Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat with Nguyen Nguyen (updated regarding a paper version)

Nguyen Nguyen (pronounced Win Win) is self-publishing a graphic novel drawing on his family's experiences in the Vietnam War. He's posting it by chapter in the iTunes store. His website has a nice biographical note, so I'll just repost it here:

Nguyen Khoi Nguyen is a multi-disciplinary artist.  He was born in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, raised in Cape Coral, Fl. and resides in Washington D.C. He studied visual art at the Cooper Union, music and integrated arts at Bard College and completed a master’s degree in jazz piano at the University of Maryland.  Nguyen leads the jazz trio, “Superior Cling,” which performs in the D.C. metro area and released its first album this summer. As a filmmaker, Nguyen produces a wide range of content including art films, documentaries and promotional videos for non-profits and institutions. He was the recipient of the 2013 Artist Fellowship Grant from the DC Commission for the Arts. Nguyen is currently a 2014 Strathmore Fine Artist in Residence.

This week he's holding a release party for the third chapter of ten (details at the bottom of the post)

ComicsDC: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

Nguyen Nguyen: I make multimedia comics that include stories, drawings, music and animation. I am working on my first graphic novel called "The Gulf." The first three chapters are available now in the iBooks store.

"The Gulf,"  a digital mutlimedia comic, is about a Vietnamese-American man and his family.  The stories are set in D.C., my hometown, the Gulf Coast city of Cape Coral, FL, and in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.  Each chapter includes music and animation.  I'm releasing the individual chapters in the iBooks store.  They can be viewed on the iPad, iPad mini, and any Mac with OSX Mavericks.

I received a 2013 Artist Fellowship to work on this project from the DC Commission on the Arts and I've been selected for a Strathmore Fine Artist Residency to keep working on it in 2014.

I do hope to make paper versions of "The Gulf" in the future and to add a Kindle version. The trick is that I try to make the multimedia elements not just add-ons but essential to the story. So a paper version of the gulf would be a different experience.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

I draw and ink everything by hand.  The images are then scanned, colored and laid out on the computer.  I write and perform the music with various instruments and software.  I draw the animation on the iPad.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

I was born in 1981, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Why are you in Washington now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?

I have found a great community of artists and friends here in DC. I live in the wonderful Le Droit Park neighborhood.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

I've always loved to draw and began taking drawing classes when I was ten.  I was very fortunate to attend an arts high school in Florida, and then went on to art school in New York.

Who are your influences?

My influences in comics include: Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Alison Bechdel, Adrian Tomine, Bill Watterson.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?


What work are you most proud of?

I'm very proud of the most recent chapter of my graphic novel that I've released: "The Gulf: #3 Fifty Needles."

The story is based on my mother's memories of learning how to sew as a girl in Vietnam in the 1960's.

What would you like to do  or work on in the future?

I've set a goal to do ten chapters of "The Gulf." I'm three-tenths done now and that's taken over a year and a half of research, planning and then finally making the art!   I'll be super happy when I finish but I'm sure I'll look to the next challenge.  Ten more chapters?! Who knows?

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

I try to work in a different medium or discipline to scramble my brain like playing  piano or dancing.  Also, I'll go for a run around the neighborhood reservoir.

What do you think will be the future of your field?

Digital comics.

What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?

I've had great experiences at the conventions; talking shop with artists, meeting my heroes and just seeing what's out there. I love going to SPX and I attended the first Smudge convention a month ago.  I'm looking forward to Awesome Con!

What's your favorite thing about DC?

Metro's green line.

Least favorite?

The red line.

What monument or museum do like to take visitors to?

The Hirshhorn for their exhibits and the American Indian Museum for their cafeteria.

How about a favorite local restaurant?

So many to choose from: Fast Gourmet, Woodlands, The Big Greek Cafe in Silver Spring. La Mano Coffee bar is a fantastic coffee shop.

Do you have a website or blog?

My blog for "The Gulf:" http://ngknguyen.com/175725/978020/home/sketches-for-the-gulf

My website: http://ngknguyen.com

My etsy shop: http://etsy.com/shop/Nguyenmade

Nguyen is launching the third chapter of his story this week:

The Gulf 3/10ths Party
Thursday, April 17th at 7:00 PM
Shaw's Tavern, 2nd Floor
520 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC

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