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October 23, 2009

CR Newsmaker: Will Dinski


Minneapolis-based cartoonist Will Dinski was the winner of this year's Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics, announced last weekend in conjunction with the Alternative Press Expo and the focus of a party hosted by the award's organizers at their well-regarded comics emporium. Dinski won for a recent, longer work Covered In Confusion, about a horrific series of events in a high school setting told through the prism of its years-later aftermath.

TOM SPURGEON: Congratulations on the win. How did you find out? Were you able to celebrate your victory?

WILL DINSKI: Thanks! I knew that I was a finalist shortly after hitting ground in San Francisco. That was the Thursday before the event. But I didn't know for sure that I would need a speech until that day of the event. Kirsten Baldock stopped by my table at the end of the day and gave me the good news. I was pretty shocked.

The APE aftermath party was basically one big celebration. James Sime knows how to throw an amazing event and it made me feel like a total rock star. What a great night.


SPURGEON: You submitted two comics, as I recall correctly. Covered In Confusion won, but I also greatly enjoyed Mind-Mapping. There's an actual, honest-to-goodness special effect involved with Mind-Mapping that reminds me of some of the European minis Bart Beaty discussed in his book Unpopular Culture: where did you come up with that idea? Was it difficult to produce that book?

DINSKI: That book was a lot of ideas I had been kicking around all coming together at once. I had an idea for a story that could involve glow in the dark ink, and another idea about a book folding out like a map. It's funny, though. It really wasn't that difficult to make. I've screen printed some books that were a real pain in the ass to make.

There was a poster done by some local designers (Aesthetic Apparatus) that I have hanging in my kitchen. It was done to promote a Raconteurs show. And that poster glows in the dark. I probably got the idea from there. Later I heard, that they didn't even know that it glowed. The ink was just contaminated from a previous project where they intended to use glow in the dark ink. Surprises like that are priceless.


SPURGEON: You suggest that Covered In Confusion has a basis in real life -- seeing as it's likely been some years since some of those incidents, what was it that caused you to do this comic right now?

DINSKI: The main part of that story was told to me a long time ago. It's about a teacher I once had. As soon as I heard it, my heart nearly broke. And then it was one of those situations where the conversation continued and changed topics but that story stuck with me.

Whenever something silly happens, there will sometimes be that one person who knows I make comics and say, "Hey! You should do a comic about that! Right?" This must happen to cartoonists all the time. Whenever that would happen to me, I would remember that really heartbreaking story my friend told me about my old teacher and think, "No. I should do a comic about that. I can't stop thinking about it."

I wrote the full script about two years ago. Put it in a drawer for some reason. I don't think I was interested in drawing a longer story at the time. Then I took it out earlier this year and drew it over a period of three months.


SPURGEON: Because of the sensitive nature of two of the plot lines, did you ever second-guess doing the story once it started, or did it change your process as to how you completed the material. Was there an emotional component to seeing the story done?

DINSKI: That's a good question. Yeah, I worried a lot. Lots of second guessing. There were certain people that I knew whom I didn't want to read it. People who where starting new families of their own. They did and their reaction wasn't great.

However, it was important to me that this story wasn't just a retelling of a terrible thing that happened, but about how people react to those things. At what point can you not forgive yourself? Can you forgive someone who makes such a terrible mistake?

But it's hard for me to worry too much about those things by the time I'm already drawing the story. I'm pretty busy thinking about the visuals. I kind of have to just trust that it's all been considered when I wrote it.

SPURGEON: Do you have plans to publish the story in a different format, either as is or by expanding it or making it part of a group of similar stories? What's the next step?

DINSKI: I've thought it would be great if Covered in Confusion was collected with my short stories in one volume. I'd like to try and make that happen once I'm sold out of the mini-comics.

posted 4:22 pm PST | Permalink

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