One size does not fit all: New Design books

This month’s selection of new design books features Defined by Design, a book that delves into the hidden biases in everyday things, and how this ineffective design can affect our self-image, and even our health. From clothes to buildings to public transport, one size does not fit all.

Syndetics book coverRobot house : instrumentation, representation, fabrication / Peter Testa ; forewords by Greg Lynn and Eric Owen Moss.
“Robotics is the fastest-growing and most exciting area of development in architecture and architectural education for a generation, offering new paradigms for design and fabrication. Schools and practices around the world are installing machines, but few have the experience to appreciate the full design potential of their application. Robot House features projects produced by the most advanced robotics design studio in the world, often interacting with a wide range of technologies from motion capture to material science–a realm far beyond the capabilities of 3D printing.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe botanical hand-lettering workbook : draw whimsical & decorative styles & scripts / by Bethany Robertson.
“Learn the art of hand-lettering. This step-by-step workbook teaches you how to craft pretty letters and flowers of all sorts. Use your newfound botanical lettering skills to make cards, wedding invitations, banners, tags, paper bouquets and other fun projects.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe red thread : Nordic design.
“From literature to food, lifestyle to fashion, cinema to architecture, Nordic influence is evident throughout contemporary culture. The Red Thread: Nordic Design celebrates this deep-rooted aesthetic, showcasing the diversity of design from Scandinavia and Finland via more than 200 objects – from everyday items to exquisitely produced decorative glassware, and from traditional handmade textiles to mass-produced products found in homes across the globe. The title is taken from a metaphor, common in the Nordic countries, of a shared and highlighted characteristic (like a long connecting thread in woven material), that runs through and connects themes, ideas, stories, and, in this case, design.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDefined by design : the surprising power of hidden gender, age, and body bias in everyday products and places / Kathryn H. Anthony.
“This wide-ranging overview of design in everyday life demonstrates how design shapes our lives in ways most of us would never imagine. The author, a leading expert in social and psychological issues in design, uncovers the gender, age, and body biases inherent in the designs of common products and living spaces that we all routinely use. From the schools our children attend and the buildings we work in to ill-fitting clothes and one-size-fits-all seating in public transportation, restaurants, and movie theaters, we are surrounded by an artificial environment that can affect our comfort, our self-image, and even our health. This fascinating book will teach readers to recognize the hidden biases in certain products and places and to work for more intelligent and healthy design in all areas of life.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJump start responsive web design / by Chris Ward.
“It used to be so simple. You made a website or application to work on a 15” monitor and, incompatibilities between browsers aside, you were done. Then along came mobile phones with web browsers and they ruined all our easy lives. Worse than that, people loved browsing the web on them! Fortunately, by using responsive web design techniques, you can use one set of HTML, CSS and JavaScript, and display appropriate elements in an appropriate way to suit each platform. In Jump Start Responsive Web Design, you’l learn responsive techniques to make your designs look magnificent on any device, future-proof them, and reduce development time and budget.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Shard : the vision of Irvine Sellar / Howard Watson.
“In 2000, Irvine Sellar, a former market trader famous for helping to create the look of the Swinging Sixties on Carnaby Street, stood on a rooftop in Southwark, London, and decided to build the tallest building in western Europe. He had virtually no experience, and he wanted to build at the wrong height, in the wrong place, on the wrong side of the river and at the wrong time. Twelve years later, the Shard, a ‘vertical city’ designed by one of the world’s leading architects, Renzo Piano, changed the skyline of London. It immediately became one of the most instantly recognizable and admired contemporary buildings in the world. This is the story of one man’s vision for London and his determination to redefine an ancient but maligned part of the city despite seemingly insurmountable challenges. At every twist in the tale, Sellar refused to give up.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIllustration : what’s the point? / Mouni Feddag.
“Of all the graphic arts, illustration is currently the most dynamic and exciting. In every medium – advertising, book publishing, product design, houseware and home furnishings – new talents are emerging, making their mark and (in some cases) a fortune out of their illustration skills. But why? In this uniquely presented book, gifted illustrator Mouni Feddag takes on the subject and gives it the treatment it deserves.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTravels with Frank Lloyd Wright / Gwyn Lloyd Jones.
“By retracing Frank Lloyd Wright’s footsteps on journeys he made beyond his homeland of the USA, this book explores his global ambitions and his lasting legacy and offers an original and contemporary view of Wright and his architecture. By considering Wright beyond America, his architecture is critiqued against different cultural settings so that his architecture can be evaluated as emerging from a new globalized era of architectural production. It reflects on Frank Lloyd Wright as an early promoter of globalization – in fact, as the first international ‘starchitect’.” (Syndetics summary)

Katherine Mansfield’s first published story discovered at our library

Previously undiscovered letters and a story written by a young Katherine Mansfield were recently unearthed in Wellington City Libraries’ archives by a local author researching a book about the famous writer.

