Haida Manga artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas on where his stories come from

Jane van Koeverden

CBC Books

January 3, 2018

Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas blends the aesthetics of Haida art and Japanese manga in his third book, War of the Blink. The book tells the story of a war between two Indigenous nations on the North Pacific coast, long before Canada or the U.S. existed.

Yahgulanaas, whose work has been shown at the British Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art and Vancouver Art Gallery, takes the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A, and answers eight questions from eight writers.

1. Eden Robinson asks, "What is your first childhood memory?"

I stretch my arms high above so my fingers just grasp the edge of the table and peer upwards watching my great-grandmother buttering fresh baked bread.

2. Hiro Kanagawa asks, "What is the most significant piece of work you have abandoned, warehoused, burned, completely destroyed? Was it painful or liberating to get rid of this work?"

I save all my work. "Warehoused" is a very accurate description.

3. Louise Bernice Halfe asks, "Where does the story come from?"

Each story spins out of the pause when self pays attention to the moment.

4. Cherie Dimaline asks, "What is your biggest fear when your books are finally released out into the world?"

No fear.

5. Jillian Tamaki asks, "What do you wish was different about your work space and how do you adapt?"

I have no regrets about my work spaces.

6. Benjamin Hertwig asks, "Can you recall any particularly notable pieces of bathroom graffiti? If not, what pithy statement/image would you like to see carved into the washroom stalls of the world?"

No recollection, so I propose that some helpful graffiti for public bathrooms would be, "Don't worry, we all do this."

7. Katherine Govier asks, "What do you think and feel when the first finished copy of your book is placed in your hands? Are you critical or enraptured?"


8. Kenneth Oppel asks, "Do you resist all distractions during the working day or welcome (and even invent) them?"

Just like with these questions, I integrate the distractions into the creative adventure.

Read the original CBC interview.