The English Department’s Writer-in-Residence program is shifting gears this fall with the introduction of UWindsor’s first Cartoonist-in-Residence, Scott Chantler, who will take his post in September. UWindsor is thought to be the first Canadian university to step into the realm of cartoon study with its Writer-in-Residence program.
“Comics haven’t always been viewed as worthy of critical study but over the last few decades that’s really changed,” says Chantler. “I’ve always been a big booster of the art form and love that it has become academic fare and it’s one of the reasons I wanted to be part of this opportunity.”
The Waterloo, Ontario, cartoonist wrote two highly acclaimed graphic novels, Two Generals, which was long-listed for CBCs Canada Read, named one of Chapters-Indigo’s Best Books of 2010 and selected for Best American Comics 2012, and, Northwest Passage, which was nominated for Eisner and Harvey Awards. His talent extends to writing for a younger audience with his comic series, Three Thieves, which won the Joe Shuster Award for best comic for kids and was listed as a great graphic novel for teens with the Young Adult Library Services Association.
Chantler was in Windsor last year as part of the comics panel moderated by English professor Dale Jacobs at 2014 Bookfest Windsor. Dr. Jacobs, who wrote, Graphic Encounters: Comics and the Sponsorship of Multimodal Literacy, says the department found Chantler an easy choice.
“We wanted someone who understood sequential storytelling and Scott clearly does,” says Jacobs. “No matter his audience, he understands how to tell a story with both words and pictures.”
Chantler’s Two Generals will be part of Jacobs’ Comics Theory course this fall, while Chantler is around to sit in on the class and speak to students.
“We’re really pleased we can have a cartoonist for this round of the Writer-in-Residence program,” says Jacobs. “There’s a good buzz with people across North America excited that this is happening at a university.”
Writer-in-Residence activities include mentoring and reviewing student work, as well as public lectures and workshops. Chantler says he is comfortable giving educational talks to audiences ranging from grade three to graduate students, and wants to convey the unique way comics communicate a story. He says many people blow through comics too quickly, only ingesting the text.
“The text and the art combine into one visual medium where art is text too,” says Chantler. “It’s a visual medium and that is where the real story telling comes through. I like to say you have to read the pictures.”
While in Essex County Chantler also plans to research the war of 1812 for a future project. The Cartoonist-in-Residence position is jointly funded by UWindsor and The Canada Council for the Arts.