Graphic Novel Review: Creation by Sylvia Nickerson

Creation by Sylvia Nickerson. Drawn & Quarterly, 2019. 9781770463776. 192pp.

A new mother (an artist) reflects on living and creating in Hamilton, Ontario — “known as the armpit of Ontario…” — a city struggling through a transition from it’s industrial past. Gentrification is underway, there’s a lot of poverty, people are being displaced and excluded. Even though art is reinvigorating the neighborhood, the artist’s studio used to be cheap, substandard housing. Is she part of the problem? Motherhood isn’t quite the overwhelmingly hopeful, joy-filled time it’s normally presented as in the media, but it tilts toward joy. Somehow so does life in the imperfect city.

Nickerson’s black, white and gray art suits the setting — it feels a bit hazy, like the pollution from the dead factories is still hanging about. She illustrates Hamilton’s neighborhoods with more detail than the people in it, though she’s able to invest everyone she draws, even when she uses only a few lines, with a lot of character. (Drawn & Quarterly’s website indicates this is a fictional memoir.)


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