Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands – Kate Beaton

Ms. Beaton left her Cape Breton home in 2005, to work in the Alberta Oil Sands to pay off her University student loans. The stark black & white drawings in this graphic novel illustrate perfectly her loneliness and isolation, often dealing with overt misogyny in a hyper-masculine environment. And the environmental degradation and rampant capitalism amplify the human cost to the workers. Overall, a compelling coming-of-age narrative.

March, Volumes 1-3 – John Lewis, Andre Aydin & Nate Powell

March, Volumes 1-3 - John Lewis, Andre Aydin & NatePowellThese three graphic novels tell the story of Congressman John Lewis, an iconic hero of the American civil rights movement. The narrative is provided by Aydin and the evocative black and white drawings are by Powell. Volume 1 covers Lewis’ youth in rural Alabama, leading to the struggle to de-segregate lunch counters in Nashville. Volumes 2-3 cover the intense period from 1963 (the Birmingham church bombing) to the Selma March and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The controversial politics of the civil rights movement is detailed, especially the rivalries and debates over the extent of non-violence to be utilized by the protestors, and the participation of white protestors. The stark black/white drawings are very striking when illustrating the horrible abuse and violence subjected by the authorities towards the civil rights movement. This is powerful storytelling, and timely.