Laurence Hyde’s Southern Cross

Southern Cross -- Block 29

Southern Cross — Block 29


In 2007 Ontario’s Firefly Books published Graphic Witness: Four Wordless Graphic Novels, which features four  exceptional examples of the early graphic novel form and the beautiful artistry of its practitioners.   Among these is Canadian Laurence Hyde’s masterful Southern Cross from 1951.  Through a series of 120 striking wood engravings Hyde shares a story that reflects on the impact of nuclear testing on the simple way of life that then existed on Bikini Atoll in 1946.

Southern Cross -- Block 23

Southern Cross — Block 23


Southern Cross -- Block 27

Southern Cross — Block 27


Southern Cross -- Block 107

Southern Cross — Block 107


Graphic Witness Cover

Another Favorite Publisher: Firefly Books

Firefly Books Logo

Not long ago I commented on the remarkable Canadian publisher Douglas & McIntyre.   Another nifty Canadian publisher worth taking note of is Firefly Books, which emphasizes non-fiction.  Aside from McClelland & Stewart, a major Canadian publisher that is a division of Random House, it seems that when it comes to high quality books from Canada one of these two outfits is sure to have had a hand in such works.  While Richmond Hill, Ontario-based Firefly produces a high number of science, nature and “how to” type books, the titles that stand out for me are those focused on art and photography.  Their volumes in those two areas are among the best on their subject matters.

Pictured above is a random selection from the Firefly catalog.  Coincidentally, I have four of these and each is very well done for its subject matter.   Of these, David Silcox’s The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson, is the subject of an earlier post here, and I plan to comment on Pat & Baiba Morrow’s The Yukon and George Walker’s Graphic Witness — each mesmerizing in its own way — in the next few weeks.

Although it’s generally not fair to judge a book by its cover, the graphic elements of book design can play a role in pulling in a prospective reader.  So it’s a minor complaint that the website for Firefly Books, unfortunately, does not do its catalog justice in this respect.  When searching for a book a listing of titles is initially displayed and one must click on the title to get more information and only then get a visual on a given title.  Of course, this is a non issue once you’ve located the book for which you were searching or already have it in your hands

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