New life and opportunities arise from the wreckage of a North American city—urban renewal at what cost?
A new mother takes us on a tour of Hamilton, a Rust Belt city born of the Industrial Revolution and dying a slow death due to globalization. This mother represents the city’s next wave of inhabitants—the artists and young parents who swarm a run-down area for its affordability, inevitably reshaping the neighborhoods they take over. Creation looks at gentrification from the inside out—an artist mother making a home and neighborhood for her family, struggling to find her place amid the existing and emerging communities.
While pushing her child’s stroller around Hamilton, Sylvia Nickerson shows us the warehouse filled with open barrels of toxic sludge, the parking lot where the city’s homeless population sleeps, and the refurbished Victorian house (complete with elegant chandeliers) that is now a state-of-the-art yoga studio. Creation presents the city as a living thing—a place where many small lives intersect and where death, motherhood, pollution, poverty, and violence are all interconnected.
Drawn in evocative watercolor, Creation is unafraid to leave questions open-ended as Nickerson wanders the city and ponders just where the personal and political intersect, and where they ought to intersect.
About the author
Sylvia Nickerson is a comics artist, writer, and illustrator who lives in Hamilton, Canada. Her focus is storytelling in community arts and writing comics examining parenthood, gender identity, social class, and religion. Her illustrations have appeared in The Globe and Mail, The National Post, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post, and her comics have been nominated for a Doug Wright Award.
“Multi-page spreads of people and animals lost among clouds, smog, park corners, and broken glass suggest the chaos of a city struggling to survive. [Creation] thoughtfully considers the connections between people, places, and artistic expression.”—Publishers Weekly
“An uncommonly empathic, beautifully illustrated examination of the conflict between the desire to serve and improve one’s community and the reality of the (underprivileged) community itself.”—Library Journal
“[Creation] affirms that the enormous question of whether or not to have children in an unstable world isn’t something anyone has to ponder alone.”—Lit Hub
“The boundlessness of imagination and fantasy meet the restrictions of physical limits and socio-economic oppression in Creation...power—social or individual, biological or psychic—remains a haunting element in this complex and richly ambivalent read.”
“Nickerson is expert at cyclical plotting, allowing certain events and images to repeat in a fractured order that offsets the memoir's "broken" motif of shattered windows and emotional lives.”—Pop Matters
“Nickerson interweaves introspection and wide reflection throughout Creation. It’s this duality that allows her to paint herself and the city in the same honest and exacting brushstrokes.”
“The power of Nickerson’s work derives not from heavy-handed didactics but her velvet-glove, poetic approach to complicated yet universal, timeless issues. Creation is a soulful, big-hearted work of depth and vision.”—The Comics Journal
“Creation is such a nuanced piece of work that combines a widely shared experience with a deeply personal narrative.”—Room Magazine
“Creation is about the cost of losing and gaining identity, both as a city and as a self.”—Winnipeg Free Press
“[Nickerson] fills Creation with complicated, cluttered spreads that cram together many aspects of the city, both structures and life into a crazy, kinetic super organism often filled with tragedy and anonymity, frequently populated by faceless people and ghostly human outlines going about their business, or being without a purpose.”—Comics Beat
"Nickerson allows the profoundly personal to be completely universal in her stark, soft drawings and faceless figures. This is a deeply human, generous book."—Eleanor Davis, cartoonist of The Hard Tomorrow
"Way back in the Stone Age, when I first began making comic books for adults, it was with hopes that books like this would follow. Sylvia Nickelson's Creation is filled with the deep, complicated, messy stuff of real life—hard, sad, funny, insightful, and very rich in empathy."—Seth, cartoonist of Clyde Fans
"Creation is an ambitious work that thoughtfully explores themes of gentrification and one's complicity therein and also talks frankly about the difficulty of making art after having children, all in Sylvia Nickerson's unique and vibrant comic art style."—Joe Ollmann, cartoonist of The Abominable Mr. Seabrook