All about graphic novelist David Alexander Robertson
David Alexander Robertson is an award-winning Canadian graphic novelist and advocate for educating youth on indigenous history and contemporary issues. He writes about sensitive subjects like teen suicide and missing and murdered aboriginal girls and women. His work is taught in classrooms across the country. Last year, David published his first novel, The Evolution of Alice.
ON THE FIRST THING HE REMEMBERS WRITING
"I was in grade 3 and my teacher gave me this assignment to write poetry. I didn't want to do it at first because I thought all poetry is for girls, I'm a boy and it's not something that I am excited to do. Of course, she made me do it. I went to the back of the classroom into the closet and I wrote by the crack of light underneath the door. And I just wrote a ton of poems that day. Ever since then, I've been writing and I just remember going home after that day and telling my mum, 'Mum, I want to be a writer, I want to write a novel.'"
ON CHOOSING THE GRAPHIC NOVEL FORM
"When I was growing up, I was a reluctant reader. The only thing you could really get me to read were comic books and graphic novels. What I didn't realize at the time is doing that actually made me a better reader. When deciding what format to work in I just thought graphic novels were cool. But then I thought that kids would really engage with the material and hopefully pull a lot of information out of it while having fun reading the content."
ON TALKING TO YOUTH ABOUT SUICIDE
"I think it is important to talk with youth because these are the things that our youth are dealing with. In a lot of our communities, suicide has become an epidemic. In a lot of communities that I have worked with, it becomes almost like a trend with youth, where they look at it as a way to escape, and it's not. It's a brutal and horrifying thing for our youth to be going through. With youth I talk to, it's about bringing up these stories. Let's talk about why these things are happening."
David Alexander Robertson's comments have been edited and condensed.