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Hamilton Sketchbook

by David Collier

A self-described Prairie artist who’s also traveled across Canada, David Collier’s Hamilton Sketchbook ($22.95 paper 1-89597-48-3, 160 pp., Drawn & Quarterly) is the latest in a series of published sketchbooks from the renowned comics publisher. Because sketchbooks are rarely originally intended for publication, they can be windows into an otherwise closed world, an opportunity to sift through the backyard of an artist’s mind. Collier’s previous ground-breaking comics collections Just the Facts: A Decade of Comics Essays and Portraits from Life were acclaimed as meticulously researched non-fiction essays mixed with a healthy dollop of autobiography.

Hamilton Sketchbook is more personal. All raw pen and ink line drawings laid out in a collage format, the book document’s Collier’s move from Saskatchewan to Ontario in 1998 up to the present. In scattered bits and pieces, the progressions of a life during great change emerge. Repeated drawings of Collier’s new wife and child, their new home in Hamilton, and the new in-laws reveal much: Collier loves his wife and child dearly and he wants to fit in with her family, but he’s self-conscious about his tendency to be a loner. The raw spontaneity of a sketchbook does leave the drawings rough and incomplete, but the artist is free to create boldly intimate work, offering readers a glimpse into one person’s vulnerable and unpretentious attempt to transcend his personal limitations.