The Nobody

( 2 )


The tiny, isolated fising village of Large Mouth never saw much excitement -- until the arrival of the stranger, that is. Wrapped from head to toe in bandages and wearing weird goggles, he quietly took up residence in the sleepy town's motel.Driven by curiousity, the townfolk quickly learn the tragic story of his past, and of the terrible accident that left him horribly disfigured. Eventually, the town embraces the stranger as one of their own -- but do his bandages hide more ...
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The tiny, isolated fising village of Large Mouth never saw much excitement -- until the arrival of the stranger, that is. Wrapped from head to toe in bandages and wearing weird goggles, he quietly took up residence in the sleepy town's motel.Driven by curiousity, the townfolk quickly learn the tragic story of his past, and of the terrible accident that left him horribly disfigured. Eventually, the town embraces the stranger as one of their own -- but do his bandages hide more than just scars?

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up–In a story inspired by H. G. Wells’s The Invisible Man, Lemire creates an antihero whose exploits in the small town of Large Mouth change the life of a teen. As Vickie guides readers through the strange events involving a man who is wrapped completely in bandages, the art reveals that if he removes them, he is completely invisible. Griffen was a prominent scientist, but now he is hunted by his one-time peers and mourns the death of his wife. Vickie knows little of his inner struggle but is determined to become his friend, and to give him support until the very end. The story is a bleak one; it’s as much about the hollow growth Vickie experiences when she begins to see the world through what she imagines is Griffen’s perspective as it is about Griffen’s ultimate fall. The style is intentionally rough, minimizing the details of the predominantly black-and-white art, which is shaded with light blue in order to heighten moments of flashbacks to Griffen’s previous life, sketched entirely in blue. The setting is a small town with easily prejudiced residents, whether against the mysterious man in bandages or the town’s one African-American resident, who is a noted loner. A good selection for most collections.–Alana Joli Abbott, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT
Kirkus Reviews
Taut, elliptical graphic novel serves as both existential parable and homage to an earlier era of classic comics. Written and illustrated by Lemire, creator of the Essex County Trilogy (The Country Nurse, 2007, etc.), the story could hardly be simpler or more spare. A strange man arrives in the small town of Large Mouth: "Home of the World's Biggest Bass! Population 754." He comes without a vehicle, identification or much in the way of possessions. He is wrapped head to toe, arm to arm, and finger to finger in bandages. He wears glasses that are more like goggles, obscuring his eyes. He introduces himself as John Griffen. He is "The Nobody" of the title. The year is 1994. Explains 16-year-old Vickie, whose father owns the town's diner, "All I know for sure is that after he came here, everything changed forever." Well, yes and no. Though Vickie is the only one who develops a friendship with the bandaged stranger, the small town seems to absorb his presence until he's almost part of the citizenry-or maybe part of the scenery. He keeps to himself; he doesn't make trouble. Vickie works at the diner under her dad's watchful eye; he has been particularly protective since his wife disappeared when Vickie was nine. Vickie has a hole in her life that perhaps the stranger can help fill. She takes him meals. She learns that he was formerly a professor in Chicago and that he remains involved with some mysterious chemistry experiments. He seeks in Large Mouth the peace of mind that he couldn't find in Chicago, while she hopes to escape to the big city and leave her small-town boredom behind. When another woman disappears from Large Mouth, Griffen is the immediate suspect. Is he really a friend toVickie, or is he a threat? Is he even John Griffen?Black-and-white artistry perfectly complements the noirish plot.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401220815
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Publication date: 5/18/2010
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 615,274
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Interviews & Essays

Q&A with Jeff Lemire

The Nobody is loosely based on The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells. What about that classic novel piqued your creative impulse?

I've always been a big fan of H. G. Wells; in fact The Time Machine or The Invisible Man may well have been one of the very first science fiction novels I ever read as a child. But, specifically with The Invisible Man, I have always been fascinated with the idea of a bandaged stranger. On a purely visual level, it is just a cool character design, and on a deeper level he is the perfect cipher, like an empty vessel with which you can do anything with. I think that's why there is such a long history of bandaged characters, particularly at DC, with the Unknown Soldier, the Doom Patrol, and Hush. Also, anyone who knows my work, knows that I love to explore small towns and rural life, and the original novel has this amazing set up of this bizarre outsider showing up, and setting a tiny community abuzz. As soon as I started thinking about that, it seemed like a natural mix with my own ideas and interests.

