May 15th, 2013
TCAF 2013 was everything and even more than I had hoped it would turn out to be. It was the weekend of awkward bro-hugs (to quote Robin McConnel), budding friendships and deepening of the existing ones. Sure the event was supposed to be all about networking, book sales and self-promotion but to me it was all about spending time with friends and getting to know people whose work I love and admire – and hugging. Kudos to the festival organizers Peter Birkemoe and Christopher Butcher for making the event a smashing success.
On Saturday night my pal Conan Tobias of Taddle Creek and I headed over to the Yorkville Marriott Hotel for the 9th annual Doug Wright Awards ceremony. The event was hosted by the comedian Scott Thompson; his introductory speech was both funny and moving as he spoke about his experience of writing the graphic novel while battling cancer. He talked at length about how we all have stories that need to come out and about how sometimes we unwittingly tap into the subconscious part of ourselves while in the process of creating.
- Left: with my pal Jordan Bursach. Right: holding my Sethy.
As some of you may already know from my previous posts, my book Heartless was nominated for The DWA in the Spotlight category, also known as The Nipper. The only thing that surprised me more than finding out that I was the winner was hearing Thompson pronounce my last name the right way. The award was presented to me by Seth and Mrs. Wright, and the appreciation speech by the very lovely Julie Delporte.
The award for the best book went to Michel Rabagliati for Song of Roland, and The Pigskin Peters – which acknowledges the best in experimental comics went to Dave Collier for Hamilton Illustrated. The renowned Quebec cartoonist Albert Chartier was inducted into The DWA Hall of Fame. As exciting as the whole event was, the highlight of the evening was receiving a nice compliment about my outfit from Seth’s lovely wife Tania Van Spyk.
The weekend ended with the TCAF wrap praty, held at Lee’s Palace, which I almost did not attend. I am glad I did, because I got to relax with my pals Dave Lapp, Jordan Bursach and Salgood Sam, and bust some awkward disco dance moves with Jason Turner.
Top photo by Anna Khachatryan; bottom photo by Dave Lapp (downloaded from TCAF 2013 Flickr photo-stream)
May 4th, 2013
The 2013 installment of TCAF will be special to me for several reasons. This will be my first year of holding a table of my own, but not entirely, since I’ll be sharing it with my dear friend, the one and only Dave Lapp.
The second reason I am so excited about TCAF 2013 is the line of jewelry I’ll be introducing. A little while ago I teamed up with the Toronto-based jewelry designer BBJ to create a small but exclusive collection of pendants, brooches and key-chains that feature my art. This year the festival falls on the Mother’s Day weekend, so come by and pick up something nice for that special lady in your life. And if that special someone in your life is not a lady or that special lady is not a mom, and you would like to treat yourself or someone else just for the hell of it, at any time, all of these pieces will be available through the shop section of my website within a week or two.
The third reason I am so excited about TCAF 2013 is my nomination for The Doug Wright Award in The Spotlight category, also known as The Nipper. A friend of mine who shall remain nameless for now calls it The Sethy. Whether or not I win me a Sethy doen’t really matter, I am more than honored to be nominated and be surrounded by such amazing talent. I also look forward to meeting lovely and talented people I have only so far communicated with online, and seeing people I don’t often get a chance to see. So come by and pick up a signed copy of Heartless, or Mineshaft #27, or some fancy jewelry, or just to say hi. I swear I’ll be on my best behavior and won’t get into any fistfights.
March 22nd, 2013
If in Hamilton for this year’s installment of gritLIT, or just in town for the weekend of April 6, please come by and see the presentation of two books, Heartless by yours truly, and Two Generals by Scott Chantler. The presentation will be given in form of a panel discussion moderated by the editorial cartoonist extraordinaire, Wes Tyrell, and is going to take place at the Hamilton Sheraton Hotel, on Saturday, April 6, at 1:00 pm. For all of you who had already purchased the tickets: thank you! We’ll try not to disappoint you. Please check out Wes Tyrell’s work here, and Scott Chantler’s website here.
March 21st, 2013
The list of the 2013 DWA nominees was announced this morning and yes, I was more than happy to find my name on it. It was also nice to see two Conundrum titles nominated this year, which speaks volumes about my publisher, Andy Brown.
The nominees for the 2013 Doug Wright Award for Best Book are:
The nominees for the 2013 Doug Wright Spotlight Award (a.k.a. “The Nipper”) which recognizes Canadian cartooning talents worthy of wider recognition are:
And the nominees for the 2013 Pigskin Peters Award, which recognizes the best in experimental or avant-garde comics are:
- Hamilton Illustrated by David Collier (Wolsak & Wynn)
- Hellberta #2 and “Sir Softly” from š! #12, by Michael Comeau
- Michael DeForge, Larry Eisenstein, Jesse Jacobs, Mark Laliberte (editor), Marc Ngui, Ethan Rilly, Tin Can Forest and Magda Trzaski for 4PANEL, a special comics features in Carousel Magazine #28 and #29
- Ginette Lapalme for “So, what should we do with ourselves?…” from Wowee Zonk #4 and “Little Stump” in š! #12
March 14th, 2013
…Is how you say “fuck you, love” in French. This, and a few other things I’ve learned while viewing the proofs of the French edition of my book Heartless, also titled Heartless. It’s like Pepsi, or Sony or Ikea.
