Jeff Lemire’s ‘Essex County’ in Motion Picture Development as ‘Super Zero’
One of the most critically acclaimed graphic novels of recent memory, Essex County is on the path to a feature film adaptation with director John Dykstra, best known for his Oscar-winning visual effects for films like Star Wars and Spider-Man 2. Created by Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth, Superboy), the Tales From The Farm chapter of the Essex County trilogy is being developed under the name of Super Zero.
One of three chapters of the Essex County, Tales From The Farm focuses on Lester, a young boy who’s recently lost both of his parents. In the rural countryside of Ontario, Lester finds a kindred spirit in the form of a gruff, old washed up hockey player called Jimmy. Together, Lester and Jimmy cope with the pain and the mundane by creating elaborate fantasies of alien invasion and superheroes. Subsequent chapters of Essex County expand on some of the characters introduced in Tales From The Farm, creating a saga that’s as enthralling as it is sentimental.
As part of Jeff Lemire’s Essex County trilogy, Tales From The Farm has won numerous awards including the American Library Association’s Alex Award, the Shuster Award for Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Cartoonist, and nominations for Harvey and EIsner Awards. Additionally, the Top Shelf Productions release is among this blogger’s all-time favorite comic books, and is among the very few that has virtually universal appeal to readers of all tastes and ages.
Visual effects luminary John Dykstra intends to make Tales From The Farm — or Super Zero, as the film may be called — his directorial debut. Speaking with Variety, Dysktra indicated that Essex County’s leisurely paced character studies appealed to him precisely because it’s not the sort of material he usually works with.
“I’ve been so involved in films that are primarily based on the action sequences and over-the-top visuals that this to me was incredibly attractive just based on the depth of the characters and the evocative nature of the story.”
Tales From The Farm does offer a clever director some obvious opportunities to indulge in some stunning visual effects. The comic depicts one of Lester’s flight fantasies and also includes an imaged fight with enemies from outer space. Additionally, one of the most memorable moments of the book involves our reading a comic book within the comic book, from Lester’s point of view. It seems unlikely that a camera would simply film the turning of comic book pages, but such a scene could be realized on film in a number of visually spectacular ways.
Super Zero is adapted from Jeff Lemire’s comics by writer John Carr and is being produced by Steven Gilder and Alec Chorches and Top Shelf Productions.