Wednesday, September 15, 2010

KENK: The Animated Graphic Novel

As I was posting the Writers Festival schedule, I spotted this co-production we're doing with the Ottawa Animation Festival: a screening of the film based on the graphic novel Kenk. I have to say I'm interested, and kind of bummed that I'll be working that night at the Festival, so won't be able to go. I've been hearing, off and on, about the graphic novel, and I'd love to check out the film.

Who or what is Kenk, I hear some people (who probably don't live in Ontario) asking? Igor Kenk is, or was, according to the New York Times, "the world's most prolific bicycle thief." He worked out of The Bicycle Clinic on Queen St. W. in Toronto for years until eventually he was raided in 2008 and almost 3,000 bikes were confiscated by the police. Since then he's sort of become something of a legend. I don't live in Toronto, so I don't feel the same kind of visceral reaction to his very existence that I gather some Torontonian cyclists do. But I do remember a piece on CBC Radio dating from when he was raided: the documentary followed cyclists walking through the yard full of confiscated bikes looking for something they recognized, like survivors walking around a battlefield looking for their loved ones. And the graphic novel, which apparently reads like a documentary, draws heavily on extensive interviews with Kenk himself.

I'm fascinated. With luck, the book, at least, will be available at the Festival. If not, I suppose there's always the option of ordering it in through my favorite bookstore... And if I do get a chance to see the film, I'll let you know what I think!


  1. The Ottawa library actually already has the book and the waiting list if you place a hold online is pretty short. Looking forward to see it.

    On the subject, I just read "The Island of bicycle dancers", by Jiro Adachi and it's hands down the best book about urban cycling I ever read, plus it's a great novel altogether!

  2. Hey, thanks for the tip! I'll have to see if I can get on the waiting list at the library. And thanks for the lead on "The Island of Bicycle Dancers" too - Maybe I should start putting together a reading list for this blog... I read David Byrne's "Bicycle Diaries" last fall: another good one.