Graphic Novel Review: Towerkind

tk-coverwebKat Verhoeven, 164 pages, Conundrum Press,, $15

Everything that arises passes away. We live under the guise of permanency, but we must remember that whole worlds have been destroyed. We fear the end, but everything must die: you, your loved ones, your neighbourhood, your world. Kat Verhoeven explores the end of the world from a local perspective in her latest graphic novel.

In many fictional narratives, the apocalypse is a lifting of the veil to see the true reality that lies underneath. Revelation brings revealing. The characters of Towerkind are going through the mystical implications of the revelation at hand — they are realizing the intimate connection shared by the living and the dead. One character can talk to roadkill and dead pigeons. Another has visions of fiery comets crashing down and eradicat- ing the tenement they live in. Verhoeven has drawn a total universe in a city block: namely, Toronto’s St. James Town. She then tears it into tiny little pieces by focusing on the emotional life of its residents, and then by literally destroying it.

A thoughtful introduction to the volume sets the tone for a personal story: “Place is in a person, whether they live with it, or despite it. Artists carry with them memories of intimate observation, of imitation. The specifics of a location become a feeling, but feelings are more often given to people when the time comes to make a story.” In its specificity, Towerkind becomes universal. By giving attention to a place, we reflect on the nature of space, place, and community, and our fears surrounding its ultimate end. But end it must, and that’s what Towerkind drives home. (Neal Armstrong)