Sneak Peek at Battle of The Plains of Abraham Graphic Novel (Sample Section)

scan0004 - CopyI am currently at work on a graphic novel recounting the siege of Quebec and the Battle of The Plains of Abraham in 1759. In revisiting this pivotal moment in Canadian history, my intention is not simply to present a didactic history lesson in visual form, but rather to create an emotionally engaging, character-driven narrative centered on the personal motivations and inner conflicts of the French, English and Indigenous participants. After about a year and a half spent doing background research and writing the script, I have finally begun putting pencil to paper. Below are the pencil versions of the first seven pages of the first sample section I am working on. In an effort to save time and achieve a greater sense of visual spontaneity, these pages were worked out directly on the final paper without any preliminary drawings. Later I will go back and ink and watercolour them.

In this section, the French commander at the siege of Quebec, General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, finally returns to his beloved chateau of Candiac, in Provence. To fully understand this scene, it is necessary to know that just before the beginning of the siege, Montcalm received the tragic news that one of his four daughters had died. Although Montcalm was not able to find out which one, he assumed it was his youngest, Mirète, who had long been sickly.

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Graphic Poetry: My article on Dino Buzzati’s “Poema a fumetti” in Image [&] Narrative

 

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My article on Dino Buzzati’s proto graphic novel  Poema a fumetti (1969) appears today in the new special issue of Image [&] Narrative, a peer-reviewed e-journal on visual narratology and word and image studies. The article is divided into two parts. The first section employs a close analysis of the content and structure of Poema a fumetti to argue that Buzzati saw the mechanics of comics as a means of creating a new form of poetry, in a manner that parallels a new interest in comics among certain avant-garde poets during the same period. The second section examines the connection between Poema a fumetti and the fumetti neri, a popular 1960s genre of Italian crime and horror comics, and makes the case that the marginalized cultural position of the latter and their interlinked themes of eroticism and mortality were key factors in Buzzati’s attraction to the comics form.          You can read the article here (if you’re interested):

http://www.imageandnarrative.be/index.php/imagenarrative/article/view/1294/1048

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“Graphic Note Taking” at the Ottawa Art Gallery

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Tomorrow evening, July 14, I will be taking part at an event at the Ottawa Art Gallery in downtown Ottawa. How Deep Is Your Rhizome? is a multimedia exploration of such wide-ranging but curiously interconnected issues as old-growth forests, gift economies, and the Internet, inspired by Gail Bourgeois’s Correspondence: from roots to rhizomes to mycelial networks, an exhibition currently on display at the gallery. My role will be to attempt an experiment in “graphic note taking,” in which I will record the goings-on of the evening in the form of live sketches of the event and its participants. The event is free and will take place between 7 and 9pm. I am very honoured to be taking part and excited to see how this little experiment turns out! http://www.ottawaartgallery.ca/content/how-deep-your-rhizome

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“Partners in Rhyme”: Oscar Wilde’s “Impression du Matin” in Atelier Magazine

impressiondumatin2correctedThe latest issue of Atelier, Italy’s foremost contemporary poetry magazine, is now out, and I’m honoured to be featured in it with a comics adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s short poem “Impression du Matin” (1881). The comic is accompanied by an Italian translation by my brilliant “Partner in Rhyme” Francesca Benocci, a  PhD student in Translation Studies at Victoria University of Wellington (NZ). Also included is a short essay by Francesca in which she explains the thought process behind her translation, which is conceived in such a way as to fit perfectly with my comics interpretation, both in the images I have selected an in the way in which I have placed the text in relation to them. I’m happy to say that more such collaborations between me and Francesca are in the works, and should appear in subsequent issues of Atelier. For more information about Atelier and how to obtain copies of this latest issue and their back catalogue, click here: http://www.atelierpoesia.it/portal/it/

 

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Comics in the Museum

Comics scholars Chris Reyns-Chikuma and Sean Caulfied of the University of Alberta are preparing a kind of meta- exhibition that will examine different approaches to exhibiting comics. They are calling on any interested students, scholars and artists to  send in works that in some way challenge traditional approaches to displaying comics in galleries and museums. Click on the link for more details: CreativeWorks-Layout_v2

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Sous mon lit de métal by Cato Fortin

Here is my adaptation of an extract from a poem by the Montreal poet Cato Fortin. The adaptation was created as an initiative of the Université de Montréal undergraduate literary journal Le Pied http://lepied.littfra.com/ for a series of “Poster Poems” featuring collaborations between young poetsand visual artists. You can view all of the posters here: http://lepied.littfra.com/publications/poemes-affiches/

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Interview for The Oakland Arts Review

The Oakland Arts Review is a new international undergraduate literary journal published out of Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Their inaugural issue, which came out this March, featured a number of my poetry comics, and also included an interview that I gave to Paige Rowland, an undergraduate at Oakland U and one of the two Poetry Editors for OAR. I am reprinting the interview here. Many thanks to OAR Faculty Adviser Dr. Alison Powell for getting in touch with me and making this happen.

Oakland-University-s_53_1383593972INTERVIEW WITH PAIGE ROWLAND

 1. What’s your creative process?

In terms of my comics adaptations of poems, it begins with some image or images starting to take shape in my mind’s eye as I read a poem (Some people have complained that my adaptations are “overly literal,” but this is the direct –and intended- result of this approach). Afterwards I’ll flesh these images out further in my mind in a more deliberate, conscious way, and start to work them out on paper. At the same time I’ll begin to think about how to connect everything together in terms of the visual narrative of the comic, and how it complements the narrative of the poem, if there is one. Normally I’ll also do a good deal of visual research, in books and online. For instance, for Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee,” a poem written in the 1840s, I had to look into the children’s and adult fashion of the 1840s, and also the architecture and atmospheres of the mid-nineteenth-century American Atlantic seaboard, which was my chosen setting.

 

  1. What do you think the medium of comics and graphic novels can offer in storytelling that other mediums of storytelling cannot offer?

 

So many things! To answer this question adequately would take a whole book, and indeed there are a number of books dedicated exclusively to this subject. To take one example, there’s nothing like comics to make a character come alive in the mind of the reader. Among the many brilliant observations in Scott McCloud’s comic book about comics Understanding Comics is the insight that the simplification and stylization of faces and facial expressions in comics allows the reader to better identify with them, or at any rate to “fill up” the character in their head. This makes for a particularly engaged form of reader interaction with the story at hand.

There’s also the very satisfying impression that comics can produce of allowing one to move about within a picture. I recently read some lines by H. P. Lovecraft that really struck a chord with me: writing about the old town of Quebec City, Lovecraft calls it “a realisation of that always-beckoning and bitterly-tantalising conception of imaginative fancy –a fairy-tale picture into which one can actually walk.” I think comics could be seen as another way of realising that fantasy.

 

  1. I noticed in some of the comics you have made, like “Prufrock” and “Annabel” and “Witch-Wife,” that you choose poems that have a similar theme: love and heartbreak. What draws you to adapt these kinds of poems?

 

Well, I’m attracted to adapting great poems, and aren’t most great poems about love and heartbreak? I almost feel as though poetry has its origins as a direct outgrowth of humankind’s need to express the sorrow of love –love lost, love unrequited, love the great missed opportunity. Music, on the other hand, seems to my mind like the direct natural outgrowth of humankind’s desire to express the joy of love, or if not quite the joy, the heady passion and desire. That’s why in pop songs an uplifting melody is often combined with sad lyrics. Continue reading

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