By Jeff Lemire
Release date: July 7, 2009
Large Mouth. Population 754. A small town run by average people. Then a mysterious stranger arrives — a man completely covered in bandages. He doesn’t say a word, just checks into the local motel, and locks himself away. What is he doing behind that locked door? What is he hiding?
In The Nobody, a limited-run series by Jeff Lemire, known for his Eisner nominated series Essex County, takes the iconic character of the Invisible Man and drops him into a modern day small town. The story alternates between the point of view of the Invisible Man himself, John Griffen, and a 16-year-old girl named Vickie who is fascinated by him. She works at the local diner and decides to bring him food while he is in his hotel room. The two form a friendship of sorts, more about having someone around than actually knowing anything about that person. But it works and they both feel a bit more like someone with the other around. Of course, the general population of the town distrust Griffen from the start, which only makes Vickie want to help him more.
On the surface, The Nobody can be read as just the usual Invisible Man story as he tries to find a way to restore his physical appearance while avoiding curious townspeople. But Lemire mixes in plenty of subtext within this tale to create a richer experience. The friendship between Griffen and Vickie is at the core of the story and you can understand how these two lost souls have found each other. More is said in some of the empty panels, the looks exchanged between the characters, than some of the panels filled with speech bubbles. The artwork is raw and simple. Lemire uses only shades of grays, blues, and black to illustrate the story, making the town of Large Mouth feel as though it is wrapped in its own gauze — and, like with John Griffen, we’re not sure if that covering protects them or hides a darker truth.
With a unique art style and a story that begs the reader to give it another go, The Nobody will draw in fans of retellings and those not familiar with the Invisible Man.