Thursday, 16 April 2015

Graphic Novel in the Works: "Daniel Stronger" by Elliot Doxtater-Wynn


You may know Elliot from his CBC Superior Morning Radio Show. You may not know that he has designs to create an elaborately plotted graphic novel involving the growing pains and concerns of a young adult, with elements that any young adult will appreciate along with elements related directly with aboriginal youth, which should allow the novel to appeal to a diverse audience.
     Elliot is originally from Six Nations in Southern Ontario. He spent his formative years in Sudbury and Manitoulin Island where he went to Beal Vocational School to specialize in sculptural design and obtain a College level introduction into all visual art disciplines. He met his wife then and moved to Thunder Bay in 1997 to live and work. He also continued his education in the fine arts program at Lakehead University, specializing in sculpture, which involved traditional sculpture along with mixed media work, found objects, and installation.
     “Sculpture is a particular discipline, and even the spaces required are particular,” he says when he describes how more involved and problematic sculpture can be compared to other art disciplines. With his sculptural work he focused on environmental statements involving a love for the environment as a contrast to the amount of refuse we produce and how the two interact.
     He does earn more from his paintings and drawings and his work has been displayed at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, at the Vancouver Olympics, and many Aboriginal Arts and Crafts shows. In 2014 he won the Thunder Bay Arts and Heritage Award for visual arts.
     When at LU he used his studio time to refine his own style to create imagery more recognizable as his own rather than what he considers to be more stereotypical Indian art. He also geared himself to graphic design and eventually his work gained interest, allowing him to get paid for producing works in his own style.
     His study drawings, created to generate ideas and to play with different approaches to design, reflect good drawing skills with some stream of conscious work. The drawings have that comic book feel in the Heavy Metal Mobius vein mixed with the subtle influence of Japanese anime. Clothing, symbols, hairstyles, objects and design elements still maintain the First Nations character. Many of his study drawings would make for great larger paintings.
     With his blended style Elliot is able to stick to his roots and maintain work that is relatable to a larger audience. And the style choice he’s made will come in handy when he finally puts it to work for him on a project that he’s had in mind for twenty years.
     Twenty years ago he did a cover page and that alone was enough to generate long lasting ideas. As he describes the work, he’s expressive with his hands and his face lights up in excitement of the memory. And he’s thrilled that he’s been able to obtain an Ontario Arts Council grant which has allowed him to move to the production phase.
     His graphic novel concept involves a young man named Daniel Stronger who becomes transformed after an accident. While in a coma, many years pass, but when he wakes he has miraculously remained only fifteen years old. And his parents are missing. Much like a superhero, he has to learn how to control the powers he’s mysteriously obtained while simultaneously dealing with the particularly awkward troubles of adolescence. The quest in the adventure is of Daniel searching for his parents and understanding and controlling his powers.
     However, there are other details that add much more depth and dimension to the story. Elliot gave a description of some, which will make Daniel Stronger’s adventure more complex, but they won’t be revealed for a long while.

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