Table of contents

Table of Contents for Canadian Graphic: Picturing Life Narratives, edited by Candida Rifkind and Linda Warley

Editors' Introduction | Candida Rifkind and Linda Warley

Part One: Confession and the Relational Self

1. Public Dialogues: Intimacy and Judgment in Canadian Confessional Comics | Kevin Ziegler

2. Untangling the Graphic Power of Tangles: A Story about Alzheimer's, My Mother, and Me | Kathleen Venema

3. “Oh Well”: My New York Diary, Autographics, and the Depiction of Female Sexuality in Comics | J. Andrew Deman

4. “Say ‘Shit’ Chester”: Language, Alienation, and the Aesthetic in Chester Brown's I Never Liked You: A Comic-Strip Narrative | James C. Hall

Part Two: Collective Memory and Visual Biography

5. Personal, Vernacular, Canadian: Seth's Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists as Life Writing | Kathleen Dunley

6. Visual Silence and Graphic Memory: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Two Generals | Linda Warley and Alan Filewood

7. Metabiography and Black Visuality in Ho Che Anderson's King | Candida Rifkind

Part Three: The Child and the Nation

8. Unsettling and Restorying Canadian Indigenous-Settler Histories in David Alexander Robertson's The Life of Helen Betty Osborne and Sugar Falls | Doris Wolf

9. Life in Boxes: History, Pedagogy, and Nation-Building in Canadian Biographics for Young Adults | Eva C. Karpinski

10. “Everybody calls me Roch”: Harvey, The Hockey Sweater, and the Invisible Québécois Child | Cheryl Cowdy


Canadian Graphic: Picturing Life Narratives presents critical essays on contemporary Canadian cartoonists working in graphic life narrative, from confession to memoir to biography. The contributors draw on literary theory, visual studies, and cultural history to show how Canadian cartoonists have become so prominent in the international market for comic books based on real-life experiences. The essays explore the visual styles and storytelling techniques of Canadian cartoonists, as well as their shared concern with the spectacular vulnerability of the self. Canadian Graphic also considers the role of graphic life narratives in reimagining the national past, including Indigenous–settler relations, both world wars, and Quebec’s Quiet Revolution.

Contributors use a range of approaches to analyze the political, aesthetic, and narrative tensions in these works between self and other, memory and history, individual and collective. An original contribution to the study of auto/biography, alternative comics, and Canadian print culture, Canadian Graphic proposes new ways of reading the intersection of comics and auto/ biography both within and across national boundaries.


  • Winner, Gabrielle Roy Prize for Literary Criticism 2016
  • Joint winner, AAUP Book, Jacket, and Journal Show (Design Excellence) 2017


"The wealth of information from the texts analysed and the critics’ innovative approaches to them leave readers with an invaluable source, essential for anyone interested in the fields of comics and life writing, as well as the intersections between the two. The insightful, nuanced readings that draw from different theoretical frameworks and disciplines offer examples as to how to analyse graphic life narratives but also as to the vast potential the medium of comics offers to the genre of auto/biography. -- Olga Michael, University of Central Lancashire, English Studies in Canada

- Olga Michael

"As Canada is increasingly looked up to as a social and political model to follow, this collection provides up-close, original and challenging insights into the inner life, musings,and internal struggles of a modern, multicultural and substantially inclusive society. . .. Canadian cartoonists have actively contributed since the 1940s to shape the transnational comics industry in North America, although their most distinctive legacy arguably lies in the alternative and underground scenes, strongly revitalised since the late 1970s. Candida Rifkind’s and Linda Warley’s staple anthology of graphic life narratives conspicuously shows that Canada – in more ways than one – is still blazing the trail. "

- Nick Martinez

“An essential resource for anyone interested in Canadian comics, life writing, and political issues. Beautifully produced with a useful introduction and fascinating essays about major and emerging cartoonists in Canada and Quebec, Canadian Graphic puts the study of Canadian autobiographical and biographical comics on the academic map and shows us ways to think about one of the most exciting developments in Canadian cultural expression today. ”

- Julie Rak, University of Alberta, author of Boom! Manufacturing Memoir for the Popular Market (WLU Press, 2013)

"The assemblage of essays in Canadian Graphic demonstrates that comics in Canada is a dynamic and vibrant medium through which to explore contemporary ways of representing shifting identities, race, gender, and agency. . ..the deployment of a variety of theoretical perspectives and the demonstration of how these illuminate graphic texts serve as models for ongoing comprehension and scholarly work on the form. No other volume at this point has yet engaged so thoroughly the current state of Canadian graphic production, and further studies will need to refer to this germinal study, which already signals the way forward. "

- Rocio G. Davis