About the project:

Joseph, the Prologue is a limited edition 12-page experimental broadsheet. It is a teaser to a larger project: a true story about a Vancouver-based family spanning 1924 to 1963. The newspaper format is a celebration of the broadsheet and its tactile connection to history and place.

How it started:

I first immersed myself in a Vancouver cold case investigation in 2003 when I volunteered as a researcher and student criminal profiler with the Babes in the Woods Task Force. The initial goal of my research was to help identify the children whose skeletal remains were found in Stanley Park on January 15, 1953. I wrote a behaviour evidence analysis, then a two-part manuscript/research paper. I then workshopped the analysis into an online experimental illustrated scrapbook/graphic novel. Drawings, photographs, and text were shared in weekly online instalments between January 15, 2017 and January 13, 2018. Since then, I have immersed myself even deeper into this project .  

It was while researching the Babes in the Woods case that I came across an unrelated but intriguing family. Piecing together the family’s journey is the story my project explores. Their story explores themes around mental health treatment, Goffman’s concept of the total institution, immigration, stigma and ultimately, the human spirit’s ability to face seemingly insurmountable challenges. My next goal is to transform the 300-page non-fiction research manuscript into a noir-style illustrated series.

The art:

The visuals are hand-drawn with China Marker on newsprint, highlighted with white ink. The almost wordless document is designed to make the viewer take time to read the visuals, to search for clues about the family and the upcoming stories and to engage with the newsprint itself. The original images were done by hand. The black and white tones in the finished product vary. Some folk may handle the paper carefully, treating the story as precious. Some may throw the newspaper into the recycling bin or put it at the bottom of a bird cage. Or use it to doodle or write notes on. All of it good! My hope is that readers’ hands get a bit dirty from the ink. That the paper yellows over time. That the folds alter the images.

For me, the creative process continues as the newsprint changes.

Love, Katarina

Page 11 of 12

Thank you to the fine folks at TR TRADES for the fine art scanning of my 12 drawings! I can’t thank the team enough for their incredible support, creative input and excellent service. Communication was excellent as was their advice and guidance. They went above and beyond my expectations. – Katarina

To NEWSPAPER CLUB: I was absolutely elated with the services and final product. The site is extremely user friendly and engaging. The sample package was crucial to helping me choose the style and to plan the size of my drawings and to allow the fine art scanning service I used to format the images. The InDesign template put my mind at ease. The process from having my PDF approved on the site to receiving the final product was remarkably fast! The printed broadsheet format is essential for me, not only giving the reader the tactile experience but as a celebration of my late father and his love of the newspaper. Opening the box and seeing my project and smelling the ink and paper was awesome! – Katarina


Thanks for entrusting us with your art scanning project. You are an amazing artist. Every piece from your portfolio was beautifully crafted with fine details and all pencil sketched. We are grateful to have worked with you on this challenging project. The publication specifications were very specific and our operator was qualified to make all the adjustments in Photoshop. By giving us the extra time we required we felt very satisfied with the end result. It was like a mission completed feeling! We look forward to seeing you and your next art project soon! Thanks again for the great review – from your friends at TR TRADES.

Joseph, the Prologue, by Katarina Thorsen, a 12-page broadsheet format teaser for their proposed graphic novel. Promising stuff!Gary Spencer Millidge, comic creator, writer, illustrator

I just lost an hour going through your broadsheet. Wow. Can’t wait to go back in and look at everything I missed the first time! It’s absolutely stunning and I can’t wait to see your next steps.Eve Lazarus, Writer/Author/Speaker

Wow! What a great looking comic! As you may know, I love print, and newspaper comics/funnies hold a special place in my heart. Your large broadsheet is a beautiful homage to print, materiality, making, handling, and the comics medium. Excellent work.Julian Lawrence, cartoonist, educator, comics scholar

I received Joseph The Prologue in the mail… The art is even better in person and takes on a whole different quality, I t’s really different relating to it physically, needing to actually reposition myself in order to inspect certain corners, etc. It also did what a good prologue should do which was get me interested in the story to come. – Benjamin A.

I wanted to thank you for submitting copies of your wonderful and fascinating work. I have cataloged them in the library’s pamphlet collection under the call number NWp 971.1Va T522, where they will be available for researchers to consult. – Taryn Jones, Archivist and Librarian, BC Archives

I have to tell you how magical it was, for the first time in years, to be holding a broadsheet newspaper in my hands. All the sense memories returned! And yours behaved just the way the old Vancouver broadsheets did. In spite of its large size, it folded beautifully and was never unwieldy. It made me realize how much I miss the ritual of holding a broadsheet. I should have been sitting in an old Vancouver diner booth with a formica table top and a cup of Joe in a white ceramic cup with those forest-green swirls at the top, to make the experience truly peak! It’s so easy to get lost in your art and its incredible ability to evoke a time and place.” – Pamela Post, Journalist, Broadcaster, Filmmaker/Educator, CBC Documentarian

Photo by Pamela Post
Photo by Pamela Post

Hullo Kat! Joseph, the Prologue, is incredible. I love it! And the smell of newsprint fits it perfectly! You are amazing for this idea! So interesting and informative! Thank you! Doot doola doot doo… – NARDWUAR!

“JOSEPH, a creative non-fiction graphic novel project” — it’s remarkable.Creative Nonfiction

March 9, 2023 event:

I presented at the Vancouver Heritage Foundation Heritage Lunch and Learn on March 9, 2023! Go to: LINK for recording of event

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