5 minutes with Sally Bollinger – Comicfest feature

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

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

Image by Sally Bollinger
Image by Sally Bollinger

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

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

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

Image by Sally Bollinger
Image by Sally Bollinger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 minutes with Giselle Clarkson – Comicfest feature

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

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

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

Comic by Giselle Clarkson
Comic by Giselle Clarkson

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

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

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

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

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

Comic by Giselle Clarkson
Comic by Giselle Clarkson

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

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

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

5 minutes with Sam Orchard – Comicfest feature

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

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

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

Comic by Sam Orchard
Comic by Sam Orchard

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

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

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

Comic by Sam Orchard
Comic by Sam Orchard

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

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

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

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

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

5 minutes with Dylan Horrocks – Comicfest feature

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

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

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

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

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

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

From "Faultlines"
From “Faultlines”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 minutes with Hannah Benbow – Comicfest feature

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

Comicfest image

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

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

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

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

New Zealand Cartoon Archive Collections website
New Zealand Cartoon Archive website

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

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

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

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

5 minutes with Jem Yoshioka – Comicfest Feature

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

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

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

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

Image by Jem YoshiokaImage by Jem Yoshioka

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

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

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

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

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

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/

Gripping graphic memoirs

Comics and graphic novels have proven to be a powerful medium for recounting true stories. The selections below are some excellent, sometimes harrowing memoirs, told through sequential art.

Syndetics book coverThe complete Persepolis / Marjane Satrapi.
Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming–both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlankets : a graphic novel / by Craig Thompson.
“Wrapped in the landscape of a blustery Wisconsin winter, Blankets explores the sibling rivalry of two brothers growing up in the isolated country, and the budding romance of two coming-of-age lovers. A tale of security and discovery, of playfulness and tragedy, of a fall from grace and theorigins of faith. A profound and utterly beautiful work from Craig Thompson.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRelish : my life in the kitchen / by Lucy Knisley.
“Lucy Knisley loves food. The daughter of a chef and a gourmet, this talented young cartoonist comes by her obsession honestly. In her forthright, thoughtful, and funny memoir, Lucy traces key episodes in her life thus far, framed by what she was eating at the time and lessons learned about food, cooking, and life. Each chapter is bookended with an illustrated recipe–many of them treasured family dishes, and a few of them Lucy’s original inventions. A welcome read for anyone who ever felt more passion for a sandwich than is strictly speaking proper.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBecoming unbecoming / Una.
“A serial murderer, known as the Yorkshire Ripper, is at large in West Yorkshire and the police are struggling to solve the case. As this national news story unfolds around her, Una finds herself on the receiving end of a series of violent acts for which she feels she is to blame. Becoming Unbecoming explores sexual abuse, gender violence, blame, shame and social responsibility. In graphic novel format, Una asks what it means to grow up in a culture where male violence goes unpunished and unquestioned,challenging a global culture that demands the victims of violence pay” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHonor girl / Maggie Thrash.
“Maggie Thrash has spent basically every summer of her fifteen-year-old life at the one-hundred-year-old Camp Bellflower for Girls, set deep in the heart of Appalachia. Her long summer days are full of a pleasant, peaceful nothing . . . until one confounding moment. A split-second of innocent physical contact pulls Maggie into a gut-twisting love for an older, wiser, and most surprising of all (at least to Maggie), female counselor named Erin. When it seems as if Erin maybe feels the same way about Maggie, it’s too much for both Maggie and Camp Bellflower to handle, let alone to understand.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFun home : a family tragicomic / Alison Bechdel.
“Meet Alison’s father, a historic preservation expert and obsessive restorer of the family’s Victorian home, a third-generation funeral home director, a high school English teacher, an icily distant parent, and a closeted homosexual who, as it turns out, is involved with his male students and a family babysitter. Through narrative that is alternately heartbreaking and fiercely funny, we are drawn into a daughter’s complex yearning for her father. And yet, apart from assigned stints dusting caskets at the family-owned “fun home,” as Alison and her brothers call it, the relationship achieves its most intimate expression through the shared code of books. When Alison comes out as homosexual herself in late adolescense, the denouement is swift, graphic — and redemptive.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe infinite wait and other stories / by Julia Wertz.
The Infinite Wait and Other Stories is not a sustained narrative, but rather a collection of three short stories. The stories in this collection contain Julia Wertz’s signature acerbic wit, ribald humor, and keen eye for the everyday, but they also find the cartoonist delving more deeply into the personal.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMansfield and me : a graphic memoir / Sarah Laing.
“Katherine Mansfield is a literary giant in New Zealand-but she had to leave the country to become one. She wrote, ‘Oh to be a writer, a real writer.’ And a real writer she was, until she died at age 34 of tuberculosis. The only writer Virginia Woolf was jealous of, Mansfield hung out with the modernists, lost her brother in World War I, and spent her last days in a Fontainebleu commune with Olgivanna, Frank Lloyd Wright’s future wife. Sarah Laing wanted to be a real writer, too. A writer as famous as Katherine Mansfield, but not as tortured. Mansfield and Me charts her 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.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHyperbole and a half : unfortunate situations, flawed coping mechanisms, mayhem, and other things that happened / Allie Brosh.
“This full-color, beautifully illustrated edition features more than fifty percent new content, with ten never-before-seen essays and one wholly revised and expanded piece as well as classics from the website like, “The God of Cake,” “Dogs Don’t Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving,” and her astonishing, “Adventures in Depression,” and “Depression Part Two,” which have been hailed as some of the most insightful meditations on the disease ever written. Brosh’s debut marks the launch of a major new American humorist who will surely make even the biggest scrooge or snob laugh. We dare you not to.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVietnamerica : a family’s journey / written and illustrated by GB Tran.
“GB Tran is a young Vietnamese American artist who grew up distant from (and largely indifferent to) his family’s history. Born and raised in South Carolina as a son of immigrants, he knew that his parents had fled Vietnam during the fall of Saigon. But even as they struggled to adapt to life in America, they preferred to forget the past–and to focus on their children’s future. It was only in his late twenties that GB began to learn their extraordinary story. When his last surviving grandparents die within months of each other, GB visits Vietnam for the first time and begins to learn the tragic history of his family, and of the homeland they left behind.” (Syndetics summary)

