The Underwater Welder
Written and Illustrated by Jeff Lemire
Review by Luke Herr
The Underwater Welder is a book about fear and the power of isolation that it brings. Compounded with visually stark imagery, powerful metaphors and fear, Jeff Lemire creates an intense comic experience.
Based around Jack Joseph, an underwater welder in Nova Scotia, the book takes on fears about parenthood, parental loss and the way those fears isolate as Jack prepares to become a father. When his final trip before his maternity leave scares him enough and causes him to have an accident the true mystery of the book begins.
The opening in the book compares the story to the Twilight Zone and it is hard to find a more apt storytelling comparison for the book, though while many Twilight Zone stories have become trite and overused, the human connections and characters that come alive in the story push the book from being just another horror story.
Meanwhile Lemire’s artwork – pen and watercolors, create this surreal setting through patterns, full page illustration and compositional paneling. The book actively invoked existential fear, that unshakeable fear with the art which I’d argue adds to its strength.
I’d not be surprised to see The Underwater Welder as one of the great graphic novels on future lists.
So Sum It Up:
Strong, evocative and original, The Underwater Welder is a trip into the depths that lie in men’s hearts and their struggles to return from them.