Personal Lineage Book

“It’s called a Japanese Moleskin.”Carmen said. “I had never seen a commercially made writing book like it.” A mandated art project of sorts, her handmade graphic novel was part of her jukai ritual at the Upaya Zen Center. Now its accordion style pages unfold to give broad brilliant-hued strokes to Carmen’s personal history offering a journey to both creator and reader alike.

As a former Emily Carr University graduate and professional graphics designer, it was no surprise she chose water-colour illustrations to bring her life to the page. A DIY graphic novel was the perfect way for the milestones and inspirations of her past to come to life again. It matched the bold world she inhabited and the full-colour character she was. This is a woman after-all of whom my strongest memory is of her leaning against a gray brick wall wearing a blazing orange Captain Carrot superhero costume. She was filling in for a no-show traffic barricade volunteer, holding back wannabe delinquent cars as Vancouver’s Parade of Lost Souls slowly made it down Commercial Drive. I was the barricade coordinator at the time and she saved my ass, looking both playful and tough while she did it.

I loved to show off her personal lineage book every time I brought a visitor to the green bus where she lived now. I’d grab it from the top shelf and like a ready tour guide, she would explain the how and why to each new visitor, recognizing it as the good idea it was, how many creative seeds it planted in others, and how easy and impressively her free-flowing artistry and life story came together on the page.