Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Whazamo! Profiles: Maryanna Hardy

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Maryanna Hardy

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, artist, illustrator and screen printer Maryanna Hardy talks about the everyday conversations that inspire her and the artists whose works excite her. Her book of illustrations, So I've Been Told, recently published with Conundrum Press, was nominated for a Doug Wright Best Book award and a Montreal Expozine award for English Best Book.

Open Book:

What is your most recent publication?

Maryanna Hardy:

My most recent publication is my book of drawings called So I’ve Been Told, published by Conundrum Press. I’d like to get out of the way right away that I don’t consider this book to be a graphic novel or a comic. I made a book of narrative drawings that recreate the stories that fill up my world.

So I’ve Been Told was nominated for a Doug Wright Award in the avant-garde Canadian comics and other non-traditional works category, so I guess it was included in a much broader definition of a comic or graphic novel.


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


When I am working on a project generally words come first. In the sense that I can be hanging out with friends and someone will tell story or do something that hits me as uniquely part of our world, I’ll write something down to remind me of it. If it stays in my mind a couple days later, I’ll make a drawing about it. I am documenting my world as I see it.


What does your work space look like?


Right now my work-space is a table in the corner of my dining room with stacks of books, paper, ink and paint brushes. Above the table is a little shelf with stuff I like to rearrange on a regular basis: a tin rattle from 1940s Japan, two old pocket knives, a wren and hawk skull, a little mirror someone gave to me on East Hastings in Vancouver, and holy water bottle from St. Joseph’s oratory in Montreal, among many other things. All this stuff reminds me of specific times I’ve had and gets me excited about sitting down and getting to work.


Who is your favourite graphic novelist?


I am trying to collect all of the art books by William Kurelek right now. He was from the Canadian prairies and his paintings and drawings documented his entire life as he saw it. He published several books of his paintings and drawings including, The Prairie Boy’s Winter, The Prairie Boys Summer and an autobiography called Another Person With M. In the two months before he died he went to his father’s village in the Ukraine and made 200 drawings and 6 paintings that are in a book called To My Father’s Village.

The two graphic novels that I have read and loved this year are Phillippe Girard’s Killing Velazquez and Brecht Evan’s The Wrong Place. Both of these artists have so much personality in their drawings that matches their writing. I reread Charles Burn’s Black Hole this past winter, and I think I will make that into a winter tradition, like visiting a friend who can always cheer you up.


Where can we find more of your work?


You can find my work at

Maryanna Hardy is originally from Saskatchewan, and she is currently calling Toronto her home base. Maryanna has worked as an artist, illustrator and screen printer and has published her work in publications nationally and internationally. Her most recent solo show was held at 107 Shaw Gallery in Toronto. She has designed countless gig posters, created several chapbooks of her drawings, built and ran a screen-printing shop in Montreal, and has painted public murals in Montreal and Toronto. She has also collaborated with the YPF Collective on their large-scale installation at the Osheaga International Music Festival in Montreal for the last two years. Her book, So I’ve Been Told (Conundrum Press), was recently nominated for a Doug Wright award in the category of best non-traditional and avant-garde Canadian comic book and a Montreal Expozine award for English best book.

For more information about So I've Been Told please visit the Conundrum Press website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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