Sherwin Tjia

Sherwin Tjia is a Montreal-based poet, painter and illustrator who works as a medical illustrator for McGill University. He was born in Toronto to Chinese Canadian parents in 1975. His work has appeared in numerous literary magazines and anthologies.


Gentle Fictions

Toronto: Insomniac Press, 2001.
PS8589 .J52 G4 2001

Publisher’s Synopsis

Gentle Fictions represents Tjia’s exploration of both the essence and limits of poetry. Here, the traditional and innovative meet to form a riptide. These poems utilize a variety of forms and conceits toward expressing a world view that is tender and turbulent


The World is a Heartbreaker

Toronto: Coach House Books, 2005.
PS8589 .J52 W67 2005

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

The World Is a Heartbreaker inaugurates a new subgenre: imposter poetry. This collection is a set of 1600 pseudohaikus, bite-sized chunks of poetic goodness shotgunned at the distracted masses.
What’s a pseudohaiku? It’s the poetry of pure indulgence, a three-liner without the constraint, the pretension or the 5–7–5 syllable form. The subject matter? Relationships, cats, insecurities – themes recur and build into a kind of non-linear narrative.

Awards and Honours

2005 A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry — Quebec Writers’ Federation (Nominated)

Fiction (Graphic novel)

The Hipless Boy

Released under pseudonym: Sully.
Montreal: Conundrum Press, 2009.

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

Say for a second you’re just a normal person. You live in a hipster neighbourhood but you’re not a hipster. You’re hipless. This the premise behind this collection of interlinked stories done in a graphic novel format that originally found life as a weekly column in the McGill Daily. The protagonist here tries to live his life like an open heart, and a curious cat, meeting and mingling with a collection of Montreal oddballs. He finds love, loses love, learns to like cross-dressing, and finds something else. Along for the ride are his best friends Minerva and Owen. She is a semi-bisexual private-school dropout, he is an art-school fabulist who constantly conjures up new ways to court controversy. Crisp linework resonating with clean writing, the short stories collected here reveal an inter-woven community of new adults, struggling to find families of their own making.

Awards and Honours

2009 Expozine Alternative Press Awards – English comic (Finalist)
2010 Ignatz Awards (Finalist in 4 categories: Outstanding Artist, Outstanding Anthology or Collection, Outstanding Story, Promising New Talent)
2010 Doug Wright Awards – Best Emerging Talent (Finalist)

Fiction (Graphic novel)

Pedigree Girls

Toronto: Insomniac Press, 2001.
PN6734 .P42 T54 2001eb (Ebook; access restricted to members of the Ryerson community)

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

Privileged since birth and smugly self-satisfied, the Pedigree Girls are the stars of a comic strip written and illustrated by multi-talented Montréal artist Sherwin Tjia. These strips are highly addictive, darkly funny and desperately subversive. Revelling in adolescent dysfunction and sociopathology — from snobbery and sex to fashion and cannibalism — the strips plunge the reader into the daily atrocities that make up the lives of two wicked private school girls.

Book cover the Pedigree Girls published in the United Kingdom

Fiction (Graphic novel)

Pedigree Girls

London: Saqi Books, 2005.
PN6734 .P42 T54 2005

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

The Pedigree Girls would sell their own parents for a diamond necklace, had they not already killed them for the life insurance.
With Prada handbags where their hearts should be, the musings of these teenage trust-funders – on everything from incest to fashion to cannibalism – do not merely cut close to the bone, but positively hack it to pieces.
You won’t know whether to laugh, cry or call the police.

Book cover of Serial Villain

Fiction (Graphic novel for mature audiences)

Serial Villain

Written and illustrated by Sherwin Tjia
Montreal: Conundrum Press, 2012.
PS8589 .J52 S47 2012

Publisher’s Synopsis

In this parodic collection of illustrated short stories, … Tjia concocts B-movie noir narratives filled with serial killers, mob bosses, cops and kidnappers encountering betrayal, femme fatales, and more plot twists than a Moebius strip.
The first book in the Cinder Block Books series, Serial Villains recalls the dark and stylish film posters of the 50s as well as reviving the brick-like Illustrated Classics books of the 70s and 80s.


Book cover of You are a Cat

Fiction (Graphic novel)(Pick-a-plot series ; 1)

You are a Cat!

Written and illustrated by Sherwin Tjia
Montreal: Conundrum Press, 2011.

Publisher’s Synopsis (adapted from its website)

Inspired by the [plot-your-own stories] gamebook fad of the late 80s — You Are a Cat! is both a parody and homage, focusing on a dysfunctional family, but told through the eyes of their cat. Fully a third of the book is lavishly illustrated from the feline first-person floor perspective. The different choices you make affect people and events! Even something as seemingly trivial as whether or not to purr can result in dramatic changes.

Awards and Honours

2011 Expozine Alternative Press Awards – Best English book (Winner)

You are a Cat in the Zombie Apocalypse book cover

Fiction (Graphic novel)(Pick-a-plot series ; 2)

You are a Cat in the Zombie Apocalypse!

Written and illustrated by Sherwin Tjia
Montreal: Conundrum Press, 2013.

Publisher’s Synopsis

You are Holden Catfield.  You’re a cat!  It’s a pretty peaceful life.  But one day the man in the family you live with comes home feeling sick, passing out in the living room.  When he awakes, he tries to bite everyone!  Quickly you’re all out the door.  The girls are getting into a car but your thoughts stray to your girlfriend several houses down the alley.  What will you do?

You Are a Kitten book cover

Fiction (Graphic novel)(Pick-a-plot series ; 3)

You are a Kitten!

Written and illustrated by Sherwin Tjia
Montreal: Conundrum Press, 2015.

Publisher’s Synopsis

You are a couple months out of your mother’s belly. You’re brand new! You don’t even have a name yet. Well you do — but it’s not very nice. The couple that own you fight all the time. So much so that to hurt the other person, one of them stuffs you in a plastic bag and flings you into the canal! As the bag begins to fill with water colder than you’ve ever experienced, a wild panic grips you!

Fiction (Graphic novel)(Pick-a-plot series ; 4)

You Are Alice in Wonderland’s Mum!

Written and illustrated by Sherwin Tjia
Montreal: Conundrum Press, 2017.

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

London, 1862. When your daughters Lorina and Alice go for an afternoon’s picnic in Hyde Park, Alice goes astray! You practically run your legs off looking for her, but as night falls you panic. You look for a clue, a sign — anything. And that’s when a smelly vagrant steps out from behind a tree and offers you information in exchange for coin… or a kiss. If you decide to ignore him, continue searching on page 42. But if you hear him out, turn to page 12. The choice is yours!

In a quest to find your daughter that will take you through the seedy underbelly of London’s Whitechapel district and up into the secret debauched heart of its richest denizens, You Are Alice in Wonderland’s Mum! allows you to make the choices that will bring your dear daughter home, or lose her to Wonderland forever.

Selected Criticism and Interpretation

Stout, John. “Rewriting and Postmodern Poetics in Canada: Neo-Haikus, Neo-Sonnets, Neo-Lullibyes, Manifestos.” In Public Poetics: Critical Issues in Canadian Poetry and Poetics, edited by Bart Vautour, Erin Wunker, Travis V. Mason, and Christl Verduyn. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2015, 87-108.
PS8155.1 .P82 2015


Publisher Coach House Books

Publisher Conundrum Press

Publisher Insomniac Press

Publisher Saqi Books