We here at Vice are in love with Wowee Zonk, the comics concocting cockfaces from Canada. I say "we love Wowee Zonk" but I really just mean me, Nicholas Gazin. I have no idea what anyone else at Vice thinks of the comics that we run on this site. I just know that I think Wowee Zonk are the living end, comics-wise and are approaching the medium with the mixture of humor, horror, pychedelia, fine art sense, and dumbness for them to come out just to my liking. We've run a couple of comics by WZ's Ginette Lapalme, Chris Kuzma, and Patrick Kyle, and interviewed Ginette. I was going to interview the rest, but I didn't know what to ask so I stalled until right now. Patrick recently became romantically involved with Ginette, which provided enough soap opera style drama to make me want to talk to him again. Check out the Wowee Zonk blog and try to find Patrick's comic, Black Mass, which is really funny and hard to describe well.
You're now dating fellow Wowee Zonk member and sometimes Vice Cartoonist, Ginette Lapalme. How's that going for you? How's that going for her?
It's Great. Ginette and I live in a big, Narrow apartment in one of Toronto's many Portugese neighborhoods. There are rotisserie chicken restaurants and bakeries all around us.
The other day Ginette was doing the dishes and our coffee press fell over in the sink and broke. Luckily, I was taking out the garbage at the time so i just threw it right out. Since then I've been drinking a lot of tea. We do a lot of chores and drink a lot of caffeine around here. We used to use a stove top kettle but we recently switched over to an electric one. It boils the water a lot faster but the lights dim in the kitchen while it's on. The other day someone unplugged the kettle in the kitchen and my computer turned off in the other room.
Sometimes Ginette and I collaborate under the name "The Turd Sisters."
It sounds like you're living in the musical Rent but with extra AIDS. Can I see some Turd Sisters art?
Sure, Here's the cover a zine we drew two years ago called Merlin's Lash. We colored all the covers individually. We also did a piece together for a Mark Connery benefit show a while ago. Mark Connery is a great cartoonist who created the iconic character "Rudy." Unfortunately, Mark's house burned down late last year, so a bunch of cartoonists banded together and had a benefit show for him. It went down really well and a lot of the work sold.
I don't know Rudy. Who is Rudy?
Rudy is a cat who has misadventures. He has a friend named Ken who is a fish that has legs and wears pants. There was a feature on Mark Connery and Rudy in The Ganzfeld #5, the one co-edited by Marc Bell. I think that's where I first saw Rudy comics. Later on a I picked up some Rudy mini-comics from Picturebox at MOCCA in New York. Mark Connery lives here in Toronto and I actually met him a few times before realizing who he was. Now I get all my Rudy straight from the source.
Can you explain what Wowee Zonk is and how you all met? You guys are kind of like the Wu Tang of comics where you, Chris Kuzma, and Ginette are the core members and then the other dudes are kind of like Inspectah Deck and other guys who jump up on the stage at concerts but are not anyone's favorite Wu Tanger.
Wowee Zonk is, first and foremost, a comic book anthology that myself, Chris Kuzma, and Ginette Laplame edit. Secondly, Wowee Zonk is also the name that the three of us collaborate under. I was trying to come up with an answer to how the name split into two parts like that, but I'm not really sure how it happened. We propagated it for a while because we wanted to be like Paper Rad or Team Macho or, yes, Wu-Tang. Having the two parts has actually become kind of confusing when we're trying to promote and explain our books to people. We're trying to put the focus back onto the comic book and make it less about us.
Chris Kuzma and I met while attending OCAD here in Toronto, and I met Ginette one day after an exam. Then I saw her again a little while later at a party where we ended up just hanging out and drawing pictures instead of partying. I took some of the drawings and showed Chris, and then the three of us started hanging out and drawing as a unit. We Xeroxed 200 copies of the first issue of Wowee Zonk with help from the OCAD student Union in 2008, and not too long after we were able to print 2000 copies of the second issue with work from other artists that we admired as well as our own. In late 2009 we began a working relationship with amazing lady Anne Koyama of Koyama Press who has championed our work all over the place, sent us to zine fairs abroad, and generally taken great care of us. We've done a book with her for each facet of Wowee Zonk, the first being a book of our fine artwork called Pobody's Nurfect, and the second, the third issue of the comic anthology, Wowee Zonk 3.
Outside of Wowee Zonk you have your own characters who appear in this comic you did for Vice. The comic's called Black Mass. Talk about Black Mass. Explain it to me like I am your grandmother.
