News / Saskatoon

Saskatoon graphic novelist Elaine Will's newest project inspired by Prairie past

It's a project inspired by a strange Saskatchewan story.

Saskatoon illustrator Elaine Will successfully broke into the world of graphic novels with her first project, Look Straight Ahead. Her follow-up, which she officially launched in June, is a Saskatchewan-based story with a personal connection.

Borrowing a title and inspiration from Dustship Glory, a 1986 novel by Andreas Schroeder, Will’s new work visualizes the life of the book’s main character, Tom Sukanen, a Finnish expat building an ocean-bound ship on the Saskatchewan Prairies during the Great Depression.

Although the story is set more than eight decades ago, the Saskatoon illustrator says she felt a connection between her work and Sukanen’s quest.

“In a way I feel like this is a personal story too,” she said.

“This is going to sound really weird, but I really related to it in a lot of ways, because I draw graphic novels and a lot of people, sadly, see that as pointless passion project, because it’s not a huge money-making venture.

“So I can really relate to this guy building a ship, because a lot of people saw that as a pointless passion project.”

However, Will says her endeavour is much more than a pet project as she hopes to help represent Saskatchewan in the growing world of graphic novels.

“It’s still pretty hard to break in and it’s even harder for people from Saskatchewan,” she said. “I’m hoping I don’t have to move to Toronto — I’m hoping I can sort of put Saskatchewan on the map.”

The first issue of Dustship Glory was launched on June 11, 2014 at the Saskatoon comic shop, Amazing Stories, and Will hopes to have the second ready for reading by October 2014.

Check out the document below for a taste of Will’s newest project, which is available in comic shops across Saskatoon.

More on