Here’s my chat with Irene Velentzas about the War in Comics exhibition.
In addition to being a PhD student at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, Irene Velentzas is one of the organizers of the War in Comics exhibition
The exhibition of comics art officially opened June 7 and is scheduled to conclude July 1. Organized by the English Department at Memorial University in partnership with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, the exhibition features the works of Scott Chantler (Two Generals), Miriam Katin (We Are On Our Own), Jason Lutes (Berlin), Wallace Ryan (The Narrow Way), Joe Sacco (The Great War), and Paul Tucker (Tet).
Miriam Katin, We Are on Our Own, Page 22, Courtesy of Drawn & Quarterly
At the opening gala, Chantler, Lutes, Ryan, and Tucker participated in a presentation about their works at CFS St. John’s on The Boulevard. Broken Books were on hand selling copies of the artists’ books.
During our chat Irene discussed why these particular artists were chosen. She said: “We were hoping to cover the 20th century of warfare — all the wars we could think of. Particular the ones that were pertinent to Newfoundland — World War I and World War II.”
Irene called out the appearance of Scott Chantler at this opening event and exhibit. She explained: “Scott is particularly invited because of his work on Two Generals — one of Canada’s best reads. It’s a phenomenal book, very simply and beautifully crafted and it kind of adds as a companion piece to Wallace’s unpublished work which was done for his grandfather in World War I.”
Scott Chantler, Two Generals, Pages 72-73, Used with Permission of McClelland and Stewart
The entire project incorporates a variety of elements. Irene explained: “Inside the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, there’s a beautiful atrium space and we’ll have a horseshoe of tables featuring one artist per table with their work. So we have five pieces from each artist as well as dossier of fully coloured printed pages from the book.”
Visitors will then have the chance tour the regiment museum to see the actual artifacts spanning from before World War I to World War II.
The goal of the project is to engage with Newfoundland’s history and culture. Irene said: “The experience of World War I is still a living memorial here. It’s still something that’s taken very much to heart. It’s something people still remember their grandparents being involved with and it’s commemorated every year. So we’re looking for another way to get people to engage with that subject in their lives and their history.”
She added: “Comics is an excellent medium to engage both young and old as well with complex histories and traumatic events and generational stories. Comics encompasses all of these things beautifully.”
You can discover more about the War in Comics exhibit online at
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