British Columbia

Post-apocalyptic Vancouver on display in local artist's graphic novel

Local writer and artist depicts a decimated Vancouver 33 years from now. Michael Kluckner uses his graphic novel 2050 to explore the idea of how an ecological catastrophe could affect the Lower Mainland.

Story explores a dystopian Vancouver after an environmental pandemic

Michael Kluckner's 2050 explores a broken Vancouver that's population has been reduced by two thirds following an ecological disaster. An all-knowing "Sensei" watches over the remaining people. (Michael Kluckner)

How would Vancouver fare after a massive global pandemic? What if catastrophic climate change raised sea levels and wiped out much of the city's landmarks?

Graphic novelist Michael Kluckner explores the idea in his latest book 2050. He depicts a crumbled seawall, a partly submerged Alex Fraser Bridge and a walled-off downtown returned to its natural island state.

The view from Cordova Street — 33 years in the future. The Top of Vancouver restaurant can still be seen, though looking worse for wear. (Michael Kluckner)

"Visually and graphically it became a great opportunity to play with the idea of what the Lower Mainland may look like," said Kluckner speaking with host Sheryl MacKay on North by Northwest.

The celebrated author has written several novels about Vancouver and British Columbia, focusing on the region's natural beauty and history.  

Kluckner said he chose Vancouver as the setting for his latest work because of his attachment to the area — but also because geographically the region would be hugely affected by his imagined ecological disaster.

Downtown has been walled off by the dictatorship and Stanley park is now a nearby forested island. (Michael Kluckner)

"The heroine of it, the brainwashed detective, she lives in the ruins of a high rise building and comes and goes from it in a rowboat."

2050 tells the story of a dystopian future where a dictatorship rules over the remaining population, which has been depleted by more than 70 per cent.

A look at the Downtown Eastside in Kluckner's imagined future. Che Guevara and Mao Zedong propaganda posters inspired some of the graphic novel's imagery. (Michael Kluckner)

Inspired by Cuba

Kluckner said he drew inspirations from a 2012 trip to Cuba where he observed the people living with a low-carbon footprint, often housed comfortably in dilapidated buildings.

He began imagining what a benevolent dictatorship, whose goal was to heal the planet following a climate based disaster, might look like.

2050 features a submerged Alex Fraser Bridge. (Michael Kluckner)

Kluckner said when writing a graphic novel, instead of a regular novel, what you lose in written language you make up for in visuals.

The author's approach, he said, should not be to have long narrative panels that explain things to the reader, but instead to try and push the story through images and conversations.

"What you're really doing is thinking how I think a filmmaker would work. You're staging a scene."

The Vancouver artist says producing a graphic novel is a great way for young people, who may find a traditional novel daunting, to get into creative writing.

Kluckner says he plans to focus his next work on Julia Henshaw, a prominent Vancouver writer and explorer at the turn of the 20th century. 

With files from North by Northwest