cover image I'm So Glad We Had This Time Together: A Memoir

I'm So Glad We Had This Time Together: A Memoir

Maurice Vellekoop. Pantheon, $35 (496p) ISBN 978-0-307-90873-5

Vellekoop (A Nut at the Opera) presents a sumptuously drawn memoir of his long, winding journey from childhood in 1960s and ’70s Toronto to a celebrated artistic career. Along the way, he grapples with being gay in a deeply conservative family of Dutch immigrants and an often hostile society at large, and the resultant psychic scars. The adored son of a doting, fashionable, and devoutly religious mother (“Mum and I were so in love it was almost like we were one seamless being”) and a stern, remote, and sometimes explosively angry father, Vellekoop is bullied at school and escapes through his obsessions with pop culture, including Disney’s Fantasia, which “pretty much set the course for my life.” As an adult, he becomes a successful illustrator and dates widely but struggles to connect emotionally and sexually with other men. As one chapter’s succinct title alludes, there are many “Guy Troubles.” However, he does form a lasting friendship with Paul and Martin, a sophisticated older couple, and, with the help of an empathic therapist, begins to confront his intimacy issues and unpack the baggage from his family. Vellekoop’s writing flows easily, with a light wit bolstered by gorgeous drawings that have a classic, nostalgic look and rich colors. There’s a whimsy to the linework yet sharp individuality to each character, and the detailed cityscapes are masterfully rendered. Vellekoop will enchant both his longtime queer comics followers and newcomers with his frank storytelling and tantalizing art. Agent: Sam Hiyate, Rights Factory. (Feb.)