To celebrate the publication of her first children's book The Brave Bilbuggies, lesbian author Genevieve Sipperley and illustrator Alex Martin held a book launch party at Simon's Bar and Tavern June 19. About 45 people attended the event featuring raffles, giveaways and book-signing.
The book centers around Tulipwood, a rogue flower who has been stealing from the forest creatures and the meadow, and the Brave Bilbuggies' quest to find the stolen belongings and teach Tulipwood a lesson about sharing.
"The book was written three years ago but it was a struggle to find the right illustrator who could bring my characters to life. ... Then Alex came along and illustrated one of the pages in the book and after that I knew she was the right illustrator for the book," said Sipperley. "I've written screenplays and short stories before but I've always wanted to do a children's book because I like making up stories for kids.
"The characters are inspired by my childhood especially Ugi the bear which is based on my stuffed animal bear that was in my crib when I was born, which I still have. This book is the first one in a series and I'm very, very excited."
Martin said, "I really enjoyed working on this project with Genevieve. We worked for about three months, which is really fast for a project like this. The story Genevieve weaved made it easy to draw the characters because as an artist I have to be inspired by the characters.
"If the story is good it's easy to do the drawings. This is my first time illustrating a children's book and I'm really excited because I usually draw comics [and] animations, and do graphic design."
See www.thebravebilbuggies.com for more information.
Photos and text by Carrie Maxwell
by Billeh Nickerson
Pulp Press; 96 pages
by TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER
A little of this and a little of that...
It's the way conversation flows when you're with a friend. You mosey from subject to subject, you touch upon a funny story which leads to another topic you can both gnaw on before you move to something totally different.
That's a glue that holds you together. It's the stuff of friendship. And in the new book Artificial Cherry, by Billeh Nickerson, it's several points to ponder.
In his travels, poet and spoken-word artist Nickerson has seen it all. More or less.
He's seen interesting things done with a glass eye, an object you almost never hear about unless it has to do with a certain actress. He's seen buildings that have been gentrified, and remembered the particular reason why they resonated so well in his memories, struggling not to blurt the truth to his unsuspecting host. He's been asked peculiar questions by a doctor in Montreal just before he "fell in love with the possibility of what a misplaced medical chart could offer my anatomy…" And he's pondered the usefulness of thumbs. ( Imagine hitchhiking without them. )
His experiences haven't all been odd: While apartment hunting, he noted the dirt and other objects left behind by previous tenants. He couldn't ignore something so poignantly personal, though; something that "shadowed everything in its wake."
And then there was the Pacific Northwest Elvis Festival, held on the "shores of Okanagan Lake" in Canada and filled with fun and food. More than twenty Elvis impersonators gathered to entertain fans of the King.
The most impressive thing about those fans, says Nickerson, was that they actually cleaned up after themselves.
In this book, Nickerson pens poems and short essays about these and other things. He writes about poetry that he couldn't bear to read publicly in the days after 9/11 and that was uncomfortable, even years later. He wonders what would have happened if Mary had named Jesus something else ( knowing, surely, that the name of a Montreal credit union would have to change, too ). And he writes movingly of his grandfather's dream of running with dogs, his grandmother's dreams of dancing, and he hears the music to accompany both.
Though it's briefa little too brief, I thoughtArtificial Cherry contains plenty: sass; silliness; a bit of the scandalous, wry observations; "irony;" laughs; absurdity; sadness; and observations that will make you stop and think.
Nickerson has a great eye for what most people don't notice, in fact, and his poems bring those things to light. There's really no theme to this bookjust poems and very short musings on whatever Nickerson deems fit, which gives it a good browse-ability. No matter where you jump in, though, the rest of his work will beg to be read and you'll happily oblige.
At well under 100 pages, this book won't take you long to read … the first time. Past that, it's something you'll want to read again and ( maybe ) read aloud because Artificial Cherry is the real deal.
Want more? Look for Let Me Kiss It Better or The Asthmatic Glassblower: And Other Poems, both by Nickerson.