Previously unknown to Mansfield’s modern readers and scholars, the short story His Little Friend, by a then 11-year-old Kathleen M. Beauchamp (her given name), was published on the children’s page of the New Zealand Graphic on 13 October 1900.

Katherine Mansfield's 'His Little Friend'

The story is reprinted in full in Redmer Yska’s new book, A Strange Beautiful Excitement: Katherine Mansfield’s Wellington 1888–1903. Redmer describes the story, about the friendship between a lonely, elderly man and an impoverished child, as showing the young Mansfield “grappling with harsh, bleak truths at a young age, paving the way for much of what was to come”.

Local History and Rare Books Librarian Gábor Tóth, who looks after the Wellington Central Library’s collection of bound copies of the New Zealand Graphic, was instrumental in the discovery.

“I knew that we hold what is probably the largest collection of hard-copies of this weekly magazine in New Zealand, and also how popular it had been among middle-class women in the two decades leading up to World War I,” says Gábor.

Other than a few short pieces in school magazines, it was believed that Mansfield’s first formally published work wasn’t printed until 1907. To uncover a short story dated seven years before then was an extraordinary find.

“Knowing that Redmer was writing a new biography of Katherine Mansfield, I encouraged him to look through a few volumes of the magazine. Partly because it helps paint a picture of what Wellington was like at the turn of last century, but also because I had come across several references to the Beauchamp family in the ‘society’ pages when I had previously browsed through copies.”

Syndetics book coverThe discovery of the unknown writings has excited local and international experts. “Other than a few short pieces in school magazines, it was believed that Mansfield’s first formally published work wasn’t printed until 1907. To uncover a short story dated seven years before then was an extraordinary find; and it was fitting that Redmer was the person to find it,” adds Gábor.

Redmer Yska’s new book, A Strange Beautiful Excitement: Katherine Mansfield’s Wellington 1888–1903, published by Otago University Press, is being launched today at Unity Books Wellington. You can also reserve the new book from our catalogue now.

His Little Friend by Katherine Masnfield

Films based on books at #NZIFF 2017

We love movies based on books, and we love the New Zealand International Film Festival! Maybe you’ve read the book and want to see the adaptation, or maybe you just think “I’ve heard of that!” Whatever the reason, check out the great films based on these literary works during this year’s festival.

Berlin Syndrome directed by Cate Shortland. Based on the novel Berlin Syndrome.
Syndetics book coverBerlin syndrome / Melanie Joosten.
“One afternoon, near the tourist trap of Checkpoint Charlie, Clare meets Andi. There is an instant attraction, and when Andi invites her to stay, Clare thinks she may finally have found somewhere to call home. But as the days pass and the walls of Andi’s apartment close in, Clare begins to wonder if it’s really love that Andi is searching for a or something else altogether. Berlin Syndrome is a closely observed and gripping psychological thriller that shifts between Andi’s and Clare’s perspectives, revealing the power of obsession, the fluidity of truth, and the kaleidoscopic nature of human relationships.” (Syndetics summary)

Blade of the Immortal directed by Miike Takashi. Based on the manga series Blade of the Immortal.
Syndetics book coverBlade of the immortal [1] : blood of a thousand / art and story, Hiroaki Samura.
“To end his eternal suffering, he must slay one thousand enemies! Manji, a ronin warrior of feudal Japan, has been cursed with immortality. To rid himself of this curse and end his life of misery, he must slay one thousand evil men! His quest begins when a young girl seeks his help in taking revenge on her parents’ killers… and his quest won’t end until the blood of a thousand has spilled!” (Syndetics summary)

Call Me By Your Name directed by Luca Guadagnino. Based on the novel Call Me By Your Name.
Syndetics book coverCall me by your name / André Aciman.
Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliff-side mansion on the Italian Riviera. Unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, at first each feigns indifference. But during the restless summer weeks that follow, unrelenting buried currents of obsession and fear, fascination and desire, intensify their passion as they test the charged ground between them. What grows from the depths of their spirits is a romance of scarcely six weeks’ duration and an experience that marks them for a lifetime.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Ethel & Ernest directed by Roger Mainwood. Based on the graphic novel by Raymond Briggs.
Syndetics book coverEthel & Ernest / Raymond Briggs.
“Ethel & Ernest is the story of Raymond Briggs’s parents lives from their first chance encounter to their deaths. Their story provides a social history of the lives of two ordinary people living in England during the 20th century. Through Ethel and Ernest the reader learns how the average person coped with the many changes in the 20th century including, the dark days of the Second World War, the birth of the Welfare State and the advent of television. Told in Brigg’s unique strip-cartoon format.” (Syndetics summary)

