Comic Review: Royal City: The Complete Collection Vol. 1 (Image Comics)

Royal City, from Image, is now collected, and it’s an amazing read. If you’re not familiar with Jeff Lemire’s Royal City title, this collection is a pleasant surprise and is […]

Royal City, from Image, is now collected, and it’s an amazing read.

If you’re not familiar with Jeff Lemire’s Royal City title, this collection is a pleasant surprise and is an ideal way to take it all in.

Lemire’s account of the fictional location of Royal City, it’s failing factory, and dysfunctional families is a masterpiece of writing. The characters are richly described but impoverished of thought and dreams. Their dreams are dashed, of course, by rust-belt urban rot, a lack of drive, a general malaise. The future seems to hold nothing, the past just a memory. Limbo. The people are hurting, and their central connecting tissue appears to be their eerie encounters with the late Tommy. Tommy, who seems to reappear in the dreams and distracted hours of the day, interacting with his family and loved ones. Sometimes old, sometimes a kid or teenager.

But what is Tommy’s agenda?

The writing is superb, the dialogue and scenes memorable and genuine. Lemire’s drawings are haunting and basic, the panels well designed, the drawings well penciled (see the bonus section of excellent rough drawings at the book’s conclusion) but erratically inked. Lemire’s scratchy, shaky line style and his watercolour wash colouring combine to create a perhaps unintentional creepiness. That unease actually suits the story, as the drawings simply carry a visual tone and information, and don’t pretend to be ornate.

This is a long read, with vines of plots, connections snaking this way and that. It takes a while to delve into the true depth of Royal City, but the relentless suspense and overhanging tension of this story make it a compelling one and is highly recommended. This collection brings together the single issues 1-14.

Image, Royal City The Complete Collection, $44.99 for 410 pages,

Alan Spinney

About Alan Spinney

After a career of graphic design, art direction and copywriting, I still have a passion for words and pictures. I love it when a comic book comes together; the story is tight, and the drawings lead me forward. Art with words... the toughest storytelling technique to get right. Was this comic book worth your money? Let's see!!