ComicFest 2019 – 5 minutes with Roger Langridge

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.

 

Our star artist, directly from the UK in this edition of the ComicFest, is next on our “5 minutes with…” feature. Meet Roger Langridge, a New Zealand-born comics writer, artist and letterer who lives in the UK. Notable works include The Muppet Show Comic Book, Thor: The Might Avenger and his own self-published Fred The Clown, which was nominated for  Eisner, Harvey, Ignatz and Reuben awards. Roger Langridge appears at ComicFest with the support of Creative New Zealand.

 

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: I pretty much learned to read from Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck comics, which my mum used to buy for my brother and me to keep us quiet on long car journeys when we were very small. I had a sort of epiphany when I was around 6 or 7 years old, when our classroom art assignment was to draw a comic strip – most of the class drew three or four panels, but I covered both sides of the paper with these dense 16-panel comics. I’d found my thing.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: I tend to get up early – if I have a writing job to do I’ll put in an hour or two before the rest of the family wake up, otherwise I’ll catch up on paperwork and correspondence. Then I’ll have breakfast, get the kids off to school and start drawing – usually for the rest of the day, with a break for lunch and dinner. If I don’t have an urgent deadline I occasionally watch TV in the evening with my family, otherwise it’s back to the drawing board after dinner to make sure I hit the day’s target.

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: Currently juggling a couple of things: I’m doing a serialised graphic novel for IDW’s Full Bleed anthology featuring my Fred the Clown character – it’s called Arizona Daisy, and it’s a western of sorts, about the relationship between a man and his cow. I’m also working on another serial – it’s for the anthology Meanwhile, published by Soaring Penguin, with a rural New Zealand setting. It’s called Taniwha. I’m hoping to do some research for it while I’m in New Zealand. My pitch was “Hunt for the Wilder People meets Alice in Wonderland”, which should either give you some idea of the tone I’m striving for or else utterly confuse everyone.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: Ideally I like to start before I’m properly awake, to kind of trick myself into getting something done before I’ve had time to realise that’s what I’m doing – there’s a flow established by the time I’ve caught up with myself enough to realise what’s going on.

Sometimes I’ll play instrumental music (jazz or classical, usually) when I start – it’s a way to help me focus and drown out any distractions. It has to be something without words, though. A human voice takes me right out of it.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: I think my holy triumvirate would be E.C. Segar, Carl Barks and Kurtzman & Elder.

 Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: From before I moved to the UK: I adored Barry Linton’s comics; I was so sorry to hear he’d passed away. I’ve followed Dylan Horrocks’ stuff since his university days. Karl Wills does some amazing work. Trace Hodgson’s comics need some sort of collection.

More recently: I like the bits I’ve seen from Ned Wenlock & Sarah Laing. Jared Lane’s stuff is very accomplished. Ant Sang is a world-class cartoonist. Ben Stenbeck gets better and better all the time. There’s always a ton of great work coming out of New Zealand, it definitely punches above its weight in terms of the talent it produces. I’m missing loads of people. I’m a bit out of the loop these days so I’m hoping to educate myself on who’s current or up-and-coming while I’m visiting.

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: I’d really like to try my hand at a daily strip for a sustained period – some absurdist character-based thing with a Goon Show sort of feel to it. To do it well at my current rate of production it would totally have to be a full-time job, though, so either I need to find a way to draw a lot faster or find some way to get paid for it.

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: I’ve been asked to do a workshop about using formal constraints as a creative instigator, so there’s that! Should be fun for people who want to get involved. I’ll try to keep it silly.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: Maybe I could be the back end of Barney Google’s horse, Spark Plug?

You can find Roger online in the following places:
Twitter: @hotelfred
Blog/Website: hotelfred.com

ComicFest 2019 – 5 minutes with Sharon Murdoch

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.

Meet Sharon Murdoch, a political cartoonist with Stuff Media. Her cartoon series Munro, about an orange cat, also appears in Stuff’s daily newspapers. Murdoch won Canon Media Awards Cartoonist of the Year in 2016 and 2017, and Voyager Media Awards Cartoonist of the Year in 2018 (formerly the Canon Media Awards). Two collections of Sharon’s work have been published – one on her political work written by Dr Melinda Johnston, and another of her Munro cat cartoons, which came out in late 2018. Of political cartooning, Sharon says she can’t think of another job she would rather do. Even on a bad day.

