Contributor of the Month: Illustrator Jeremy Nguyen Tells Us Why He Made the "Gentrify White" Crayons
I’m not sure if we stress enough how much we love and value our Bushwick Daily contributors. They are really awesome people from all walks of life that have one thing in common–they love Bushwick!
To introduce these cool folks to our community, we feature one particularly awesome contributor every month. The March Featured Contributor is our beloved illustrator and collaborator of several years, Jeremy Nguyen.
Jeremy's incredibly funny weekly Bushwick cartoons have developed into a series and very recently into a comic book called Stranger Than Bushwick. You might have seen him selling them at Shwick Market and very soon you'll have a chance at MoCCA Fest or the Brooklyn Zine Fest. (Sorry, he doesn't sell them online as he's a fierce enemy of shipping.)
Jeremy's comic portrayal of Bushwick life is always funny and sometimes borders on outrageousness. But really, who are we if we can't laugh at his "Gentrify White" crayons that accompany his Stranger Than Bushwick book.
What's your hometown?
Oakland, California. It's actually a lot like Brooklyn now. It was a city known for its crime that now has an art scene and lots of young people flocking to it and doing creative stuff there.
When and why did you move to Bushwick?
I moved to Bushwick in 2011. Originally, I was at 211th St in Inwood, the very last stop on the A train. But I would go out to stand-up open mics and get home really late. There was also a show in Williamsburg I got obsessed with and wanted to see every week called "Comedy at the Knitting Factory," hosted by Hannibal Buress. I found the cheapest apartment I could off the Morgan stop, thinking I could work my way up the L train over time. After a year I dropped that goal and tried just not to get kicked out of Bushwick.
Why did you start creating a comic about Bushwick and what inspires you?
When I moved here after college, I was trying to get freelance illustration work, but my portfolio wasn't good enough. I read Bushwick Daily, saw a lot of really talented writers and photographers doing great work. But I didn't see illustrations, so I thought I could contribute something fresh I wasn't seeing on other blogs. Some illustrations for op-eds led to me writing and pitching comic ideas. And once I started, I couldn't stop. More ideas just poured out. I had been living in Bushwick for almost 2 years, felt comfortable enough with the observations I'd made to keep doing it regularly. Other blogs started reporting on Bushwick, I started to meet more people who lived here, and the neighborhood started expanding. All those ingredients became fuel for the comics.
Your comics can be sometimes bite-y. What are you hoping to achieve with a sharp satire of this neighborhood?
I just hope people laugh! I'd love to see people who live in Bushwick relate to certain nuances and truths. And I'd like people outside of this neighborhood read it and get a good idea of what is happening in Bushwick. This is my time capsule of what is happening to Bushwick right now. I'm not a good photographer or journalist, no one is going to write a whole article that compares people in Bushwick to Dungeons and Dragons monsters, or that there are other people bothering women than just catcallers. With these comics, I can report on the dumb conversations I have at brunch, weird things I notice on different streets, and what is going on in my personal life that week.
Can you tell us what your plans are with your Stranger Than Bushwick comic book? And what about the Gentrify White Crayons?
The book Stranger Than Bushwick is the first 20 of my favorite comics on the website. If people like it, I might print up a second issue collecting the next 20. Maybe a hardcover book after that! The Gentrify White crayons are a limited run of 50, which will be available with the book at a few festivals this month. I made them as a supplement to one comic I did that actually never appeared on the website, just in the NO BS BOS guide. All I want the crayons to do is to bring people out to MoCCA Fest or the Brooklyn Zine Fest, and see a ton of incredible books made by NY/BK cartoonists and zine makers that might even be their neighbors.