Yukon artist goes back to his comic roots

Cole Pauls was just starting his career when he came up with the idea for his Pizza Punks comic strip.

He was in his second year of art school, studying at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, when a friend asked him to submit something to a local alternative paper. His strip about some punks who really, really love pizza caught on, and Pauls drew the strip for five years before taking a break to work on other projects.

Now, he’s back at it.

“I took a long enough break that it seemed fun and engaging to me again,” said Pauls.

“I’ve been making a lot of Indigenous comics and a lot of heavy subject matter about racism or identity. It’s kind of nice to take a break from such heavy work and do something more lighthearted and fun.”

The cover of Pizza Slice by Vancouver band Dumb. (Cole Pauls)

Pauls has become an important part of a new wave of Indigenous comic artists in Canada. Growing up in Haines Junction, Yukon, Pauls was inspired by his culture and its art, but he wanted to take his work somewhere new.

His comic Dakwakada Warriors earned him the 2020 Indigenous Voices Award, and he’s also been awarded Broken Pencil magazine’s best comic and best zine awards.

But, Pizza Punks has always been close to his heart, so when Conundrum Press decided to publish a compilation of all of his strips, he decided to add a few new panels to the pile.

“It’s really nice to have everything all in one place,” he said. “It’s nice to look at my progression as an artist because the first comic strips in the book I drew when I was 19, and I turned 28 this year … my art has definitely improved quite a bit.”

There’s also a bonus with the Pizza Punks book release. Mint Records is putting out a seven-inch record featuring Vancouver punk bands Dumb and Tough Age. Pauls contributed the album covers and added an eight-page comic to the release.

It all adds up to a great time for Pauls. Right now he’s the face of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival and he’s featured on the cover of the current issue of Quill and Quire.

And, he’s already working on his next book for Cunundrum Press, due out next year.

“I’ve got a lot of drawing to do.”

Read more at CBC.ca