When referencing a classic work like The Invisible Man, how do you remain true to the spirit of the original while making something wholly new and contemporary?

For me that was easy, because, as I've said before, all of my past work has been set in small rural communities, so this was no different. It was basically me taking Wells' set-up then twisting it into my own thing. And, while there are allusions and nods to the original text, it really does go off on its own path from the start. But, at its core it is an exploration of madness, loneliness and the dark side of rural life, which to me lines up perfectly with Wells' vision.

What do you think H. G. Wells would think of your graphic novel?

That's a really tough question to answer, and one I had to stop thinking too much about while working on The Nobody, because the work of a master storyteller like H. G. Wells is something I could never hope to live up to. But, having said that, I would hope that he would recognize that the book was created with total respect of the source material, and as a testament to the iconic character he created so many years ago.

Your artwork in The Nobody speaks volumes with its sparse text and subtle panels. What artists and authors have influenced your work?

I do tend to try and say as much with the artwork as possible, and when I do use text; I generally try to strip it down to the essentials. And, that tends to reflect the often sparse and cold settings of my work, and the loneliness of the characters that inhabit them. I think the main influences of this style of storytelling would be cinematic. Filmmakers like Wim Wenders, Ingmar Bergman, Tarkovsky and Kubrick. And, a very large influence on The Nobody was also David Lynch, particularly Twin Peaks, which I've been a devoted fanatic of since it originally aired in the early '90s. All that weirdness going on under the surface of a northwestern logging town obviously rubbed off on me and found its way into The Nobody. From a comics point of view the bold, expressive work of cartoonists like Jose Munoz, Igort, Paul Pope, Gipi and Dave McKean are big influences.

Your first books, the Essex County Trilogy, were created to work as a series of interconnected books. How was it different working on a stand-alone, self-contained graphic novel?

Well, from simply a time point of view it's much easier to be able to focus on one book instead of three, but having said that, it also means I have to say everything I want to in one book, with a set page count, so I had learn to be much more economical with my storytelling.

When writing and drawing a graphic novel, do you work with a specific audience in mind?

It's sort of a cliché to hear authors say this, but the truth is I really do write and draw for myself. I want to work on things that interest and excite me, and I am my own harshest critic. So, really if I enjoy something, and am passionate about working on it then, I figure that will filter down to the readers.

The cliché of the artist is that of the recluse. Are you more of an introvert or extrovert?

I am definitely an introverted person. I spend so much time alone at the drawing board, and I really prefer it that way. I also think that is why I tend to write such isolated, introverted characters like Griffen.

Your Essex County Trilogy was set in rural Canada where you grew up, is Large Mouth based on life in a particular small town?

Yes, Large Mouth is sort of a fictionalized version of a small northern fishing town called Corbiel, in Canada, where my family would vacation for two weeks every summer. I love it up there, and have a really deep connection to the area. The whole aesthetic of the small northern town, with its lakes, bait and tackle shops, small diners etc. was such a rich visual setting for me.

John Griffen is a man who is trying to escape something and believes he'll find solace in a small town of 754 people. Do you think that's possible?

No, I don't. Griffen mistakenly presumes the isolation of a small town also means privacy. But, he learns quite quickly that, if you are trying to hide and stay out of sight, a small town is probably the last place you want to be. Everything is so quiet, and everyone knows everyone else, so if something odd or out of the ordinary happens, it sticks out like a sore thumb. It would be much easier to hide in a city, to get lost in all the noise, blend into a crowd. And this, in essence is really one of the core themes of The Nobody.

When we are first introduced to him we know very little about his past and he has very few belongings in his room at the motel. However, we see alcohol and pills. What's the significance of this?

Without giving too much of the plot away, it is established early that Griffen is a man running from his past, and a man who is very much in pain, both physical and psychological. His growing reliance on alcohol and drugs may be his only way to numb and escape this pain. It is also suggested that the pills may in fact be legitimate medication, and the only thing helping him hold onto his tenuous grip on sanity.

Do you identify with any of the characters in The Nobody?

Oh yes, I think that Griffen and Vickie are both two sides of my own personality. Vickie is a teenager who is bored to death of living in a small town, and longs to escape to something more exciting, which was very much me at her age. And Griffen on the other hand is someone who just wants to be left alone with his work, which is very much me on most days now. So that makes him very easy to relate to, that and the fact that I can also turn invisible, and like to wear nothing but bandages around the house.
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