5 minutes with Tara Black

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.

ComicFest 2022 website

Photo by Ebony Lamb

Tara Black is a Pōneke based cartoonist and art school drop-out. She can often be found in the front row of book events, illustrating authors and their ideas. You can find her work on The Sapling, Stasis Journal, The Spinoff and her website, taracomics.com. Her first graphic novel, This Is Not a Pipe, was published by Victoria University Press in 2020.

Website: taracomics.com
Twitter: @taracomics
Instagram: @tara_comics

Q: What first got you interested in comics?

Probably Calvin and Hobbes but it’s hard to tease that out from my love of animation and picture books. I used to collect clippings of Calvin and Hobbes from newspapers and paste them into a scrapbook. Dad would bring them home from work for me and I ended up with double-ups. When I was old enough to get a paper run, I systematically bought all of the collected editions. My favourite one is the 10th anniversary edition, where Bill Watterson annotates some key strips with his process. That was my first insight into what it might mean to be a practising cartoonist.

Q: What is your average day like?

I work on comics in the evenings and the weekend. I aim to put out a page of my webcomic, Book Dragons, each week so I will often script and do a draft during weekday evenings before drawing and scanning the comic on a Saturday or a Sunday. On Monday evenings I have a drawing club which gets me started. Some weeknights I will go to book launches and live draw the speeches.

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?

My first graphic novel, This is Not a Pipe, came out with Victoria University Press late last year. At the moment I’m working on Book Dragons and getting into short fiction and poem comics. Poem comics are a satisfying puzzle – they let me play with the interaction between text and picture in a more abstract way than narrative comics.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?

I drink a lot of tea. I find it helps me get up and move around but also tea is good. Twinings. Earl Grey. Occasionally chai.

Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?

That’s kind of a cruel question. There are so many great comic creators in NZ and if I start listing them I’m bound to leave out someone cool and regret it. If I had to choose one, I’d choose Li Chen. Her blend of humour and stunning artwork is always a treat. Have you played exocomics 500? If you haven’t, go do it now.

Q: What is your dream comic project?

A comic project that could pay enough to live on but also solve climate change. Yes, a sentient comic that solves climate change and social inequality and rolls back colonialism while it’s at it. No pressure, sentient comic.