You’ve seen his work. It's in the online Kalamazoo magazine Southwest Michigan's Second Wave. You might also have spotted it in the People’s Food Co-op's newsletter. Or maybe you've seen his work on the walls of Brakeman Design during an Art Hop. Simon Kalil Borst’s comics and graphic designs are popping up all over Kalamazoo, and they are all about Kalamazoo.
The latest addition to Borst’s portfolio is The Kalamazoo Coloring Book, published by Bookbug and released in November 2016. This coloring book is for adults and is a collection of iconic Kalamazoo images.
"Bookbug contacted me and said they were interested in doing a coloring book,” Borst says. “I’ve been doing comics in and about the Kalamazoo area, so they thought I was the right person to do it. They contracted me and gave me creative control over the project.
The book includes 31 drawings of Kalamazoo, mostly of the downtown area. Borst says he started out from a list of about 50 places provided by Bookbug, then pared it down to what appealed most to his artistic sense.
“A lot of those images came from me riding my bike around the city,” Borst says. “On those rides, I would capture pictures that I thought would contribute to a whole picture of the city.”
Although the book is meant mostly for adults, Borst says he included images with a range of difficulty and detail so younger people might also enjoy tackling some with crayons or colored pencils.
Borst is also known for comics he's drawn to illustrate his experience as a student who benefited from the Kalamazoo Promise college scholarship. He also followed Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell around to create a comic that illustrated his typically busy days.
Borst says the comic about the Kalamazoo Promise, “Was created for Second Wave and it illustrated anecdotally the effects of the Promise by profiling several students who were recipients of it, who then graduated from college and returned to Kalamazoo.”
Comics and graphic novels are seeing a new surge in popularity. Borst says his challenge is, "...coming home to work and knowing that this can’t be a 200-page novel. How to pare down all the information I’ve learned and experienced into something concrete that people can digest? I see a lot of value in this city as almost a socioeconomic microcosm of the U.S. Kalamazoo faces a lot of dilemmas and victories as a city having a very diverse demographic of people, racially, politically, and economically. I look to balance human stories with a bigger picture.”
Listen to WMUK's Between the Lines every Tuesday at 7:50 a.m., 11:55 a.m., and 4:20 p.m.