The Pact by David Alexander Robertson and Scott B. Henderson
As the pain and loss of James's residential school experiences follow him into adulthood, his life spirals out of control. Haunted by guilt, he is unable to maintain a relationship with Lauren and their son Edwin. Edwin, mired in his own pain, tries to navigate past the desolation of his fatherless childhood. As James tries to heal himself he begins to realize that, somehow, he may save his son's life - as well as his own. When father and son finally meet, can they heal their shattered relationship, and themselves, or will it be too late?
This is the premise of Cree writer David Alexander Robertson's latest graphic novel, launched Monday at McNally Robinson. David spoke to SCENE about the challenges of writing a graphic novel and why he chose this medium.
What was your favourite comic book growing up?
I would have to say Spider-Man in the McFarlane era and Elf Quest. My favourite specific book would be The Killing Joke, which is a Bat-Man graphic novel.
What is 7 Generations about?
At its heart, 7 Generations is about a young First Nations man named Edwin and his struggle to find hope and meaning. The series looks at how the history of his ancestors, going back seven generations, has affected him today. It explores how history, our yesterday, can dictate our today and our tomorrow, and how understanding our history but not allowing it to define us can help us on a journey of healing. Edwin's struggle is to understand and accept history's role in his life but to take control of his life at the same time.
Why did you chose graphic novels as a medium to tell these stories?
The graphic novel is an incredible educational tool. It allows me to reach a broad range of people; sophisticated readers, readers that are typically hard to reach, those who are reading at a lower skill level, and both males and females. It is engaging and effective. In the end, graphic novels/comic books are cool. Who wouldn't want Super Man, for example, to teach them math? :o)
What was the biggest challenge in writing this graphic novel?
The story is complex, so certainly ensuring that all the moving parts functioned together, that all the story lines made sense and supported each other...making sure that all the times and dates all were synchronized. The biggest challenge was communicating history and real issues within a fictional story. To tell the story first, and teach the history in a seamless way.
What do you hope your readers will come away with after reading the series?
I hope that readers of 7 Generations come away with a foundational knowledge of First Nations history and how that history has affected us today, whether the reader is Aboriginal or Non-Aboriginal, and that they are excited about the series, that they recommend it to others so that the message can spread.
What is your next project?
My next project is a new graphic novel series with my publisher, Portage & Main Press. I can't say much about it now, but I will say that it's a departure for me in a way. I'm moving into a bit of the supernatural, exploring life in remote/rural communities through a story that involves bits of our myths and legends. It's going to be very cool.
David Alexander Robertson