A graphic novel publisher with a global reach wants Wolfville to take a page from other countries’ books in recognizing graphic novels as art.
Wolfville-based Conundrum Press publisher Andy Brown has opened a boutique gallery in Wolfville where he will show art panels from books and other pieces from graphic novel authors he publishes.
The novels are a long-recognized art form in France and French Canada where they are known as ‘bandes dessinées.’ With cities like New York City now grabbing onto the art form, Brown hopes Wolfville to do the same.
“Attitudes are changing, and I’m happy to be someone putting it in your face, saying, ‘look, this is going on in your backyard, it’s right here,’” he says.
Since moving to Wolfville with partner and fellow author Christy Ann Conlin in 2010, the business has continued to break into American and European markets while seeing steady growth of interest in Canada.
The new space is currently showing Brown’s own curated art collection of pieces pulled from Conundrum-published books to inspire potential readers as they take in the space.
His goal for the new space will be to host book launches and feature art from his authors’ graphic novels and other projects as a way to not only monetize the space, but to hold space for a permanent following of graphic novels as an artform.
“Envision something that doesn’t exist and follow through until it does exist. They fly here, meet local people, that sort of thing – it’s something you might not expect,” he says.
Brown says being among a small handful of English graphic novel publishers in Canada is a main reason he’s found success – by being unique and offering readers something different.
“These novels are new, and raw, and the authors themselves are new at it too – it’s outside the box. That’s the interest for readers, and there aren’t many people doing it,” he says.
Local interest piqued two years ago when book sales from events held at the Al Whittle Theatre and Wolfville Farmers’ Market during the Devour! Food and Film Festival for the Conundrum-published ‘The Case of the Missing Men’ shocked Brown.
It’s a book he says has proven local content – it’s written and illustrated by Nova Scotia authors and set in the province – can wow both critics and readers across various regions.
Now, Brown wants to show art from it and other graphic novels can keep captivating Wolfville.
“Ten years ago, nobody would have had any clue. But now, there’s more openness and curiosity. It’s visual work – when you see it, you get it,” says Brown.
Conundrum boutique hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 112 Front Street, #225, in Wolfville.