hamilton sketchbook chronicles a couple of years in the life of underground cartoonist David Collier as he moves away from Saskatoon on the wind-swept Prairies to settle in industrial Hamilton, Ontario. After a dozen pages you become aware of recurring themes. Then Collier complains, "My book about me comes back again and again to my family," and it all comes clear.
Rather than a simple graphic autobiography, this is a collection of stories about the people who've made impressions on Collier -- his parents, his wife, his baby boy and hundreds of strangers -- as he settles into his new home and memories of his previous life rush back.
His trademark scratchy, real-life illustrations are all accompanied by little stories about the subjects he draws. We're right there with Collier when he meets the terrifying Smokin' Mom, who puffs vigorously as she bundles her helpless infant victim into an SUV at a gas station.
We watch Collier's infant son develop into a curious toddler and his wife settle into a new city. We're along for the ride when Collier visits his old barber, Ted, the nursing home from hell and the editor of Saturday Night.
Collier, who self-published his first mini-comic in 1981, is an established force in the underground Can-comix scene. He's best known for his one-off comic book, Surviving Saskatoon, a graphic biography of David Milgaard, who was wrongfully convicted in 1969 of murdering a nurse and was imprisoned for 25 years.
Hamilton Sketchbook is a study of our country's environmental and cultural contrasts. What makes it so fascinating is that it allows us a glimpse of ourselves as seen through Collier's eyes, mundane creatures of habit that we are. While we're not all that pretty, he loves us firstname.lastname@example.org