New comics and graphic novels

Satellite Falling book cover

Illustrators and storytellers have poured their talents into graphic novels, telling of personal stories in response to terrorism and surgery; grand narratives, mysteries and bursts of imagination that have created worlds. Wellington City Libraries has sifted through and selected a swathe for our shelves. This month has translated international talents, compilations of miniseries presented in one volume, next chapters of current series and a republished title from Aotearoa New Zealand. It was tricky to choose from all our new material, below is a selection of highlights:

The ghost fleet [1] : the whole goddamned thing / Cates, Donny
“When you need to transport the world’s most valuable, dangerous, or secretive cargo, you don’t call just any trucking service… you call The Ghost Fleet. But when one of the world’s most elite combat-trained truckers takes a forbidden peek at his payload, he uncovers a vast conspiracy that threatens not just him, but possibly the entire planet!” (Catalogue)
Previously 1-8 episodes now presented in one volume.

Green almonds : letters from Palestine = Les amandes vertes / Hermans, Anaële
Green Almonds: Letters from Palestine is a personal look into a complex reality, through the prism of the experience of a young woman writing letters to her sister about her feelings and adventures in the occupied territories. Green Almonds is an intimate story with big implications. A young woman discovers a country, works there, makes friends, lives a love story, and is confronted with the plight of the Palestinians, the violence on a daily basis that we see on our screens and read in our newspapers.” (Catalogue)

Briggs Land. Volume 2, Lone wolves / Wood, Brian
“Grace Briggs is now the leader of the largest antigovernment secessionist group in the United States, having outmaneuvered both Federal law enforcement and an attempted takeover by white power stormtroopers. But troubles at home remain, and when a chance encounter with innocent civilians blows up into an ugly hostage situation, the privacy and integrity of Briggs Land is compromised. Meanwhile, Jim Briggs, humiliated at losing control of the family, seeks revenge.” (Catalogue)

Hicksville : a comic book / Horrocks, Dylan
“World-famous cartoonist Dick Burger has earned millions and become the most powerful man in the comics industry. However, behind his rapid rise to success, there lies a dark and terrible secret, as biographer Leonard Batts discovers when he visits Burger’s hometown in remote New Zealand. A rich, and captivating book, one of the best graphic novels of the past decade.” (Catalogue)

Godshaper / Spurrier, Simon
“In 1958, the laws of physics stopped working. But an alternative was provided, and people found themselves each accompanied by their own personal god, the new fuel and currency of the world. Varying in shape, size, and influence, these companion deities changed everything. Ennay is a man without a god. Bud is a god without a human. Together, they might just survive.” (Catalogue)

About Betty’s boob / Cazot, Vero
“She lost her left breast, her job, and her guy. She does not know it yet, but this is the best day of her life. An inspiring and surprisingly comedic tale of loss and acceptance told largely through silent sequential narrative.” (Catalogue)

Out of nothing / Locke, Daniel
“Spanning millennia, Daniel Locke’s ambitious graphic novel explores humanity’s inherent ‘dreaming mind’ and its impact on our world. Surreal sequences take us from Gutenberg’s printing press to Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web via Picasso, Einstein, Grandmaster Flash and more. Locke shows hour our basic instinct to observe, record and connect has formed the basis for all human invention and progress.” (Catalogue)

Satellite falling / Horton, Steve
“She’s the only human on an alien world… and that’s the least of her problems. A sci-fi series filled with grit and wit. She fled a fallen Earth, her lover dead. Now, Lilly makes her way as a cabbie by day and a bounty hunter by night as the sole human on SATELLITE. When Lilly’s past catches up with her, it’s going to take her and an unlikely band of weird aliens to set things right. What has Lilly gotten herself into?” (Catalogue)

Strong female protagonist. Book two / Mulligan, Brennan Lee
“Alison Green used to be a superhero. With unlimited strength and invulnerablility she fought crime with a group of other teens under the alter ego Mega Girl. All that changed after an encounter with Menace, her mind-reading arch-enemy, who showed her evidence of a sinister conspiracy that made battling giant robots seem suddenly unimportant. Now Alison is going to college in New York City, trying to find ways to actually help the world while making friends and getting to class on time. It’s impossible to escape the past however and trouble comes in the form of mysterious murders ex-teammates with a grudge, robots with a straing sense of humor, an inconvenient crush, a contankerous professor, and many different kinds of people who think they know the best way to be a hero.” (Catalogue)

And from Mike Mignola, the Hellboy short story collection is featured below:

Hellboy : the complete short stories. Volume 1 / Mignola, Michael
“In 1994 Mike Mignola released the first Hellboy series, Seed of Destruction, as Hellboy faced his supposed destiny as Beast of the Apocalypse. Before that, he’d spent fifty years fighting monsters as a somewhat carefree member of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. The Complete Short Stories volumes 1 & 2 present those early adventures. The Crooked Man and Double Feature of Evil, both of which earned Mignola and his legendary collaborator Richard Corben Eisner Awards, are collected with the complete Hellboy in Mexico saga, featuring collaborations with Corben, Mick McMahon, Gabriel Ba, and Fabio Moon, as well as one of Mignola’s early masterpiece, The Corpse.” (Catalogue)

How films can lead you to comics

There’s nothing like a good explore of the library collection, but where to start? Recently a list of recommendations landed in Central’s graphic novel collection featuring movies as a jumping off point into some great graphic stories.

