Books

Conundrum Press launches mini-comic bursary for Black and Indigenous emerging creators

The $1,000 bursary will support the creation and production of a mini-comic. The publisher will also help with the distribution of the selected work.
In the above photo, young comic artists share their work. Nova Scotia comics press Conundrum Books has started a bursary for Black and Indigenous comic creators. (AFP via Getty Images)

Nova Scotia-based publisher Conundrum Press has launched an annual $1,000 bursary for Black and Indigenous emerging creators living in Canada.

The publishing house, founded in 1996, focuses on graphic novels, zine collections and art books. 

When the protests against racial injustice took hold in Canada and around the world this year, the publisher's founder, Andy Brown, saw an opportunity to reflect.

"I'm a white man and I've had a lot of privilege in my life. I reflected on all this, as many people are doing, and wanted to show solidarity," Brown said in an interview with CBC Books.

Brown initially considered releasing a statement on behalf of Conundrum Press in support of Black Lives Matter, but didn't think that was enough.

"I thought that those were just empty words. Just saying 'I support this cause,' isn't really supporting the cause, just like throwing something up on social media isn't really supporting anything," he said.

Brown admitted that while he has published Indigenous creators, he has never published a Black comic artist.

He decided to make a call out to Black and Indigenous artists. "And essentially put my money where my mouth is," he said.

The bursary will support the creation and production of a mini-comic. The publisher will also help with the distribution of the selected work.

A mini-comic is a self-published eight to 24-page comic book, often photocopied, folded and stapled together to be showcased and sold at comic arts festivals and zine fairs.

Brown says he's been introduced to many artists he now publishes through these showcases — among them B.C. artist Cole Pauls, author of Dakwäkãda Warriors, who he met at the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival, where Pauls was displaying his work.

Mini-comics have become more challenging to distribute, noted Brown. 

"There used to be a whole mail network system, bookstores used to take them, comic shops used to take them but now you can't really put them in bookstores."

He said that he's offering is the next step: finding a network of people to distribute.

To be eligible, applicants must be living in Canada, unpublished and considered developing or emerging creators.

The bursary is open to people of all ages.

"I want to welcome elders, who have never had a chance to speak out because they've been raising children or working their entire lives and not been able to have time to create things," said Brown.

"It's a look to the future."

To apply, people are asked to submit three to five sample pages to sarah@conundrumpress.com.

The deadline is Dec. 31, 2020.

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