5 minutes with Sally Bollinger: Comicfest feature

This year’s ComicFest event was a huge success, with over 1300 attendees on the day! Thanks to all that came along, and if you couldn’t make it, podcasts of the panel discussions will be available online soon. Until then, you can enjoy the last of our 5 minutes with interviews with our guests!

Next up we have Sally Bollinger, creator of both webcomics and video webseries. At Comicfest, Sally was on the A Wellington View – Local Cartoonists panel, along with Jem Yoshioka, Giselle Clarkson and Robyn Kenealy. Find out more from Sally below:

Image by Sally Bollinger
Image by Sally Bollinger

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: We had a lot of Tintin books in my house as a child. And when my dad would read to us (chapter books mostly) I’d draw the scenes and characters. Then I brought a graphic novel of the Hobbit and realised I could be doing this myself. So I did.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: Sadly an average day isn’t necessarily comics related, but it is always about stories! The week is usually about webseries, and the weekend is hopefully about comics. So I’ll chat to my flatmates, answer emails, edit a script or a video, drink tea, stare at the script with a feeling of doom, tidy (because I need to “think”), actually finish the script (because it turns out I haven’t forgotten what words are). Storyboard a loose comic, then get to drawing! (Yay!) I’ll do a couple of warm-up drawings, sketch out several pages, ink, scan, maybe colour or just tidy up the image. Maybe I’ll have a meeting in the evening. Then I might play Mah Jong with my flatmates or we’ll dance to musical numbers while we make dinner.

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: Recently I’ve been creating a zine called the “Comic of Whimsy” about the silly things my flatmates get up to. But on a bigger scale I’m embarking on a webcomic with the Candle Wasters that is a part-webseries, part-webcomic adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Our Hamlet is a 14-year-old girl who draws angst comics in her Wellington bedroom and who’s best friend is a cactus. It’s got a lot of magic realism elements that we couldn’t pull off on screen but can do in comic form! (also I get to learn how to draw a giant, maniacal, human-faced horse.)

Image by Sally Bollinger
Image by Sally Bollinger

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: Going for a walk before I start working, so my brain feels alive. Putting on a wash first thing. Lots of tea. Listening to music while I ink. But when I really get into the work it’ll be midnight before I think to check the time.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: Chris Riddell, Shakespeare, fairy tales and the opinion of my younger sister. As well as Dylan Horrocks and Tim Bollinger.

Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: I always go back to Toby Morris’ Alledaags: a year in Amsterdam and Katie O’Neill is excellent in every way.

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: Whenever I read a really good fantasy novel I always imagine I’d make an excellent comic. So, if ever JK Rowling or Patrick Rothfuss suddenly, oddly wanted a New Zealand comic version of their works I’d be keen. Basically I’d love to explore a fantasy world, or just do a good adaptation of Hamlet.

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: I’m keen to have a big ol’ chat about what everyone’s favourite comics are. But also excited to talk visual storytelling across media, and I always have a few Shakespeare facts up my sleeve.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: Comic book character would be Black Jack by Tezuka. Or Kvothe from The Name of the Wind.

You can find Sally’s work online in a number of places!
Online comics: quietly-exploding.tumblr.com
Online webseries: The Candle Wasters on Youtube
Hamlet webseries/webcomic pilot: on YouTube!

5 minutes with Hannah Benbow: Comicfest feature

ComicFest is back for 2017! On Saturday May 6th at the Central Library there will be panels and workshops all day long for comic-lovers of all ages. You can also pick up a free comic from us on the day and celebrate Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC! Head over to the ComicFest Facebook event for all the details, and to receive event updates.

Comicfest image

Hannah Benbow is the cartoon librarian at the National Library. During ComicFest Hannah will be hosting a breakout session called From Where We Started: Reading NZ Comic History, to be held at the National Library. There, you’ll be able to look at all kind of archival NZ comic material, an opportunity you won’t often have the chance to experience. Hannah will also be moderating discussion at our last panel of the day, titled Should we all be writing political comics? featuring the likes of Toby Morris, Sam Orchard and Sarah Laing. It should be a fantastic end to a jam-packed day! Check out Hannah’s answers to our Q’s below.

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: My older cousin’s drawings, which I thought were super cool. He was heavily inspired by Beavis and Butt-head …

Q: What is your average day like?
A: I’m a cartoon librarian, so my days are a mix of reading new cartoons as they come in, helping researchers to find cartoons and comics, and looking for new and better ways to promote and provide access to the NZ Cartoon Archive collection.

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: Ludicrous likenesses: The fine art of caricature. An exhibition opening at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery in August and chock-full of amazing works by New Zealand cartoonists and caricaturists, co-curated by Dr Oliver Stead and myself.