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: After I finished Design School I lived with Trace Hodgson, who at the time was a political cartoonist for The Listener, so cartoons were a normal part of the day, and he had lots of comics around – mainly underground. Later I worked with a Xhosa Women’s Community Development group in South Africa, and we used comic strips as a way to communicate information about AIDS prevention and early childhood development. I also helped put together a kids paper for the Evening Post newspaper, called Presto. Gradually I started doing political stuff. And so it went…

Q: What is your average day like?
A: On days I have to do a political cartoon I turn on the radio as soon as I wake up and listen to RNZ and trawl through news sites. If I’m lucky my partner will bring me a cup of tea – which may be straight kindness, or may be because he likes the kitchen to himself. Our cats Munro and LaLuna usually clamp me to the bed, so it takes a bit of manouvering to extricate myself. I walk into town and have another cup of tea at a cafe while I read the newspaper, and rough out ideas. Then some more walking is usually involved while I try to sort out what the characters are saying. Most days I draw at my desk in the Stuff newsroom. It’s a great place to be, because there’s more tea, and I get to hear what’s happening about the place.

I usually work till around 6.30 or so, and then I walk home again. If I have other projects on, I try to do them on the weekends, or if I’m on a deadline I’ll work in the evening, but I find as I’ve gotten older working in the evening is more exhausting than it used to be, and also takes time away from being with my partner, my teenaged daughter, the two cats and the dog, Iris.

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: My regular political cartoons for Stuff newspapers and Stuff.co.nz. A book of my cat cartoons, Munro, came out late last year, and I’ve been drawing penguins for South Cider cider cans. At the moment I’m doing drawings for a book by Mike White about dogs.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: Lots of tea. Lots of walking. A favourite dip pen handle that I got off Trademe – it’s quite old and has it’s own reservoir, and Hunt and Brause nibs. The sketchbooks I use are from Japan City. When I found out that Japan City was closing I went in and bought about 50 of them. I use one a month, so I figure when I run out of those sketchbooks my cartooning career will be over. If not before.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: JJ Grandville, Lynda Barry, Edward Gorey, Edward Lear, Chris Blain, Mervyn Peake, Mathieu Sapin, Ben Shahn, Wanda G’ag, Kate Beaton.

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: Something with animals.

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: Excitement about drawing stories, whether that’s single panels or pages.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: Dressing as myself is challenge enough.

You can follow Sharon on Twitter @domesticanimcal

ComicFest 2019 – 5 minutes with Jesse Barratt

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 our special “5 minutes with…” feature we have Jesse Barratt. He is a Senior Artist at Weta Workshop’s gaming studio and was instrumental in shipping Weta Workshop’s first and multi-award nominated title Dr. Grordbort’s Invaders for the Magic Leap One. Jesse’s talents were used to develop the 3D aspect of Dr. Grordbort’s Invaders including the creation of spaces and objects, and increasing immersion within the world of Mixed Reality.
Jesse Barratt appears at ComicFest with the support of Weta.

 

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: Art, definitely the Art. my older brother, Brad, used to buy comics all the time – he’d buy half a dozen or so a fortnight so we had plenty in the house when I was young. Much to my mum’s worry, I would sit for hours at a time, pouring over the images in comics such as Hellraiser, Tales from the Crypt, Ironman, Wolverine and Hellboy.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: I wake up early and go to bed late so my days are long. Most days I work around the 10 hour mark. Once you add portfolio work and life’s other commitments, my sleep schedule is usually shortened to the 5-6 hour mark. Healthy eating and exercise becomes important to an artist at that point. Who knows what could happen otherwise – your hands might drop off!

At Weta Workshop, I usually start my day around 7:30am, make a nice coffee in the staff kitchen and begin reading my emails and talk to a few people. This helps me prioritize my workload for the day. Once I’ve got the utmost deadlines out the way, I get stuck into a day’s worth of development. On any given day, this could consist of modeling, texturing, etc. at Weta Workshop every day is varied and interesting.

