The Envelope Manufacturer

Chris Oliveros is really pushing the envelope. Montreal's graphic novel publisher (Drawn and Quarterly) has finally joined the fold as creator of his own book. The Envelope Manufacturer is the story based on an elderly man that Chris met many moons ago who owned an envelope company that caught his creative attention.

“We had a supplier who was, let’s say, an older gentleman,” Oliveros recalled. “I remember one day he was delivering boxes up our staircase and having a hard time with them. It was clear that he had been in business a long time, had probably had a successful company with employees, but now things were on their last legs, whittled down to the point where it was just this guy, doing his own deliveries. I was sympathetic and started thinking about his plight, imagining what his life would have been like, the series of events that had brought him to this and what was going to happen to him.”

The humble soft spoken publisher has come full circle now as a creator. I am bias since I did meet Chris on several occasions and I truly believe it is great for the industry when he can create something like this. Cartooning is not an easy profession. It is more elaborate than it looks. Drawn and Quarterly has some of the best talent in the market. It is good to see that the boss leads by example. Well done Chris.

The Envelope Manufacturer documents the hardships and gradual disintegration of the career of an
independent small business owner. The book begins as the head of the manufacturing company is already deep in financial straights: he struggles to deal with a series of late payments and dwindling orders and he finds ways to keep his company running by perilously deferring certain invoices.

Ultimately, the pressures of his role begin to have an effect on him psychologically; he begins to talk to himself and he occasionally cannot distinguish the difference between reality and his imaginings. Even his personal life suffers, as his wife becomes disillusioned with the detached, dispassionate man he has become. Set in the mid twentieth century, just before the end of the period when most goods were still produced domestically, The Envelope Manufacturer chronicles the gradual demise of a small company as it struggles to adapt to a changing economic landscape.