Meredith Park believes in the impact of small-scale work. Best known for her four-panel visual journaling on Instagram, the Hamilton-based comic artist uses her work to make sense of sweeping issues.
Park’s early comics revolved around slapstick comedy featuring a recurring cast of characters, inspired by the Three Stooges and “Happy Tree Friends”.
“I only really started doing autobio [works] when I was about 20,” she said. “I stopped drawing comics during high school – I didn’t really do a lot of art then – and then when I started drawing again more in my early 20s I came back to comics almost immediately, and mostly as a tool for self-reflection.”
What sets Park’s work apart is, of course, her style.
“I think I saw my style get better and more defined the more I absorbed other people’s work,” she explained, later adding that she loves to discover autobiographical comic series made by other artists she meets.
Park uses her work to distill complicated emotions and organize the world around her.
“A lot of what I do with my art in general is I try to talk to myself and try to figure things out with myself,” she explained. “The combination of words and pictures… [lets] you have control over what you’re showing, so you can either be super direct and bold or you can be giving and taking between the words and the imagery and there can be more of a rhythm and a poetry to it… It’s the best way to tell a story, I think.”
In micro-comics usually no bigger than a few square inches, Park details the events of everyday life from the melancholy of long-distance relationships to the joy surrounding the arrival of Canadian summer.
But she also investigates personal, difficult subjects. She illustrates her own struggle with mental health issues, fears about growing up and living up to people’s expectations.
These entries too appear on Instagram, next to comics about her baby housemate’s first birthday, or a retelling of a perfect evening bike ride.
Though she admits it can be a difficult mentality to maintain at all times, Park tries to pretend there is no one viewing her work. Currently, she has close to 29,000 followers on Instagram alone.
“There are thousands of people out there and they’re just going to do what they’re going to do and all the power to them… if I try to make something with anyone else in mind, I can’t come up with something good… I can’t do this for anyone else.”
Not only have comics allowed Park to explore her own life in a creative manner, they have also helped her find a supportive, multi-national community.
Although she acknowledges the historical importance of large-scale publishers DC and Marvel, Park works in the smal press and largely self-published indie comic world, which she has found to be a more welcoming environment for women. Although both scenes revolve around using comics to tell stories, the small-scale scene has proven to be a more accessible community.
“It can be a really safe and creative space for non-binary folks, queer folks, people of colour,” Park said, but she admits that the indie comic scene could do more. “It’s always improving, but since it’s a DIY scene, anyone can try it and find other people in their corner.”
Park attends a variety of Canadian and American indie comic conventions and festivals throughout the year, and commented on the excitement of meeting online friends and finding new reading material.
Unlike some of her peers, Park does not aspire to fully dedicating her time to comics.
“I’ll always be making comics…[but] I actually have always enjoyed having a couple of plates spinning… I want to do other stuff,” she said, adding that she loves having a mix of a day job combined with making comics at home.
“I’ve always had this image in my head that… someday, 70 years in the future, my grandkid or my great-grandkid is going up to the attic… and they stumble across a cardboard box full of sketchbooks and they’re the person who finds my comics and they can do whatever they want with them,” she explained.
Published in a traditional sense? Perhaps not. Small scale? Yes. But there is no denying Meredith Park’s work is enduring.