Jeff Lemire wants to expand beyond the 'idealized Canada' in his stories

Graphic novelist Jeff Lemire explains how he expanded his understanding of Canada and is now applying that to work, including his latest book, Roughneck.
Cartoonist and author Jeff Lemire and Tom Power in the q studios in Toronto, Ont. (Melody Lau/CBC)

Graphic novelist Jeff Lemire is best known for his book Essex County, which was published 10 years ago. It's based on the place Lemire grew up in, but looking back on it now, he calls that project "idealized." He says his understanding of rural life and Canadian issues has changed. 

"My awareness of the country, and what Canada is, is much broader now," he says. "I just started opening my mind a bit more to what other cultures, like First Nations people, were going through." 

Last year, Lemire collaborated with Gord Downie on a project called The Secret Path, an album and accompanying graphic novel that tells the story of Chanie Wenjack. Lemire's new book is called Roughneck, out tomorrow, and he recently spoke to Tom Power about all the ways it reflects his current view of Canada and how he has struggled with telling Indigenous stories as a white author. 

— Produced by Ben Edwards


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