Kevin Budnik on SPX, tabling, and other comics-related issues
(photo by Nate Beaty)
Kevin Budnik is a 26 year-old Chicago native who has been sharing his autobiographical comics with the world since 2010. His work is marked by a wistful honesty, often with a sense of quiet bewilderment at the passing of time, of the responsibilities of adulthood supplanting the perceived freedoms of youth. As I’ve said before, he has a real talent for capturing the essence of a moment in time, and he can channel angst into poetry. Furthermore, in his books and comics like Our Ever Improving Living Room and Dust Motes (both from Yeti Press), and self-published items like Flower Grow, Old Gum Wrappers and Grocery Lists, and the upcoming Handbook, he shares with honesty, humility, and humor his sometimes shaky recovery from struggles with OCD and an eating disorder.
Since Kevin will be officially tabling at SPX this year (9/19 & 9/20), I wanted to hear his take on all things expo-related, which naturally flowed into talk about his work and peers.
Rob Kirby: I’m wondering about your history with SPX: have you tabled there before? Are you going solo or partnering with a buddy?
2. Jay Ward, who created Rocky and Bullwinkle.
3. My friend Hallie Bateman, http://halliebateman.com - she’s an illustrator from Brooklyn
4. Craig Bartlett's early “Hey Arnold” strips from Simpsons illustrated
5. For #5 let’s go with my top 5 records right now:
Sleater Kinney–The Woods
Polaris–Music from the Adventures of Pete and Pete
Moving on, will you debuting anything at SPX?
So a lot of my comics deal with my struggle with self-image and physical anxiety, either in a roundabout or direct way. I've had a few readers reach out and say that they really relate to the things I've written. ED is a disease of secrecy, and knowing that other people deal with it is heartening. I think what makes me want to keep writing about those issues is that it provides a way of admitting to myself that I'm not alone rather than thinking about writing to reach out to other people who might be struggling. So, maybe it's actually more selfish than I let on, like I'm being patted on the back for having insecurities.
That said, any time I hear from someone who's dealt or dealing with ED in some form, it makes me feel instantly closer to them. Then I want to compare notes. Recovery is weird. It never really ends, and can feel really repetitive. Sometimes I feel like I'm saying the same things over and over, but the challenge is to keep being sincere and not move backwards in my personal life.
Kirby: One of the hallmarks of the Rob Kirby Interview for Panel Patter is the Totally Random Stupid Question (tm). What is your favorite word?
Kirby: Wow, did not see that one coming! (Mine is 'clarity' and John said 'refurbish'. We agreed both words sound like what they mean).
Budnik: Ha ha, wonderful! I would've also maybe said 'sesquipedalian'.
Kirby: Okay, I confess had to look that up. You learn things from doing these interviews. Moving along and wrapping up, is there anything in particular you are hoping to have happen at SPX this year, anyone you want to meet, etc.? Tell us your SPX Hopes & Dreams, Kevin Budnik!
Budnik: Wellllll, I'm honestly most excited to go into SPX knowing a little more about what to expect. Last year was insane and fun and overwhelming. I met a ton of people who I've spent the last year forming friendships with, but we're all spread out, so I'm very excited to have them all in the same place at the same time.
I still feel like this will be my first time tabling at SPX—I was mostly along for the ride last year—so I'm nervous as to how it will go with my own space.
I mentioned that Handbook is six chapters long - all of those have been drawn, but not yet printed. If people react positively to this second chapter I hope it'll give me some momentum to find help printing it, I'd like to get them all together as one book before next year, but I don't know if I’ll have the resources on my own.
Kirby: We’ll really look forward to seeing you there, Kevin! Best of luck to you there and to us all!
In the meantime, if you aren’t going to be at SPX, please visit http://kevinbudnik.com and/or http://kevin-budnik.tumblr.com/ for all your Kevin Budnik needs.