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 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

5 minutes with Ben Milsom – ComicFest feature

ComicFest is back for 2017! On Saturday May 6th at the Central 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 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.

We’ve caught up with Ben Milsom from Pukeko Pictures, Production Designer and an Episodic Director on Thunderbirds Are Go! At ComicFest, Ben will be presenting the process of re-imagining the 1960’s classic for a new generation. Catch him from 11am-12pm at ComicFest – all attendees to Ben’s talk will go in the draw to win a family pass to the Miniatures Stage Tour: Thunderbirds Are Go from Weta Studio Tours!

You can also pop in to the Central Library to see our amazing Thunderbirds Are Go display, courtesy of Ben and the Pukeko Pictures team!

Thunderbirds Are Go display
Thunderbirds Are Go display at the Central library

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: I have been involved with Thunderbirds Are Go for over 3 years now as Production Designer and an Episodic Director. Before, I worked on a western cowboy movie called ‘Slow West’ starring Michael Fassbender, being in charge of all of the actors hand props on set. Before that, I was on the Hobbit trilogy for 3 years as the main unit Art Director.

Thunderbirds Are Go Behind the scenes
From ITV Studios / Pukeko Pictures / Weta Workshop
Pictured: A uranium mine from the episode Crosscut.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: I have always been massively interested in the horror/scifi genre. The most influential film for me has been Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien’. It blew my mind as a 10 year old, and sparked my interest in film making, practical effects and ‘fantasy’ environment building. Parallel to this, I have always been fascinated by the work of HR Giger, and his uniquely original style and approach to Art and Design. Other influential movies for me have been: John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’, Clint Eastwood’s ‘Unforgiven’ and Luc Besson’s ‘Leon’ aka ‘The Professional’ to name a few.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: Generally very busy. This year is great because I can focus solely on the Thunderbirds Are Go project. Plenty of meetings and prep work as we build up to the start of the shoot. As we start to build the season 3 sets, I will get a lot more ‘hands on’ and join the art department as we create the physical miniature world of Thunderbirds Are Go. I can’t help myself!

Thunderbirds Are Go Behind the scenes
From ITV Studios / Pukeko Pictures / Weta Workshop
Pictured: Marine laboratory.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: We shoot live action plates, animate our characters (and many sequences). One thing I always do for every sequence, as we shoot it or animate it, is physically go through the beats of the action myself. I find this immensely helpful for timing and pacing of each sequence, dialogue notes and overall feel for a scene. The more reality and true emotion you throw into any scene, the more satisfying it is for me and hopefully our audience.

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: I would love to re-visit the ‘Alien Vs Predator’ universe – and be involved in a darker, grittier Movie adaptation of some of the Dark Horse material. This could be SO AWESOME!

Thunderbirds Are Go!
Thunderbirds Are Go!

Find Pukeko Pictures online:
Facebook: /pukekopictures.nz
Twitter: @pukekopictures
Website: pukekopictures.com

5 minutes with Sarah Laing – ComicFest feature

ComicFest is back for 2017! On Saturday May 6th at the Central 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 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.

Sarah Laing self-portraitFirst up on the blog we have an interview with Sarah Laing, who recently authored her first graphic novel, Mansfield and Me. At ComicFest, Sarah is running a character design workshop from 10-11am, and from 12-1pm Sarah will be in conversation with Dylan Horrocks discussing how they each create longform graphic novels. It’s a super exciting line-up, and we hope to see you there!

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: We always had comics at my house – the usual suspects – Tintin and Asterix, Donald Duck, Charlie Brown, Footrot Flats. I grew up reading them. My interest was rekindled in my 20s through Tank Girl and Julie Doucet, and later by Marjane Satrapi, coinciding with the rising popularity of graphic novels, a contentious term in comics circles! It did mean that there were more comics to get out from the library.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: I drop my kids off to school then I come home and mess about a bit – I tidy up and read stuff on social media, hating myself a bit as I do it. If I have paid work – an illustration or comics commission – I’ll work on that, or else I will draw comics for my blog or work on my big project, which right now is a kids’ comic about the houseboat and giant stingray world of post-climate-change New Zealand. I try to work on paper, since I spend too much time on screens, but I find myself using digital media all the time, whether it’s google images for picture reference or it’s spotify or my podcast list for stuff to listen to as I draw.