Heal the Living directed by Katell Quillévéré. Based on the novel The Heart.
Syndetics book coverThe heart : a novel / Maylis de Kerangal ; translated by Sam Taylor.
“Just before dawn on a Sunday morning, three teenage boys go surfing. Returning home, exhausted, the driver lets the car drift off the road into a tree. Two of the boys are wearing seat belts; one is sent through the windshield. He is declared brain-dead shortly after arriving at the hospital. His heart is still beating. The Heart takes place over the twenty-four hours surrounding a fatal accident and a resulting heart transplant as life is taken from a young man and given to a woman close to death. In gorgeous, ruminative prose it examines the deepest feelings of everyone involved–grieving parents, hardworking doctors and nurses–as they navigate decisions of life and death.” (Syndetics summary)

In Times of Fading Light directed by Matti Geschonneck. Based on the novel by Eugen Ruge.
Syndetics book coverIn times of fading light : the story of a family / Eugen Ruge ; translated from the German by Anthea Bell.
In Times of Fading Light begins in September 2001 as Alexander Umnitzer, who has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer, leaves behind his ailing father to fly to Mexico, where his grandparents lived as exiles in the 1940s. The novel then takes us both forward and back in time, creating a panoramic view of the family’s history: from Alexander’s grandparents’ return to the GDR to build the socialist state, to his father’s decade spent in a gulag for criticizing the Soviet regime, to his son’s desire to leave the political struggles of the twentieth century in the past. With wisdom, humor, and great empathy, Eugen Ruge draws on his own family history as he masterfully brings to life the tragic intertwining of politics, love, and family under the East German regime.” (Syndetics summary)

Jasper Jones directed by Rachel Perkins. Based on the novel by Craig Silvey.
Syndetics book coverJasper Jones : a novel / Craig Silvey.
“Late on a hot summer night in the tail end of 1965, Charlie Bucktin, a precocious and bookish boy of thirteen, is startled by an urgent knock on the window of his sleep-out. His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in the regional mining town of Corrigan. Rebellious, mixed-race and solitary, Jasper is a distant figure of danger and intrigue for Charlie. So when Jasper begs for his help, Charlie eagerly steals into the night by his side, terribly afraid but desperate to impress. Jasper takes him through town and to his secret glade in the bush, and it’s here that Charlie bears witness to Jasper’s horrible discovery. In the simmering summer where everything changes, Charlie learns why the truth of things is so hard to know, and even harder to hold in his heart.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

The Lost City of Z directed by James Gray. Based on the book by David Grann.
Syndetics book coverThe lost city of Z : a legendary British explorer’s deadly quest to uncover the secrets of the Amazon / David Grann.
“Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett was the last of a breed of great British explorers who ventured into ‘blank spots’ on the map with little more than a machete, a compass and a sense of purpose. In 1925, the last great blank spot in the world was in the Amazon. Fawcett believed the jungle held a secret to a large, complex civilization, which he christened the City of Z, but is also known as El Dorado. When he and his son embarked upon their journey into the Amazon they warned that none should follow them in the event that they did not return. They vanished without a trace. In The Lost City of Z, David Grann ventures into the hazardous wild world of the Amazon to retrace the footsteps of the great Colonel Fawcett and those who followed in a bracing attempt to solve a mystery centuries in the making.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

A Monster Calls directed by J. A. Bayona. Based on the novel by Patrick Ness.
Syndetics book coverA monster calls : a novel / by Patrick Ness ; from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd ; illustrations by Jim Kay.
“The monster showed up just after midnight. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his back garden, though, this monster is something different. Something ancient, something wild. Winner of the National Book Tokens Children’s Book of the Year Award 2011.” (Syndetics summary)

My Friend Dahmer directed by Marc Meyers. Based on the graphic novel by Derf.
Syndetics book coverMy friend Dahmer : a graphic novel / [text and illustrations] by Derf Backderf ; [editor, Charles Kochman].
“In 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer–the most notorious serial killer since Jack the Ripper–seared himself into the American consciousness. To the public, Dahmer was a monster who committed unthinkable atrocities. To Derf Backderf, “Jeff” was a much more complex figure: a high school friend with whom he had shared classrooms, hallways, and car rides. In My Friend Dahmer, a haunting and original graphic novel, writer-artist Backderf creates a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a disturbed young man struggling against the morbid urges emanating from the deep recesses of his psyche–a shy kid, a teenage alcoholic, and a goofball who never quite fit in with his classmates. With profound insight, what emerges is a Jeffrey Dahmer that few ever really knew, and one readers will never forget.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Swallows and Amazons directed by Philippa Lowthorpe. Based on the novel by Arthur Ransome.
Syndetics book coverSwallows and Amazons / Arthur Ransome ; illustrated by the author with help from Miss Nancy Blackett.
“The Walker children — also known as Captain John, Mate Susan, Able-Seaman Titty, and Ship’s Boy Roger — set sail on the Swallow and head for Wild Cat Island. There they camp under open skies, swim in clear water and go fishing for their dinner. But their days are disturbed by the Blackett sisters, the fierce Amazon pirates. The Swallows and Amazons decide to battle it out, and so begins a summer of unforgettable discoveries and incredible adventures.” (Syndetics summary)

