A local cartoonist whose comics and illustrations appear regularly on Bushwick Daily has created a limited edition crayon to coincide with the release of his new book, Stranger Than Bushwick. Jeremy Nguyen says the delicately named “Gentrification White” was inspired by a punchline from one of his first comic strips.
“I forced myself to write something that was accessible to people who’ve never set foot in Bushwick, the locals, and finally had something to do with art,” he said of his comic strip that first appeared in an appropriate enough context — a guide for Bushwick Open Studios 2014.
Nguyen moved to Bushwick from Inwood in 2011 to be closer to the action. “I’m a huge fan of stand-up and my favorite shows like comedy at the Knitting Factory run really late and are more accessible off the L train line. Desert Island, the comics store, was right off the Lorimer train,” he said. “To me, comedy and art were all happening in Williamsburg, but there was no way I could afford it. I read up on Bushwick, weighed the drugs and crime against how much rent I’d be paying, and I ended up liking it way more than Williamsburg.”
Whereas the drugs might be a big draw for many young artists moving to Bushwick, Nguyen came looking for cultural resources. Shortly after, he started drawing comics related to his experiences living in his new neighborhood. Though much of his works assails well-trodden tropes such as banal hipster culture, garbage, luxury real estate development, garbage, attractive people on the L train, more garbage, and Lena Dunham (Nguyen likens a raincoat-wearing Dunham to a yellow peanut M&M), he’s right on with the whole “Millennial-probz” thing.
But Nguyen says he tries to avoid certain subject matter. “There are way better jokes to be made than ‘hipsters’ and ‘artisanal,’ you won’t see either of those words mentioned in my comics ever,” he said.
If you’re interested in owning a piece of Bushwick history all your own, you can snag one of the 50 limited-edition “Gentrify White” crayons along with a copy of Stranger Than Bushwick at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) Festival (April 11 and 12 in Chelsea) and at the Brooklyn Zine Fest (April 25 and 26 in Brooklyn Heights).