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: Last year Weta Workshop released its first mixed reality game, Dr Grordbort’s Invaders set in the retro-science fiction universe of rayguns, rocket ships and deadly robot miscreants. This was also my first time working in mixed reality and it came with a host of new and exciting challenges. I certainly learnt a lot from the project. Now I continue to work within this inspiring new medium – it’s a little different from traditional comic book drawing and I relish the work.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: I think the only tradition I have regarding helping me at work is to just really focus. People speak about “focus” like this mystical or difficult to obtain phantom. But I think that focus is more about building it over time. I usually just say to myself, Ok, from 9am to lunch I don’t get off this seat and I work. As creative people, I think we all get distracted easier than others. But by being prepared and organised you can really force yourself to shoot some goals.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: Honestly? It’s the people around me. People like our Lead Artist, Stephen Lambert, our Game Director, Greg Broadmore, and the rest of the amazing team at Weta Workshop’s gaming division. These people inspire me on a daily basis.

Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: Have to shout out to the best boss I’ve had and one of the most amazing artists on the planet, whether he thinks that or not, Greg Broadmore. Incredible. Check out his stuff.

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: I’d actually love to work in a style like Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. Something dark and gritty, terrifying and beautiful.

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: I’ll be giving attendees at ComicFest a look into the weird world of an artist’s mind. I’ll be showing and discussing how we analyse imagery and extract the information we use to recreate or spark inspiration. Using the world of Dr.Grordbort’s and Greg’s comic book work I’ll introduce the audience to principles such as line, color, form and more.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: My go to is John Bender from the Breakfast Club because I can rock a denim jacket. But for comic fest it’s a tie between Jareth the Goblin King from Labyrinth or a yellow banana.

You can find Jesse online at jetty218.artstation.com

ComicFest 2019 – 5 minutes with Ant Sang

ComicFest is back for 2019! On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 2 to 4 of May at the National Library there will be panels, talks and workshops all day long for comic-lovers of all ages. You can also pick up a free comic from us on May the 4th and celebrate Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC! For full programme click here and follow our updates on our Facebook event.

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find Ant online at
Instagram: @antasang_art
Blog/Website:  www.antsang.co.nz/

ComicFest 2019 – 5 minutes with Michel Mulipola

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 our “5 minutes with..” is Michel Mulipola. He is a self taught comic book artist from Auckland, New Zealand. Michel has been immersed in the world of comic books from the tender age of five and has wanted to draw comic books from that moment on. He has also done work for BOOM! Studios’ line of WWE comics, various anthologies and is currently working on the U.S comic book, Headlocked: The Last Territory.

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: I fell in love with comics before I started school. I stumbed across my Uncle’s collection and instantly fell in love with the bright colours and bold characters.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: My average day is usually spent drawing comics, answering e-mails, scolling through social media and playing video games. Some days, you could find me at Arkham City Comics in Auckland or visiting schools as part of Duffy Books in Homes’ Role Model program.

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: I’ve recently finished up a comic book for the NZ School Journals which should be in schools later this year and am currently working through the next volume of the Headlocked graphic novel series.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: I don’t have any traditions or rituals. I kind of play the day by ear and go with the flow.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: I don’t really have ONE person who is the biggest influence for me. The medium of comic books itself is the inspiration. In terms of artists, as a kid growing up in the 80s and 90s, I can’t go past Jim Lee’s X-Men run as an influence on my art.

Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: Funnily enough, Roger Langridge and Dylan Horrocks are some of my favourite NZ comic creators. I also will have to say Toby Morris and Ant Sang are very good friends of mine and Ben Stenbeck’s work is always freakin’ awesome!

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: I’ve had an opportunity to do short dream projects with BOOM! Studios’ WWE comics, drawing some of my favourite wrestlers. I would love to be able to illustrate a Green Lantern comic sometime as he is my all time favourite superhero.

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: I’m excited to share my story as a Polynesian comic book artist. And maybe I’ll show off some art too…

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: As someone who constantly dresses up in tights and beats people up, I am no stranger to cosplay.
I have cosplayed as Spider-Gwen, Star-Lord, Green Lantern, Bane and the Green Power Ranger in the past. As for now, I would love to cosplay as Thanos. I’ve got the Infinity Gauntlet, I just need to paint my skin purple and grow a scrotum chin.

You can find Michel online in the following places:
Instagram: @bloodysamoanart
Twitter: @bloodysamoan
Blog/Website: bloodysamoan.com

ComicFest 2019 – 5 minutes with Katie O’Neill

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 in our “5 minutes with..” series we have Katie O’Neill. Katie is an Eisner, Harvey and McDuffie-winning illustrator and graphic novelist from New Zealand. She is the author of Princess Princess Ever After, The Tea Dragon Society, and Aquicorn Cove, all from Oni Press. She mostly makes gentle fantasy stories for younger readers, and is very interested in tea, creatures, things that grow, and the magic of everyday life. Katie O’Neill appears at ComicFest with the support of the New Zealand Book Council.