New Zealand Cartoon Archive Collections website
New Zealand Cartoon Archive website

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: Anything that gets more people making and reading political comics and cartoons.

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: I’m excited to explore some of the older comics we have in the collection, and to share my favourite ever zine – Fission Chips.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, to relive the greatest cosplay experience of my childhood.

Find the NZ cartoon archive online: https://natlib.govt.nz/collections/a-z/new-zealand-cartoon-archive
and find Hannah on Twitter: @MrHannahleeb

5 minutes with Jem Yoshioka — ComicFest 2017

ComicFest is back for 2017! On Saturday May 6th at the Central Library there will be panels and workshops all day long for comic-lovers of all ages. You can also pick up a free comic from us on the day and celebrate Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC! Head over to the ComicFest Facebook event for all the details, and to receive event updates.

Image by Jem YoshiokaJem Yoshioka is one of the featured cartoonists on our “A Wellington View: Local Cartoonists” panel, which will take place from 1:30-2:30pm during ComicFest. Jem is an illustrator and storyteller based in Wellington, and her comics often feature autobio stories.

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: As a kid I was really interested in animation and picture books. I learned storytelling from a mixture of these two things, which seemed to distill into something kindof comic-y.
I got interested in making comics when I was a teenager, on the early 2000s internet. It seemed like the most efficient way to begin to share the epic fantasy stories that were brewing in my head. The internet shaped my adolescence. It gave me access to other artists – both peers and mentors – who really helped to drive my illustration and comic work forward.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: I have a day job, so I get up and go to work. This is awesome because it pays my bills and means I can eat and sleep, which are important if you want to make comics. I then tend to do 20 minutes of gesture drawing more or less as soon as I get home. Sometimes that’s all the drawing I do in a day, but other times I try and expand it out to an illustration or comic project after dinner. I’ll usually have TV on in the background while I work, and I aim to be in bed between 10pm and 11pm. Depending on the day that can mean between 1-4 hours of drawing.
The routine is really important to me. I find I’m as productive if not more productive with full time work, because it forces me to maintain a healthy schedule. Sleep and time away from drawing mean I’m at less risk of injury, less likely to overwork or get into unhealthy sleeping and eating cycles. While my output is lower than someone working full time on drawing, I’m still really pleased with what I manage to get done with this routine. It works really well for me for now.

Image by Jem YoshiokaImage by Jem Yoshioka

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: When I get a new sketchbook I always write the date on the first page. Then when the sketchbook is finished I write the finish date. I’ll always leave a few pages at the end of the book, too. It’s like a hello and goodbye to the book. I feel like dating the first page helps to clear off any ‘blank page’ magic that might prevent me from getting my ideas down. The final date is a goodbye and a thank you for all the work and traveling the sketchbook’s done with me over the months.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: I think as a creator it’s important to have many influences and inspirations. I have a lot of artists I admire and whose work has influenced mine. I also love photography, video games, traditional Japanese printmaking, fashion, animation, film, fine art, dance and novels. I collect what I can together and pull the bits out that I feel work for me and what stories I’m trying to tell. I’m a selfish sponge of visual and literary information.
If you’re looking for a specific name, the one that’s stuck with me ever since I was a teen is Shaun Tan. An Australian illustrator and picture book author, Shaun’s style of storytelling’s was definitely a huge influence on me as a kid, especially how he handled the relationship between words and pictures. His sense of timing, pace, composition, and colour have all had a huge effect on me.

Image by Jem YoshiokaQ: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: I really love Katie O’Neill’s work. Princess Princess Ever After is a cute and sweet story, and her new webcomic The Tea Dragon Society is building up in a really interesting way. Katie’s sense of colour especially draws me into the worlds she makes with her work.

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: I’d really love to do a comic diary project over a year in Japan. I want to get familiar with a neighbourhood, learn its streets and trees and people. I want to live in a Japanese city and be small and lost, but find something there I wasn’t expecting. I’ve had holidays in Japan, but it’s the wrong pace and speed for the kind of project I want to make. I need something longer, something with more repetition and a chance to get comfortable and familiar. And I want to write it all down in a way I can share.
But that might be more about spending a year living in Japan than the diary project part.

You can find all of Jem’s online comics at http://jemshed.com/comics/ and on social media.
Twitter: @jemyoshioka
Facebook: /jem.yoshioka.art
Instagram: @jemyoshioka

5 minutes with Ben Milsom: ComicFest feature

ComicFest is back for 2017! On Saturday May 6th at the Central 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 the day and celebrate Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC! Head over to the ComicFest Facebook event for all the details, and to receive event updates.

