Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Dirty Dozen, with The Graphic History Collective

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May Day by the Graphic History Collective

The Graphic History Collective is made up of Robin Folvik, Sean Carleton, Mark Leier, Sam Bradd and Trevor Mckilligan. Together they created May Day: A Graphic History of Protest (Between the Lines), which follows the evolution of International Workers' Day in Canada.

You can check out our post on May Day to see artwork from the book.

Today the Collective takes on the Open Book Dirty Dozen, a free-form interview where authors and creators are asked to share 12 unexpected facts about themselves. Read on to hear from the Collective about bicycles, bookstores and secret recipes.

  1. None of us had ever written a graphic novel before this project. We think everyone should make a comic. Since hindsight is 20/20, we now recommend finalizing the words before starting the drawings. But if you want to make a comic, an arbitrary thing like word/image order shouldn't stop you.
  2. It won't come as any surprise that we all celebrate May Day. Inspiring for all of us has been learning about the different ways people have honoured this tradition — through music, art, songs, plays, street theatre, protest marches, puppet-making, writing chalk messages, dancing in the streets, attending lectures and, yes, taking an unofficial break from work — while researching this project.
  3. Working as a collective provides constant opportunities for learning. It’s a creative, supportive environment where we share the responsibilities as much as possible. We settled into our dynamic pretty organically, and generally just jump in when needed, offer what we can, and keep building our respective skills as we plan our next project.
  4. Our favorite bookstores include: Spartacus Books (Vancouver), People's Co-op Bookstore (Vancouver), Left Bank Books (Seattle), Politics & Prose Bookstore (Washington, DC) and Venus Envy (Halifax).
  5. If we said “Schrader valves are better than Presta”, and you also had an opinion, you might be similarly immersed in a world of bikes. The number of bikes in the collective outnumbers the members. Bikes park in our kitchens, apartments hallways, come on camping trips and get us to protests. Traveling by bike changes the commute. Things happen more slowly. Less fossil fuels are needed. It's a challenge. And then there's the sound of the free wheel...
  6. Musical instruments played: Banjo, electric/acoustic guitar, harmonica, piano, ukulele, kazoo, trumpet (badly). Whistling. We also like using our voices for justice and some of us sing in choirs, at demonstrations, on stage and in the classroom.
  7. This lesson was learned while working many years as a nanny: If you are stuck and have no other options but to read, once again, from Princess Fairy Tales for Girls (or some similarly named collection), it is ok to change the plot-line or ending once in a while. You will likely get caught (they know those books like the back of their hand, even if they can’t read!) but that is not a bad thing. Great conversations with the wee ones will ensue.
  8. Ok, fine. Here is the recipe for those cookies that were used to bribe you into helping me move, that convinced you to come to the meeting you did not want to attend and brought the term “decoy batch” into my life.
  9. Two of us know how to set metal type by hand using traditional letterpress printing. We learned about 30 years apart from each other. Each letter is placed one at a time, composed upside down and backwards, and then printed. Our love of type goes along with the love of books.
  10. While this answer is being typed, popping up in the news-feed is an article with the top #HarperHistory tweets. Three quick points: 1) Humour and creativity are sometimes really effective strategies for resistance. 2) Avoid making false claims to win an argument. 3) For the love of all things good, spend some time learning history.
  11. Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine owns a copy of May Day: A Graphic History of Protest. We think this is pretty rad.
  12. We believe in love and revolution. We hope you do too.


The Graphic History Collective is made up of Robin Folvik, Sean Carleton, Mark Leier, Sam Bradd and Trevor Mckilligan.

For more information about May Day: A Graphic History of Protest please visit the Between the Lines website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Check out all the Dirty Dozen interviews in our archives.

Related item from our archives

JF Robitaille: Minor Dedications

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