Books·My Life in Comics

Northwest Territories graphic novelist Alison McCreesh talks comics at The Yellowknife Book Cellar

The creator of the illustrated memoir Norths discusses some of her favourite books.
Alison McCreesh, the comic creator behind Ramshackle and Norths, takes us to The Yellowknife Book Cellar to show us some of the books that have shaped her life. 4:16

Alison McCreesh is a writer and illustrator based in Yellowknife. The comic book creator will be in Toronto during the 2018 Toronto Comic Arts Festival, which is taking place May 12-13, 2018. 

Her latest book, Norths, is a unique illustrated memoir which takes readers on an adventure with her partner and toddler son as they experience life in the "norths" of six different countries — including Finland, Russia, Greenland and Canada — over six months. 

CBC Books caught up with McCreesh at her favourite book store, The Yellowknife Book Cellar, to learn about the comic books she enjoyed reading over the years. Watch the tour in the video above and check out her picks below.

Lucky by Gabrielle Bell

Gabrielle Bell is an American cartoonist. Her book Lucky was published in 2001. (Submitted by Drawn & Quarterly)

"I love Gabrielle Bell. I've been reading her books for years now and she's continued to evolve. Lucky is one of her early books. It's one that was meaningful and spoke to me at the time. I loved the humour and how witty she was. Not much happens, it's about the day-to-day life of being in your mid-20s and trying to make things work. The humour, anxieties and honesty — it's all relatable and made me want to aspire to be the same way in my own writing."

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? is New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast's first memoir. (Bill Hayes/Raincoast)

"This is about Roz Chast's aging parents and her relationship with them. It's a great memoir. It combines her skill for being funny, along with her style of drawing and storytelling. It's so relatable and so tricky to deal with: it's about her parents getting old and their relationship with their only daughter and the world around them. She's skilled at covering difficult material while making you laugh at the same time. That's very inspiring for me."

Burma Chronicles by Guy Delisle

Canadian cartoonist Guy Delisle is renown for his comic book travelogues, including Burma Chronicles. (Cecile Gabriel/Drawn & Quarterly)

"I love all Guy Delisle's books about travel. Burma Chronicles is about Delisle and his wife going to a place with a complex political situation. He's there with his wife for her work and they have a young child he's caring for. It's about his day-to-day life caring for the child set against the history and present day reality of Burma."

Palestine by Joe Sacco

Joe Sacco is acclaimed for his documentary comic books, including Palestine, which take place in war zones around the world. Above, Sacco is visiting the Canadian WWI Memorial of Beaumont-Hamel, France in 2014. (Philippe Huguen/Getty Images)

"Cartoonist and journalist Joe Sacco comes at this book from a journalistic perspective. He was actually there on the ground in Palestine and he's reporting stories while giving context. By using the comic book form, Sacco is able to add something more compared to the standard journalism article — he puts a very human face to a complex situation."

L'Île-aux-Ours by Pierre Bouchard

L'Île-aux-Ours was Pierre Bouchard's first graphic novel. (editionsmecaniquegenerale.com)

"It's a book that I haven't read in years. I was living in Quebec at the time and I was trying to discover what was happening in the indie Québécois comics scene. I feel like it was my gateway book. It re-introduced me to comics. It's a book where there are no panels — it's not a comic in that traditional sense. It's combining sketches and writing. That form spoke to me a lot at a time when I didn't think of myself as someone who was into comics. There's something very casual about the writing and illustration style. The storytelling is not very personal and anecdotal."

La plus jolie fin du monde by Zviane

Zviane is a musician and comic creator from Montreal. (zviane.com/portfolio)

"This is a journal-diary and anecdotal blog in a comic-book style. There are panels and text, but it was nothing like what I had expected comic books to be like at the time. It's not like manga or superhero books. It inspired me a lot. It led me to get into that discipline of writing and drawing every day and trying to find humour in the small everyday things, an exercise that has served me well many times throughout the years."

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Alison Bechdel published Fun Home in 2006 to critical acclaim. It has since become a Tony Award-winning musical. (Elena Seibert/Mariner Books)

"This was an important book for me and one that I read countless times. It was the first graphic novel that I recall reading. It felt really literary for me. It is a memoir and a work that can be enjoyed at so many levels. I like the style of drawing and writing. It was a captivating story to me at the time as well."

Alison McCreesh's comments have been edited and condensed.

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