My city had a massive snowfall on Boxing Day this year – the day after Christmas, for you non-Canadians. Nothing too unusual for a Canadian winter, but even so the city always seems to grind to a halt when it happens. After having a neighbour help him get his car unstuck and then helping two other neighbours with the same task, my dad remarked that he thought this was one of the reasons that Canadians are a little bit different than Americans: this kind of environment necessitates cooperation over individualism.
It got me thinking about how our environment and cultural background affect the art that we create, even when we have access to influences from all over the world thanks to the internet. Canadian culture is a little bit hard to pin down, as we often just define ourselves in contrast to our neighbours South of the border. But there are a couple of concepts that I was raised on that have definitely worked their way into what I create.
The first is the ideal of a “mosaic” rather than a “melting pot.” The idea here, for those of you who weren't entrenched in this stuff growing up, is that people coming to Canada don't simply assimilate to a uniform Canadian national identity, but rather contribute to our collective culture by bringing their own cultural background with them. If you check out the first page of my comic, the influence there is pretty explicit and was intended as a sort of tongue-in-cheek reference. I wanted to create a place where diverse cultures and types of people were celebrated as being an asset, and something that makes their planet unique.
The second is that as a child I was always told that Canada was a peace-keeping nation rather than a warring nation. As an adult I know that’s more myth than reality, but it's still something that I absorbed into my worldview. I was also raised by Buddhist parents and in a community with a large Mennonite population. Basically, nonviolence was an important aspect of my background growing up. It may be partly as a result of that, that I've never had any inclination towards featuring any kind of combat in my comics or other art, other than maybe the odd slapstick-y sucker punch. I didn't even notice until someone pointed out that Dee's ship has no weapons.
How does your cultural background - national, religious, or otherwise - affect your work?
Bruno Harm has reached 50 pages!
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HippieVan at 12:00AM, Jan. 13, 2017
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