Page from Mansfield & Me
A page from ‘Mansfield & Me’ by Sarah Laing

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: Last year my graphic memoir Mansfield and Me was published by VUP and I’m still recovering from that! It’s about me wanting to be a writer, and Katherine Mansfield, NZ’s most famous writer, and how our lives overlap. I like to think that Mansfield would’ve been a comics fan too.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: I always feel like I should have tea and toast at 10am and when I get to the inking/colouring stage I get to binge listen to podcasts. I just finished S-town, which is a fascinating character study of an ordinary/extraordinary life in small-town America. I am also driven by a completion complex so once I get momentum up I work quite quickly. I try to update my blog weekly now that I’ve got a Patreon page, and I generally dedicate Tuesday or Wednesday to those comics.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: My biggest inspiration is life, observed, around me.

Flowers for the Teacher comic
Flowers for the Teacher comic from Sarah’s blog “Let Me Be Frank”

Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: I hate picking favourites! And in fact I’m not sure if I believe in the concept. There are creators whose work I always really enjoy – the obvious ones, like Dylan Horrocks, Toby Morris and Ant Sang. When I was co-editingThree Words I got to know work by lots of amazing women – Giselle Clarkson, Sophie Watson, Jem Yoshioka, Sally Bollinger, Zoë Colling for starters. Indira Neville’s comics are always hilariously irreverent, and she’s just co-curated an amazing collection of LP-sized comics that go with music, Sonic Comic. Last year I enjoyed Ross Murray’s series about anxiety, Rufus Marigold. And Jonathan King’s comics are gloriously surreal. Arrgh! So many people! I’m missing people out! I always feel a low punch in the gut when I don’t see my name on a list.

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: I have never collaborated on comics and I think I’d really like to try that out. You know how collaborations in music always work out better? Lennon and McCartney, Morrissey and Marr… I want to find somebody or something to spark off.

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: I am really looking forward to talking with Dylan Horrocks about writing longform comics – his process is quite different from mine and I always find how to talks quite inspiring – they give you a fresh perspective on your niggling or roaring narrative problems.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: I don’t know, Björk? Or maybe Rachael from Blade Runner – she had the most amazing suits and hair.

You can find Sarah online in the following places:
Twitter: @sarahelaing
Instagram: @sarahelaing
Blog: https://sarahelaing.com/

5 Minutes with Gavin Mouldey – Comicfest feature

Comicfest 2015 is here! Head over to the Facebook event for all the details and to receive event updates. There are panels and workshops for comic-lovers of all ages, and don’t forget to come along to the Central Library on Saturday 2nd May – that’s TODAY! – to pick up a free comic book on Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC!

Gavin MouldeyToday we’re revisiting our last interview with Gavin Mouldey, who created the awesome Comicfest artwork you surely know & love by now! At the age of seven, Gavin Mouldey ran away from home to live in his parent’s back yard with a stack of paper and a lunchbox full of crayons. It wasn’t long before he started feeling peckish, but he’d failed to bring any food. So Gavin sat in a towering jungle of grass and drew himself some lunch. He then drew a monster eating his lunch and went home to show his Mum. Gavin has been drawing silly pictures ever since. His doodles have featured in children’s books, television, magazines and newspapers, as well as on T-shirts and concrete walls. Gavin now scribbles every day for a living from his own backyard studio in Raumati Beach, a giant’s stones-throw away from the dinosaurs and mythological beasties of Kapiti Island. You can view some of his latest doodles at dittybox.co.nz, or facebook.com/dittybox