 

 

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: I was fortunate to have dial-up internet early enough to be deep into the neopets.com craze as a kid, and a big part of that was the rich creative community that formed around the virtual pet-raising game. The in-game weekly digital newspaper featured both ongoing storylines and one-off gag comics, and really got me started viewing comics as a natural way of expressing stories and characters from a young age.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: I’m a full time freelance illustrator at the moment, so it’s really important to me to have structured days with clear down time. Mornings give me good energy, so I try to get up at around 7.30 and have a solid, uninterrupted morning of work until lunch. Then I take a few hours off to make food, go for a walk, do yoga, or get coffee with friends. After that I either continue working on a different project, or do some studies or research depending on how much energy I have left. Evenings are a work-free zone! I love to cook, and relax with reading, podcasts or TV.

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: I’ve recently wrapped up a couple of graphic novels for Oni Press- one is the second book in the Tea Dragon series, which is due out in September, and the other is yet to be announced but was for much younger readers, which was a ton of fun! I also took a few months off at the end of last year to decompress and spend some time experimenting and growing my skills in a new direction.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: I live by the Pomodoro technique- working for 25 minutes, then taking a break for 5. I notice a huge difference in my focus, productivity, and mental and physical health when I get up to stretch, drink water, and bother my cat frequently.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: At the moment, I’m looking for a lot of inspiration and motivation outside of the art world. I love hearing stories of older people who have lived active, engaged and meaningful lives through their daily activities, connection with nature, and community.

Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: New Zealand webcomic authors are making incredible things at the moment! Rachel Smythe, Jem Yoshioka, Chelsey Furedi and Kale de Wild just to name a few.

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: I’m very lucky in that I’ve already pretty much made it- The Tea Dragon series is exactly what I wanted it to be, with so much wonderful support from my publisher and readers. I’ve never needed to compromise anything, and it’s full of the elements and themes I love most. That said, I’d love to work on something collaborative in future!

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: I’m really excited to design some dragons with our younger attendees! Kids always come up with such wonderful ideas, and it’s really fun to be able to bring them to life with them.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: Howl from the Ghibli movie version of Howl’s Moving Castle.

You can find Katie online in the following places:
Twitter: @strangelykatie
Blog/Website: www.ktoneill.com/

ComicFest 2019 – 5 minutes with Giselle Clarkson

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 Giselle Clarkson, a Wellington-based freelance illustrator and cartoonist who is also interested in rock-pooling, foraging, and doing crosswords. She has a monthly comic about children’s books being published by NZ website The Sapling, covering topics that range from why John Burningham is responsible for the millennial avocado crisis to a review of species that are named after fictional characters. She also makes comics about science and conservation issues for scientists, a zoo, and the NZ School Journal.

 

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: When I was a kid I loved Tintin, The Far Side and books by Raymond Briggs, but it wasn’t until I was at university and discovered webcomics that I realised how broad and accessible the medium was. Discovering stuff like Hark! A Vagrant, Hyperbole and a Half and xkcd gave me the idea that I could do it too.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: I work full-time as an illustrator/cartoonist and my studio is at home, so there are a lot of pyjamas and cats involved. I try to keep pretty regular 9-5 hours because most of my clients are in offices, but the best part is never having to set an alarm clock. I think my job is only about 40% drawing, the rest is emailing. So much emailing.

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: Last year I worked with the Tawaki Project to condense their scientific paper on the extraordinary feeding habits of tawaki penguins into a short comic for sharing on social media. It was better recieved than we could have hoped for, and even retweeted by Diana Gabaldon of all people! It was super exciting to see how comics can work effectively as a science communication medium.

I also make a monthly comic for The Sapling (a NZ site for adults about children’s literature). Sometimes I review new picture books or write biographies of authors and illustrators, or share weird and cool facts I find out about classic kid’s books.

 

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: The pink character from Alex Norris’ comic strips (the ones that always end with “oh no.”)

You can find Giselle online in the following places:
Twitter: @giselledraws
Facebook: GiselleDraws
Blog/Website: www.giselledraws.com

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