New Zealand children’s comics and stories from our guests at Comicfest

Earlier this year Wellington City Libraries and the National Library of New Zealand hosted the biennial Comicfest, featuring panels and workshops with New Zealand comic artists such as Roger Langridge, Katie O’Neill, and Michel Mulipola.

Now you can check out their books (and more!) at the newly-opened He Matapihi Molesworth Library, in the National Library.

The Tea Dragon Society / O’Neill, Katie
“After discovering a lost Tea Dragon in the marketplace, apprentice blacksmith Greta learns about the dying art form of Tea Dragon caretaking from the kind tea shop owners.” (Catalogue)

Aquicorn Cove / O’Neill, Katie
“Unable to rely on the adults in her storm-ravaged seaside town, a young girl must protect a colony of magical seahorse-like creatures she discovers in the coral reef. From the award-winning author of PRINCESS PRINCESS EVER AFTER and THE TEA DRAGON SOCIETY comes AQUICORN COVE, a heartfelt story about learning to be a guardian to yourself and those you love. ” (Adapted from catalogue)

Tongan heroes / Riley, David
“Illustrated by Michel Mulipola, Tongan heroes presents inspirational stories of achievers who have Tongan ancestry. It includes: Legends like Aho’eitu, Hina and Seketoa, historical figures such as Queen Salote Tupou III, Pita Vi and Professor Futa Helu, contemporary heroes like Jonah Lomu, Captain Kamelia Zarka, Filipe Tohi, The Jets, Manu Vatuvei, Dr Viliami Tangi and Valerie Adams.” (Adapted by catalogue)

Samoan heroes / Riley, David
“Illustrated by Michel Mulipola, a collection of inspirational stories of achievers who have Samoan ancestry. It includes: contemporary heroes like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Troy Polamalu, Judge Ida Mālosi, Savage and Associate Professor Donna Adis; historical figures like Emma Coe, Tamasese, Salamāsina and Lauaki; legends like Sina, Tiʻitiʻi and Tigilau” (Adapted by catalogue)

Abigail and the snowman / Langridge, Roger
“Nine-year-old Abigail meets a loveable and sophisticated yeti named Claude who’s escaped from a top-secret government facility.” (Catalogue)

Criminy / Langridge, Roger
“Daggum Criminy’s peaceful life is suddenly interrupted as pirates invade his island, casting Criminy’s family out as refugees into the wild unknown in search of a new home. Soon, the Criminys find themselves hopping from one strange locale to another, each with their own bizarre environment, people, and challenges; putting Daggum and fam in constant peril as they search for a new peaceful place to call home.” (Catalogue)

Kiwi-made graphic novels from He Matapihi Molesworth Library

Earlier this year Wellington City Libraries and the National Library of New Zealand hosted the biennial Comicfest, featuring panels and workshops with New Zealand comic artists such as Dylan Horrocks, Ross Murray, Ant Sang, Alex Cara, Roger Langridge and Sarah Laing.

Now you can check out their works (and more!) at the newly-opened He Matapihi Molesworth Library, in the National Library. From tales of action and adventure to the internal struggles of being a creative, there are stories for all sorts and all ages.

Sam Zabel and the magic pen / Horrocks, Dylan
“Cartoonist Sam Zabel hasn’t drawn a comic in years. Stuck in a nightmare of creative block and despair, Sam spends his days writing superhero stories for a large American comics publisher and staring at a blank piece of paper, unable to draw a single line. Then one day he finds a mysterious old comic book set on Mars and is suddenly thrown headlong into a wild, fantastic journey through centuries of comics, stories, and imaginary worlds . . .” (Adapted from catalogue)

Rufus Marigold / Murray, Ross
“Rufus Marigold is a primate with a problem. He suffers acutely from anxiety and every social encounter is a harrowing ordeal. A budding artist, Rufus spends his days working in an office. As life become increasingly more of a struggle, Rufus yearns to be defined as something other than an a complete nervous wreck. This volume collects and significantly expands upon the original web comic, resulting in a darkly hilarious yet moving account of living with anxiety.” (Catalogue)

Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas / Sang, Anthony
“Kidnapped by time-travelling ninjas, Helen is thrust into the year 2355 – a ruined future with roving gangs and ‘Peace Balls’, giant humming devices that enslave and control people’s minds. The Go-Go Ninjas have one goal – to destroy the Peace Balls. They believe that Helen knows how. Can Helen use her knowledge of the past to help them save the future? An electrifying graphic novel by award-winning authors.” (Catalogue)

Dreams of here, far from home : being nine settler fancies in sequential pictorial form / Cara, Alex
“O! Fortunate reader You will find within these pages nine settler narratives, fun for “New Chums” and “Gone Natives” alike, and rendered in extravagant colour. Thrill to the fears and fancies of these exotic intruders, with their night-terrors and naiveties, and dreams of here, far from home.” (From author’s store)

Mansfield and me : a graphic memoir / Laing, Sarah
“Mansfield and Me charts Sarah Laing’s journey towards publication and parenthood against Mansfield’s dramatic story, set in London, Paris, New York and New Zealand. Part memoir, part biography, part fantasy, it examines how our lives connect to those of our personal heroes.” (From publisher’s summary)

Snarked! Book one, Forks and hope / Langridge, Roger
“The next great Roger Langridge graphic novel series begins as he brings Lewis Carroll’s imaginative world to new heights in a side-splitting adventure that can only be explained as…SNARKED. Presenting a fresh and incredibly modern “Langridge” spin on an already-warped classic, SNARKED starts here in an epic adventure featuring the Red Queen’s children, Princess Scarlett and her baby brother Rusty, as they set out in search of the missing Red King.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Librarian’s Choice – Graphic Novels on Overdrive

Here’s our recs for the best comics from our Overdrive collection to borrow and download to your electronic device of choice. From supernatural horror and classic manga, slice-of-life and high fantasy, life in the apocalypse to superheroes saving the world, there’s something for everyone on Overdrive!

Overdrive cover Hellboy Omnibus Volume 1, Mike Mignola (ebook)
“The Hellboy saga begins—with over 300 pages drawn by Mignola! For the first time, Hellboy’s complete story is presented in chronological order for the ultimate reading experience. The story jumps from Hellboy’s mysterious World War II origin to his 1994 confrontation with the man who summoned him to earth, and the earliest signs of the plague of frogs. Avoiding his supposed fate as the herald of the end of the world, Hellboy continues with the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, fighting alongside Abe Sapien, Liz Sherman, and drafting Roger Homunculus into his own ill-fated service with the B.P.R.D.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover JLA: Earth 2, Grant Morrison (ebook)
“They are the world’s gravest super-villains: Ultraman, Owlman, Superwoman, Power Ring and Johnny Quick—the legendary Crime Syndicate of Amerika! Nothing has ever seriously threatened the global corruption they proudly enforce, but now a twisted mirror image of the CSA has arrived from the flip side of reality. Can anything stop this so-called ‘Justice League,’ or will the stable, perfect evil of the Earth 2 fall victim to the tyranny of law, righteousness and freedom?” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover An Aria for the End Times, Andrew MacLean (ebook)
“The premiere graphic novel from underground sensation Andrew MacLean (Head Lopper), ApocalyptiGirl is an action-packed sci-fi epic! Alone at the end of the world, Aria is woman with a mission! Traipsing through an overgrown city with her only companion, a cat named Jelly Beans, Aria’s search for an ancient relic with immeasurable power has been fruitless so far. But when a run in with a creepy savage sets her on a path to complete her quest, she’ll face death head on in the hopes of claiming her prize and, if all goes according to plan, finally returning home.” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Giant Days Volume 1, John Allison (ebook)
“Susan, Esther, and Daisy started at university three weeks ago and became fast friends because their dorm rooms were next to each other. Now, away from home for the first time, all three want to reinvent themselves. But in the face of hand-wringing boys, “personal experimentation,” influenza, mystery-mold, nu-chauvinism, and the willful, unwanted intrusion of “academia,” they may be lucky just to make it to spring alive.” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Wicked + The Divine, Volume 1, Kieron Gillen (ebook)
“Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you?re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever. Collects THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #1-5.” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Nimona, Noelle Stevenson (ebook)
Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are. But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Astro Boy, Volumes 1 & 2, Osamu Tezuka (ebook)
“Dark Horse proudly presents one of the crown jewels of manga-Astro Boy! Created by the late Osamu Tezuka, a revered animator and cartoonist (who created over 150,000 pages of comics in his career!) considered the Walt Disney of Japan, Astro Boy was the first manga series to be adapted to animation and became a worldwide phenomenon, making Astro Boy the Mickey Mouse of anime-a jet-powered, super-strong, evil-robot-bashing, alien-invasion-smashing Mickey Mouse, that is! Exciting, whimsical, and touching, Astro Boy hearkens back to the classic era of comics and animation, featuring stories that readers young and old will enjoy.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Is This Guy For Real?, Box Brown (ebook)
“Comedian and performer Andy Kaufman’s resume was impressive—a popular role on the beloved sitcom Taxi, a high-profile stand-up career, and a surprisingly successful stint in professional wrestling. Although he was by all accounts a sensitive and thoughtful person, he’s ironically best remembered for his various contemptible personas, which were so committed and so convincing that all but his closest family and friends were completely taken in.
Why would someone so gentle-natured and sensitive build an entire career seeking the hatred of his audience?” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