Your Dittybox facebook page says that you’re a painter and graphic designer, but I know you’ve worked as an animation artist as well – is there one kind of art process that you enjoy the most?
What I enjoy the most in my process (whether digital or hands on), is the rush of motivation that comes after deciding how to tackle a brief. The first stage when a job comes in tends to be staring at a blank screen or page, completely befuddled. This is often followed by searching for inspiration, finding reference material, or outright procrastination (coffee, a pie, crossword, having a shower, watching a cartoon, etc). Eventually I’ll start doodling, and something will click. Then a job which seemed like a chore suddenly becomes exciting, and I lose all sense of time. It’s like being hypnotised. Sometimes my wife leaves the house in the morning and I think “I’ll do the dishes and hang the washing out and pick some flowers and make dinner before she gets home”, then she returns 8 hours later and my head hasn’t turned away from the page. I’ll be still in my boxer shorts, empty tummy, dry mouth… Like a nerd zombie.

Gavin Mouldey

You’ve spent some time employed as a production designer in Australia on the TV show ‘Dogstar’ – how did this rate as a professional experience?
My experience in animation has mostly involved creating backgrounds and character/prop designs. Pretty similar to my role as an illustrator. The only real difference is how I get paid, and in the case of Dogstar, the pace of turnaround. The job was great, and I met a lot of future collaborators, but I don’t think I was built for big cities. I like the pace of Wellington, or specifically Island Bay.

What are some stand-out projects you have worked on as a freelance artist? Is this satisfying work?
Posters are always fun, as they offer a lot more creative freedom than other briefs. It just has to catch the viewer’s attention. Most of my past work has been for children’s books, educational resources, and magazine publications. I’m not often happy with a finished illustration by the time it comes out in print, as it’s too fresh in my mind.

Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I’ve always wanted to draw for a living. The term artist gets over used. It’s becoming so vague, and pretentious. I think of my job as a trade, like carpentry or gardening. Art is a whole set of industries, and basically anyone can call themselves an artist without any formal education or practice. Considering that, it’s odd that creating “Art” is treated by some cliques as an intellectual and cultural virtue. Willie Saunders, one of my all-time favourite comic artists who seems to have disappeared, once used the term “cerebral vomit”. That’s probably out of context, but I think it represents a lot of what artists do (myself begrudgingly included). I’m more proud when my illustrations fulfill a set function, than when they just seem like my soul self-indulgently spilt on a canvas.
Gavin Mouldey

5 minutes with Chris Guise – Comicfest feature

Comicfest 2015 is here! Head over to the Facebook event for all the details and to receive event updates. There are panels and workshops for comic-lovers of all ages, and don’t forget to come along to the Central Library on Saturday 2nd May to pick up a free comic book on Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC!

Chris GuiseToday we’re talking to Chris Guise about his work, and what we can look forward to at his Comicfest panel. Chris Guise was a self-employed shopping mall caricature artist when special effects company Weta Workshop hired him to work on Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. During the film’s production he worked in a number of areas including the Miniatures, Armour/Weapons, Painting and Sculpting/Merchandising departments. He was then incorporated into the design department and was employed on a wide variety of projects including “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, “King Kong”, “Jane & the Dragon”, “Black Sheep” and “The Wotwots”. Chris then went on to become Weta Workshop’s Lead Conceptual Artist for the Steven Spielberg film “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn” following which he wrote and art directed the book “The Art of the Adventures of Tintin” as well as the critically acclaimed iPad app version of the book. 16 years after first being hired, Chris is still currently working as conceptual designer for Weta Workshop.

What is the first significant comic related job or project you remember working on?
I used to make a living as a shopping mall caricature artist before I joined Weta Workshop. Half an hour to draw an A3 sized likeness of someone in full colour pencil while occasionally having unwanted hamburger pickles thrown at me from the mall food court. Suppose it got me used to working under stress. At least flying food isn’t involved anymore.

Chris GuiseCan you tell us about your current, or most recent project?
Because of multiple confidentiality agreements I’ve signed, the most recent thing I did a bit of work on that I can actually mention is the current Te Papa Gallipoli exhibition and Peter Jackson’s Conflict Museum exhibition. As for film projects, if I told you I’d have to either kill you or spend the rest of my life on the run from the law.

Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
Film wise – Anything and everything. Especially Steve Spielberg films.
Comic wise – MAD Magazine especially artists Mort Drucker, Don Martin and Sergio Aragonés. Classic Looney Toons from the golden age (especially episodes directed by Chuck Jones). “Asterix” creators Goscinny and Uderzo. And, last but not least, Herge – creator of “Tintin”

What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
Taking a popular 2D graphic book series and bringing it into a “realistic” filmic world isn’t exactly easy. There were many challenges in the making of the “Tintin” movie that the average movie viewer wouldn’t even realise. Heck, most of us that worked on the film didn’t even know these challenges existed until we came face to face with them.

If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
Since I’m pretty scruffy at the moment and have access to a ships captain’s hat, I suppose I’d probably go as Captain Haddock. (Gee. What a surprise.)

You can catch Chris at his Comicfest panel at the following time:
Saturday 2nd of May 12 – 1.00pm – ‘Tintin – the journey from comic to film’
Captain Haddock - Chris Guise

5 minutes with Sarah Laing – Comicfest feature

Comicfest 2015 is here! Head over to the Facebook event for all the details and to receive event updates. There are panels and workshops for comic-lovers of all ages, and don’t forget to come along to the Central Library on Saturday 2nd May to pick up a free comic book on Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC!

SarahLaing-selfieToday we’re talking to Sarah Laing about her comic work, and what we can look forward to at her Comicfest panel and workshop. Sarah Laing is a Wellington-based novelist, cartoonist and graphic designer. She’s contributed regular comics to Metro magazine, Little Treasures, the AA magazine and many international anthologies. She ran a comics blog, Let Me Be Frank, for a number of years before she put it on hold to complete her Katherine Mansfield-inspired graphic novel. Pikitia Press published five issues of comics selected from her blog. Her most recent novel, The Fall of Light, encapsulates drawings evoking the dreamscape of a troubled architect. Sarah has also illustrated children’s books, and although her work mainly deals with adult themes, her children are petitioning her to draw a kids’ comic next.

What is the first significant comic related job or project you remember working on?
When I had my first son in 2003, I started a Mama diary, recording all the frustrations and minutiae of motherhood, and my attempts to finish my first novel. I’d just finished Marjane Satrapi’s Persoplis series and I was inspired to start drawing again.

Can you tell us about your current, or most recent project?
I am working on a memoir/biography inspired by Katherine Mansfield, charting her life and my desire to be ‘a writer, a real writer’*. I have also just completed a short residency at Wai-Te-Ata press at Victoria, working on comics inspired by Patricia Grace’s novel ‘Tu’.
*’Oh to be a writer, a real writer’ is a quote from Mansfield’s diaries.

SarahLaing05Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
Before I wanted to be a writer or a cartoonist I wanted to be a singer. I think one of my biggest inspirations are musicians – at this moment I most admire Björk. She is constantly reinventing herself, she reveals her most intimate, visceral experiences, she is avant-garde, innovative, and uses her entire voice – the ugly and beautiful parts of it.

What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
I want everybody to know that they can make comics – you don’t need to be a good drawer. And comics can be anything: poetry, abstract art, a rip-roaring yarn, a diary. Comics is a powerful medium in which to express your own take on the universe, your own world view.

Do you have another job outside of comic creation, or any significant hobbies you enjoy?
I’m a novelist and a short story writer. I voraciously consume novels and podcasts and I also love watching all the great TV series that are coming out these days. I used to go to the movies and bands all the time, before I had my 3 kids. Now I garden, cook, work as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator.

You can catch Sarah at her Comicfest workshop and panel at these times:
Saturday 2nd of May 10 – 11.30am – Comics 101 workshop with Sarah Laing
Saturday 2nd of May 1 – 2.00pm – Panel: New Zealand Women’s Comics with the editors of Three Words
SarahLaing04

5 minutes with Jonathan King – Comicfest feature

Comicfest 2015 is here! Head over to the Facebook event for all the details and to receive event updates. There are panels and workshops for comic-lovers of all ages, and don’t forget to come along to the Central Library on Saturday 2nd May to pick up a free comic book on Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC!

