Cole Nowicki

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.22.10 PMInterviewed by Curtis AuCoin

Cole Nowicki is a writer, illustrator, comic, and graphic designer based in Vancouver, BC. His Portraits of Brief Encounters, a series of “run-ins, pass-bys, overhears and introspections,” is a self-published collection of stories and art. Dealing with the menial and hilarious moments of his everyday, his Portraits have been tweaked to fit comedy clubs, and collaborative art shows. His last exhibition, (Another) Portraits of Brief Encounters, featured eleven local artists visually interpreting his stories, as well as a gallery game. Nowicki also runs an online skateboard, art, and lifestyle magazine called Sunday Drive Digest, and has been published in McSweeney’s, Sad Mag, and King Shit.

Nowicki’s blurring of life and art reveals how trivial moments can create meaning in our contemporary media driven setting. We spoke over email to discuss the ups and downs of self-publishing, poor comedic delivery, and what it means to hold someone’s attention.

Why portraits? Why brief encounters? Why not write the next great American novel?

This effort isn’t going into the next great American novel because I’m obviously Canadian, but also because I use these usually small, inane, or revelatory moments as a nice writing exercise of sorts. Did the Starbucks barista really just write “Coal” on the cup? How can I expand on this? What other ways am I like a harmful fossil fuel? Can I tie in the fact that my dad works at a coal plant? Absolutely. It gives me the opportunity to flesh out an otherwise throwaway idea and send it out into the digital world almost immediately for appraisal, which is one of the boons of the social media age. It’s like the Antiques Roadshow, you don’t know the value of the junk in your attic until a bunch of strangers tell you. The visual side is important because it can aid, deter, and influence the reader in many ways, which I find interesting. And I’ve always mixed the things I like together—the cream corn gets swirled in with the mashed potatoes, which get spread over the lasagna. 

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Ryan North

North_photo (1)Interviewed by Kyle Schoenfeld

Ryan North is a Toronto-based writer, cartoonist, and computer programmer.  He began writing the award-winning webcomic Dinosaur Comics in 2003.  Since then Dinosaur Comics has been collected in four print volumes.  From 2012 to 2014, Ryan wrote the Eisner- and Harvey-Award-winning Adventure Time comic book series.  His other writing credits include The Midas Flesh and Marvel’s The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.

Outside of comics, Ryan co-edited and wrote for the 2010 short story collection Machine of Death (inspired by a Dinosaur Comics strip) and its 2013 follow-up volume This is How You Die.  Also in 2013, he published To Be or Not to Be, a chooseable-path version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet; a sequel called Romeo and/or Juliet is currently in progress.

As a long-time fan of Dinosaur Comics and a contributor to This is How You Die, I was excited to get the chance to talk to Ryan.  We corresponded via email.

In the past, you’ve said you don’t like the label “writer.”  Is there a label or a job description that fits your career to this point?  Does “cartoonist” cover it?

Oh, I’d almost forgotten about that!  I’ve always been twitchy around labels.  These days if I’m at a party and someone asks what I do, I’ll answer depending on how interesting I want to seem.  If I want to seem the least interesting I’ll say I’m a computer programmer (which is true!  I run Project Wonderful, which is an ad network I wrote that is designed, unlike all other ad networks, NOT to suck) but if I want to seem more interesting I’ll say “writer.”  And if I want to seem super interesting I’ll go with “cartoonist,” although that’s risky because there’s always the chance they’ll want you to draw something when you say that, and then you have to explain you’re not THAT kind of cartoonist.

But given all that I do, I think “writer” fits the largest volume of it. These days I’m much happier to call myself a writer than I was a few years ago.

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