We’ve caught up with Ben Milsom from Pukeko Pictures, Production Designer and an Episodic Director on Thunderbirds Are Go! At ComicFest, Ben will be presenting the process of re-imagining the 1960’s classic for a new generation. Catch him from 11am-12pm at ComicFest – all attendees to Ben’s talk will go in the draw to win a family pass to the Miniatures Stage Tour: Thunderbirds Are Go from Weta Studio Tours!

You can also pop in to the Central Library to see our amazing Thunderbirds Are Go display, courtesy of Ben and the Pukeko Pictures team!

Thunderbirds Are Go display
Thunderbirds Are Go display at the Central library

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: I have been involved with Thunderbirds Are Go for over 3 years now as Production Designer and an Episodic Director. Before, I worked on a western cowboy movie called ‘Slow West’ starring Michael Fassbender, being in charge of all of the actors hand props on set. Before that, I was on the Hobbit trilogy for 3 years as the main unit Art Director.

Thunderbirds Are Go Behind the scenes
From ITV Studios / Pukeko Pictures / Weta Workshop
Pictured: A uranium mine from the episode Crosscut.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: I have always been massively interested in the horror/scifi genre. The most influential film for me has been Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien’. It blew my mind as a 10 year old, and sparked my interest in film making, practical effects and ‘fantasy’ environment building. Parallel to this, I have always been fascinated by the work of HR Giger, and his uniquely original style and approach to Art and Design. Other influential movies for me have been: John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’, Clint Eastwood’s ‘Unforgiven’ and Luc Besson’s ‘Leon’ aka ‘The Professional’ to name a few.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: Generally very busy. This year is great because I can focus solely on the Thunderbirds Are Go project. Plenty of meetings and prep work as we build up to the start of the shoot. As we start to build the season 3 sets, I will get a lot more ‘hands on’ and join the art department as we create the physical miniature world of Thunderbirds Are Go. I can’t help myself!

Thunderbirds Are Go Behind the scenes
From ITV Studios / Pukeko Pictures / Weta Workshop
Pictured: Marine laboratory.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: We shoot live action plates, animate our characters (and many sequences). One thing I always do for every sequence, as we shoot it or animate it, is physically go through the beats of the action myself. I find this immensely helpful for timing and pacing of each sequence, dialogue notes and overall feel for a scene. The more reality and true emotion you throw into any scene, the more satisfying it is for me and hopefully our audience.

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: I would love to re-visit the ‘Alien Vs Predator’ universe – and be involved in a darker, grittier Movie adaptation of some of the Dark Horse material. This could be SO AWESOME!

Thunderbirds Are Go!
Thunderbirds Are Go!

Find Pukeko Pictures online:
Facebook: /pukekopictures.nz
Twitter: @pukekopictures
Website: pukekopictures.com

5 minutes with Sarah Laing: ComicFest feature

ComicFest is back for 2017! On Saturday May 6th at the Central 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 the day and celebrate Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC! Head over to the ComicFest Facebook event for all the details, and to receive event updates.

Sarah Laing self-portraitFirst up on the blog we have an interview with Sarah Laing, who recently authored her first graphic novel, Mansfield and Me. At ComicFest, Sarah is running a character design workshop from 10-11am, and from 12-1pm Sarah will be in conversation with Dylan Horrocks discussing how they each create longform graphic novels. It’s a super exciting line-up, and we hope to see you there!

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: We always had comics at my house – the usual suspects – Tintin and Asterix, Donald Duck, Charlie Brown, Footrot Flats. I grew up reading them. My interest was rekindled in my 20s through Tank Girl and Julie Doucet, and later by Marjane Satrapi, coinciding with the rising popularity of graphic novels, a contentious term in comics circles! It did mean that there were more comics to get out from the library.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: I drop my kids off to school then I come home and mess about a bit – I tidy up and read stuff on social media, hating myself a bit as I do it. If I have paid work – an illustration or comics commission – I’ll work on that, or else I will draw comics for my blog or work on my big project, which right now is a kids’ comic about the houseboat and giant stingray world of post-climate-change New Zealand. I try to work on paper, since I spend too much time on screens, but I find myself using digital media all the time, whether it’s google images for picture reference or it’s spotify or my podcast list for stuff to listen to as I draw.

Page from Mansfield & Me
A page from ‘Mansfield & Me’ by Sarah Laing

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: Last year my graphic memoir Mansfield and Me was published by VUP and I’m still recovering from that! It’s about me wanting to be a writer, and Katherine Mansfield, NZ’s most famous writer, and how our lives overlap. I like to think that Mansfield would’ve been a comics fan too.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: I always feel like I should have tea and toast at 10am and when I get to the inking/colouring stage I get to binge listen to podcasts. I just finished S-town, which is a fascinating character study of an ordinary/extraordinary life in small-town America. I am also driven by a completion complex so once I get momentum up I work quite quickly. I try to update my blog weekly now that I’ve got a Patreon page, and I generally dedicate Tuesday or Wednesday to those comics.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: My biggest inspiration is life, observed, around me.