ComicFest 2019: That’s a Wrap!

This year was the fourth time Wellington City Libraries has put together an extravaganza celebrating comics and cartoons in all their forms. With the closure of the Central Library, the National Library of New Zealand came to the rescue, hosting the festival for three extremely busy days from the 2nd to the 4th of May. The festival continues to build on its past successes, this year featuring a veritable pantheon of New Zealand comic greats for panel discussions, workshops, drawing demonstrations, book signings, and exhibitions. Thousands of Free Comic Book Day books were given away to the record number of comic enthusiasts who turned up to share in the chaos and fun of ComicFest 2019.

We would like to acknowledge the generosity of our sponsors, including New Zealand Book Council, Graphic Comics, the New Zealand Cartoon Archive, Creative New Zealand, CoNZealand: the 78th World Science Fiction Convention, Penguin Books, Unity Books, Weta Workshop, and of course the National Library of New Zealand/Alexander Turnbull Library.

To relive the awesomeness, check out our Facebook album of photos from the festivities on Saturday the 4th of May.

We also had over 130 entries to our “Can You Comicify That?” drawing competition! Entrants were given the task of drawing a ‘comicified’ version of their favourite character from a book, movie or TV show, or a person in real life. Check out the galleries below to see the prizewinners for each age category!

8-and-under

9-13

14+

Congratulations to everyone who took part in the drawing competition, and a huge thanks to everyone who came to ComicFest 2019. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!

If you missed ComicFest 2019, or would love to see the panel discussions and presentations again, check our playlist on Youtube:

You can also get them as podcasts:





Nominated Hugo graphic novels

This week, we’re looking at CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention, which is being held right here in Wellington next year. The annual event, known more generally as WorldCon, is one of the world’s most prestigious science fiction conventions, and is also home to the legendary Hugo Awards. Run entirely by fans, Worldcons offer an exciting experience with a unique mix of fans and professionals from all walks of life and all corners of the Earth.

