“No­body wants peace more than some­body who has seen war.”

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - REMEMBRANCE DAY - By Eric Bun­nell

It’s graphic nov­el­ist Scott Chantler speak­ing.Now a res­i­dent of Strat­ford, the St. Thomas na­tive is the au­thor of what the Toronto Star called the best Remembrance Day book of the year, when it was pub­lished in 2010.

In­spired by his grand­fa­ther’s war di­ary, Two Gen­er­als is the Sec­ond World War story of St. Thomas res­i­dent Law Chantler and com­radeat-arms, Jack Chrysler. In peace­time which fol­lowed, Chantler was of­fi­cer com­mand­ing the El­gin Reg­i­ment.

Eight years later, Two Gen­er­als re­mains in print. It’s avail­able on­line through In­digo and Ama­zon. St. Thomas Pub­lic Library holds two copies in its col­lec­tion.

And Chantler on Remembrance Day is to dis­cuss Two Gen­er­als, in an artist talk, Draw­ing the War, in con­nec­tion with a cur­rent Mu­seum Lon­don ex­hi­bi­tion of south­west­ern On­tario car­toon­ists. Chantler is in­cluded in the show in which guest cu­ra­tor Diana Tam­blyn says rep­re­sents mas­ters of the art­form. His talk is 3 p.m. Chantler dis­cov­ered his grand­fa­ther’s war di­ary a few years fol­low­ing Law Chantler’s death in 1997. Chantler’s grand­mother was leav­ing the house and it was be­ing cleared.

“In his chest of draw­ers next to his medals was this lit­tle, red 1940s pocket di­ary. I just opened it up and started to read.”

And the first en­try was an eye­wit­ness ac­count of a woman be­ing struck by a bus on the streets of Lon­don, Eng­land.

“That was the first di­ary en­try I read. A pretty dra­matic one.”

But though he had a num­ber of his­tor­i­cal graphic nov­els to his credit, Chantler had no in­ten­tion of do­ing a book about his grand­fa­ther.

“My grand­fa­ther was a very pri­vate man. Like a lot of vet­er­ans, he didn’t talk much about the war. It was his pri­vate busi­ness. And I was younger then. I was new at this – I didn’t trust my abil­i­ties to to a job of it that wouldn’t em­bar­rass him and me.”

But a decade later, his ex­pe­ri­ence and con­fi­dence grown – and af­ter hear­ing re­peat­edly he should (“I have to do this book just to shut peo­ple up!”) – Chantler be­gan ex­ten­sive re­search, and to draw.

And when Two Gen­er­als was re­leased, the first graphic novel to be pub­lished by McClel­land & Ste­wart, it shot up the charts.

The Na­tional Post has called the book “an en­dear­ing suc­cess.”

The Toronto Star, a “stun­ning suc­cess in bring­ing home the real foot sol­dier’s ex­pe­ri­ence.”

And on so­cial me­dia, read­ers have de­scribed their dis­cov­ery of the graphic novel. And their tears read­ing it.

Chantler un­der­stands their emo­tions. Be­cause as he dis­cov­ered the story of his two sol­diers, Chantler shared them. “...The book is made to make you cry. It made me cry. I had a Remembrance Day that lasted three years. If any­thing, that was the ef­fect on me ....

“I al­most felt like I had fought a war by the end of it. You re­ally have to imag­ine some bru­tal things and put your­self there.”

Com­ing from a fam­ily with a mil­i­tary back­ground, Chantler says he un­der­stands the sac­ri­fice made by Canada’s war­riors.

But, he says, “I know the book has helped other peo­ple who didn’t nec­es­sar­ily have that.

“I’ve had a lot of peo­ple sway to me it made them think again about Remembrance Day, that they maybe hadn’t al­ways taken it se­ri­ously. Or, at the time our troops were in Afghanistan, it made them think a lit­tle dif­fer­ently about what those guys might have been go­ing through.”

The fa­ther of two boys, 15 and 12, Chantler hopes his sons share his own feel­ings about Remembrance Day.

“I re­ally hope they get the feel­ing from it that I’ve al­ways got­ten. That it’s about hon­or­ing sac­ri­fice, not about glo­ri­fy­ing war.” Chantler be­lieves his read­ers get it. “My grand­fa­ther was proud of his ser­vice. I think most vet­er­ans are. But I think most vet­er­ans also would tell you it wasn’t worth it – it wasn’t worth the cost.

“Those seem like two con­tra­dic­tory ideas. But if you can get those con­tra­dic­tory ideas in your head at the same time, you’re get­ting to what Remembrance Day re­ally means.”

Scott Chantler ready to give a Remembrance Day talk on his graphic novel, Two Gen­er­als, in­spired by his grand­fa­ther’s war di­ary. Con­trib­uted

Scott Chantler’s graphic novel Two Gen­er­als has been widely praised.

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