Pudlo Pudlat has always loomed large in my life, both because of his fantastic art and because he was the grandfather to my brother and sister (their mother is different from mine). Even my mother would tell me stories about him, like when he asked my annanatsiaq, Pudloo Luccasie, to marry him. In my favourite animated storytelling voice, my mother recounts her reaction to the news, “Why didn’t you marry him? We could have been rich and famous!” and her mother’s roguish expression when she responded “taaa, I didn’t wanna marry someone with the same name as me!” The story always makes me laugh.
The humour of the story also highlights something I love about Inuit in general and Pudlat’s art specifically: a strong sense of playfulness. One of the major elements that still draws me to his work is the combination of traditional imagery with modern elements like airplanes and helicopters. As a child, those prints reminded me of the boyish fascination with automobiles that my brother and other young boys had. I associated it with something kids drew. As an adult, I see his inclusion of those images alongside hunting scenes and shamanic-style birds as more of an expression of new elements in the arctic that he was experiencing in real time.
His style encapsulates such curiosity and emotion. I am still regularly blown away by the range that Pudlo had in his work and probably always will be.
This was also a really fun comic for me personally because it included elements from my own life. In the final panel you see seven-year-old Napatsi holding up a picture of feet, an image based on a real drawing I made for my father when I was a girl. He was working from home at the time, and I drew him in work shoes walking to work. I had planned to do a followup drawing, when he got a job in an office, of his feet wearing running shoes walking in the opposite direction. I never wound up drawing the other picture, but he loved the original and it hung in his home office for the rest of his life.
I love when personal stories come through in artists' work, and Pudlo’s My Youthful Fantasy really hit that on the head for me.