Next year’s CoNZealand has already confirmed two Author Guests of Honour, Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon, along with a New Zealand Guest of Honour, local author and illustrator Greg Broadmore, and a Fan Guest of Honour, Rose Mitchell from Australia. Their Toastmaster is none other than George RR Martin, author of the hugely popular Game of Thrones novels now turned into a TV series. To hear more about CoNZealand and how you can be a part of it check them out at conzealand.nz.

Speaking of Hugo Awards, the 2019 finalists have just been announced, including best Graphic Story of the year. Check out the stunning selection of finalists below. All of these graphic story titles are available to borrow free from our branches . Enjoy.

This years Hugo nominees for Best Graphic Story

Abbott / Ahmed, Saladin
“While investigating police brutality and corruption in 1970s Detroit, journalist Elena Abbott uncovers supernatural forces being controlled by a secret society of the city’s elite. In the uncertain social and political climate of 1972 Detroit, hard-nosed, chain-smoking tabloid reporter Elena Abbott investigates a series of grisly crimes that the police have ignored. Crimes she knows to be the work of dark occult forces. Forces that took her husband from her. Forces she has sworn to destroy.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Black Panther : long live the king / Okorafor, Nnedi
“As the Black Panther and an Avenger, T’Challa has had to save the world time and again – but those duties pale in comparison to his responsibilities as king of Wakanda.” (Catalogue)

Monstress. Volume three, Haven / Liu, Marjorie M
“Maika has spent most of her life learning how to fight, but how will she fare when the only way to save her life…is to make friends? Collects issues 13-18 of the Hugo Award and British Fantasy Award series.” (Catalogue)

On a sunbeam / Walden, Tillie
” On a Sunbeam is an epic graphic novel about a girl who travels to the ends of the universe to find a long lost love, from acclaimed author Tillie Walden. Two timelines. Second chances. One love. A ragtag crew travels to the deepest reaches of space, rebuilding beautiful, broken structures to piece the past together. Two girls meet in boarding school and fall deeply in love–only to learn the pain of loss. With interwoven timelines and stunning art, award-winning graphic novelist Tillie Walden creates an inventive world, breathtaking romance, and an epic quest for love.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Paper girls. 4 / Vaughan, Brian K
“The continuing story of newspaper deliverers Erin, Mac, KJ and Tiffany, as they time travel from prehistoric times to the year 2000.” (Catalogue)

Saga. Volume nine / Vaughan, Brian K
“After the traumatic events of the War for Phang, Hazel, her parents, and their surviving companions embark on a life-changing adventure at the westernmost edge of the universe.”–Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

ComicFest 2019 – 5 minutes with Paul Diamond

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.

Today is the first day of ComicFest! To finish our special “5 minutes with…” feature we have Paul Diamon, the author of three books (A Fire in Your Belly, Huia 2003; Makereti: taking Māori to the World, Random House NZ 2007; and Savaged to Suit: Māori and Cartooning in New Zealand, Fraser Books 2018), and has also worked as an oral historian and broadcaster. From 2007 to 2009 Paul managed the Vietnam War Oral History Project for the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. In 2017 Paul was awarded Creative New Zealand’s Berlin Writer’s Residency to complete a book about Charles Mackay, a mayor of Whanganui who was killed in Berlin in 1929. Paul Diamond appears at ComicFest with the support of the New Zealand Cartoon Archive.

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: I was asked to write a book about the history of Māori and cartoons. This initially focused on editorial cartoons in newspapers, but the scope was broadened to include images of Māori in other places, such as comics and graphic novels.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: Ideally, made up of coffee, collections, cartoons, cycling and cursive creation.

