In the graphic novel, The Klondike (Drawn and Quarterly) author and illustrator Zach Worton sets out to tell the story of the Great Klondike Gold Rush that to this day remains one of the largest voluntary movements of people in the history of the planet. This puts the telling of the story in perspective: it’s an undertaking as large as the event’s historical significance.
Worton attempts to show what transpired during the Klondike Gold Rush through the experiences of a variety of real and fictional characters and their stories en route to and in the Klondike. Skookum Jim and George Carmack, the men who first discovered gold at Rabbit Creek (later renamed Bonanza Creek), Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith, Frank Reid and Belinda Mulrooney make up part of the cast of “real” characters. In his author’s note, Worton admits to using a variety of fictional characters and subplots to convey the story he wanted to tell. This is the crux of The Klondike: there is no defining narrative thread and it lacks a unifying plot. The stories occur independently and rarely weave. There are so many characters who are similarly drawn that’s it’s hard to differentiate one character from the other. The Klondike has a beginning, lacks a climax and the end, when it occurs, brings to a close the life of the most interesting character in Worton’s tale, just when the reader is warming up to the character’s eloquent dialogue and wicked complexities.
Published in Arcticamag.ca 19/10/2012