Author Richard Van Camp calls comic books movies you can hold in your hands

Author Richard Van Camp has a frenetic energy about him which may explain why he has five books published or being published this year.
A panel from Richard Van Camp's comic "Kiss Me Deadly" available at the Healthy Aboriginal Network. (Healthy Aboriginal Network)

When author Richard Van Camp was in Grade 2 he was rushed to hospital with a burst appendix. When he woke up, his next door neighbours were in his hospital room with a gift of comic books.

That's when his love affair with comics began.

"When you're holding a comic book, you're holding a movie in your hands. I think we're a visual people and comic books are sexy."

Van Camp has written five comic books and graphic novels, including his latest, A Blanket of Butterflies.

Prolific author

Van Camp has a frenetic energy about him which may explain why he has five books, including a collection of short stories called Night Moves, published or being published this year.

Night Moves reunites many of Van Camp's most loved characters — like Torchy, Sfen, Larry Sole and Juliet Hope from his first novel, The Lesser Blessed, which was turned into a critically acclaimed movie in 2012.

The short stories live between reality and the dreamworld.

"I have a lot of gender-fluid characters. I have Dove, she talks about being kidnapped by the wheetago and they don't know if she is a boy or a girl. She shifts every second between boy, between girl."

And Van Camp once again paints bittersweet images of his beloved Northwest Territories.

"If I didn't have Fort Smith, I wouldn't have anything," he says.

"Fort Smith is where I get my strut, my obnoxious sideburns, my accent, my sweet loving hips. I two-step because I'm from Fort Smith," Van Camp laughs.

He also explores sexuality in this collection, including love between a man and two women.
Richard Van Camp will release five new books in 2015. (CBC)

These stories have left Van Camp feeling a bit nervous about what his fans will think. He's already had a friend write to him saying they read his children's books to their kids and expressed they didn't think the author was capable of writing stories like the ones found in Night Moves.

"I want to be the Stephen King of world indigenous literature. Every time you open a Richard Van Camp book, I want it to be 'What is this? And why do I love it so much?'"

To hear more from Richard Van Camp click the play button above for his conversation on Unreserved.