Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Whazamo! Profiles: Chris Kuzma

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Chris Kuzma

Open Book is celebrating the outstanding graphic novels and comics published here in Ontario and throughout the country with Whazamo! profiles, contests, videos and a series of original literary comics curated by Vepo Studios. Check out Open Book's Whazamo! page all month long to keep up to date.

In today's Whazamo! profile, Toronto artist Chris Kuzma talks about the collective Wowee Zonk, his creative process and why rebranding "comics" as "graphic novels" has given the genre a leg up. Chris Kuzma's new comic book, Complex, and Wowee Zonk's Pobody's Nurfect (Koyama Press) are now available.

Open Book:

What is your most recent publication, and what are five words you would use to describe it?

Chris Kuzma:

My newest book is called Complex.

Five words I would use to describe it are: Buy, it, and, find, out.

I am also one of the editors of the Toronto comics anthology Wowee Zonk. The most recent issue, which is nominated in this year’s Doug Wright awards, was printed by Koyama Press.

Five words I would use to describe it are: Thanks, Annie, you’re, the, best.


When you're working on a project, which comes first — the words or the images?


I always come up with the characters first. This gives me a sense of what I’m working with and how I might compose each page. I then come up with a rough idea of what I want to happen in the story and where I want it to end up. The rest is pretty much made up as I go along.


What do you do to get the creative juices flowing?


Go for a walk.


What does your work space look like?


A mess. Stacks of things. Empty cups and cans. Crumpled paper.


What medium do you most often work with?


I primarily use watercolour and ink for my painting. For my comics, I do pencils first, then ink. I alternate between using different Micron drawing pens or a Hunt 102 nib and india ink.


Why do you think graphic novels are finally gaining popularity?


Everything that used to be considered nerdy or childish is gaining popularity these days. It’s all becoming much more acceptable. For comics, it probably helped to brand them as "graphic novels" and present them as single, self-contained stories. What respectable adult would still read comic books?!


Who is your favourite graphic novelist?


Too many to count! I love a lot of what my friends are doing; Zach Worton, Michael Deforge, Patrick Kyle, Ginette Lapalme, Fiona Smyth, Zach Hazard, Lauren Albert, Mickey Zacchilli, Liz Hickey, Keith Jones….the list goes on. I don’t have one favourite.


Where can we find more of your work?


You can pick up my books at The Beguiling in Toronto, Lucky’s Comics in Vancouver and Drawn & Quarterly in Montreal. Quimby’s in Chicago is out but they’ll be getting more soon, and there's also Floating World in Portland.

You can get stuff online at, and

Chris Kuzma is an artist working out of Toronto, Ontario. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Walrus Magazine, Maisonneuve Magazine and American Illustration. Recent shows include Secret Shame at Toronto’s Le Gallery and Game Over 4 at San Francisco’s Giant Robot Gallery. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Saskatchewan and a Bachelor of Design from the Ontario College of Art and Design. He currently teaches Life Drawing for Illustrators at the Ontario College of Art and Design.

He generally works in watercolour, ink and pencil.

For more information about Complex please visit Chris Kuzma's blog.

Find out about Pobody's Nurfect by Wowee Zonk at the Koyama Press website and at

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