Snow, by Benjamin Rivers, is a very Toronto-centric indie graphic novel. It’s the 30-something equivalent of Brian Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim saga, but with a more culturally relevant storyline and less manga-influenced art.
Heavily embedded in the culture and locations of Toronto’s Queen Street West, Rivers’ protagonist Dana acts, reads and feels like a real person you could bump into on your way to the bar. This fun blending of fiction and recognizable locales lends Snow a very real-life quality.
References to the Bathurst fire and the upscaling of this once edgy-indie neighborhood, make the reader feel as though they are just off-panel from the characters. This transforms the storyline – which is essentially a random string of banal events and everyday experiences – into a plot with meaning and impact. This is your city. These are your friends. It’s your life.
Benjamin River’s art is sparse and yet highly effective. As someone who is trying to learn the craft/art of producing black and white comics (which have their own unique visual tricks and techniques), I found myself studying the pages, learning a great deal from his illustrations. Simple, strong line work, which plays so well in the B&W medium, make Snow a strong visual read.
It is exciting to see a graphic novel so tied into Toronto (and to one of its great downtown communities) debuting this weekend at the Toronto Comics Art Festival. An amazing celebration of the more cultural, independent and ‘person-to-person’ aspects of the comic industry, TCAF is running all weekend at the Toronto Reference Library! Join me in heading down there, and be sure to drop by Benjamin’s table and take a look at the new Snow: Complete Edition graphic novel.