Finding home: New Design & Architecture books in June

This month we have books on various forms and styles of housing – industrial conversions, mobile homes, historical residences, apartment complexes and more – and explore what the idea of home means in these contexts. We also have Sunshine Spaces by Beci Orpin, to give you some ideas for personalising your living space. For graphic artists and designers we have some fantastic entry points for beginners, focusing on design basics, and highlighting significant design solutions. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverUrban pioneer : interiors inspired by industrial design / Sara Emslie ; photographs by Benjamin Edwards.
“The conversion of such buildings into residential spaces first emerged in the 1960s and ‘70s. A decline in manufacturing in city centres meant that many warehouses and factories became vacant, attracting the first wave of urban pioneers—artists and creatives seeking cheap rents and large interiors to use as studio spaces. In Urban Pioneer, Sara Emslie investigates the practice for transforming non-residential spaces into homes, the key elements of the look—from exposed brickwork to copper piping and metal roof trusses—and the related rise in the popularity of industrial design. She then explores 12 inspiring and varied real-life homes that showcase the very best of the Urban Pioneer look.” (Amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverMobitecture : architecture on the move / Rebecca Roke.
“An inspiring, surprising and fun collection of mobile, portable and moveable architecture including houseboats, caravans, tents and huts for deserts, oceans, beaches, mountains and cities that demonstrate the exciting possibilities for life on the move. Mobitecture includes structures powered by motorbike, bicycle, mobility scooter, ski, car, tractor, donkey, shopping trolley, sled as well as human hands and feet.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book coverCreating home : design for living / Keith Summerour ; written with Marc Kristal ; photography by Andrew and Gemma Ingalls
“In this alluring new book, Keith Summerour shares nine houses, exploring their architecture, interiors, and grounds, to illustrate a new idea of home. Reinterpreting and making new his own Southern legacy that speaks both of aristocratic charm and homespun appeal, these homes range from rustic retreats that draw their power from the land to elegant manor houses, but all share extraordinary character and charm that nod to history while reflecting the way people wish to live in the world today.” (Amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverThe new old house : historic & modern architecture combined / Marc Kristal ; foreword by Gil Schafer III.
The New Old House presents 18 private historic homes, from North America to Europe, and traces the ingenious ways architects have revitalized and refreshed them for a new generation. Most of the renovations occurred in the last decade, but all of the homes have origins reaching back into the past, in some cases hundreds of years. These projects address such timely factors as sustainability, multiculturalism, preservation, and style, and demonstrate the unique beauty and elegance that comes from the interweaving of modernity and history.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book coverOld home love / Andy and Candis Meredith.
“Andy and Candis Meredith believe there’s nothing that can’t be fixed. Their passion for saving and renovating old homes, which caught the attention of HGTV, sparked the creation of their new reality series, Old Home Love. Their stunning debut book features never before seen images of more than 15 homes, (including their own, renovated by the couple themselves), do-it-yourself renovation tips and guidance, and their family’s story. Old Home Love will inspire readers to discover the history and beauty behind their own homes, regardless of location or style.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book coverBuilding community : new apartment architecture / Michael Webb.
“This is the first survey in many years to explore contemporary apartments not as raw canvases for interior decoration but as a building type of growing significance. An introduction presents the history of multiple-occupancy housing through its most innovative 20th-century exemplars, from the urbane blocks of Auguste Perret and Henri Sauvage in Paris, to the landscaped housing estates of Weimar Germany and the visionary schemes of Le Corbusier. Buildings range from social housing and micro apartments to “vertical villages”, megastructures and luxury high-rises.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book coverSunshine spaces / Beci Orpin.
“In Sunshine Spaces, designer Beci Orpin shows us how to make and create a range of fun homewares and other fabulous ideas for your outdoor space, including outdoor entertaining as well as how to bring a little of the outdoors inside your home! Inspired by the color and beauty of nature, projects include planter pots and hanging pots, picnic blanket and outdoor cushions, hammock and swing, sun umbrella and many more. Using a range of easily accessible materials including wood, flowers and plants, fabric, rope and string, concrete and some recycled products, Beci shows you everything you need to know about bringing the sunshine into your life and home.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book coverDesign Basics Made Easy
“Graphic design is as important today, as it was before the computer, the ipad and the internet. Understanding colour, spatial relationships, how to work with images and fonts are critical to any form of successful design: a poster, a newsletter, a book cover, an advert, a website. It’s so easy now to create something, using all the powerful software tools but this clear and accessible new book shows you how to make careful judgements, how to work with printers, how to source materials, and how to brief others. Perfect for those exploring design, at any level, and in every form.” (Amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverGraphic : 500 designs that matter.
“The process of visual communication and problem-solving through the use of typography, space, image, and colour informs the way we connect across languages and cultures. Compiled and written by a global team of experts, this book is international in its scope, celebrating the long, rich history of graphic design, from the first sample of movable type and the Nuremberg Chronicle of the fifteenth century to the cutting-edge magazines, posters, and ephemera of today.” (Library catalogue)

5 minutes with Sally Bollinger: Comicfest feature

This year’s ComicFest event was a huge success, with over 1300 attendees on the day! Thanks to all that came along, and if you couldn’t make it, podcasts of the panel discussions will be available online soon. Until then, you can enjoy the last of our 5 minutes with interviews with our guests!

