Sunday, April 26, 2009

Doug Wright-Canadian Cartoonist

I've been meaning to offer a modest intro to Doug Wright for a while, and sure enough, just as I get around to it, I discover there's a newly released collection of his work now available! Lovely timing...

This is a highly personal thing, as everyone who loves comics and comic art has their own faves. And those faves are often formed in childhood. And that's the case for my and the work of this artist. Quite simply, someone in my family (probably my Mom, and probably at the checkout counter in the grocery store) purchased a collection of Doug Wright's Family strips when I was a kid. I'm sure it went for about $1.00, at the time. That book lived in my house forever, until about 10 years ago when I grabbed it from a pile of old books and magazines, so I could keep it safe.

Growing up, I knew only that Wright's world really seemed like MY world, middle class (admittedly, whitebread as hell, but I am what I am), southern Ontario. The clothes, the houses, the toys, the TV shows seen playing in the backgrounds, the general "feel" of the world was real to me, in a way other strips simply weren't.

Thick knit sweaters in the fall, groceries picked up in big cardboard boxes, furniture by Sears and The Bay, "fruit cellars" used to store canned foods and more exotically, wonderfully stubby beer bottles...I could almost literally see myself in the strips.

Today, as an adult, and with a finer eye to craft and detail, I appreciate his work for how elegant and perfectly expressive it is. To put it WAY too simply, he was just so damn good at what he did! Compared to 95% of current strips, he's a complete master. Nothing is wasted, nothing distracts, but there's heaps of detail to engage the eye. It almost literally feels good, physically, to take in his stuff.

His work makes my eyeballs happy.

And his stories are even more relevant to me now, because I'm no longer the kid in the strip. I'm the Dad, struggling to keep his cool as he carries recycling bins to the garage while stepping on toy blocks and cars my kid has scattered around. It seems I have a life-long relationship with this artist, and how satisfying is that? To not outgrow something you love, but grow INTO it? So often we leave what we loved as kids behind (I'm looking at you, Marvel comics). It's not often we fall deeper in love the older we get.

I'm so happy to see him recognized now, with this released two volume collection. It features an intro by Lynn Johnston (Canadian comic strip superstar), and is collected by good ol' Seth (another masterful Canadian comic artist, and increasingly a huge champion of ensuring comic art is given the reproductions it deserves).

I've included just a couple of Doug Wright's stories, at the top of this entry, to entice you to search out more (and now you can, easily). Be sure to click on them, to enlarge. Enjoy!

And enjoy this CBC interview with Wright. It's a bit corny but hey- there's hamburgers on the BBQ, and that's never a bad thing.

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