ComicFest 2022 is Saturday 7 May — and this year will be fully online! Find the full programme on our ComicFest website. ComicFest is a joint venture between Wellington City Libraries and the National Library of New Zealand.
Giselle Clarkson is a freelance illustrator and comic artist based near Wellington. Her science illustrations and comics can be found in all sorts of places, from bumper stickers and t-shirts, to Auckland Zoo and the NZ School Journal. She publishes a regular comic about children’s books online at The Sapling. Her recently illustrated books for children include The Gobbledegook Book: A Joy Cowley Anthology and Egg and Spoon: An Illustrated Cookbook (Gecko Press).
Q: What first got you interested in comics?
When I was a kid I loved Tintin, The Far Side and books by Raymond Briggs but I didn’t realise they were “comics”. I often drew Far Side style cartoons of my own. It wasn’t until I was at university and started reading webcomics that I found cartoons made by women! Discovering stuff like Hark! A Vagrant, Hyperbole and a Half, and Nimona made me realise how broad and accessible the medium was – comics could be so many different things, and I could make them too.
Q: What is your average day like?
I work full-time as an illustrator and my studio is at home. I try to keep pretty standard office hours, but I’m a morning person so all my best work is done between about 7am and lunchtime, sometimes even earlier if I wake up with an idea and can’t fall back to sleep! The best part of working from home is never having to set an alarm clock, wearing track pants, and if a drawing’s not quite working – going out into the garden and pulling some weeds for a bit usually solves the problem.
Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
I make a mental plan for my workday the night before – if I wake up knowing what my goals are for the day I don’t dither and procrastinate! So in the morning I sit down at my desk with a cup of coffee, and read the news and my social media feeds until the coffee’s gone. Then I put on some music, a favourite radio show or an audiobook and get to it. I have to have something to listen to while I work or else my mind wanders too far away and then takes my body with it.
Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
My favourite picture books from childhood are what inspired me to write and illustrate in the first place, but it’s other people working and making comics and graphic novels in NZ right now that keep me motivated and inspire me to make new work.
Q: What is your dream comic project?
As part of my job I sometimes get to join scientists out in the field or on expeditions and then turn my experiences what I’ve learned into a comic – I just want to do more of that! I’ll always be up for combining my love for comics with my love for adventures in wild and remote places.