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This article was published 9/3/2018 (684 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Rather than lament the fact that his longtime friend never got the audience that he deserved in life, T. Keith Edmunds is doing something to right what he considers an injustice.
Stephen (Steve) Groves, died late last year at the age of 46 as a result of cancer, leaving behind a wealth of artwork, of which the majority has never been viewed by the public.
Specializing in cartoons — namely, comic strips —Groves could be his own harshest critic, Edmunds said.
A perfectionist to a fault, Edmunds said that Groves would often take comic strips offline if they weren’t perfect, and kept most of his work to himself, with self-doubt preventing him from sharing it with others.
"His friends and family were always encouraging him get it out there, and that it didn’t have to be the best work in the world, just that his work was out there in the world," he said, adding that this was usually a losing battle.
During Groves’ funeral last year, this sentiment was rekindled by friends and loved ones who asked to see his artwork and were unable to.
After the funeral, Edmunds connected with Groves’ mother, Betty Philp, who agreed that something had to be done to remedy the situation.
They decided to compile Groves’ works into a self-published book, which Philp said is something that her son always wanted to do but was never able to.
A kickstarter.com campaign titled "Unfinished Stories: The Art of Stephen Groves" has been set up to produce the book, for which the fundraising goal has been set at $20,000.
Its direct link is https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/115465592/unfinished-stories-the-art-of-stephen-groves
Edmunds said that they wanted to do it right — to produce something that does justice to Groves’ life’s work.
He set March 31 as the project’s fundraising deadline, which he’s optimistic will be met. Various contribution levels result in different rewards, including a PDF copy of the book to those who donate at least $10, a physical copy to those who donate $50 or more, and additional awards to those who pledge more.
The project has been decades in the making, dating back to Groves’ childhood in Souris, where he joined Edmunds in making up a group of friends who called themselves the Dumb Guys.
"None of us were hockey players or sports guys, so we found our shared interests and we sort of went from there," Edmunds said.
Groves spent a couple years at the Alberta College of Art and Design before starting a freelance career.
He returned to live in Brandon in the early 2000s, where he continued to produce artwork, including a newspaper strip The Grove, which appeared in the Wheat City Journal (now the Westman Journal) from 2005 to 2007.
These strips featured his favourite character, a racoon named Puck, who was named after the mischievous character from William Shakespeare’s play "A Midsummer Night’s Dream."
He also chipped away at a comic named Dumb Guys, which was inspired by his youthful hijinks in Souris, but which ended up taking on a life of its own.
Until he got sick last summer, Groves had planned on developing the story into a graphic novel.
In compiling material for the book, Edmunds said that there’s plenty to draw from.
Groves was producing work until the very end, he said.
"Even when he was in the hospital he had his sketch pad."
Edmunds is chronicling his process in creating the book and the history behind its eclectic blend of art and humour online, at unfinishedstories.ca.
Groves’ sister, Erin, said that she’s relieved to see his collection of work finally see the light of day, calling Edmunds a great friend for putting in the effort to memorialize her brother.
"As much as people would tell him (his work) was amazing, he never thought it was good enough," she said. "The only thing that was standing in his way was himself."
With this book, she said, "the world can finally see how great he really was."
» Twitter: @TylerClarkeMB