Next up we have Sally Bollinger, creator of both webcomics and video webseries. At Comicfest, Sally was on the A Wellington View – Local Cartoonists panel, along with Jem Yoshioka, Giselle Clarkson and Robyn Kenealy. Find out more from Sally below:

Image by Sally Bollinger
Image by Sally Bollinger

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: We had a lot of Tintin books in my house as a child. And when my dad would read to us (chapter books mostly) I’d draw the scenes and characters. Then I brought a graphic novel of the Hobbit and realised I could be doing this myself. So I did.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: Sadly an average day isn’t necessarily comics related, but it is always about stories! The week is usually about webseries, and the weekend is hopefully about comics. So I’ll chat to my flatmates, answer emails, edit a script or a video, drink tea, stare at the script with a feeling of doom, tidy (because I need to “think”), actually finish the script (because it turns out I haven’t forgotten what words are). Storyboard a loose comic, then get to drawing! (Yay!) I’ll do a couple of warm-up drawings, sketch out several pages, ink, scan, maybe colour or just tidy up the image. Maybe I’ll have a meeting in the evening. Then I might play Mah Jong with my flatmates or we’ll dance to musical numbers while we make dinner.

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: Recently I’ve been creating a zine called the “Comic of Whimsy” about the silly things my flatmates get up to. But on a bigger scale I’m embarking on a webcomic with the Candle Wasters that is a part-webseries, part-webcomic adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Our Hamlet is a 14-year-old girl who draws angst comics in her Wellington bedroom and who’s best friend is a cactus. It’s got a lot of magic realism elements that we couldn’t pull off on screen but can do in comic form! (also I get to learn how to draw a giant, maniacal, human-faced horse.)

Image by Sally Bollinger
Image by Sally Bollinger

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: Going for a walk before I start working, so my brain feels alive. Putting on a wash first thing. Lots of tea. Listening to music while I ink. But when I really get into the work it’ll be midnight before I think to check the time.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: Chris Riddell, Shakespeare, fairy tales and the opinion of my younger sister. As well as Dylan Horrocks and Tim Bollinger.

Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: I always go back to Toby Morris’ Alledaags: a year in Amsterdam and Katie O’Neill is excellent in every way.

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: Whenever I read a really good fantasy novel I always imagine I’d make an excellent comic. So, if ever JK Rowling or Patrick Rothfuss suddenly, oddly wanted a New Zealand comic version of their works I’d be keen. Basically I’d love to explore a fantasy world, or just do a good adaptation of Hamlet.

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: I’m keen to have a big ol’ chat about what everyone’s favourite comics are. But also excited to talk visual storytelling across media, and I always have a few Shakespeare facts up my sleeve.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: Comic book character would be Black Jack by Tezuka. Or Kvothe from The Name of the Wind.

You can find Sally’s work online in a number of places!
Online comics: quietly-exploding.tumblr.com
Online webseries: The Candle Wasters on Youtube
Hamlet webseries/webcomic pilot: on YouTube!

5 minutes with Giselle Clarkson: Comicfest feature

ComicFest is back for 2017! On Saturday May 6th at the Central Library there will be panels and workshops all day long for comic-lovers of all ages. You can also pick up a free comic from us on the day and celebrate Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC! Head over to the ComicFest Facebook event for all the details, and to receive event updates.

Giselle Clarkson is a Wellington-based freelance illustrator who is also interested in tramping, growing veggies and making music. She currently has a monthly comic being published by NZ website The Sapling, often featuring the influence of books on her as an illustrator. At ComicFest Giselle will be on our A Wellington View – Local Cartoonists panel along with Jem Yoshioka and Sally Bollinger, moderated by Robyn Kenealy. Come along to get an idea what it’s like to be making comics in NZ’s capital city!

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: There were lots of comics/cartoons on the bookshelves when I was a kid – Tintin, Asterix, The Far Side, Raymond Briggs, Spike Milligan, Rupert Bear – all things that had belonged to my parents or older brother. I loved reading them but it never occurred to me that they were a thing I could ask for more of.
It wasn’t until I was 16 or 17 and discovered webcomics that I realised what the possibilities were! But after that it was years before I started really making and sharing comics myself.

Comic by Giselle Clarkson
Comic by Giselle Clarkson

Q: What is your average day like?
A: I work freelance from home – I wake up early, make coffee, drink it at my desk, fluff around online for at least an hour and then start work. I like to take my breaks in the garden – poking around for interesting insects or something edible.
I love working in my pyjamas and having a flexible schedule, but I’m often working late at night and weekends don’t really exist. Going into town for a meeting is pretty exciting for me!

