Royal City #14
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Jeff Lemire
You are now leaving Royal City.
Besides issue #14 being the ending to the series, this issue also wraps up the third storyline, which began in issue #11. Despite its short length, it’s packed with authenticity. Through his words and his art, Lemire nails emotion in this series. When I first started reading it, I could have sworn he’d experienced it himself, but no, he’s just that good.
The cover features the entirety of the Pike family minus Tommy, posing together in their dysfunctional glory. Tommy is symbolically left out to signify that they’ve finally been able to gain closure and move on with their lives.
In a small town, like where I grew up, all anyone wants to do is to leave. Like my small town and many others, Royal City itself rarely changes; it’s the characters who do. The mood in the first issue of Royal City was dismal, but as we work through the Pike family’s many problems in these last few issues, all I feel is hope and positivity. Lemire mentions in one of his post-issue anecdotes that it was risky to take on a comic series that didn’t have a particular genre. While this is true, stories like Royal City resonate with a lot of people in a way many comic series can’t. When you tell the truth about something, you always have risks, which we learn through Richie’s character. But truth can also mean redemption.
Like the factory in Royal City, the series may be over, but life has just begun. We can see through the characters’ peaceful expressions that living life in the open is much better than hiding the truth.
Lemire’s work here is proof that substance is more valuable than flash. I’ve always been a fan of Lemire’s watercolor art style, but I also love how simple and complex he can illustrate a story at the same time. He wraps up several character arcs in this issue, yet it doesn’t feel rushed at all. On top of that, he doesn’t use much dialogue to do it.
I’ve read very few comic series that are as personal as this one. Besides the anecdotes, I loved Lemire’s scattered music references and playlists at the end of each issue, which are available on Spotify.
Experiencing the end of Royal City is bittersweet. Sure, it’s only been running since 2017, but within these “few” pages, Lemire has created something truly brilliant, once again displaying is well-honed storytelling abilities through both his art and character development.