Login Register Our Team Submission Guidelines Contact FAQs Terms of Use

The Harsh Truths of ‘Essex County’

Deconstructing Canadian Culture, Part 3: Graphic Novel Nihilism

Down the aimless streets of Toronto in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and through the idyllic back country of Letterkenny, lies the way to understanding the way Canadians see themselves, or at least would like to be seen. Both these works are about keeping up a carefully crafted image: the studied apathy and hipsterdom of the big city, and the carefully cultivated simplicity of the country.

But beneath these polished exteriors (that do their best to not appear polished) lies the haunted world of Jeff Lemire’s Essex County. This is the Canada that we don’t talk about, rendered in stark black and white inks.

The Libertarian Fantasy of ‘Letterkenny’

Deconstructing Canadian Culture, Part 2: “Humour”

In our last post we explored the high-energy, low-stakes, and ultimately aimless retro-gaming netherworld that was Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and found a lot of art but little matter. So for now we’ll depart the big city of Toronto and take a trip into Canada’s equivalent of flyover country into the little town of Letterkenny.

Now, I should state right up front that making fun of rustics and calling it “Canadian humour” is a trope almost as old as Canada itself, even though I do in fact know that there’s nothing uniquely Canadian about it. Letterkenny is in a tradition dating back to the grand old man of Canadian humour, the Canadian Mark Twain, Stephen Leacock (who I’ll be covering in a later installment).

‘Scott Pilgrim Vs The World’ Vs Terrance Denby and Sidequest

Deconstructing Canadian Culture, Part 1: Heroes

For a decade, I and my fellow travelers worked within my country’s political system, trying to effect change. Then, one fateful day- October 19th, 2015- the 42nd Canadian federal election came to an end, and everything we’d worked for was wiped away.

Rather than go through the process of rebuilding a broken party again, I decided to work with Liberty Island senior editor Dave Swindle to create my own culture-influencing fantasy trilogy. But as I delved deeper into Canadian culture, I began to realize that I was starting from a very different cultural reference point. I couldn’t just blindly copy American tropes of soldiers of fortune, accidental prophets, badass bikers and even SJWs who end up entangled in the American political system.

When I read Liberty Island novels featuring these protagonists, I keep noticing differences that take me out of the story. It’s not hard to imagine other Canadians getting hung up on these differences, too.