Drop-In | Arts & Culture | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Dave Lapp
(Conundrum Press)
The story of the well-intentioned teacher working in a cross-cultural environment appears often in North American pop culture. We’ve seen the idea mined for both its cheesily dramatic possibilities (Dangerous Minds) and its satiric potential (Hamlet 2). But Toronto artist Dave Lapp captures the experience at its most genuine. For 10 years, Lapp taught art at drop-in centres in areas like Toronto’s Regent Park. At the same time, he began recording his experiences, issue by issue, collected in the book Drop-In. Lapp’s comic likeness appears at the beginning of the book to tell us that all the stories are true, but it’s not necessary. His depictions of the kids’ incoherence, hilarity and rage are achingly authentic. My favourite is a terrifying third-person account of two girls in a schoolyard being bullied by two older girls wearing headscarves. Lapp shows us the encounter from beginning to end---from the older girls demanding, “Give me your Tamagotichi” to an explosion of hair-pulling and face-scraping that will cause squeamishness in anyone who’s ever endured similar torments. But there are also moments of levity---in one story, Lapp’s tentative attempts to teach cartooning to an impassive older black boy are finally rewarded with a very awkward and sweet fist-bump.
Alison Lang

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