for you.

 

 

All images and characters depicted are copyright of their respective owners.

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