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Call Me Bill

The Conundrum Press based in Wolfville, N.S. releases an annual comic art magazine, featuring short stories and insight into the newest graphic novel releases. This year’s magazine featured Call Me Bill by Lynette Richards.

Call Me Bill

Call Me Bill, published in September, tells the fictionalized story of the true events surrounding the life of Maggie Armstrong, who transitioned to Bill Armstrong. Bill was a sailor that died in the 1873 SS Atlantic shipwreck, the largest maritime disaster before the sinking of the Titanic. This story follows Bill as they run away from New Jersey in search of their identity, adventure and a place in the world. 

The struggle to end slavery and the liberation of women for social reform in the push for equal rights are both uphill battles faced by Bill. With time and perseverance, Bill discovers that being true to themself is the best way to live a complete life. 

Call Me Bill has beautiful black-and-white illustrations that help narrate the story. The more time the reader spends looking at the illustrations, the more details are revealed. The comic panels were easy to follow and the newspaper excerpts included in the graphic novel helped to provide depth to the story. 

Graphic novel Call Me Bill, an info-fiction story of SS Atlantic sailor Bill Armstrong, is featured in Conundrum Press’s annual comic art magazine. (Lynette Richards)

Familiarity 

While reading, the quote, “In Nova Scotia [, Canada,] they say if you don’t like the weather wait [five] minutes” stands out. The novel perfectly captures the Nova Scotian atmosphere, making the readers around the province feel right at home. 

Call Me Bill also serves as a wonderful source of Nova Scotian history. The SS Atlantic shipwreck is not a story commonly told and this graphic novel provides insight into a major nautical event. The graphic novel will help spread Bill’s empowering story and will ensure they will be remembered as a hard worker, leader and kind soul.

Not only was this story captivating, but it was also easy to follow. This is great for anyone looking for a quick read. 

About the author 

Richards is a comic artist and stained-glass artisan living in Terence Bay, N.S. Call Me Bill is her first graphic novel, which she spent the last four years creating. Through gathering details and information from historic newspapers, Richards ensured that Bill’s story was respectfully narrated. Richards serves on the board of directors of the SS Atlantic Heritage Park and Society, where she first heard of Bill’s story.

Other graphic novels to check out 

July Underwater by Zoe Maeve, released in June 2022, tells the story of Lina, a young girl who is troubled by isolation, death and loneliness. Lina must learn how to navigate the harsh reality of the world while staying afloat. This graphic novel has won the Expozine Award which recognizes the best publication available at the Expozine fair, held yearly in Montreal. 

Take The Long Way Home by Jon Claytor, released in May 2022, explores alcoholism, love and family. Written in vignettes, this book tells the story of a man who must preserve through troubles to learn about community and friendship. This book is written based on Claytor’s life and it sorts through his memories in an effort to make amends with his past and persevere in the present.

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