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: I visited the New Zealand subantarctic islands last year and I’ve been making science communication comics about all the amazing stuff down there and the environmental threats the region is facing. Travelling on a ship for 19 days with a fairly small group of people was a pretty incredible – in a positive way! – experience in itself so I plan on telling a story about that too.
I’m also doing a regular comic about picture books for kids’ literature website The Sapling. Coming up with a good comic idea every month is not easy – I am in total awe of people who do it every day, or every week!

An image from Giselle's work on The Sapling
An image from Giselle’s work on The Sapling

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: When I’m writing or plotting I need silence, or I have a fan going to make white noise. When I’m tidying up my line art or colouring it in I go into a sort of auto-pilot mode and if I don’t have something interesting to listen to and keep my mind focused I go absolutely spare with distraction. So I use podcasts to fix that problem.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: The NZ outdoors and the need to protect what we’ve got here. I’m really in love with all our wild places.
And people I meet, there are so many genuinely brilliant characters out there.

Comic by Giselle Clarkson
Comic by Giselle Clarkson

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: Tagging along on scientific expeditions to remote places, drawing and writing about the environment, the science, the people and my experiences.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: Hilda from Luke Pearson’s comic series! She always looks comfortable.

You can see more of Giselle’s work online at www.giselledraws.com and on Twitter at @giselledraws

5 minutes with Sam Orchard: Comicfest feature

ComicFest is back for 2017! On Saturday May 6th at the Central Library there will be panels and workshops all day long for comic-lovers of all ages. You can also pick up a free comic from us on the day and celebrate Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC! Head over to the ComicFest Facebook event for all the details, and to receive event updates.

Sam Orchard is the author of the popular webcomic Rooster Tails. At ComicFest, Sam will be on our panel Should we all be writing political comics? along with Toby Morris and Sarah Laing, and moderated by the National Library’s Hannah Benbow. Check out Sam’s A’s to our Q’s below:

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: I’ve always loved drawing – as a kid it was always a really nice way to get lost in my thoughts and feelings and imagination… it still is, actually.
I’ve always loved words and pictures together – kids books by Babette Cole, and all of the Where’s Wally books would keep me entertained for hours. But it wasn’t until I was coming out in my late teens , when I went in search of representations of queer characters, that the power of comics (and in particular webcomics) became apparent. I was trying to find people like me, people I could relate to, and people who made me feel less alone. Up until that point I had been a total TV and Film nerd, but all the representations of of LGBT folk, at that time, were all pretty negative. But on the internet I found amazing queer webcomics by people like Paige Braddock, Kris Dresen and Erika Moen, and it opened up a whole new world for me.

Comic by Sam Orchard
Comic by Sam Orchard

Q: What is your average day like?
A: Well, I work part-time as a comic artist, and part-time as a personal assistant for a guy who runs an organisation in the accessibility/disability sector. So in any given week I’ll be balancing working for my boss, and finding time to draw. Both roles work really well for me, I often get to be part of really interesting conversations in my PA role, and that helps me to think about topics I want to draw comics about. There’s a nice balance of a quite social PA role, and my solitary drawing role.

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: At the moment my big project is finishing up a children’s book I’ve co-authored, which is being published by Flamingo Rampant (http://www.flamingorampant.com) . Flamingo Rampant is an independent book publisher who published feminist, racially diverse, LGBTQ-positive books , and I’m so excited to be working with them! Our book is a counting book about a little kid’s birthday party – it also celebrates different family structures, queerness, transness, polyamory, disability, and I’m just super proud of it.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: I need a lot of noise when I work. So when I sit down for the day to draw I pop my headphones on and listen to podcasts or tv. Shortland Street is my fave to draw to – I found a youtube channel that had put up episodes from around 2003 so I’ve been making my way through the last 15 years of it. It’s perfect because the plot is fairly slow (which means it’s ok when I don’t pay attention, because they’ll repeat it), it’s pretty light (so I don’t get pulled in to the emotions) and it’s just a great show so it keeps me entertained.

Comic by Sam Orchard
Comic by Sam Orchard

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: Ohhhh, I don’t think I have just one – I’m really influenced by Alison Bechdel, she’s been exploring queerness and queer communities for decades, and her stuff is amazing, complex, and dykes to watch out for is eerily relevant to today. Other big comic inspirations for me are Erika Moen, Lynda Barry, Lucy Knisley, and I’m really loving Blue Deliquanti’s stuff at the moment too. But I get inspired by a whole host of other people too – people like Janet Mock and Laverne Cox, but also the queer and trans activist scene in New Zealand too – people in No Pride in Prison’s, the Gender Minorities organisation, the list goes on.

Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: I’ve been a big fan of Robyn Keneally and CocoSolid for years, when I stalked them both on myspace.

