ComicFest 2019 – 5 minutes with Paul Diamond

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find more about Paul online here.

ComicFest 2019 – 5 minutes with Dylan Horrocks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ComicFest 2019 – 5 minutes with Jem Yoshioka

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

ComicFest 2019 – 5 minutes with Alex Cara

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

ComicFest 2019 – 5 minutes with Sarah Laing

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 are pleased to have Sarah Laing for our next “5 minutes with…” feature. Sarah is a Wellington-based writer and illustrator who has had novels, short stories and the graphic memoir Mansfield and Me published. A collection of comics from the past ten years is forthcoming from VUP – Let Me Be Frank will be published late 2019. She also the co-editor of Three Words: An Anthology of Aotearoa/NZ Women’s Comics and has illustrated a number of children’s books.


Q: What first got you interested in comics?

A: My dad was a big comics fan – he’d grown up on the war comics you could buy at the dairy – so we always had comics lying around. Tintin, Asterix, Garfield, Charlie Brown. My cousins had a big stash of Disney comics and I particularly liked tales of Uncle Scrooge and his mountains of money. I also used to read Bogor in the Listener, and wrote some fanmail to him, with my own fanart of hedgehogs and snails. He offered me a job when I grew up – I wonder if that offer is still on the table?

Q: What is your average day like?
A: Up until recently I’ve been finishing off my Let Me Be Frank manuscript – a collection of my comics over the past ten years, to be published by VUP in late 2019. I’ve got to be an almost fulltime cartoonist thanks to a CNZ grant. Almost fulltime, I say, as I have three kids and various part-time gigs, including mentoring creative writing students, and illustrating for a number of publications. Right now, since I have submitted my manuscipt, I am lookng for a proper job to pay my bills – feel free to hit me up!

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: My most recent project I talked about in the previous question, but I worked on a great project last year, in collaboration with Dr Giacomo Lichtner, the Italian Embassy and the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand – it was an adaptation of Denebedetti’s account of the SS raid of the ghetto in Rome. You can read that comic here.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: I waste an awful lot of time and feel incredibly guilty about it, and then sometimes I’m freakishly productive. I have to check Facebook, Instagram and Twitter each morning before I start work, and I also have to make myself coffee and a piece of toast and peanut butter. When I’m in my productive phase, I allow myself to draw badly and make mistakes, focussing instead on the shape of the story and actually completing it. The drawings may look terrible at the time, but when I go back to them, they have a looseness and a spontaneity that I like, and I often wonder if they are better than my final illustrations.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: I have so many influences and inspirations! I am a huge fiction reader, so always have a novel on the go. I love all the women I follow on instagram and support on patreon, like Gabrielle Bell and Sarah Glidden, Mimi Pond Lisa Hanawalt, Summer Pierre, Glynnis Fawkes and of course the indominatible Jillian Tamaki. I am also a big music fan, and my latest discoveries include Nilüfer Yanya and Charlotte Adigéry. Nature, films, TV (Russian Doll! So good!), art, foreign cities, family, friends, random encounters… all of this feeds into the psychic soup I take ladles from to make my work.


Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: Again, there are so many people I like and I always scared of making these lists for fear of missing someone off! I really love Sophie Watson’s comics, and I’m excited about her larger project she’s working on. Ross Murray’s latest book, Rufus Marigold, is great – I’m looking forward to hearing him talk about it at ComicsFest. Giselle Clarkson makes hilarious, beautifully drawn comics, and I really admire Zoë Colling’s autobio works. Indira Neville is hilarious and arresting, and Kirsten Slade is unmissable. Sam Orchard makes great comics about his life as a transman, which always hit the spot. The greats are still great – Dylan Horrocks, Ant Sang, Toby Morris – and I really love the irreverant lo-fi nature of Brent Willis’s comics. Austen Milne is an up-and-coming cartoonist who I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot of, and I wish I could see more of Meng Zhu’s comics, who was in Three Words…. Arrgh, gotta stop now!

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: I have a few graphic novels bubbling away in my head… my dream involves being published by Drawn and Quarterly and being invited to all those American and Scandanavian comics festivals!

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: This time I’m here as a chair rather than a guest so I am excited to tease as much out of my panel, including Roger Langridge and Katie O’Neill, as possible!

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: Hmm, tough call. Tove Jansen? Rita Angus? Or maybe Vivienne Westwood. Or am I meant to be choosing a fictional character? In that case I’ll go as Little My or Rachael in Bladerunner.

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

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 Mighty 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