Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Another look at 'Now You're Logging'

After too many years, I have finally got around to writing an appreciation of Now You're Logging, a great long-gone graphic novel by the B.C. outdoorsman-turned-cartoonist Bus Griffiths. The essay (with art) is now up at The Comics Journal.

As I say in the piece, this book has haunted me -- in a good way -- for the better part of a decade, ever since Seth and Peter Birkemoe first told me about it. To describe it as being "out-of-print" seems like a half-measure: this book has been neglected. Among the first verifiable graphic novels in Canada (it started as a serial in a Canadian Whites comic during the Second World War), Now You're Logging is a wonderful hand-made gem of a comic that surprises and charms the reader on every other page. 


Griffiths was a self-taught artist, which is often a disaster when it comes to constructing good comics --but in this case his lack of formal experience resulted in a refreshing, innovative approach to the medium. His goal here was to create an accurate document of logging in the 1930s, before machines, when men climbed hundreds of feet in the air to lop down trees. His sheer devotion to this should be enough to make this book a classic, at least in Canada where its set. Heck, I'd be happy even if folks in British Columbia showed this book some love. But it's not the case: it's simply fallen off the edge of cultural relevance. For years now its publisher Harbour Books has maintained a Now You're Logging page on its website, despite the fact that the book is out of print. Good luck finding an affordable copy online.     

You've got to wonder what Griffiths would think about his life's work being allowed to fall out-of-print for so damn long.

3 comments:

David Steenkamp said...

Hi there. I live in Surrey, BC and just found this book for sale in a Value Village. It is a large sized hard cover book and is completely black on the outside. It says "Now You're Logging" in gold print on the cover and on the spine. I am so thrilled to have found this and can't wait to take a read through! It even has a personal inscription on the first page that reads "To Patrick, Christmas 1979 - All my + lots of luck too, Leslie" It's so neat to see this sort of thing.

Brad Mackay said...

Count yourself lucky Dave: the HC version is pretty rare these days. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I do.

David Steenkamp said...

I'm embarrassed to admit, but I had no idea what I was getting into with it. I saw it on the shelf, thought the title was interesting, then I opened it up... I was blown away. My father-in-law ran a mill up near Terrace, BC so I was thinking of giving it to him for Christmas, he would more likely understand the 'lingo' used in it more than I! I definitely had no idea I was buying such a gem. It's rare that life rewards you in such a way, especially when you don't realize it.