Edited 07/21: Giselle Clarkson is back for ComicFest 2021! Have a read of our 2019 interview with Giselle ahead of this year’s ComicFest — coming up Saturday 21 August at the National Library in Thorndon.
We caught up with Giselle Clarkson, a Wellington-based freelance illustrator and cartoonist who is also interested in rock-pooling, foraging, and doing crosswords. She has a monthly comic about children’s books being published by NZ website The Sapling, covering topics that range from why John Burningham is responsible for the millennial avocado crisis to a review of species that are named after fictional characters. She also makes comics about science and conservation issues for scientists, a zoo, and the NZ School Journal.
Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: When I was a kid I loved Tintin, The Far Side and books by Raymond Briggs, but it wasn’t until I was at university and discovered webcomics that I realised how broad and accessible the medium was. Discovering stuff like Hark! A Vagrant, Hyperbole and a Half and xkcd gave me the idea that I could do it too.
Q: What is your average day like?
A: I work full-time as an illustrator/cartoonist and my studio is at home, so there are a lot of pyjamas and cats involved. I try to keep pretty regular 9-5 hours because most of my clients are in offices, but the best part is never having to set an alarm clock. I think my job is only about 40% drawing, the rest is emailing. So much emailing.
Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: Last year I worked with the Tawaki Project to condense their scientific paper on the extraordinary feeding habits of tawaki penguins into a short comic for sharing on social media. It was better recieved than we could have hoped for, and even retweeted by Diana Gabaldon of all people! It was super exciting to see how comics can work effectively as a science communication medium.
I also make a monthly comic for The Sapling (a NZ site for adults about children’s literature). Sometimes I review new picture books or write biographies of authors and illustrators, or share weird and cool facts I find out about classic kid’s books.
Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: The pink character from Alex Norris’ comic strips (the ones that always end with “oh no.”)