ComicsPlus iOS app

Have you tried our new eLibrary service ComicsPlus yet? It has a vast collection of diverse comics and graphic novels for all ages which can be read on a computer, and there is an iOS app!
Read comics and graphic novels on your iOS device by downloading the iOS app (Alternatively, you can find help for desktop or laptop access here).

There’s no limit to the number of titles you can take out through ComicsPlus, and comics are made available for 7 days. Now’s your chance to read any number of series from beginning to end!

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Some Children’s and YA authors not to miss at Writers Week

Writers Week is a very exciting week for book lovers! This year, children and young adult readers are spoiled with great authors to meet.
Watch these videos of authors who are taking part in this year’s festival and check out a selection of their titles you can borrow from our shelves:

Paul Beavis:

Paul Beavis, author of Mrs Mo’s Monster is leading live reading (and drawing!) of his raucous tale of a little monster … dress ups for this event are encouraged (come as Mr Mo, Mrs Mo, or the Monster. Prizes for best dressed!).

Syndetics book coverHello World!
“In this sequel to Mrs. Mo’s Monster, the fuzzy blue monster from that book-one part toddler, one part gremlin-sets out to see the world since his elderly caretakers are too busy to do anything fun. With a backpack overstuffed with sporting equipment, toys, cookware, and more, the monster tromps off into the mountains before getting lost. Ages 3-up.” (Syndetics)

Mariko Tamaki:

Mariko Tamaki is an award-winning writer of graphic novels – her worlds can be dark and full of surprises. Mariko is a must-see for all readers – she is a powerful storyteller, and her books are especially important for teenage readers and adults remembering what coming-of-age really is.  See her in conversation with Kate De Goldi, and again with Sarah Laing, Kerry Ann Lee and Courtney Sina Meredith.

