British Columbia

First graphic novelist named writer-in-residence at Vancouver Public Library

The newest writer-in-residence at the Vancouver Public Library brings a unique perspective to the role as the first graphic novelist in the position.

Miriam Libicki created autobiographical comic series recounting her time in the Israeli army

Miriam Libicki, an autobiographical comic artist, is the newest writer-in-residence at the Vancouver Public Library (Miriam Libicki/ Real Gone Girl Studios)

The newest writer-in-residence at the Vancouver Public Library is the first graphic novelist and comic artist to be hired for the position. 

Tuesday was Miriam Libicki's first day on the job. She hopes to expose more people to cartooning during her three-and-a-half month stint as writer-in-residence, she told On The Coast guest host Gloria Macarenko.

"Comics are a very accessible form of literature," she said. "We are only just realizing in North America that comics are a medium that can tell any sort of story through words and pictures, and not just superhero stories."

Miriam Libicki worked as a secretary in a tank base camp in Israel and uses illustrations to tell her stories. (Miriam Libicki/Real Gone Girl Studios)

Autobiographical comics

In her own work, Libicki uses illustrations along with the written word to explore issues of community, belonging and personal history. She is the author of jobnik!, an autobiographical comic series recounting her time in the Israeli army.

"It seemed like the only way I could tell those personal stories of what the Israeli army had been like was if I could show people as well as tell them," she said.

Her first project was a five-part comic based on a single diary entry. She suggests starting with small manageable projects — by just picking up the pen — is the best way to begin.

"It's important for people to start small and do something that they can finish. Don't wait until you have the drawing skills of your idols," she said. "Your voice is in the text and in the drawings, but it's not necessarily how well you can render a hand at different angles."

Cover illustration of issue 8 of "jobnick!" recounting stories of Miriam Libicki's time in the Israeli army. (Miriam Libicki/Real Gone Girl Studios)

Comic classes

Libicki will hold the position of writer-in-residence at the library until mid-December and split her time between creating comics and running mentorship workshops.

She will be teaching a variety of classes such as memoir writing classes for adults, comic drawing for teens and advice on breaking into the industry.

Her first interactive event is Sept. 14, at 7 p.m. at the central branch downtown.

With files from On The Coast