The Book That Changed Your Life: Katherine Collins

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      The Word Vancouver festival is gearing up for its 2017 edition with a huge and inclusive lineup of authors, appearing at venues around town from September 19 to 24.

      We asked a group of these acclaimed writers to tell us about their most memorable reading experiences. Which books shaped their imaginations early on? Which ones taught them the power of the written word?

      Here’s what local artist and writer Katherine Collins told us. Collins is the creator of the famed character Neil the Horse and a member of the Canadian Cartooning Hall of Fame. She’ll discuss her work at 3:50 p.m. on September 24, in the Alma VanDusen Room of the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch.

      Carl Barks did not merely change my life. He had a large hand in creating it.

      He was the cartoonist who elevated Donald Duck to a classic Everyman, in stories of timeless buffoonery. I was a Barks fan before I could even read, in the early 1950s. My Mom had discovered him, and read every new issue to us kids, as we all collapsed in laughter.

      His Donald was filled with vainglorious ambitions, and his inevitable failures were spectacular slapstick calamities. Our hearts wept for hapless Donald, even as we guffawed. He would rise again, but never succeed.

      Barks’s humour used wild exaggeration and gobsmacking absurdity. And he also spun longer tales, of travel and adventure, which opened my eyes to the world’s marvels. By absorbing his work I learned that comics can be great comedy, and literature, and art.

      He is now said to be the most widely published author on the planet, in almost every country and language. He has never been out of print since 1942. I’m fond of Shakespeare, Austen, Twain, Munro, and their peers. But Barks looms larger than anyone for me, even taller than the gigantic statue of Cornelius Coot that looms over Duckburg.

      Alana Paterson