And we’re thrilled to announce that in May 2021, we’re publishing The Pleasure of the Text, a collection of stories by award-winning cartoonist Sami Alwani.
In The Pleasure of the Text, Sami Alwani weaves together themes of art-induced dissociation, queer intergenerational polyamory, racial capitalism, and esoteric mystical experiences into 20 slice-of-life comic stories that are equal parts comedy and tragedy. These stories question society and individual identity. A talking baby philosophizes away his own emotions. A half-man, half-dog cartoonist’s spirit burns too bright when he alienates the entire alternative comics industry, drunk on his own power. A friendly ghost survives COVID quarantine with the help of CBD pot cookies and essential oil diffusers.
There will be something for everyone in this cheerful volume collecting all of award-winning Alwani’s previous work to date (Vice, Now) with plenty of never-before-seen material.
5 Questions with Sami Alwani
1. Tell us about the title you chose for this collection. In Roland Barthes’ The Pleasure of the Text, he says that “The pleasure of the text is that moment when my body pursues its own ideas–for my body does not have the same ideas I do.” Do you feel this is relevant to your own work, and why?
All of the stories in my book have titles lifted from pre-existing works, in some cases the relationship to the original is more direct, but in others I want to give the title new meaning and it’s not important to me whether the reader knows about the original text I’m referencing or not. In Barthes’ book he talks about the text as a site of erotic pleasure, and describes two kinds of pleasure we get from reading. It’s sort of like a psycho-sexual, spiritual frisson, as a writer I think we’re always searching for that intuitive, creative energy, the moment where we make something we couldn’t have planned consciously. So in one sense I hope that my book has a little bit of that in it, but also in a simpler way I hope that the reader just gets some type of pleasure from reading it. I tried to make it a funny book.
2. The stories in this book vary widely in theme, tone, and subject matter. As the creator, do you see a common thread that ties them all together (besides you, of course!)
I think you hit the nail on the head, it’s all centred on my experiences, I like how in life we never experience one subject in isolation. It’s been said often how we need to understand intersectionality to understand the world’s problems. So when I write about gay cruising I also want to write about wage labour and about how technology has created a system where images are more important than reality because I see how all those things inform and influence each other, I think of them as all part of one process. In another way the choice is sort of “slice of life” or naturalistic, I just want to give people a little peek into my brain, in which I am often thinking a thousand things at once and trying to make connections between them.
3. If only one of these stories could be published, which one would you choose and why?
It’s hard to pick one. I’m very focused on craft, because it takes me so long to draw things I have two streams where I try and do some stories faster and take a lot longer with other stories. I think just from a craft perspective “The Misfortunes of Virtue” is the closest to my ideal peak performance. I love all my children though, “The Dead Father” was my first story and still very close to my heart.
4. The book includes stories about the creative process and COVID. How has the pandemic affected your creative process?
The start of the pandemic really messed me up creatively, I got COVID right away and it knocked me out for over two months, I couldn’t work more than a couple of hours a day and my anxiety was also off the charts. As things have progressed though it’s actually been really great for working. Lately I’ve been in the studio 40+ hours a week, it’s giving me a lot of time to focus on comics with no distractions. I am hoping I will wake up in a few months from working on this book and the pandemic will be over!
5. Is there another question you wish I’d asked? If so, what is it?
I can’t think of anything! But I will say I hope people have fun reading the book! It has consumed my life for the past seven years or so, I’ll be very happy seeing it out in the world.