ComicFest 2024: 5 minutes with Lily Duval

While we look forward to ComicFest 2024, meet Lily Duval in this “5 minutes with” interview.

an illustrated portrait of Lily with a paintbrush and pencil behind her ear and a book with a little creature on top of her head.
Self-portrait by Lily Duval

What first got you interested in comics?

From about the age of 5, I was obsessed with Tintin. I loved the clean lines of the drawing style and his wild adventures. Captain Haddock is a terrible role model for a child but I loved him the most. He was often drunk, had a seemingly endless supply of creative obscenities (some of which are terrible to read now) and was altogether pretty hapless. I even cut my hair like Tintin in my early twenties (shaved all over with a ‘party at the front’) and made Tintin-esque clothing.

What is your average day like?

I work as a writer, researcher, communications officer and sometimes illustrator – all jobs that can be done in your pyjamas, from bed! My day always starts with a good cup of tea. At some point, I might get out of my pjs and go for a run. My days vary a lot – I might be doodling on the iPad, writing a story about tree planting, or researching a species of tongue louse for Critter of the Week.

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

For the past couple of months, I’ve been drawing dragons for a book on New Zealand dragons written by Robinne Weiss. I’d never drawn a dragon before, so I’m grateful she took a punt on me. It turns out dragons are a lot of fun. Robinne has a fantastic and quirky imagination, and each dragon has a unique New Zealand look. I’ve also just published an adult non-fiction book called Six-legged Ghosts about our cultural attitudes to insects.

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

I wish I could say yes to this. Maybe I should start one? I’m open to suggestions for effective rituals.

Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?

The natural world constantly inspires me. There are so many bizarre and incredible creatures out there. Some are big and obvious; others are tiny, even microscopic. I recently saw a giant NZ springtail, and I think I’m in love.

What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?

I love Sarah Maybe Little’s cartoons. They’re funny and self-deprecating. And I love her drawing style. Giselle Clarkson’s work is awesome. I think The Observologist is an incredible book. I know she’s not from New Zealand, but I love Alison Bechdell. She’s neurotic in a relatable way.

What is your dream comic project?

I’m not sure. But I know it would involve native bugs and fungi and be some sort of tramping adventure mixed with magic realism. There would probably be pagan witches and queer themes – basically, everything I love in comic form.

What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees?

My enthusiasm for bugs! And I’m looking forward to chatting about observing, failing to observe, and the importance of tonnes of practice. I feel like I’m just getting started as an illustrator, so I’d like to share what’s worked and what hasn’t.

Just a taster! If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?

As a child I always dressed up as Captain Haddock on book days at school. I even borrowed my grandad’s tobacco pipe (which tasted revolting). But these days, I’d probably go as Bilbo Baggins. I already have a hobbit’s sense of style, so it wouldn’t really be dressing up. I visited Hobbiton a few years ago in my normal clothes. A few tourists asked me to be in their photos because they thought I was in costume.

You can catch Lily at ComicFest 2024 at the below events:

Panel: Drawing Nature – The Great Outdoors

With Giselle ClarksonLily Duval, and Sarah Laing. Hosted by Neil Johnstone.

The natural world of Aotearoa New Zealand has always been, and continues to be, one of our greatest inspirations. In this unmissable event hear three of our finest graphic artists talk about how they, in their own ways, engage with our great outdoors.

Workshop: How to Draw New Zealand Wildlife

With Lily Duval

Have you ever wanted to be able to draw some of the wonderful and unique creatures from Aotearoa New Zealand? Then this workshop is for you. Aimed at artists of all ages and abilities, the illustrator of the bestselling Critters of AotearoaLily Duval will guide you through the creative process.

Age range: All ages



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