Royal City: The Complete Collection (out now) is all 14 issues of Jeff Lemire’s series published by Image Comics with lettering by Steve Wands. This series follows a family still dealing with loneliness after a family death and how it sticks to them. With isolation and trying to control something out of it more relevant than ever, a recent complete collection’s release is perfect for the Covid-19 times.
Royal City: The Complete Collection Story
Royal City: The Complete Collection revolves around the Pike family coming together in the titular city years after the death of the youngest son Tommy. Each member is holding themselves back in some way, often through projections of Tommy. Lemire presents that this is not only because of Tommy’s death but a relatable feeling of isolation.
Anybody in the real world deals with the feeling of just falling into things from teenagers to wayward adults. Marriage, jobs per environment, and the feeling of inadequacy. It’s that feeling of familiarity that people dislike but are dependent on that really hits hard. Perhaps the one that feels this the most is the ghost(s) of Tommy Pike. As Lemire brings up near the end, Tommy represents Royal City itself; a memory stuck in “the in-between.” To properly move on, everyone in the Pike family has to let go of whatever’s holding them back. Whether it’s the factory that’s throughout the series or whatever secrets the family keeps from one another, it all has to come out. The story feels relatable with the months of isolation Covid-19 has put us through.
Lemire continues to use his surreal artwork to illustrate how such a fantastic story, like ghosts, can feel down-to-earth. It certainly helps that the watercolor-effects make situations where color lessens that the sense of isolation kicks in. Sure it can be explained as hallucinations or delusions, but the how or why behind it is meaningless. I mean, look at how the Pike father sees Royal City as radios he fixes. It says a lot about his character about feeling stuck and trying to get some control of his life.
The shifting use of 9-panel grids shows the isolating effects where characters feel separated from one another. Other times there’s the feeling of trying to get control of a situation where some of the panels combine. With an already great story, the visuals enhancing the sense of isolation and trying to control something out of it. At the time of this complete collection’s release, who doesn’t wish to have better control of their life?
Wands ensures that the word balloons and captions look like the pencils that Lemire uses. It’s almost as if this collaboration represents how coming together to help with shortcomings ties into a theme of finding someone to rely on. Lemire couldn’t ask for a better collaborator.
Read Up On Royal City: The Complete Collection
Royal City: The Complete Collection is an excellent series about dealing with the loneliness of feeling stuck. With how the Covid-19 lockdowns affect people, this is probably a good time to check it out. Sometimes real life can be just as strange as fiction.