When my son was born, I asked my mom if she could write a paragraph about my great-grandfather for his baby book, because my son is named after him. My mother was so inspired by the project, she ended up writing a book about my great-grandparents. The book is a tremendous document of our family history, and also an incredible portrait of life in eastern Newfoundland just after World War I.
Why Did We Make a Comic Book of our Family History?
Some stories in the book are funny, because my great-grandfather was a prankster. One day as I was walking my kids to school, I told them a story from the book. They loved it so much, they kept asking me to repeat it. I decided to go through my mother’s book for more stories that my children could understand.
I tried to think of how I could make these stories into a booklet so they could read them. Generally, my kids prefer comic books, so I decided to make a small comic book. I could make copies to give my mother, my grandmother and my nephew for Christmas.
Comic Books are a Lot of Work
Little did I realize how much work it takes to make a comic book – but I drew a small one in time for Christmas. The most difficult part was trying to make the dialogue sound somewhat authentic to Newfoundland, since the turn of phrase in my birth province is truly unique. While I was born there, I did not grow up there, so I do not naturally know what sounds “right.”
My mother loved the book so much that she asked me to teach her how to draw in this comic book format. She then drew many, many more. My husband worked with her to organize it and improve each panel using Photoshop. They then printed many copies at Lulu.com.
I want to share one page in particular as a follow-up to my previous blog about rug hooking in Newfoundland. It is the page about how my grandmother’s family cared for their hooked rugs. The main character in this panel is my great-aunt Alma, who lives now in Virginia Beach.
I would be interested in finding other people who have made family comic books. Have you ever tried to illustrate the stories that you are trying to pass on to your children?