SPX Spotlight/Graphic Nonfiction: Kevin Budnik Reflects on Life

It's another entry in Panel Patter's SPX SPOTLIGHT series! If you want to track our personal recommendations of creators who'll be attending one of the best small-press shows in America, make sure you follow along. It's a great way to create your own personal guide for the show on September 17th and 18th, 2016, in Bethesda, Maryland. Don't miss it! You can find all our SPX SPOTLIGHT posts here.

Anyone who follows Panel Patter regularly knows we're fans of Kevin Budnik, who will be attending SPX this year. He's also nominated for an Ignatz Award, in Best Promising New Talent. I'm happy that Kevin is being recognized for his comics, but I'll also point out we've been covering him for a few years now.

A huge fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Kevin is an absolutely wonderful human being who also writes comics that are often brutally honest. One of the things that attracts me to his work as a reader is that Kevin doesn't flinch at showing his deepest feelings, placing him in the company of Mari Naomi, Jeffrey Brown, and others who understand that if you are going to write about yourself, you have to tell the truth. Sugarcoating can be spotted a mile away, and "autobiographical" comics that aren't any different from what you talk to office co-workers about won't pass muster.

Along with his reflective nature, Kevin uses a very thin line style with an emphasis on shapes, which draws attention to the backgrounds. In the case of this example from a recent contribution to The Nib, we return again and again to the theme of the bathroom tiles, but there's also an echo in the square books on the shelves or the checkered bed cover. Are the squares meant to show how boxed in Kevin feels, reflecting on his life? Eh, I'm probably overthinking it. But it's still a very cool visual effect to think about. Rounding out the drawings with watercolors that aren't allowed to cover all areas perfectly, we get a strong sense of Kevin's internal mind. Here are a few examples:

You can read Kevin's entire comic here.

At SPX, Kevin will have his newest work, Handbook, along with a selection of older materials. If you like auto-bio comics, and haven't read Kevin yet, make sure he's on your list of creators to find at the show. Not going to SPX? Here's a link to Kevin's website.