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: A few years ago I published the first three issues of my comic series ‘Family Portraits’ which is a series of short stories about queer and trans people in New Zealand. I’ve got the stories for the next book but I just haven’t had time to sit down and draw them. So that’s my dream right now – to get time and space to crack that next issue.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: Steven Universe – he is my fave.

You can read Rooster Tails online here: http://www.roostertailscomic.com/
Find Sam on Twitter at @Sam_Orchard

5 minutes with Dylan Horrocks: Comicfest feature

ComicFest is back for 2017! This Saturday May 6th at the Central Library there will be panels and workshops all day long for comic-lovers of all ages. You can also pick up a free comic from us on the day and celebrate Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC! Head over to the ComicFest Facebook event for all the details, and to receive event updates.

Syndetics book coverNext in our Q&A line-up is Dylan Horrocks, author of several graphic novels, his latest titled Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen. At Comicfest, Dylan will be in conversation with Sarah Laing in the Creating Graphic Novels panel from 12-1pm. Dylan is also hosting a critique session for comic creators which we’re sure will be absolutely invaluable. Spots for this workshop have already been filled, but you can email us at enquiries@wcl.govt.nz if you would like to be added to the workshop waitlist.

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: Apparently my first words were “Donald Duck,” so whatever it was, it happened so early I can’t remember! There were always good comics around the house, because my father has been into comics since he was a kid. So I grew up on a steady diet of Tintin, Asterix, Robert Crumb, Carl Barks, and many more. My parents were always happy to feed me more comics…

Q: What is your average day like?
A: It depends on the day, and what’s on my plate at the time. If I’m writing, I divide my time between the computer and a notebook; when I get stuck, I change media (and sometimes location), because sometimes that helps shift my state of mind and get going again. If I’m drawing, I’m usually sitting at my drawing board in the studio, lost in the process. I love the way drawing is a physical craft: you’re making something with your hands, out of paper, pencil and ink. There’s nothing like sitting back at the end of the day and looking at a page you made yourself.

From "Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen"
From “Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen”

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: The most recent thing I’ve published is a short mini-comic called ‘Faultlines,’ which I drew in a single day in my sketchbook, a week after the November earthquake (and floods, tornadoes, Trump winning the US election, etc!). It’s about living with uncertainty in a fragile, damaged world, and it felt good to get it onto paper.

From "Faultlines"
From “Faultlines”

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: No, and I’m open to suggestions. Sometimes it’s difficult to get started…. I have two quotes on the wall over my desk that help. One is a sticker I was given at Chromacon in Auckland last month: “We’re not here to be perfect.” The other is from a wonderful American cartoonist called Leela Corman: “We can be feral. We are the wilderness. We don’t need to go inside.” Both are excellent advice for artists and writers of all kinds.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: There are so many, and they wax and wane in importance over time. But some who have stayed significant for decades are Hergé (Tintin), Robert Crumb, Tove Jansson (the Moomins), Charles Schulz (Peanuts), and my family.

Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: An all-time favourite – and a big influence – is Barry Linton. There’s a big book of his comics (from the early 1970s to the present) coming out soon from Pikitia Press, and I can’t recommend it enough. Also, Bob Kerr (Terry & the Gunrunners), who I’m lucky enough to share a studio with. Tim Bollinger, a great Wellington cartoonist. Sophie MacMillan, Timothy Kidd, Karl Wills, Adam Jamieson, and so many more. There are too many great New Zealand cartoonists to mention them all! Ant Sang, Sarah Laing, Toby Morris, Cornelius Stone, Roger Langridge – all these people have inspired and influenced me at various times.

To The I Land - An appreciation of Barry Linton
To The I Land – An appreciation of Barry Linton

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: The ones I’m working on at the moment. That’s why I’m working on them!

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: What I’m most looking forward to is seeing other people’s work at the workshop.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: Sam Zabel – because all I’d have to do is take off my glasses.

Check out Dylan’s website at http://hicksvillecomics.com/
Dylan is on Twitter too – find him @dylanhorrocks

5 minutes with Hannah Benbow: Comicfest feature

ComicFest is back for 2017! On Saturday May 6th at the Central Library there will be panels and workshops all day long for comic-lovers of all ages. You can also pick up a free comic from us on the day and celebrate Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC! Head over to the ComicFest Facebook event for all the details, and to receive event updates.

Comicfest image

Hannah Benbow is the cartoon librarian at the National Library. During ComicFest Hannah will be hosting a breakout session called From Where We Started: Reading NZ Comic History, to be held at the National Library. There, you’ll be able to look at all kind of archival NZ comic material, an opportunity you won’t often have the chance to experience. Hannah will also be moderating discussion at our last panel of the day, titled Should we all be writing political comics? featuring the likes of Toby Morris, Sam Orchard and Sarah Laing. It should be a fantastic end to a jam-packed day! Check out Hannah’s answers to our Q’s below.