So lets dive in… with the very atmospheric Blade Runner 2049. There are tie-ins with tone, style, setting, the question of android ‘vs’ human, ethics, them ‘vs’ us, detective skills and unexpected empathy.


Chris Robertson and Robert Adler are part of a team that has created a six part sequence Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep: Dust to dust exploring the birth of the android hunters, a part of the Blade Runner universe.

Do androids dream of electric sheep? : dust to dust [1] / Roberson, Chris
“Who hunted androids before Dick Deckard? Taking place immediately after World War Terminus ends, the problems with artificial–androids–become apparent. The government decides they must become targets, hunted down, but who will do the dirty work? Two men are assigned: Malcolm Reed, a “special” human with the power to feel others’ emotions, and Charlie Victor. Meanwhile Samantha Wu, a Stanford biologist, fights to save the last of the living animals.” (Catalogue)

Trifecta : Judge Dredd / Ewing, Al
“Judge Dredd / created by John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra — The simping detective / created by Simon Spurrier & Frazer Irving — Low life / created by Rob Williams & Henry Flint.” (Catalogue)
Compared to le Carre’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by some reviewers, this is a presentation of Judge Dredd’s world with machinations from clones, corporations and deeds gone wrong. Enjoy!

Pluto : Urasawa X Tezuka. 001 / Urasawa, Naoki
“In a distant future where sentient humanoid robots pass for human, someone or some thing is out to destroy the seven great robots of the world. Europol’s top detective Gesicht is assigned to investigate these mysterious robot serial murders—the only catch is that he himself is one of the seven targets.” (Catalogue)

Tokyo ghost. Volume one, The atomic garden / Remender, Rick
“The Isles of Los Angles 2089–Humanity is addicted to technology. Getting a virtual buzz is the only thing left to live for, and gangsters run it all. And who do these gangsters turn to when they need their rule enforced? Constables Led Dent and Debbie Decay are about to be given a job that will force them out of the familiar squalor of LA and into the last tech-less country on Earth: The Garden Nation of Tokyo.” (Catalogue)

Descender. Book one: Tin stars / Lemire, Jeff
“Young Robot boy TIM-21 and his companions struggle to stay alive in a universe where all androids have been outlawed and bounty hunters lurk on every planet. A rip-roaring and heart-felt cosmic odyssey, Descender pits humanity against machine, and world against world, to create a sprawling epic. Collecting issues #1-6 of Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth, Trillium) and Dustin Nguyen’s (Little Gotham) critically acclaimed, bestselling new science fiction series” (Catalogue)

Top picks from our latest graphic novels

Sirens book cover

Graphic novels continue to delight, thrill and amaze with their rich diversity of style and content and this months selection of releases are no exception from tales of jazz greats to primitive tribes existing on a post-apocalyptic Earth.

Mudbite featuring Dave Cooper’s Eddy Table. / Cooper, Dave
Mudbite compiles two all-new Eddy Table stories, ‘Mud River’ and ‘Bug Bite’, in which Eddy Table returns to his roots, acting as Dave’s alter ego in the dreamlike narratives. Eddy first appeared in the early ’90s in Dave Cooper’s award-winning underground comic series, Weasel. The stories are based on baffling dreams and a unique kind of logical nonsense, centering on encounters with voluptuous women and fantasy technology.” (Catalogue)

Total jazz / Blutch
“In these freewheeling short stories, vignettes, and sketches that originally appeared in Jazzman magazine, the famed French cartoonist examines not only the genre and its creators but the nature of the subculture. The grumpy festival-goer, the curmudgeonly collector, the anxious auditioner, and many others are his targets. As improvisional as Coltrane and Mingus, Blutch captures the excitement of live performance and of creating and listening to music.” (Catalogue)

Niourk / Vatine, Olivier
“On a post-apocalyptic Earth, where mankind has regressed to a handful of primitive tribes hunting and foraging for a meager, oppressed existence, a lone black child, shunned by other members of his tribe, sets out on an epic journey to what used to be known as New York, land of the gods! Written by Stefan Wul, author of cult favorite Fantastic Planet, illustrated by acclaimed French comics artist Olivier Vatine, this unusual hero’s journey is a memorable examination of a child’s compassion — and the human race’s cruelty.”(Catalogue)