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: My book, Savaged to Suit: Māori and Cartooning in New Zealand, was launched by MP Louisa Wall at the National Library in September 2018.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: Not really, but preceding this, my cycle along the Wellington waterfront means it’s difficult to arrive at work grumpy, even if I may be a bit puffed.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: Personally: my parents, Briar and Eddie Diamond, and my bicultural ancestry, which I wrote about in the acknowledgements section of Savaged to Suit.
An illustration inspiration: An exhibition I saw at the House of Illustration in London in 2016, Comix Creatrix: 100 Women Making Comics, was wonderful to experience and has stayed with me. The exhibition introduced me to artists and work I wasn’t aware of, including Jacky Fleming and her marvellous book, The Trouble With Women as well as Barbara Yelin, see below. The exhibition was also a powerful reminder that just because work by different groups may not be obvious doesn’t mean it’s not out there. Which is why books and exhibitions play an important role in bringing collections to audiences and providing context to understand them.

 Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: As part of my research it was great to find out more about the Māori who’ve worked at editorial cartoonists. It’s not a very long list: Harry Dansey, Oriwa Haddon, Mark Tapsell, Noel Cook, James Waerea, Anthony Ellison, and Sharon Murdoch. I’m also a big admirer of Murray Webb’s caricatures.

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: A graphic novel about the story I’m going to be writing about in Berlin later this year, check it here. This is to do with the 1929 May Day riots in Berlin, in which Charles Mackay, a former mayor of Whanganui was shot. There are at least two graphic novels about the 1929 May Day riots: Babylon Berlin by Arne Jysch is a graphic novel adaptation of Volker Kutscher’s novel, Der Nasse Fisch and Jason Lutes’ Berlin series. Another inspiration for how to tell the story is Irmina, by Barbara Yelin, which I saw in the Comix Creatrix: 100 Women Making Comics exhibition in 2016. Subsequently, an English translation of Irmina was released, and I’ve been meaning to have a read. I loved the way Yelin combined images and text to bring alive a remarkable story and the history of the period leading up to the Second World War.

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: I’m looking forward to yarning about how cartoons work. In my research I learned about how nothing in a cartoon is there by accident, but the layers of meaning are not always obvious. It’d also be good to talk about stereotyping in cartoons, as I’ve been reflecting on this in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Christchurch.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: Not sure, but I might see if another of my inspirations, Varla Jean Merman aka Jeffery Roberson has any ideas!

You can find more about Paul online here.

CoNZealand at ComicFest!

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 the updates on our Facebook event.

ComicFest will also be one of the first chances to get a sneak peek at CoNZealand, the upcoming convention of the World Science Fiction Society, being held right here in Wellington next year! The annual event is one of the world’s most prestigious science fiction conventions and is also home to the legendary Hugo Awards. Run entirely by fans, CoNZealand will offer a unique mix of events, workshops, discussions and much more, making for a very exciting experience!

CoNZealand have already confirmed several guests of honour, including Mercedes Lackey, Larry Dixon and Greg Broadmore. And to top it all off, the Toastmaster will be none other than George R.R. Martin! To hear more about CoNZealand and how you can be a part of it, come chat with the team at their ComicFest stall on 4 May, or check them out at conzealand.nz.

ComicFest 2019 – 5 minutes with Dylan Horrocks

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.

ComicFest starts tomorrow! Next up on our special feature “5 minutes with…” we have Dylan Horrocks, a cartoonist best known for his graphic novel Hicksville and his scripts for the Batgirl comic book series. His works are published by the University of Auckland student magazine Craccum, Australia’s Fox Comics, the current affairs magazine New Zealand Listener from 1995 to 1997, the Canadian publishers Black Eye Comics and Drawn and Quarterly, and the American publishers Vertigo and Fantagraphics Books. He currently serialises new work online at Hicksville Comics.

