Haida Roots Surface in Manga Art


Metro Vancouver

September 23, 2005

Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas works on a Haida art piece

Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas works on a piece that will be auctioned off Oct. 27 at a Bill Reid Foundation fundraiser. Yahgulanaas combines Japanese-style manga art with his Haida roots, resulting in the unique and increasingly popular Haida Manga.
(Photo: Jeff Hodson)

The 50-or-so pieces of paper taped to the wall of Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas' Kerrisdale apartment flutter as he walks down the hall.
It's the skeleton of a massive work; a comic that combines Japanese-manga art with Yahgulanaas' Haida roots. When finished it can be read either as a comic, or - arranged as it is now - as a single powerful image.
He calls it the War of the Blink.
Yahgulanaas, a classically-trained Haida artist, has achieved success in Japan and Korea with his unique mix of manga comics and Haida art.
He calls it Haida Manga.
The War of the Blink is a Haida story about a battle that gets pre-empted when one warrior flinches at a fly, thus ending the war. The story, which is still in the early design stage, carries an important message for countries like North and South Korea, he says. Eventually someone has to blink.
Haida Manga emerged three years ago with the Japanese publication of his first book, Hachidori. The small book combined Yahgulanaas' art with essays by David Suzuki, Suzuki's daughter Severn, and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai.
"The whole idea of the story, which we tell in Haida Manga, is to have people get to acknowledge their own power, their own capacity to make decisions that have impact."
He says while Haida Manga has been slow to catch on in Canada, it has been embraced in both Japan and Korea.
Yahgulanaas was even invited to paint his Haida Manga live at Expo 2005 in Aichi Japan.
Yahgulanaas will give a demonstration of his art from noon until 4 p.m. Sunday at the Vancouver Public Library's Central Branch, 350 West Georgia St.
Word on the Street, Vancouver's national book and magazine festival, runs 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in and around the library. For a complete list of authors and exhibits visit www.wordonthestreet.ca.