Below is the proof of the French cover. The caption on the back comes directly from an inside speech bubble and translates to: “Listen Zorka – you are no spring chicken! Don’t you think it’s about time you found yourself a nice guy, one of your own?”
I also learned that the following:
“Oncle Dino est en train de sentir mes dessous et de se branler! Faire la morte! Faire la morte, c’est tout!”
Is French for:
“Uncle Dino was sniffing my undies and whacking off! Play dead! Just play dead!”
The book is coming out in April with Ici Même, a Nantes/France-based publisher of fine comics recently founded by Bérengère Orieux. Check out this recent interview with Bérengère>>. And, because it’s all about me, my favorite part of the interview is the way she describes my work: “feminist, self-deprecating and poetic” – three words you would never expect to find in the same sentence.
Thank you, Bérengère Orieux and Nicolas Grivel for making all this happen. You’re good people.
February 27th, 2013
I am happy to announce that the French edition of Heartless is due to appear in April with the French publisher, Ici Même. Bérengère Orieux, the founder of the newly formed Ici Même has had over a dozen years of experience in publishing such titles as Ghost World and the first French edition of Sacco’s Safe Area Gorazde with Vertige Graphic. This year Bérengère strikes on her own and I couldn’t be happier that she chose Heartless as one of the opening titles. More updates coming soon!
January 9th, 2013
Last summer I had a great pleasure and privilege of meeting Paul Gravett who was in town for the Comics and Medicine Conference; the purpose of the meeting was to conduct an interview for his website and an upcoming issue of ArtReview magazine. Paul has been a big supporter of my work in the past and I was delighted to finally meeting him in person. For those of you were not fortunate to have met him, to say that he is a pure gentleman, humble, intelligent and personable would be an understatement; he is such an excellent interviewer, and I felt so comfortable in his company that I found myself talking about things I usually shy away from, such as my personal life. To read the interview click here.
December 21st, 2012
Tune in tomorrow, December 22, as CJAM honors the Clash front-man in the station’s third annual Joe Strummer day. In addition to playing a marathon of Strummer’s music, the station will address the issues of poverty in the Windsor/Detroit area, by conducting interviews with the experts, as well as those whose lives have been affected by it. All proceeds from the sale of T-shirts (featuring design by yours truly) will go to the Windsor Youth Centre. More info here.
December 19th, 2012
This review of Heartless comes from the winter issue of the Canadian magazine Maisonneuve; it was written by Drew Nelles, the magazine’s editor.
Heck, there are forums dedicated to hating my work in the old country. I have received more hate mail since the Serbian edition of Heartless came out than there are words in Drew Nelles’s limited vocabulary; and still, the book sold out within a year. Normally I wouldn’t bother posting “book reviews” written by third-rate journalists, or former editors of such classy publications as The Reader’s Digest (the online version), who list “having been published in The Toronto Star at the age of twelve after winning a short fiction contest” among their greatest accomplishments, but this time I’ll make an exception. Allow me to respond…
Thank you, Drew, for you have helped me come up with the name of the next edition of my book: Heartless or The Sad-Sack Tales by Nina Bunjevac. And speaking of sad, the reprint of the book is most likely to happen before any of your work appears in publications that are NOT edited by you; the only thing sadder (or not so sad for the happy-go-lucky fella like yourself) is that more people will read your review of Heartless and hear of your name from my blog than from the magazine itself. You’re welcome!
December 11th, 2012
Here’s a lovely review of Heartless, published in the November issue of Quill & Quire now available online:
Along with Montreal’s Drawn & Quarterly, Conundrum Press, based in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, is responsible for publishing most of the cutting-edge graphica this country has seen in the past several years.
Both presses delight in pushing the envelope. In 2010, D&Q published Paying for It, Chester Brown’s graphic (in both senses of the word) memoir about his experience patronizing prostitutes. Now, Conundrum is responsible for a collection of comics from Toronto artist Nina Bunjevac that is alternately mordant, sexually explicit, and poignant.
Bunjevac’s narratives explore displacement and urban ennui, with a distinctly Eastern European sensibility (the author credits Serbian filmmaker Dusan Makavejev as an influence). In “Opportunity Presents Itself,” a Balkan woman is brought to America by her venal uncle. Hoping for a new life, what she finds is closer to hell on earth. In the collection’s centrepiece, a character named Zorka Petrovic (who resembles a female version of R. Crumb’s Fritz the Cat), becomes pregnant with a male stripper’s child. Her abject loneliness and longing for some form of basic companionship is heartbreaking.
Visually, Bunjevac employs a stippled, shadowed approach that accentuates the noirish aspects of her narratives while also providing a high degree of almost documentary detail. The result is an irony-laden tour though a seedy milieu that is as visually impressive as it is emotionally provocative.
Reviewed by Steven W. Beattie (from the November 2012 issue)