Kill six billion demons. Book two, Wielder of dreams. / Parkinson-Morgan, Tom
“When her boyfriend is kidnapped by genocidal angels, Allison Ruth rushes to save him. Now this sorority sister/barista/business major is stranded in an alternate dimension and endowed with awesome – but incredibly inconvenient – power. There’s a way out, but it’ll take everything Allison has.” (Catalogue)

Sirens / Pérez, George
“As an intergalactic force enslaves planets across the galaxy, the legendary team known only as the Sirens must reunite to save the galaxy–but is that even possible when the Sirens themselves don’t remember who they are? And the rest of the universe only remembers them as…villains?” (Catalogue)

Secret weapons / Heisserer, Eric
“The government has dispatched Amanda McKee – the technopath codenamed Livewire – to investigate the ruins of a secret facility formerly run by Toyo Harada, the most powerful telepath on Earth and her former mentor. In his quest for world betterment at any cost, Harada sought out and activated many potential psiots like himself. Those who survived, but whose powers he deemed to have no value to his cause, were hidden away at this installation. But Livewire, having studied Harada’s greatest strengths and learned his deepest weaknesses, senses opportunity where he once saw failure.” (Catalogue)

Shadows on the grave / Corben, Richard
“Richard Corben follows up 2014’s Spirits of the Dead with a new collection of original short stories, ranging from gothic tales worthy of Poe, to Twilight Zone-style encounters with the weird, to a full-length fantasy epic featuring a barbarian reminiscent of Corben’s most notorious creation, Den, immortalized in the 1981 animated film Heavy Metal. Corben rose to prominence with short horror and science fiction stories in the early 1970s in Creepy and Eerie, which were later collected in Creepy Presents Richard Corben.” (Catalogue)

Get naked / Seagle, Steven T
“Where would you get naked? In the spirit of essayist David Sedaris and the sardonic travel monologues of Spalding Grey, comic writer Steven T. Seagle… turns his eye to a new form–the graphic essay. Nineteen emerging global cartoonists journey through Seagle’s personal observations of global attitudes about nudeness. Balancing raw comedy, raw emotions, and raw cartooning, the essays honestly chronicle Seagle’s place as an undressed, metaphorical fish out of water on different continents – from not recognizing a famous unclothed celebrity in Hollywood, to finding himself nude on the roof of a Berlin high-rise, to being eaten by literal fish in Tokyo.” (Catalogue)

Incognegro : a graphic mystery / Johnson, Mat
“This tenth anniversary edition of the acclaimed and fearless graphic novel features enhanced toned art, an afterword by Mat Johnson, character sketches, and other additional material. In the early 20th Century, when lynchings were commonplace throughout the American South, a few courageous reporters from the North risked their lives to expose these atrocities. They were African-American men who, due to their light skin color, could ‘pass’ among the white folks. They called this dangerous assignment going ‘incognegro’. (Catalogue)

The Battle of Churubusco : American rebels in the Mexican-American War / Ferraris, Andrea
“A soldier under fire faces a crisis of conscience in this remarkable work of historical graphic fiction. In 1847, Mexican suburb Churubusco was the stronghold of the San Patricios, a motley battalion of soldiers–even some runaway American slaves–who deserted the United States army for a just, if suicidal, cause.” (Catalogue)

Selected picks from our latest graphic novels

Brazen

There is a rich diversity in this month’s graphic novel picks, from continuations of acclaimed series such as Arthur De Pins’ The Revolution of the Crabs to historic seminal cult works such as the DC House of Horror anthology to a wonderful graphic novel celebrating the rebel ladies who rocked the world. All in all it’s a rich cornucopia with works to suit all tastes.

