Hi everyone, my name is Jey Pawlik ( https://jpawlik.com ) and I’m the creator in residence for February! I’m a nonbinary comic artist (they/them) and one half of the comics duo “Topaz Comics” ( https://topazcomics.com ) that I run with my partner Michelle Parker. Together we create exclusively queer comics with a focus on wholesome and soft stories.
For my first blog post here at the Canada Comics Open Library I want to talk about my history in comics and give some recommendations.
In 2011 When I was 11 I bought my first Shonen Jump issue and that was the moment that I realized that it was a real job that people got paid to do. I decided then and there as I flipped through “Naruto” and “One Piece” that I needed to become a comic artist. I read so much manga in high school like “Ouran Highschool Host Club” and “Tsubasa”, but once I applied to Sheridan College; I got the message that manga and anime were immature as my portfolio tests all specified that anime was NOT allowed. I had to grow up and move on. The only comics I knew about or had access to was superhero comics and I tried my best to read those instead. The stories and art were very different than the ones in manga but I pushed on. I did find some that really spoke to me like “Young Avengers” and “Runaways” but the majority of superhero stories just didn’t catch my interest. I suddenly wanted more slice of life, soft, wholesome, and queer comics. I graduated Sheridan in 2012 and a realization came over me as I desperately needed more varied stories: manga wasn’t immature and I didn’t need to stop reading it! This is around when I found my first couple of webcomics and a whole new world opened up to me.
Growing up on deviantArt I had read short form comics by my peers who would post them for free, and I even tried my hand at it a few times (let’s not get into that right now), but it wasn’t until after college that I found long-form webcomics like “The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal” and “Sakana” and fell in love. This is what I wanted and needed in comics. Good art and stories that were about the lives of the characters instead of constant epic battles and the world ending. Then in 2013, my partner and I started “Dead City”.
The rest of my comics journey just came naturally after that. Dead City’s following started growing and along the way I started writing and posting “Gender Slices” myself, which also took off! Both comics are available at https://topazcomics.com/ and also right here at the library!
Speaking of the Canada Comics Open Library I want to share my shelf display I did for them on Wednesday. I picked out a variety of comics that really shaped who I am as both an artist and a person. I’m also including a small list of manga and webcomic recommendations that I highly recommend.
Shelf Display: Links leading to the catalogue entry for each book.
Fun Home and Are You My Mother – Alison Bechdel
Tea Dragon Society – Katie O’Niell
Taproot – Keezy Young
Prince and the Dressmaker – Jen Wang
The Less than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal – EK Weaver
Boy, I love You Anthology
Manfried the Man – Caitlin Major and Kelly Bastow
As the Crow Flies – Melanie Gillman
My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness – Nagata Kabi
Nimona – Noelle Stevenson
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun – Izumi Tsubaki
Beauty and the Beast – Megan Kearney
Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon – Naoko Takeuchi
Gumballs – Erin Nations
Super Late Bloomer – Julia Kaye
They’d Come to Me at Night – Vincy Lim
Delicious in Dungeon by Ryōko Kui
Hakumei and Mikochi by Takuto Kashiki
Laid Back Camp by Afro
Wandering Son by Takako Shimura
Our Dreams at Dusk by Yuhki Kamatani
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy these comics as much as I have. I’ll be hosting a talk +Q&A on Sunday February 23rd at 3pm right here at the library (updates to come!) and I look forward to seeing you there!