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: My older cousin’s drawings, which I thought were super cool. He was heavily inspired by Beavis and Butt-head …

Q: What is your average day like?
A: I’m a cartoon librarian, so my days are a mix of reading new cartoons as they come in, helping researchers to find cartoons and comics, and looking for new and better ways to promote and provide access to the NZ Cartoon Archive collection.

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: Ludicrous likenesses: The fine art of caricature. An exhibition opening at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery in August and chock-full of amazing works by New Zealand cartoonists and caricaturists, co-curated by Dr Oliver Stead and myself.

New Zealand Cartoon Archive Collections website
New Zealand Cartoon Archive website

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: Anything that gets more people making and reading political comics and cartoons.

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: I’m excited to explore some of the older comics we have in the collection, and to share my favourite ever zine – Fission Chips.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, to relive the greatest cosplay experience of my childhood.

Find the NZ cartoon archive online: https://natlib.govt.nz/collections/a-z/new-zealand-cartoon-archive
and find Hannah on Twitter: @MrHannahleeb

5 minutes with Jem Yoshioka: Comicfest Feature

ComicFest is back for 2017! On Saturday May 6th at the Central Library there will be panels and workshops all day long for comic-lovers of all ages. You can also pick up a free comic from us on the day and celebrate Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC! Head over to the ComicFest Facebook event for all the details, and to receive event updates.

Image by Jem YoshiokaJem Yoshioka is one of the featured cartoonists on our “A Wellington View: Local Cartoonists” panel, which will take place from 1:30-2:30pm during ComicFest. Jem is an illustrator and storyteller based in Wellington, and her comics often feature autobio stories.

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: As a kid I was really interested in animation and picture books. I learned storytelling from a mixture of these two things, which seemed to distill into something kindof comic-y.
I got interested in making comics when I was a teenager, on the early 2000s internet. It seemed like the most efficient way to begin to share the epic fantasy stories that were brewing in my head. The internet shaped my adolescence. It gave me access to other artists – both peers and mentors – who really helped to drive my illustration and comic work forward.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: I have a day job, so I get up and go to work. This is awesome because it pays my bills and means I can eat and sleep, which are important if you want to make comics. I then tend to do 20 minutes of gesture drawing more or less as soon as I get home. Sometimes that’s all the drawing I do in a day, but other times I try and expand it out to an illustration or comic project after dinner. I’ll usually have TV on in the background while I work, and I aim to be in bed between 10pm and 11pm. Depending on the day that can mean between 1-4 hours of drawing.
The routine is really important to me. I find I’m as productive if not more productive with full time work, because it forces me to maintain a healthy schedule. Sleep and time away from drawing mean I’m at less risk of injury, less likely to overwork or get into unhealthy sleeping and eating cycles. While my output is lower than someone working full time on drawing, I’m still really pleased with what I manage to get done with this routine. It works really well for me for now.

Image by Jem YoshiokaImage by Jem Yoshioka

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: When I get a new sketchbook I always write the date on the first page. Then when the sketchbook is finished I write the finish date. I’ll always leave a few pages at the end of the book, too. It’s like a hello and goodbye to the book. I feel like dating the first page helps to clear off any ‘blank page’ magic that might prevent me from getting my ideas down. The final date is a goodbye and a thank you for all the work and traveling the sketchbook’s done with me over the months.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: I think as a creator it’s important to have many influences and inspirations. I have a lot of artists I admire and whose work has influenced mine. I also love photography, video games, traditional Japanese printmaking, fashion, animation, film, fine art, dance and novels. I collect what I can together and pull the bits out that I feel work for me and what stories I’m trying to tell. I’m a selfish sponge of visual and literary information.
If you’re looking for a specific name, the one that’s stuck with me ever since I was a teen is Shaun Tan. An Australian illustrator and picture book author, Shaun’s style of storytelling’s was definitely a huge influence on me as a kid, especially how he handled the relationship between words and pictures. His sense of timing, pace, composition, and colour have all had a huge effect on me.

Image by Jem YoshiokaQ: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: I really love Katie O’Neill’s work. Princess Princess Ever After is a cute and sweet story, and her new webcomic The Tea Dragon Society is building up in a really interesting way. Katie’s sense of colour especially draws me into the worlds she makes with her work.

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: I’d really love to do a comic diary project over a year in Japan. I want to get familiar with a neighbourhood, learn its streets and trees and people. I want to live in a Japanese city and be small and lost, but find something there I wasn’t expecting. I’ve had holidays in Japan, but it’s the wrong pace and speed for the kind of project I want to make. I need something longer, something with more repetition and a chance to get comfortable and familiar. And I want to write it all down in a way I can share.
But that might be more about spending a year living in Japan than the diary project part.

You can find all of Jem’s online comics at http://jemshed.com/comics/ and on social media.
Twitter: @jemyoshioka
Facebook: /jem.yoshioka.art
Instagram: @jemyoshioka