Jonathan KingToday we’re talking to Jonathan King about his comic work, and what we can look forward to at his Comicfest panel. Jonathan King makes films and comics in Welington. He has directed feature films Black Sheep, Under the Mountain and REALITi and was the co-writer of The Tattooist. His comics have been published in Faction, High Water, From Earth’s End: The best of New Zealand Comics, online at www.jking.co.nz and in his own recent collection Perplexing Stories.

Can you tell us about your current, or most recent project?
I have a collection of surreal adventure stories called Perplexing Stories just out. It’s a compilation of stuff I’ve put online over the last couple of years, and a new story.

Jonathan KingWhat is your favourite part of your working process?
Uninterrupted drawing time! (Which I rarely get!) Making people and places out of thin air and seeing them become ‘real’; looking back and wondering how I did it!

Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
Hergé, originally. Later Dylan Horrocks, Daniel Torres, Yves Chaland, Darwyn Cooke, Milton Caniff

Do you have another job outside of comic creation, or any significant hobbies you enjoy?
I make films. I’d love to bring these two worlds closer together — make short films as easily as I can make ‘fantastic’ comics and I’d love to animate (more — I’ve been playing).

If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
Freddy Lombard!

You can catch Jonathan at his Comicfest panel at the following time:
Friday 1st of May 7 – 8.00pm – Panel: The current and future state of New Zealand comics
Jonathan King

5 minutes with Matt Emery – Comicfest feature

Comicfest 2015 is here! Head over to the Facebook event for all the details and to receive event updates. There are panels and workshops for comic-lovers of all ages, and don’t forget to come along to the Central Library on Saturday 2nd May to pick up a free comic book on Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC!

Matt EmeryToday we’re talking to Matt Emery about his comic work, and what we can look forward to at his Comicfest panels. Matt Emery has been intermittently active as a cartoonist for twenty years in New Zealand and Australia. Currently based in Melbourne, Matt set up micro publisher Pikitia Press in 2012 publishing works by several New Zealand and Australian cartoonists. He is also active writing and researching historical and contemporary cartooning in Australasia. Online at: pikitiapress.com and guzumo.com

Can you tell us about your current, or most recent project?
Personally finishing a comic about how making offensive comments can affect your life. Also publishing a wonderful comic by David Blumenstein, #takedown: My evening on a pier with pick-up artists and protesters, it goes to print in a week and is available to pre-order now!

What is your favourite part of your working process?
The daydreaming phase of writing while I’m menial day-jobbing or commuting. When I’m doing the writing/editing phase I’ve usually worked everything over in my head and the hard work is done. I found it fascinating to see other writers work similarly there is a great clip of Ray Bradbury discussing his method for percolating ideas.

MattEmery02I also like the inking stage, I can pick up a new brush, a fresh pot of hot black coffee, and have some laughs at my own stupid jokes.

Who/what are some of influences and inspirations?
I admire these people or their work for a lot of reasons, My Mum and Dad, Mai, Ed Wood, Karl Wills, Marjane Satrapi, Gary Groth, Kim Thompson, Tim Bollinger, Moira Bertram, Joe McCulloch, Judge Dredd, Dean Mullaney, Osamu Tezuka, Los Bros Hernandez, H. W. Bennett, Michael Hill Jeweller, Steve Ditko, and countless others…

What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
I’m excited to talk to Rae, Sarah and Indira about the Three Words anthology which is shaping up to one of the most revelatory publications/happenings/conversation starters in New Zealand comics ever. I’ve learnt a lot about comics, cartoonists and people from the conversation around this book already without having seen a page of it.

If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
Possum Von Tempsky from James Davidson’s Moa comics.

You can catch Matt at his Comicfest panels at these times:
Friday 1st of May 7 – 8.00pm – Panel: The current and future state of New Zealand comics
Saturday 2nd of May 1 – 2.00pm – Panel: New Zealand Women’s Comics with the editors of Three Words
Matt Emery