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: My Dad has always been interested in comics, so I grew up in a house full of classics like Carl Barks’ Donald Duck as well as underground, European, and experimental comix. He also taught film, and watching the movies he’d project on our living room wall made me realise you could use visual narrative to do anything.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: I recently started teaching at the Victoria University of Wellington School of Design, so my days have become very busy. I’m often either in class or planning a class, or looking at students’ work. Otherwise, I’m probably at my studio writing or drawing. To relax, I watch old movies, read (often history), or play table-top role-playing games with friends.

dav

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: I’m working on a long non-fiction comic exploring the history and culture of Dungeons & Dragons. It’s about world-building – the urge to create an imaginary reality so detailed it begins to feel almost real – and how the emergence of fantasy role-playing games 45 years ago introduced a new way to inhabit these fictional worlds. There are other, shorter, comics I’ve drawn recently, but that’s the big one that’s occupying my time.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: One trick I learned a while back was to leave something unfinished at the end of each day. That way, when I sit down to start drawing or writing, I don’t have to stare at a blank page; I can just pick up where I left off – and before I know it I’m back in the groove.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: There are so many! Hergé’s Tintin is a huge influence on my work. But one New Zealand cartoonist who’s had a big impact on me for most of my life is Barry Linton, who died last year. He drew comics for more than 40 years, and left behind an extraordinary body of work. I hope someone gets it all back into print soon.

 Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: Again, there are too many to mention even a fraction! Strips was a New Zealand comics magazine published between 1977 & 1987. Barry Linton (who I mentioned above) was one of its founding artists, but there were so many great cartoonists in there: Colin Wilson (the main driving force for the first few years), Joe Wylie, Kevin Jenkinson, Laurence Clark. There are earlier comics I’m fascinated by, too, including the work of Eric Resetar, Harry Bennett, and Jack Raeburn (all of who were publishing locally in the 1940s and 1950s). These days New Zealand has a large and diverse comics scene, with many cartoonists whose work I find inspiring. And every week I find someone new who’s putting out beautiful zines or webcomics. Each new discovery is like a treasure: an Instagram post or a page in a student’s sketchbook.

dav

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: I have a comic I daydream about now and then. Sometimes when I’m lying in bed half-asleep, or when I’m walking to work in the morning, I’ll think about it. So far, all there is to show is a few words in my notebook. It may never happen. But I love that stage in a project, when everything’s still open, possible, uncontained. When it really is still a dream….

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: That depends how much I get done between now and then.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: I reckon Toby Morris and I could do a mean Captain Haddock and Tintin (now, if we can just find the right dog to play Snowy…).

You can find Dylan online in the following places:
Twitter: @dylanhorrocks
Website: hicksvillecomics.com
Instagram: @dylan.horrocks

ComicFest 2019 – 5 minutes with Jem Yoshioka

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 on the list is Jem Yoshioka, an illustrator and comic artist living in Wellington, New Zealand. Deftly weaving words and pictures together, Jem’s comics tell evocative and emotional stories with themes of belonging, place, and heritage. Jem’s current webcomic project is a soft science fiction romance between an android and a human called Circuits and Veins.
Jem Yoshioka appears at ComicFest with the support of the New Zealand Cartoon Archive.

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: I have always loved to tell stories and draw pictures, so in a way I feel like I was always on the path to comics. I read a lot as a kid and loved picture books fiercely.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: I work a full time job in communications, so I spend my day getting to help tell people’s stories and make sure things are understood by as many people as possible. I walk to and from work along the Wellington waterfront. I spend my evenings drawing, with breaks for dinner, chores, or whatever. It’s a balance that has worked well for me, but I am careful to be mindful of my limits and not push myself too hard if I know I need a break. Lately I’ve been playing a lot of Tetris and Star dew Valley to recharge when I need to!

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: My webcomic Circuits and Veins is my current biggest project. I’ve been updating it since July, 2017 (coming up on two years, goodness!), and it’s honestly such a rewarding project. Long form serialised webcomics are notoriously difficult to keep going, and some weeks are a lot harder than others.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: I’m constantly listening to podcasts or watching YouTube. Podcasts have helped me so much to keep focused and motivated when I need to meet a deadline. Having my ears occupied helps keep my mind from straying away. I’m a big fan of Actual Play podcasts (listening to other people play table top roleplaying games), because it’s like a form of collaborative storytelling. My favourites are Friends at the Table and The Adventure Zone. If you have recommendations, let me know! I’m always looking for new ones.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: That’s a tough one. Can I say my grandma, Taeko? She’s led an amazing life, growing up in Hiroshima, Japan, witnessing the horrors of war as a young girl and teenager, meeting my granddad in Japan, and moving to New Zealand in the 50s, before you could even really find rice here, let alone the right kind of rice. Whenever I get stuck I think back on who she is, that she still has such a lightness and humour about her through everything. It makes me feel strong again. This has been something that has been coming through in my art since 2015, when I started writing autobiography comics exploring my connection to Japan and my Japanese heritage, which of course is all through her.

