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Q&A: Nina Bunjevac

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It’s Q&A time again! In the second half of 2014, we’ve got an incredible line-up of books by new & classic Jonathan Cape illustrators. Nina Bunjevac’s Fatherland, is an autobiographical graphic novel about terrorism, family and Serbia’s dark history.

What was the first comic you wrote?
Opportunity Presents Itself, a 24-page novella based on Kafka’s America, which follows the adventures of Selma, a beauty-school graduate from the Balkans who travels to North America in pursuit of the American dream.

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Comiket - aka the Independent Comics Market - will be taking place at The British Library this Saturday. Of course, us Jonathan Cape-rs will be there so make sure you come along, browse our wares and say hello.
There’ll also be a Cavalcade of Crazy Cartoonists drawing live throughout the afternoon in The Fabulous Drawing Parade, and a special appearance from radiomaru. On the Cape front, S. J. Harris, author of the wonderful Eustace, will be signing books too.
It’s on at The British Library, from 10:30 am until 4:30pm. Entry is free so there’s no excuse not to come.

Comiket - aka the Independent Comics Market - will be taking place at The British Library this Saturday. Of course, us Jonathan Cape-rs will be there so make sure you come along, browse our wares and say hello.

There’ll also be a Cavalcade of Crazy Cartoonists drawing live throughout the afternoon in The Fabulous Drawing Parade, and a special appearance from radiomaru. On the Cape front, S. J. Harris, author of the wonderful Eustace, will be signing books too.

It’s on at The British Library, from 10:30 am until 4:30pm. Entry is free so there’s no excuse not to come.

A couple of Jonathan Cape-rs recently popped down to the Comics Unmasked exhibition at the British Library. Here’s what they thought:

Mikaela

Although thematically grouped – ‘Mischief and Mayhem’, ‘To See Ourselves’, ‘Politics: Power and the People’ – each work was intriguingly stand-alone. The breadth of style and subject was astonishing and made more dynamic by the constant jumble of old and new, yet the books on display were staggered and unadorned. Orderly queues of viewers crept along with their noses against the glass, trying to read everything packed into each book’s one spread on display. It was frustrating: all the glass boxes and the coy angles of the suspended books; craning your neck around someone craning their neck to read the small packed text or to follow a whimsical ink line. I’ll admit, I felt COMICS UNMASKED was an immersive tease. I wanted to hold and parse through the books that were new and surprising to me, such as Gareth Ennis’s True Faith or Asia Alfasi’s Beginnings. One seemed to be about spurned love and pyromania in Northern Ireland, and the other about moving from Libya to Birmingham as a young Arab-Muslim woman. But I was also appreciative of the cultural narratives underlying the exhibit as a whole.

British comics showed off their diversity and depth, if not many of their pages. I suppose the sparse display made a point of how much gets packed into each frame of a graphic novel, as the opened books spoke vividly for themselves.

Clare

Comics Unmasked at the British Library is the most important exhibition about British comics there has ever been. And it is truly astonishing in its content, tracing the legacy from illuminated manuscripts, Punch & Judy strips, and the influence of American superheroes through to the political subversion of V for Vendetta and our very own Sally Heathcote. I could have spent days in here, reading every word, spotting old favourites, such as Oor Wullie and Tamara Drewe, as well as brilliantly observed comics I’d never heard of.

That said, it was a little frustrating that this wealth of content was displayed in such a way that it was very difficult to read. I kept squishing my nose into the glass trying to read tiny, ancient lettering, and had to queue at cases displaying more celebrated works. But the worst thing was when we walked out of the section on political subversion to find that we were only about half way through the exhibition, with a mere ten minutes before the British Library closed! We galloped through the remaining exhibits but it felt like a waste to catch only a glimpse of such wonderful comics. Next time I’ll book off an entire day and bring a magnifying glass.

The highlight, though, was a total surprise… spotting a comic a pal of mine published in 2002. I met Dr Parsons about ten years ago, when he was selling zines such as This is Me by Michael Jackson, and 101 Ways Diana Could Have DiedTony and Me: by Georg Bush as told to Dr Parsons was in the section showing how comics can be politically subversive in a way that almost no other medium can… you can read what Dr Parsons thought here.

But overall, huge kudos to the British Library for recognising comics in such a spectacular way, and make sure you catch it before it finishes next weekend.

Have you been to the exhibition already? Let us know what you thought!

The exhibition is currently on at the British Library and closes on August 19th. Find out more here.

Remember ELCAF? Back in June we had a table at the third East London Comics and Arts Festival, and let me tell you, it was an all-round wonderful day. (Slightly delayed, but maybe we’ll put some pics from the day up soon?)

It was great to see many of Cape’s finest illustrators there, as well as all the other marvellous artists who were there on the day.  ELCAF have just released their official video so have a watch, and if you were there, you might even spot yourself! 

(Source: vimeo.com)

Introducing… Nina Bunjevac

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Nina Bunjevac started her art training in Yugoslavia, at the Djordje Krstic School for applied arts; in 1990 she moved to Toronto, Canada, where she continued her studies in art at the Art Centre of Central Technical School. In 1997 she graduated from OCAD in the Drawing and Painting department.

Formerly a painter and a sculptor, Nina found her calling in sequential arts, a form that seemed to naturally evolve out of the narrative component in her sculpture installation work. Pen and ink became the medium of choice. Her comic strips were published in a number of international anthologies of graphic fiction and literary magazines all over the world: her debut, Heartless, was published in 2012.

What was the inspiration for your book, Fatherland?

My family (particularly the women) and the history of the Balkans. The story of my family is a story of two opposing factions, paternal: royalist and nationalist, and maternal: Titoist, socialist.  Somehow, sandwiched in between, I have managed to find my own path. 

Fatherland by Nina Bunjevac is published by Jonathan Cape on 28 August.

Random page from a random book: The Property, Rutu Modan, p. 59

Random page from a random book: The Property, Rutu Modan, p. 59

Rutu Modan scoops an Eisner Award

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You’ve probably heard of the Eisner Awards by now and if not, suffice to say they’re about as high as you can get in the comics world. 

So you’ll understand why we’re over the moon at the news that The Property by Rutu Modan just scooped the Best New Graphic Novel award this past weekend. Hurrah!

Writing in the Observer, Rachel Cooke said, ”I know it’s only July, but I feel certain this will end up being my graphic novel of the year. Modan has it all. Her drawings are fantastically expressive, with the result that her characters are as many-layered as those you’ll find among the pages of a traditional novel. She is witty and wise, cool-headed in a world of feverish opinions. Most impressive of all, though, is her technique when it comes to matters of pace and deep emotion.”

Read more about The Property here.

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