Edited by Laura Kenins, 140 pgs, Conundrum Press, conundrumpress.com, $20
Nova Graphica is the graphic novel history of Nova Scotia I didn’t know I needed. Wide-ranging in tone and featuring a diverse perspective of voices and styles, the comic compendium hits the nail right on the head. Contributions include visual essays on architectural history (do you know the origins of the carport?) to the most complete retelling of the Viola Desmond story I’ve read, including her work as an entrepreneur and life in New York in her later years. I admit I had been ignorant to much of her life and story, and am grateful for the thorough biography.
The collection is particularly successful in its sequencing. You travel far and wide in the comic series but no one story weighs down your reading. Instead, each new chapter adds more and more colour and nuance to the picture of Nova Scotia being painted. Having lived in Nova Scotia for a few years during my masters degree, I found the images both nostalgic and enlightening as I learned new stories. Some familiar tropes and staples appeared, as in one comic featuring the person behind the Halifax Ghost Tours. I was warmly reminded of the fun I had on that tour with my visiting brother and mom. Some chapters read more densely, as good as effective graphic textbooks in overlooked provincial his- tory, and others still experimented more with the supernatural — specifically one featuring a mysterious five-sided ruin in a small patch of woods.
Nova Graphica is a wonderful collection of different approaches to telling the history of the region. This would make an excellent gift for any Nova Scotian in your life or anyone with ties to the province.