The Art of Rebecca Kraatz

Tomorrow, I will be going to Dalhousie University’s Killam Library to see award-winning graphic artist, cartoonist and writer Rebecca Kraatz talk about her life, art, and acclaimed graphic novel Snaps.

In preparation for the event I was putting around Rebecca Kraatz’s website and am happy to say I was inspired enough to mention her work on this blog (thus helping to spread her acclaim to literally two or three random folks !).

I enjoy Kraatz’s art because her work often contains at least one of my three of favourite qualities:

1. Undercurrents of pain, unrest, and loss are Autobiographyreoccur with regularity. Things fall apart and while I appreciate that things are also built/repaired I hate having to hide behind a fake tabloid smile just to spare others the discomfort of being human.

This one, Prisoner of the Mountains, I also instantly empathized with. When you’re single,even if it isn’t because someone was a massive jerk to you, it can be hard to see the loving embraces, be it in the form of PDA or simply as part of the interior slideshow of the mind.
Prisoner of the Mountains

2. There is narrative. Of course, there is the sub-textual narrative that can be gleaned from the aforementioned images, but Rebbecca Kraatz is as much a cartoonist, graphic artist, and comic creator as she is author, illustrator, and artist. So, her illustrations contain actual written narratives. Sometimes they are sad, sometimes funny, often poignant. Here’s one of my favourites; gotta love the differing perspectives! (Love that guy who’s still hungry)

Flower Space3. In addition to emotion and narrative there is beauty. Appreciating beauty and being shallow are similar but not the same. Especially when viewing her woodcuts I feel that fleeting sense of infinity found when encountering the sublime. The blue around the eyes and downward gaze whisper of death, a sentiment supported by the unpainted flowers in the subjects hair. But the bright pink flowers, the full colour of skin and lips… there is life here! The subject’s hair, slightly spiked like a porcupine, allude to a powerful self-sustaining quality possessed by this beautiful person.

Rebeccae Kraatz has also written two books (comic strip compilations, graphic novels… call them what you will they’re paper pages glued and sewn together inside a harder, paper binding). The descriptions are taken directly from her website (why redescribe the wheel, eh!) and if you click on the picture of each book it will direct you to the publisher, Conundrum Press, for a more detailed description and option to purchase.

House of Sugar (2006)
House Of SugarHouse of Sugar is a collection of comic strips that was first published under Hope Larson’s Tulip Tree Press in 2006. It won Rebecca the 2007 Doug Wright Award for Best Emerging Talent.

Snaps (2011)
SnapsSnaps, takes place during the Second World War in a small town on Vancouver Island. Combining magic realism with pulp dialogue, the interweaving narrative is told from various points of view. Soldiers, seniors, working women, and children tell their “slice of life” stories in brief vignettes, like snapshots in the found photo album from which Kraatz originally drew inspiration

Needless to say, I am really looking forward to meeting Rebecca Kaatz tomorrow! Viva l’art!


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