“Out here you’re just in the wind”: The Liminal World of The Oil Sands in Kate Beaton’s Ducks

  • Kalea Furmanek-Raposo University of Victoria


This paper examines how Kate Beaton represents the Alberta oil sands in her graphic memoir Ducks (2022). Taking an interdisciplinary approach that draws on comics studies and contemporary ethnographies, I argue that Beaton’s visual and textual details make the oil sands a liminal space. I explore how Beaton draws on shades of grey to visually establish this space between the boundaries of life and work, even as she conveys the harsh realities of such a transitory existence within the narrative. However, her solid black panels speak to the emotional consequences (such as disassociation, drug use, and infidelity) of such a life on the workers. Ultimately, Beaton’s memoir demonstrates how the liminal world of the oil sands ignores the humanity of its workers.