Understanding Underwater Welder

Grab your wet-suit as we take a deep dive into this month’s Do You Even Comic with The Underwater Welder.

Creator(s)

Created by Jeff Lemire (Artist/Writer) and released by Top Shelf Productions in August, 2012.

The Book

Described as an un-aired episode of the “Twilight Zone”, this graphic novel blends blue collar father with a splash of sci-fi.

Jack Joseph has a job welding pipes underwater for an oil rig off the coast of Nova Scotia, the small town he grew up in. Things should be great; he has a wife, a baby on the way, and a  good job, but things aren’t alright. He is constantly distracted and haunted by the disappearance of his father, who went diving on Halloween night 20 years ago but never returned. Now with a son on the way, and Halloween drawing near, things begin to pull Jack deeper down as he gets lost in thought. Reality fades away when Jack passes out while working on an underwater rig. Jack is left to reflect on the loss of his father and the reality of becoming a father.

Why this Book?

It’s important to note that Jeff Lemire created this book just after having a child of his own. It’s clear the trials and tribulations of fatherhood were on his mind during the creation of The Underwater Welder. The parallels to Jeff’s actual life only add to the work of a creator who is known for being personal. I know all artists and creators put themselves into their work to some extent, but in Lemire’s writing and art you can feel it and connect to it on a level that makes it feel familiar, even upon the first viewing.

The minimalist art of Lemire becomes visual poetry as you turn each page in this tale. The line work accompanied by the black and white creates a perfect atmosphere for a book about keeping the ghosts of the past and worries of the future at bay. This book compliments his work on DC’s Animal Man but also acts as a testing ground for paneling which would be put into practice in Trillium (another original story by Lemire released in 2015).

Typically these types of stories are something I would experience through TV or movies, but to be able to hold this book in my hands and be brought to tears is a unique and personal experience that cannot truly be explained. Lemire has always been a creator I have followed, but this book really stood out to me. I admit that I am the type that falls for parent/child moments. My heart strings still get tugged when a parent wants nothing but the best for their child while continuously fearing the worst. To this day my Mom still calls and asks if I put my jacket on in the cold weather (I am a grown man mom, but yes I did because it’s cold out and I live in a new state).

As we get older it’s easier to realize our parents didn’t know everything, but regardless, they became parents and did their best. So when I read or watch these stories I feel connected, and I am left wondering how I will be as a parent. Will I still be figuring it out or will I be haunted by the fears of my past as a dumb kid, not knowing anything.

Book:

The Underwater Welder