Nina Bunjevac’s work reaches out and slaps you across the eyeballs from the first page. She is a comic book artist and illustrator, currently living in Toronto, who originally started her arts training in Yugoslavia. I’ve wanted to get my hands on her recently released book, Heartless (conundrum), since I first saw a picture of the cover.
Her pages are darkly inked with few panels, depicting dark humour and grotesque figures. “Bitters Tears of Zorka Petrovic” was especially striking. Zorka is an anthropomorphic chain-smoking, drug-using, alcoholic cat. Her cartoonishness contrasts with the gritty, harsh realities she finds herself in: having sex with a male stripper in the club bathroom, throwing up, getting an abortion.
All of Bunjevac’s female characters are confronted with harsh realities, but while they may be objectified or mistreated by men, the stories are still about them—their emotions and reactions—while the men remain secondary characters.
The overall tone of Heartless is dark and grotesque, but the art work and feminine perspective are thrilling and tantalizing. I look forward to reading more of Bunjevac’s work, and you can find another pleasingly bleak Zorka Petrovic tale in Taddle Creek #28.