Inspired by Scott McCloud's 24-Hour Comic Challenge from his book "Understanding Comics", Jeff Lemire set out to draw a 24-page comic in a day but gave up after 12 hours. The result was the first 12 pages of "Lost Dogs" which nonetheless provided Lemire with inspiration to continue drawing/writing what would become his first book.
This is the story of an 8-feet tall farmer who takes his family into the city to enjoy a day of entertainment only to wander into the wrong neighbourhood at the wrong time of day, and lose his family in one brutal instance and nearly die himself. Once recovered he discovers his wife is still alive but the only man who knows where she is won't tell him unless he helps him out in a terrible favour...
This bleak drama has the feel of an old world fable crossed with the art of Goya. Lemire's drawing style is instantly recognisable even if he uses thick, blotchy black inks rather than the wispy lines of later books. The book looks both amateurish, like a storyboard rather than a finished book, and highly stylised like the work of Victorian impressionists. Some of the pages which show crowd scenes from an indeterminate but much older time than now are really beautiful and the choice of limiting the colours to black, white and red really makes the red pop out of the page.
I've been a big fan of Jeff Lemire's work ever since reading "Tales from the Farm" 5 years ago and his work in comics since then has only gotten better leading to more and more interesting books like "The Nobody" and "The Underwater Welder" as well as writing "Animal Man" and "Frankenstein" for DC's New 52 and his own superb creator owned Vertigo series "Sweet Tooth". It's fascinating to read his first book and easy to see how he made the leap from this book to the monumental "Essex County" books shortly after. "Lost Dogs" is an enchanting and haunting comic book that Jeff Lemire's growing readership will enjoy but will also appeal to all indie comics fans.