The Iguana

Anna Maria Ortese’s 1965 novel L’iguana (translated into English from the original Italian as The Iguana in 1987) tells the tale of Count Aleardo, a wealthy young Milanese aristocrat who arrives on a tiny island off the coast of Portugal named Ocaña. The island sole inhabitants are three impoverished Portuguese aristocrats and a much put-upon servant girl, Estrellita, who happens to be an iguana. Before long, in spite of their very different stations in life, Count Aleardo finds himself falling for the reptile’s innocent charms…


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Talk at the Visual Arts Centre

Tomorrow evening I’ll be giving a talk on the curious relationship between two art forms: poetry and comics! The event is free of charge and all are welcome. Hope to see some of you there!


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Le Grand Meaulnes

Today marks the 104th anniversary of the death of the French novelist Alain-Fournier. Henri Alban-Fournier (Alain-Fournier was a pen name) was killed in action on September 22nd, 1914, the last day of summer, at the onset of a long dark winter for Western civilization. In another two weeks he would have been twenty-eight years old. One year before he had published his first and only novel, Le Grand Meaulnes, which was to become a classic of French literature.  In 1999 readers of Le Monde voted it the ninth greatest novel of the twentieth century.

“They disembarked in front of a wood of fir trees. The passengers had to wait for a moment on the gangway, pressed closely one against the other, for one of the boatmen to unlock the gate … With what emotion would Meaulnes later recall that minute in which, on the banks of the pond, he had had so close to his own face the face of that now lost girl! It was a profile of such purity, and he had filled his eyes with it until they were about to well up with tears. And he remembered seeing, like a delicate secret she had entrusted to him, a little leftover powder on her cheek… “IMG_0688




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259th anniversary of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham

On the morning of September 13, 1759 -also a Thursday like today- a British army under the command of General James Wolfe defeated a French army under the command of the Marquis Louis-Joseph de Montcalm just outside the walls of Quebec City. Wolfe’s victory at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, as it came to be known, would give the British command of the city after a more than two-month-long siege, and greatly contribute to the final conquest of New France one year later.

The outcome of the battle was largely a result of the surprise effect achieved by the British in attacking the city from the cliff-lined westward side, rather than from the more accessible eastern end, as Montcalm was convinced they must do. This extract from my ongoing graphic novel project depicts the moment in which Wolfe first conceived of the incredibly risky plan of sneaking his troops up the cliffs along a narrow path leading up to the Plains of Abraham from the Saint-Lawrence River. It should be explained that the young British general is acting uncharacteristically spacey due to a temporary laudanum addiction. Click here to read the full 60-page sample section of the graphic novel that I have completed so far:

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Song from the Highest Tower



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Below Isola San Giulio

Like its larger and more well-known neighbours, Lake Maggiore and Lake Como, Lake Orta (il lago d’Orta) in Northern Italy is remarkably deep, measuring almost 150 metres at its deepest point. Given this fact, and the documented existence of dragons on the lake’s central island (isola San Giulio) prior to the region’s conversion to Christianity in the 4th century, it seems reasonable to suppose that the deepest sections of this body of water may still be home to one or more aquatic monsters. Of course, it is possible that in the end these may turn out to be nothing more than surviving freshwater relatives of  the plesiosaurs or other giant marine reptiles that were prevalent during the Mesozoic Era. Until such time as an underwater expedition is able to properly validate these suppositions, however, it is fun to speculate as to what exactly may lie beneath Lake Orta’s incomparably beautiful surface.

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Registration open for my art classes at the Visual Arts Centre!

I’m very excited to be teaching two courses this Fall at the Visual Arts Centre in Westmount:  “Initiation à l’illustration/Introduction to Illustration” on Thursday mornings from 10am-1pm and “La bande dessinée et le roman graphique/Comics and the Graphic Novel” on Thursday evenings from 7pm-10pm. Classes begin on September 27 and go for 12 weeks. They will be taught in both English and French. Here are the two brief course descriptions that can be found on the VAC Fall/Winter program:


Initiation à l’illustration/Introduction to Illustration

Begin your exploration by illustrating a simple phrase or poem, and progress toward a more involved comic or graphic project. Learn basic skills of illustration, from initial sketch and design, to addition of ink, line, wash, and watercolour. A unique voice and style emerge as you see your own stories come to life on paper. No experience in writing or drawing is required. Materials include ink, watercolour, charcoal, etc.

La bande-dessinée et le roman graphique/Comics and the Graphic Novel

The graphic novel applies the traditional visual and narrative devices of comics to book-length works featuring nuanced characters and richly developed plot lines. In addition to learning comics-making skills, students will be introduced to the specific considerations that go into more ambitious, long-term projects. Topics include character development, narrative arcs, dialogues, world building, and the fostering of a personalized visual style. No writing or drawing experience required.

Registration for courses at VAC is now open! For more details and/or to download their full Spring/Summer program, go to

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