ComicFest is back for 2019! On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 2 to 4 of May at the National Library there will be panels, talks and workshops all day long for comic-lovers of all ages. You can also pick up a free comic from us on May the 4th and celebrate Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC! For full programme click here and follow our updates on our Facebook event.
First up on the blog we have an interview with Ross Murray, an illustrator and comics maker from the Bay of Plenty. His comics ‘Strange Tales From Summer Bay’ and ’Star Wars 90210’ have appeared in VICE and his first graphic novel, ‘Rufus Marigold’, was published in 2019. See more of his work at www.rossmurray.com
Ross Murray appears at ComicFest with the support of the New Zealand Cartoon Archive
Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: Growing up in rural New Zealand in the 1980s, the number of comics that were widely available was very small. Of those, Asterix made the biggest impression. There was something simple and utopian about that small Gaulish village that I still dream of today. I was also an avid reader of the Woman’s Weekly and for awhile they excerpted Star Wars comics within. They had a pink border and I still remember the crushing disappointment I felt when they stopped printing them.
Q: What is your average day like?
A: I arrive at my studio at about 9am after dropping my kids at school. Usually I’ll start with any emailing I need to do, then waste some time on the internet before I start work. To ensure the aforementioned children don’t starve, this will usually involve some form of commercial project – stuff for advertising, publishing, packaging, whatever. In between these jobs or during them when I’m waiting to hear back from clients is when I make comics and personal work. I usually work until 4:30-5pmish but I often end up doing a little more after everyone else has gone to bed, squinting at my laptop until late in the evening and making valuable ground on my path to complete blindness.
Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: This year saw the launch of the collected and extended edition of ‘Rufus Marigold’, published by Earth’s End. ‘Rufus’ was originally a webcomic I made in 2016 but I received a grant from Creative New Zealand last year to expand it into a book. The launch in February doubled as an opening for an exhibition of book-related artwork so I spent time over summer working on material for that which included drawings, paintings and screenprints. It was a lot of work but a really fun experience. I even came close to breaking even which feels like an epic victory.
Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: I usually start with choosing something to listen to while I work. Depending on the task at hand, it’ll either be some kind of music or a podcast. I’m helplessly addicted to American political podcasts. The age of Trump is so distressing and I find some comfort in listening to reports on the resistance and to the sound of the gears of justice grinding ever closer to everyone responsible for that big orange stain. But often it just makes me feel even more depressed. I make myself a plunger of coffee at 10:30am on the dot. I’ll take some kind of break at about 1pm and either walk up Mauao (Mount Maunganui) or go for a swim. Sometimes both. But never at once.
Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: Other artists telling deeply personal stories. Those who use their art to share something vital about themselves. David Foster Wallace, David Bowie, David Lynch. Basically, people named David.
Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: There are way too many to name but here are a few: Karl Wills, Dylan Horrocks, Sarah Laing, Ant Sang, Mat Tait, Alex Cara, Zoë Colling, Theo McDonald, the late great Barry Linton, Anthony Ellison, Toby Morris, Rachel Smythe, Jem Yoshioka, Ned Wenlock, Ralphi, the awesome Team 3000 Press. Aotearoa has so many wonderful creators.
Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: Perhaps a one-man anthology? Something with extremely wide parameters and space for experimentation across different genres and different types of storytelling. Artistically I like to work across a range of styles too so something like this seems like it would be fun.
Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: I guess I’m excited about sharing ‘Rufus Marigold’. In the book, Rufus feels conflicting impulses about sharing his own art and I do too! But every creator knows the thrill of showing something you’ve made to others so I’m hoping that thrill will prevail over wanting to hide in a corner!
Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: Rusty Brown.