Response to the response

Fed up with publishers’ unwillingness to take a chance, writer/illustrator GMB Chomnichuk started his own imprint

Writer and illustrator GMB Chomichuk has been communicating through words and pictures for as long as he can remember. He’s spent years and countless hours perfecting his craft and it’s paying off in spades. 

Chomichuk won the Manitoba Book Award for Best Illustrated Book in 2011 and was nominated for Best Canadian Graphic Novel at the 2012 and 2013 Aurora Awards. The buzz surrounding Chomichuk’s work is ever-growing, but it wasn’t always that way.

“‘We like it, but it’s too different’ is the feedback I’d get from publishers,” Chomichuk says. “I got it so often that I decided to believe it and respect their position as publishers. Publishing is a risk, a big one. They didn’t want to risk it in a changing and difficult marketplace.”

The feedback propelled Chomichuk to start his own publishing house, Alchemical Press, with fellow writer and businessman John Toone.

“We’ve published three graphic novels, two kid’s books and the Call/Response book in support of Kids Help Phone,” Chomichuk says. “Once something exists people judge it on what it is, not what it might be.”

 “When the books came out, we started attending conventions and they were nominated for awards too. That opened up opportunities and the door with other publishers. It built my own writing and illustration up to a critical mass and got things moving.”

These days Chomichuk has his hands full with many, many projects. Yet as busy as he is, Chomichuk will tell you he’s a family man first – and that matters when it comes to the people he chooses to work with.

“I’m a husband and father and I think that is the best, most important job in the world. I work hard to find people who want to put their families and relationships first. People with proper priorities will understand my own.”

He says it’s a fine balance.

“As a father, husband and teacher there are valuable moments that get traded for that time to work. It’s the reality,” Chomichuk says. “As a writer or illustrator there is an internal drive to get better at the craft. The real challenge in my life is the same as with everyone: How do I balance everything I want to accomplish against the time we need to build a life full of love and belonging? Success is only as grand as the hearts you share it with.”

It’s because of that attitude, drive and passion that people will be seeing much more from Chomichuk very soon.

“In the very near future look for Underworld from Renegade Arts Entertainment,” Chomichuk says. “Raygun Gothic, which you can read just by Googling “Raygun Gothic Graphic Novel” and my new graphic novel from ChiGraphic next year. There will also be a follow up to The Imagination Manifesto from Alchemical Press.”

Published in Volume 68, Number 11 of The Uniter (November 13, 2013)

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