Syndetics book coverThis one summer
“Rose and her parents have been going to Awago Beach since she was a little girl. It’s her summer getaway, her refuge. Her friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had, completing her summer family. But this summer is different. It’s a summer of secrets and heartache, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.” (Syndetics)

Sally Gardner:

Sally Gardner never did things by the usual route. Her books are full of magic, mischief and overcoming the odds – bring your young readers for an hour with this extraordinary author (Maggot Moon, I, Coriander and so many more…)

Syndetics book coverMaggot moon
“The year is 1956. In an unnamed country of obvious allegorical weight, the totalitarian government of the Motherland keeps the impure in ghettos where they live off scraps and hope not to be dragged away to camps. Standish, 15, lives in Zone 7, a nasty place from which school is no respite there cruel teachers beat students and, on this particular day, kill one. Standish is expelled in the aftermath, and the next step for him may be the camps. Standish, however, knows a secret…” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverI, Coriander
“It is night, and I have lit the first of seven candles to write my story by. My name is Coriander Hobie, and I have a great many things to tell-of silver shoes that tempted me and an alligator most rare; of London, the home of my childhood, and another, stranger land, one that I thought only existed in dreams; and of an ebony box whose treasure only now am I beginning to understand. The box was once my mother’s, but its secrets were meant for me. This being my story and a fairy tale besides, I will start once upon a time…” (Syndetics)

Cornelia Funke:

Cornelia Funke is a champion for young readers – her books are enthralling adventures that have delighted children for years. And Cornelia herself is no ordinary person – she’s going to talk with comedian, writer and actor Jo Randerson about her stories and what inspires them.

Syndetics book coverInkheart 
“One dark night, a mysterious man called Dustfinger appears at the house where Meggie lives with her father, a bookbinder. Dustfinger’s arrival sets in motion a long, complicated chain of events involving a journey, fictional characters brought to life, dangerous secrets revealed, threats of evil deeds, actual evil deeds, a long-lost relative found, and the triumph of creativity and courage.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverFearless : a Mirrorworld novel
“After saving his younger brother Will’s life in Reckless, Jacob Reckless now has to save his own. With only months to live after being cursed, he searches for the Witch Slayer’s crossbow, rumored to give life instead of death when it’s used out of love. He is competing for the crossbow against ruthless fellow treasure hunter Nerron; a stone onyx, Goyl, who’s saddled with a spoiled prince; and other unwelcome companions on his quest. A map helps readers track Jacob and Fox, the lovely shape-shifting human/vixen who loves him, as they desperately search all around Mirrorworld while encountering such familiar fairy-tale characters as Bluebeard.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverYoung werewolf
“Matt is returning home from the cinema when a yellow-eyed monster bites his hand and his whole world – and body – changes. Helped by his best friend Lisa and teacher Mrs Ruskin, they have just two days to find a cure before the curse takes hold forever!” (Syndetics)

Joy Cowley:

Last, but not least, Joy Cowley is one of New Zealand’s best-loved writers – she is a delightful person and a brilliant writer. Don’t miss this opportunity to celebrate Joy and her amazing work!

Syndetics book coverRoad to Ratenburg
“A family of rats is forced to leave their home, so sets out to find the fabled city of Ratenburg. Along the way they outwit vicious dogs, tricky rat traps, and sharp-beaked hawks, and make some very dangerous crossings. The rat family’s adventures test their character and grow bonds between sisters and brothers, father and uncle, mum and dad. Narrating the tale is Spinnaker Rat, a classic Edwardian father, full of wisdom about the ways of the world, who finds himself learning more than he expected.” (Gecko Press)

Syndetics book coverDunger
“William and Melissa have been roped into helping their old hippie grandparents fix up their holiday home in the middle of the Sounds. They’ll have no electricity, no cellphone reception and only each other for company. As far as they are concerned this is not a holiday.” (Back cover)