ComicFest 2019 – 5 minutes with Ant Sang

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.


Next up on our special “5 minutes with…” series is Ant Sang. He is the author of celebrated graphic novels The Dharma Punks, Shaolin Burning, and co-author of Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas. Ant was the designer for the animated television show bro’Town. When not writing and drawing, he teaches ‘Comics and Graphic Novels’ at Manukau Institute of Technology. Ant Sang appears at ComicFest with the support of Penguin Books.


Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: My childhood was filled with comics and I’ve loved them for as long as I can remember. I’ve always loved the way a comic can magically transport a reader to an imaginary world.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: My days vary a lot. When I’m working on a big project like a graphic novel, I’ll spend long hours writing or drawing all day (and often into the late night). I juggle this with freelance work; book illustrations, storyboards for television commercials etc. Twice a week, I teach comics at Manukau Institute of Technology, as part of the Creative Arts programme.

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: The most recent comics project I’ve completed is the graphic novel Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas, which was a collaboration with author Michael Bennett. It’s a wild sci-fi, time-travel, dystopian future story.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: I usually get into the mood by choosing music to listen to while I work. I might listen to the same song a couple of times to get myself into the right mood for the scene or artwork I’m going to work on.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: I’ve had so many influences at different stages of my life. When I was a kid I’d spend hours copying Asterix and Disney drawings. As a teenager I was a huge Frank Frazetta fan. More recently I love the brush work of Paul Pope; the detail, energy and speed lines of James Harren; and also the storytelling of manga comics from classics like Akira to more contemporary stuff like Goodnight Punpun. Independent and alternative comics are a big influence on me also, in terms of subject matter and creating personal stories which have emotional impact; artists like Chester Brown, Dan Clowes, and Julie Doucett really float my boat.

Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: There’s too many to mention aren’t there. Off the top of my head Dylan Horrocks, Tim Kidd, Karl Wills, Sarah Laing, Indira Neville, Ross Murray, Ben Stenbeck and the late (and great) Barry Linton and Martin Emond.

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: I think my dream comic project is always the next comic I’m thinking up. I’m super excited about my next idea, which is far from fully-formed. I’m exploring the idea of doing a wild, no-holds-barred, web-comic. I want to do a short comic (maybe 60 pages, I’m calling it a ‘graphic novella’) – a simple story with an emphasis not so much on plot but on the experience itself.

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: At MIT I’ve been teaching a way to learn (and make) comics using individual panels, which was inspired by the way Chester Brown makes his comics. I’m keen to show this method in my workshop.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: I can’t imagine ever doing cosplay lol.

You can find Ant online at
Instagram: @antasang_art