Mam Mam, It's a comic book. It's just like The Beano, except I make it with a photocopier instead of an offset printer. And Instead of Dennis the Menace and Gnasher, there is this guy named Turdswallo Blackteeft, and his roomate/best friend, Dingball. Turdswallo Blackteeft (Or T.B.) is kind of a cranky guy with a lot of first-world problems. Unlike Dennis, he doesn't menace anyone or shoot people with a pea shooter or drive around in his Menace car or anything. He is, however, a bit of a menace to Dingball, whom he treats quite poorly. T.B. also possesses magical powers that he sometimes tries to use to cope with his everyday life. Unfortunately for him but fortunately for us, he's not very adept at controlling them, and as a result his magical endeavors usually have hilarious consequences. Dingball is not a lot like Gnasher, in the sense that he is not a dog. You would like him Mam Mam. But he's also from Poland or Eastern Europe or something, so in that sense, you might not like him. Despite that, he is a very stand up, gentlemanly type character who looks out for his best friend and tries to take care of him. There's also a lot of other stuff in there like time travel, magical rifts, portals, and a lot of other plot devices I use to make it interesting for me to draw but harder for the reader to understand. All in all, it's pretty much just like The Beano.
In this comic you did for Vice you introduced Turdswallo Junior. Is this his first appearance?
Chronologically, yes. But Turdswallo Junior also appears in Black Mass #4, which I put out in December of last year. In Black Mass #4 he appears as an awkward pre-teen. In the Vice comic, he's a toddler. Black Mass has a very loose timeline.
I guess I thought Turdswallo Junior was like Young Turdswallo. I didn't realize he was actually Turdswallo's son. Where's the mom?
I don't know. Turdswallo is obviously a virgin, so I'm not sure how he has a son.
What have you been working on recently?
Late last year I started a small publishing imprint called Mother. As you can tell by the website, I haven't gotten far with it yet. My intention is to publish limited run artists books and zines by people whose work I admire. I will hopefully have the website up in the next little while with a couple of things for sale.
Chris, Ginette and I have also been playing a small part in The Toronto Comic Arts Festival for the last two years curating The Small Press Room. It's not 100 percent set in stone yet, but hopefully we'll be doing something comparable for this year's show.
I am also nearing completion of Black Mass #5 and am going to do a reprint of #4. I didn't make very many of them and I sold out pretty quickly. I don't have any copies left to sell personally, but they're all still available on the Quimby's website.
I've also been trying my hand at animation. Here are two short ones:
The Witch's Hat
I hope to do something longer soon. Ginette and I were thinking about making a DVD or a VHS tape or something.
Your cartoons are amazing. You're very into hats in animation but I never see you wear one. Tell me about how you made these cartoons.
Thanks! I didn't intend for both of the animations to be hat related. I actually do have a hat that I wear sometimes. I bought it in China Town for $2.99. Here's a picture (above) of me wearing it with Ginette at TCAF in 2009. I mostly wear it indoors when my hair gets too long and I need to keep it out of my face while I'm drawing.
I made the cartoon Magic Hat with some paper cut outs that I scanned and imported into Macromedia Flash. I made the "music" with my guitar and a digital delay pedal. The second one, The Witch's Hat, I did more like traditional animation. I drew all the frames in succession and scanned them and animated it in Flash. It was based after a drawing I did in my sketch book that I really liked. (above) I re-drew each piece of the character separately and put them together on the computer. I made all the sounds by whistling, blowing into the top of a bottle, and crinkling paper and stuff. It was a lot of fun.
I'm thinking a lot about making a semi-animated version of some of the Black Mass stories using drawings from the comics. I'm excited about putting voices to the characters. I have a voice for Dingball, but I can't figure out what Turdswallo is supposed to sound like. I think I'm going to have to get someone else to do it.
Do you ever talk like your characters?
I've read my own comics out loud before and I do voices. It's hard to read your own comics objectively. It can be an issue when you are trying to proof read and all you can do is nitpick the artwork or you are distracted by poor page composition. Reading them out loud helps.
Are Canadians nicer than Americans? What is the difference between us? My roommate says that Canadian girls are a little retarded.
The difference between us is that America fought for independence and Canada was just given it. As a result, Canadians are among the most complacent, apathetic people on Earth. We may seem nice, but the truth is that we don't care either way and we'll fold instantly to avoid any kind of conflict. Please note, however, that this doesn't apply to French Canada.
Good to know. Now give Ginette to me.
Nice try, Gazin. I'm a Northern Irish-Canadian.