 

Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: I love Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe, published on Webtoon. Rachel’s my best friend and we’ve known each other for half our lives, so I’m a bit biased. Rachel is a master illustrator and her work is so expressive, emotive, and even now her sense of storytelling, drama and comedic timing all work together to make me gasp. What else could you want from a comic?

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: To be honest, I’m doing it! Making Circuits and Veins is honestly a dream, and I’m so happy that so many people love reading it. It does have an end though, and I’m also equally excited about my next story, which will be a fantasy story based on Japanese folk stories. I tried to launch it last year as Starstruck, but I wasn’t completely happy with the execution, and splitting my time between two ongoing comic projects wasn’t the smartest, so I’ve pulled it back to the drawing board. I chip away on concepts for it in between updating Circuits and Veins

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: I’m keen to talk about what it takes to update a regular serialised webcomic, and also about how to balance comics and non-comics life.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: Marceline, from Adventure Time. She’s got the best style.

You can find Jem online in the following places:
Instagram: @jemyoshioka
Twitter: @jemyoshioka
Blog/Website: jemshed.com

ComicFest 2019 – 5 minutes with Alex Cara

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.

We caught up with Alex Cara and asked her a couple questions for our “5 minutes with…”. Alex Cara is a Christchurch-based comic artist. In addition to being featured in recent issues of Funtime Comics, her work has also been published in the Three Words anthology.  She has completed a BFA in printmaking at the Ilam School of Fine Arts, and since graduating has developed and produced her own prints and comic projects, self-publishing the New Zealand historical short comic collection “Dreams of Here, Far from Home” in 2017. Her sketches and works-in-progress can be found at @alexcara.art on Instagram. Alex Cara appears at ComicFest with the support of the New Zealand Cartoon Archive.

 

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: I used to read the Beano and old English things like that when I was first learning to read, so that was pretty early exposure! I also had a volume of Krazy Kat and some very comic-like picture books that I loved, likeCaptain Abdul’s Pirate School by Colin McNaughton. They all had good grotesque characters with lots of background details and jokes, as well as speech bubbles. I was able to read lots of different manga and graphic novels as a teen, but reading TamaraDrewe by Posy Simmonds made me really want to write and draw my own comics.

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: I feel like I’ve been caught up in a studying-slash-new-job whirlwind for a long time, but I self-published my own first book of comics and illustrations in 2017 (“Dreams of Here, Far from Home”) and launched it at Chromacon. At the moment I’m looking at putting together a little book or pamphlet of drawings and am also working towards posting some short comics online.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: A few different things; all my various niche book interests, especially writers like Denton Welch, Barbara Comyns and Colette. Real life and people-watching. Definitely old photographs and different types of graphic art like painting or illustration, and of course other comics; my current top favourite would be the Belgian comic artist Olivier Schrauwen, I love everything he’s done.

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: It would be something where I can try lots of different art-styles, very ambitious and with interweaving themes and multiple time periods, etcetera… But I’m not high-powered enough to get very far with that kind of thing and need to build my way up from shorter works! I do often think about finding some obscure old public-domain novel or story to adapt as a comic, so maybe that.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: Maybe the Groke from Moomins…

You can find Alex online in the following places:
Instagram: alexcara.art
Blog/Website: alexcaraart.bigcartel.com