Syndetics book coverThe death of Stalin / writer, Fabien Nury ; artist, Thierry Robin.
“On March 1, 1953, the Secretary General of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin, had a severe stroke. A doctor could not be called until the Central Committee had convened, voted, and agreed on which doctor to use, a task made more complex by the fact that Stalin had just ordered the deaths of many of the Soviet Union’s leading physicians. And so began the bureaucratic merry-go-round that became the intense and underhanded struggle for control of a nation.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe green hand and other stories / Nicole Claveloux with Edith Zha ; introduction by Daniel Clowes ; translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith.
“Nicole Claveloux’s short stories–originally published in the late 1970s and never before collected in English–are among the most beautiful comics ever drawn: whimsical, intoxicating, with the freshness and splendor of dreams. In hallucinatory colour or elegant black-and-white, she brings us into lands that are strange but oddly recognizable, filled with murderous grandmothers and lonely city dwellers, bad-tempered vegetables and walls that are surprisingly easy to fall through. This new selection, designed and introduced by Daniel Clowes, presents the full achievement of an unforgettable, unjustly neglected master of French comics.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOrion’s outcasts / Corbeyran & Jorge Miguel ; Corbeyran, writer ; Jorge Miguel, artist & colorist ; Mark Bence, translator.
“Now, instead of Kolhen’s warrior tattoo, the young man wears the mark of the rejected, the ‘outcasts’ as they are known on the planet Absalon. Determined to prove his innocence and to get revenge on those who framed him, Kolhen escapes captivity with the help of the fiery Tryana, another of society’s pariahs. On his quest, Kolhen meets a mysterious woman with golden hair, who’s armed with strange and powerful weaponry, and who claims to be an envoy from another planet: Earth.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRashomon : a Commissioner Heigo Kobayashi case / story and art by Victor Santos ; translations by Katie LaBarbera.
“Victor Santos (Polar, Violent Love) writes and illustrates a crime and mystery story inspired by Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s tales featuring the heroic commissioner Heigo Kobayashi. When the body of a skilled samurai is found along the road to Yamashina in feudal Japan, the search begins for his killer. Detective Heigo Kobayashi takes the case but finds only dead-end clues and no first-hand witnesses.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe walking dead. Volume 29, Lines we cross / Robert Kirkman, creator, writer ; Charlie Adlard, penciler ; Stefano Gaudiano, inker.
“Recent events have thrown Alexandria into turmoil, and now Rick, Dwight, Eugene and Negan all have something to prove.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBrazen : rebel ladies who rocked the world / Pénélope Bagieu ; English translation by Montana Kane.
“Throughout history and across the globe, one characteristic connects the daring women of Brazen : their indomitable spirit.With her characteristic wit and dazzling drawings, celebrated graphic novelist Pénélope Bagieu profiles the lives of these feisty female role models, some world famous, some little known. From Nellie Bly to Mae Jemison or Josephine Baker to Naziq al-Abid, the stories in this comic biography are sure to inspire the next generation of rebel ladies.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Hellblazer. Vol. 3, The inspiration game / Tim Seeley, Richard Kadrey, writers ; Jesús Merino, Davide Fabbri, José Marzán Jr., artists.
“Death doesn’t just become John Constantine–it shadows the poor bastard’s every step, from his home turf of London to the streets of San Francisco. What’s more, it has a nasty habit of striking where the DC Universe’s street-level sorcerer least expects it–like his dreams. After waking from a vengeful drunken nightmare, Constantine finds that a real-life murder has been committed. Could he have done the deed himself in a blacked-out rage? Or is some sinister force turning his subconscious mind into the ultimate untraceable weapon?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe march of the crabs [3] : the revolution of the crabs / written and illustrated by Arthur de Pins ; translated by Edward Gauvin.
The March of the Crabs concludes in the third volume of the Eisner Award-nominated series. Inhabiting the Gironde estuary, there is a race of crabs known for their strange defect: unable to evolve, they are condemned to spend their lives walking a single straight line. When Sunny, Boater, and Guitar, discovered a way to spur their biology and change directions, their bold moves broke the crabs into two clans: the rigid (who walk straight) and the turners (who change direction). Now, these two factions are prepared for battle as the other underwater creatures look on, ready to take a side. But the stunning rebellion comes in the crosshairs of another species on the brink of their own cataclysmic change of course… humanity.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBullseye : the Colombian connection.
“He’s a ruthless hitman who never misses, a deadly foe who can turn any object into a lethal weapon! But why is the Marvel Universe’s most dangerous assassin heading to Colombia to take aim at a drug cartel? Find out as Bullseye takes charge!” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRock Candy Mountain. Volume one / written & drawn by Kyle Starks.
“It’s the first collection of the manic, hobo fighting epic that is Rock Candy Mountain. Come inside and meet the mysterious, unbeatable hobo Jackson on his quest to find the mythical hobo heaven. Meet his sidekick Pomona Slim. But watch out for the Devil! And the FBI! And the Hobo Mafia too! It’s a fantastical fisticuff frolic through post- World War II America via the rails and backroads through underground fight clubs, prison and the hobo jungles wrought with dangers, hobo fights, jokes and locomotive excitement.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRom [3] : long roads to ruin / plot and script by Chris Ryall & Christos Gage ; art by David Messina ; pencils by Guy Dorian, Sr. ; inks by Michele Pasta and Sal Buscema.
“Rom now has help in his war against the Dire Wraiths in the form of additional Solstar Knights and super-powered human allies both… so why is the battle going from bad to worse? The Wraiths’ master plan grows and Rom can’t even see it, let alone find any way to stop it.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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