Drawn & Quarterly: Twenty-Five Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels. Drawn & Quarterly. Jun. 2015. 776p. ed. by Tom Devlin. ISBN 9781770461994. $49.95. GRAPHIC NOVELS
For over two decades, Drawn & Quarterly (D&Q) has been a discerning publisher of graphic novels and a major force in the growth and diversification of the format. This quarter-century compendium is comprehensive in its coverage of the publisher’s thoughtful rise to prominence. The tome begins with a detailed history of D&Q’s humble beginnings in a Montreal apartment with a small stable of artists and very little money. Excerpts from works by D&Q pioneers such as Seth, Chester Brown, Julie Doucet, and Adrian Tomine, as well as relative newcomers such as Michael DeForge and Rutu Modan are interspersed with interviews, photographs, reminisces, and essays of mutual appreciation. Margaret Atwood pens an ode to Kate Beaton, for instance, among other treats. As you pore over the pieces herein, it becomes crystal clear how completely D&Q is Chris Oliveros’s baby and how selective he and his small staff have been in what they publish. There is little here that is not in some way artistically highbrow or of distinct literary merit, which is wonderful but gets a bit monotonous when read at one go. On the other hand, open to any page at random, and you’re sure to discover something curious, complicated, and utterly distinct.
Verdict Amazing for idle browsing, a bit repetitive when taken as a whole, this volume is nonetheless a veritable encyclopedia on how the graphic novel became what it is today.