Ivan Kocmarek


I grew up in the North End of Hamilton where Eastwood Park was the hub of our young lives and where the houses were generously populated by immigrant labourers. The rest of the city looked askance at us. All my schools have been razed, save for the University. There I translated a 10th-century Sanskrit philosophical work into English and subsequently taught for 8 years before realizing it wasn't the place I should be. Even my place of employment for nearly a quarter of a century, Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School, is now derelict and in limbo. There I had the privilege of teaching English to immigrant children and young adults who had fled from increasing pockets of trauma around the globe. There I also experienced the genuine reward of having those newcomer kids teach me more than I could ever teach them.

I retired a decade ago and needed to secure a passion to carry and impel me through a this new time when everyday had suddenly become a Saturday. What I latched onto was my life-long love of comic books and graphic narrative and chose to focus it on a unwarrantedly neglected are of study—the Canadian comic books of World War II. This led me to producing an online column that has now run on for a decade, to presenting dozens of talks at comic book conventions, museums, libraries, and art galleries, to co-curating three shows at galleries in the area, and to publishing two books and one comic book on the subject.

In essence, what I do is a kind of journalism that attempts to promote and reclaim a lost and valuable part of our Canadian popular cultural psyche.

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