Underwater Welder

Underwater Welder
Written by Jeff Lemire
Illustrated by Jeff Lemire
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Format: Softcover, 6 x 10, 224 pages, $19.99
ISBN: 9781603090742


Before I read Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire I heard a rumor that it was being made into a movie.  My ears perked and my nose twitched simultaneously.  I love the sound and smell of a good story coming my way . . . .  

A movie, really?

Completely worth the anticipation!  Feeling more at home underwater than on land, the main character Jack struggles to deal with his life above water, where he and his partner are awaiting their first-born child.  Taking off to do some underwater welding right before the baby is born feels intuitively wrong to Jack’s partner, “Suse.”  Despite her protests, however, Jack feels called, almost lulled into the water.  The ocean water even becomes its own character in and of itself; the water may be Jack’s sanctuary or his coffin.  In fact, he seems to even gravitate toward the water every single second he is out of it.  On this untimely and deep dive right before the baby, Jack sees something mysterious and alluring.  

It seems like everyone wants Jack to slow down, take it easy, prepare for the baby, and let his body heal after his near fatal and mysterious dive.  His friends, his partner, and his doctors are pretty convinced that Jack’s oxygen tank malfunctioned and he simply hallucinated or some other medical reason. Jack disagrees.  He’s convinced that he saw something special, and he’s determined to see it again.  The question becomes not only whether or not he will see it again, but also whether or not Jack can see and believe in anything going on in his life right now. 

Language Arts Elements of Story

Plot: Jack Joseph is about to have his first child and he’s not so sure he understands himself, let alone how to take care of a baby and a partner.  

Major Characters: Jack Joseph, Suse, Marlene, Trapper, Ocean Water, Unborn Baby, Doctor, Jack’s Father, Jack’s Mother/Dorrie, Young Jack, Ron

Major Settings: Lighthouse, Jack’s Truck, Underwater, Jack’s House, Sea Breeze Diner, DiveBoat, Underwater Welding Project(s), Ocean, Rusty Anchor, Tigg’s Bay, Jack’s mother’s house

Themes: Birth and Death, Escape, Loneliness and Alone Time, Danger and Escape, Work and Home Life, Health and Wellness, Addiction

Lesson Plan Recommendations Using the Common Core Standards for Middle and High School Readers

Craft and Structure:


Analyze a case in which grasping a point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement). * **

* The number(s) referenced above corresponds to the number used by the Common Core Standards.

** A Common Core Standard for High School is used because Underwater Welder is appropriate for both high school and middle school (both of which are covered in the standard above). 

Lesson Idea for Middle School and/or High School Readers

Directions: Teaching students about plot conflict(s)/tension(s) is sometimes one of the most challenging aspects of teaching the elements of story in Language Arts. Because the conflict(s) and/or tension(s) run so high in this story, Underwater Welder lends itself well to addressing what can sometimes be challenging to identify and to teach to students. The conflict(s) and/or tension(s) are both intuitively and emotionally implied, and verbally and visually shown. 

First, ask students to select three panels that best identify and represent the intuitively and emotionally implied beginning, middle, and ending conflict(s) and/or tension(s) panels in the story.

Second, offer students an opportunity to select another three panels that best identify and represent the verbally and visually shown beginning, middle, and ending conflict(s) and/or tension(s) in Underwater Welder.  

Intuitively and Emotionally Implied Conflict(s) and/or Tension(s): Beginning, Middle, End 






























Verbally and Visually Shown Conflict(s) and/or Tension(s): Beginning, Middle, End



































Dr. Katie Monnin is an Associate Professor of Literacy at the University of North Florida. Besides the joy that comes with reading comic books and graphic novels, Dr. Monnin enjoys a Peter Pan-ish life of researching and writing her own books about teaching comics, graphic novels, and cartoons: Teaching Graphic Novels (2010), Teaching Early Reader Comics and Graphic Novels (2011), Using Content-Area Graphic Texts for Learning (2012), Teaching Reading Comprehension with Graphic Texts (2013), and Get Animated! Teaching 21st Century Early Reader and Young Adult Cartoons in Language Arts (2014); Teaching New Literacies in Elementary Language Arts (2015). When she is not writing (or sitting around wondering how she ended up making an awesome career out of studying comics and graphic novels), Dr. Monnin spends her time with her three wiener dogs, Samantha, Max, and Alex Morgan Monnin.