cover image Shelterbelts


Jonathan Dyck. Conundrum, $20 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-77262-068-9

Dyck’s poignant and piercing debut graphic novel in stories, set in a Manitoba Mennonite community, links characters who live in the shadow of a new megachurch and grapple with an eroding sense of community. In “Truth,” a pastor informs his queer daughter that a family left the church over his small steps toward inclusion. Folding in a history of the pacifism that’s key to the faith, “Remembrance Day” observes as the public school’s history teacher chafes at a military recruitment event. When a woman brings her Métis boyfriend to visit the farm where she grew up, in “Paper Bird,” a looming pipeline development sparks tensions. Another woman breaks up with her boyfriend due to her growing devotion to the megachurch (and its preaching of celibacy), only to jaunt off on a deflating mission trip to Mexico, in “Heaven.” And in “Freedom,” a closeted parishioner, rejected from a church leadership spot over his sexuality, gets spooked when he meets another gay man. Dyck wows with his ability to convey unmistakable emotions and personalities in lightly detailed character drawings. Flashbacks nestled inside outer panels create an unusual, but rewarding, swerve within rigid panel layouts. Fans of Craig Thompson’s Blankets will welcome this nuanced portrait of faith and community. (May)