cover image Royal City, Vol. 1: Next of Kin

Royal City, Vol. 1: Next of Kin

Jeff Lemire. Image, $9.99 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-5343-0262-4

In Royal City, a factory town teetering between obsolescence and rebirth, Peter Pike suffers a stroke and hovers between life and death. Meanwhile, his wife and children each stand at the brink of dramatic personal decisions, played out under the shadow of their patriarch’s illness. Lemire (Essex County) creates a nuanced family portrait: Peter’s son Patrick, a once-famous author, returns from the big city, seeking inspiration and grappling with his identity; Patrick’s ambitious sister, Tara, has a troubled marriage and Royal City’s future weighing on her mind; their self-destructive black sheep brother, Richard, spirals down in drink and debt; and their domineering mother confronts her suppressed desires. Weaving through each personal story is the specter of Tommy, the siblings’ younger brother, who drowned decades ago, and who morphs into different versions of himself to suit each person. The sketchy lines and pale watercolors capture the spirit of a fading town and the denizens who struggle to find their place within it. Lemire’s characterizations are so real and truthful that many readers—particularly those who are from small towns, encumbered with adult siblings, or grieving an enduring loss—will find something deeply familiar and resonant about the Pike family and their past and future ghosts. (Oct.)