Sweet Tooth creator Jeff Lemire has been teasing the return of his Image Comics series from five years ago, Royal City on his Instagram account. A comic that followed Patrick Pike, a fading literary star who reluctantly returns to the once-thriving factory town where he grew up, there Patrick is quickly drawn back into the dramas of his two adult siblings, his overbearing mother, and his browbeaten father, all of whom are still haunted by different versions of his youngest brother, Tommy, who drowned decades ago. It charts the lives, loves, and losses of a troubled family and a vanishing town across three decades. And on his Substack channel Tales From The Farm, he has posted that a) it is returning and b) subscribers will be able to see
much of it teasers and process work on Substack, though the comic will appear first with Image Comics. Jeff Lemire writes;
The story never felt done to me and it has been consistently calling me back since I finished the series. As I wrote about in an earlier post, I really burned out on Royal City when I was writing, drawing and fully painting the book on a monthly schedule back in 2017-2018. In hindsight it was just too much. Of course, I was also writing about 50 Marvel and Image books at the same time too, so it's not wonder the schedule wasn't sustainable. But when the burn out faded I just felt a sense of regret, like I never finished the book properly and most importantly, like there was more story left to tell. Now, several years later, I am ready to go back. I originally intended Royal City to be a place I could return to, and use the characters to explore new stories at different points in my life. I think that is exactly what it can still be. I finished "Volume 1" and now I'm going back with a bunch of new ideas and a new perspective.
Normally, I wouldn't announce a comic I am working on so early in the process. I'd wait until the book was done, or at least enough of it was finished that it was close to publishing it. But this Substack has changed things in that I want to be open and share what I am working on as I go and if I am writing this new Royal City for the next year or two and can't talk about it or share artwork with you that would go against the purpose of this whole platform for me.
Of course, me sharing this with you so early also means that if you are a Royal City reader you are going to have to be really really patient. I just started working on this new series last week and it will be a long time before it is ready to be published. There are a lot of factors that will go into how long it takes me to draw enough issues to start publishing it, the ever-changing pre-production and production schedule of the Essex County TV show being the biggest factor. As of today I have the whole series loosely outlined and I have started working on new character designs in my sketchbook. I likely won't have enough new Royal City done to start publishing until early 2023. Of course it is always about finding a balance of sharing too much too soon and also letting you into the process a bit. But I'll do my best to regularly update you on the book and share art as I go.
While Jeff Lemire's Fishflies comic on Substack will also continue without a change to its schedule. It's not the only thing he is teasing either… more on that later.