Sylvia Nickerson is a gentrifier—a label that would cause many in the neo-upwardly mobile community to virtue signal in response, but it instead drives Nickerson to confront her complicated relationship with the city she calls home ... It’s this strange juxtaposition—the harsh reality of the city and the one people want it to be—that Nickerson lays out for us in seven chapters ... Nickerson interweaves introspection and wide reflection throughout Creation. It’s this duality that allows her to paint herself and the city in the same honest and exacting brushstrokes. And thus, the memoir isn’t just about her but also about Hamilton. Each chapter could be its on powerful, standalone critique of a particular element of Hamilton or Nickerson; however, each chapter contains moments of intersection that make the graphic memoir a more cohesive narrative ... Creation isn’t just about gentrification. Nickerson does not shy away from exploring complex subjects. She deftly renders the interconnections between motherhood, violence, poverty, capitalism, and pollution throughout the graphic novel. But Creation is also a tribute to life (and death) in the city ... Creation’s open-ended nature is aided by Nickerson’s illustration techniques ... The lack of details combined with the neutral color schemes allows for the city- and landscapes to achieve universality.
Though Creation opens with daily domestic scenes of mother and newborn, it's not that kind of memoir. Nickerson's view is more panoramic, taking in all of her home city of Hamilton, Ontario ... Much of her memoir is a self-indictment ... Nickerson is expert at cyclical plotting, allowing certain events and images to repeat in a fractured order that offsets the memoir's 'broken' motif of shattered windows and emotional lives ... What does it mean that the implied author looking down from the reader's God-like vantage isn't the same blob as the 'photograph' of her? I'm not sure, but it's that kind of emotional thought experiment that underpins all of Nickerson's vague yet-not-vague creation.
Nickerson chronicles her life as an artist and single mother in Hamilton, an aging industrial city and 'the armpit of Ontario,' with honesty and imagination. Alternating between self-examination and social engagement, she searches for direction, as does the city ... Multipage spreads of people and animals lost among clouds, smog, park corners, and broken glass suggest the chaos of a city struggling to survive. Nickerson’s study thoughtfully considers the connections between people, places, and artistic expression.