Humans: Jeff McIntyre creates graphic novels that are accessible for all

Jeff holds up a photo of his recent novel Salmon run.
Jeff McIntyre is a Westboro-based graphic novelist. Photo by Mat Dicsi.

By Mat Dicsi

In the back of a Westboro driveway sits a 1985 Buick LeSabre dusted from long trips across Canada. Perched inside the neighboring garage is Jeff McIntyre, a graphic novelist and illustrator, who has been penning his latest project. 

McIntyre’s studio is where he spends most of his days. Surrounded by a variety of different art pieces and tools, he works to sculpt each page of his cartoon books with the love and care needed from an artist.

“I always dreamed about being a newspaper cartoonist, an editorial cartoonist and political cartoonist,” McIntyre told KT. “At a very young age I started to draw Terry Mosher’s cartoons. I wanted to be just like him. I read them every week since I was a small child. I would copy his style and try to draw Mulrooney the way he did, or Chretien, or all the characters in political history and politics you would draw.”

That’s what got McIntyre’s creative juices flowing. But his career didn’t start with graphic novels; instead he commissioned art.

“In my adult life, I was a muralist, an oil painter largely, as well as a sculpture and installation artist. But about six years ago I put down my paintbrushes and started to do comics and graphic novels. It was inspired in part by my kids. They were getting into comics, so I just started writing and drawing and never stopped.”

Four years later, the Kitchissippi ward resident completed his first graphic novel which is a seven-chapter, 250-page novel. Throughout the process, though, he also wrote Salmon Run, his latest novel. 

McIntyre’s love for his art shows in the care he takes for each individual image. Ensuring authenticity, he takes road trips in his Buick LeSabre. For every 11 months spent perfecting the pages, McIntyre spends one month on the road.

“People that are from the region might only be a small group of the readers of the book, but I do believe it is extra special when somebody from the region of that scene can pick it out and they can feel at home with the picture,” said McIntyre. “I love to illustrate the scene of a place. I’ll actually send people from that area the drawings. If I draw a motel, I’ll send the motel owners the drawings. I drew somebody’s homestead in Port au Persil in chapter two and I got to meet the original family that has been there for hundreds of years.”

McIntyre has also been generous with giving away his books. When he finished his first novel, the cartoonist sent it to childhood hero Mosher at the Montreal Gazette. 

“All these years later he fell in love with the work,” said McIntyre. “He’s been helping me for a couple years, cheering me on to get these out there.”

When designing his books, McIntyre goes with larger pages, fonts, and comic boxes, to make it more accessible to those who find it difficult to see. 

His newest graphic novel Salmon Run surrounds topics of mental health and addiction. It can be purchased at local bookstores including Perfect Books, Spaniel’s Tale and Westboro Books, and can be found online at Blueberry Lake Publishing.

“As a happy dad, husband, and neighbour in a wonderful community, I am grateful to be able to share in this story, and maybe it will provide a little bit of hope to other folks out there,” said McIntyre.

McIntyre’s love for his art shows in the care he takes for each individual image” 

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