Flowers for the Teacher comic
Flowers for the Teacher comic from Sarah’s blog “Let Me Be Frank”

Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: I hate picking favourites! And in fact I’m not sure if I believe in the concept. There are creators whose work I always really enjoy – the obvious ones, like Dylan Horrocks, Toby Morris and Ant Sang. When I was co-editingThree Words I got to know work by lots of amazing women – Giselle Clarkson, Sophie Watson, Jem Yoshioka, Sally Bollinger, Zoë Colling for starters. Indira Neville’s comics are always hilariously irreverent, and she’s just co-curated an amazing collection of LP-sized comics that go with music, Sonic Comic. Last year I enjoyed Ross Murray’s series about anxiety, Rufus Marigold. And Jonathan King’s comics are gloriously surreal. Arrgh! So many people! I’m missing people out! I always feel a low punch in the gut when I don’t see my name on a list.

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: I have never collaborated on comics and I think I’d really like to try that out. You know how collaborations in music always work out better? Lennon and McCartney, Morrissey and Marr… I want to find somebody or something to spark off.

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: I am really looking forward to talking with Dylan Horrocks about writing longform comics – his process is quite different from mine and I always find how to talks quite inspiring – they give you a fresh perspective on your niggling or roaring narrative problems.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: I don’t know, Björk? Or maybe Rachael from Blade Runner – she had the most amazing suits and hair.

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

5 Minutes with Gavin Mouldey – Comicfest feature

Comicfest 2015 is here! Head over to the Facebook event for all the details and to receive event updates. There are panels and workshops for comic-lovers of all ages, and don’t forget to come along to the Central Library on Saturday 2nd May – that’s TODAY! – to pick up a free comic book on Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC!

Gavin MouldeyToday we’re revisiting our last interview with Gavin Mouldey, who created the awesome Comicfest artwork you surely know & love by now! At the age of seven, Gavin Mouldey ran away from home to live in his parent’s back yard with a stack of paper and a lunchbox full of crayons. It wasn’t long before he started feeling peckish, but he’d failed to bring any food. So Gavin sat in a towering jungle of grass and drew himself some lunch. He then drew a monster eating his lunch and went home to show his Mum. Gavin has been drawing silly pictures ever since. His doodles have featured in children’s books, television, magazines and newspapers, as well as on T-shirts and concrete walls. Gavin now scribbles every day for a living from his own backyard studio in Raumati Beach, a giant’s stones-throw away from the dinosaurs and mythological beasties of Kapiti Island. You can view some of his latest doodles at dittybox.co.nz, or facebook.com/dittybox

Your Dittybox facebook page says that you’re a painter and graphic designer, but I know you’ve worked as an animation artist as well – is there one kind of art process that you enjoy the most?
What I enjoy the most in my process (whether digital or hands on), is the rush of motivation that comes after deciding how to tackle a brief. The first stage when a job comes in tends to be staring at a blank screen or page, completely befuddled. This is often followed by searching for inspiration, finding reference material, or outright procrastination (coffee, a pie, crossword, having a shower, watching a cartoon, etc). Eventually I’ll start doodling, and something will click. Then a job which seemed like a chore suddenly becomes exciting, and I lose all sense of time. It’s like being hypnotised. Sometimes my wife leaves the house in the morning and I think “I’ll do the dishes and hang the washing out and pick some flowers and make dinner before she gets home”, then she returns 8 hours later and my head hasn’t turned away from the page. I’ll be still in my boxer shorts, empty tummy, dry mouth… Like a nerd zombie.

Gavin Mouldey

You’ve spent some time employed as a production designer in Australia on the TV show ‘Dogstar’ – how did this rate as a professional experience?
My experience in animation has mostly involved creating backgrounds and character/prop designs. Pretty similar to my role as an illustrator. The only real difference is how I get paid, and in the case of Dogstar, the pace of turnaround. The job was great, and I met a lot of future collaborators, but I don’t think I was built for big cities. I like the pace of Wellington, or specifically Island Bay.

What are some stand-out projects you have worked on as a freelance artist? Is this satisfying work?
Posters are always fun, as they offer a lot more creative freedom than other briefs. It just has to catch the viewer’s attention. Most of my past work has been for children’s books, educational resources, and magazine publications. I’m not often happy with a finished illustration by the time it comes out in print, as it’s too fresh in my mind.

Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I’ve always wanted to draw for a living. The term artist gets over used. It’s becoming so vague, and pretentious. I think of my job as a trade, like carpentry or gardening. Art is a whole set of industries, and basically anyone can call themselves an artist without any formal education or practice. Considering that, it’s odd that creating “Art” is treated by some cliques as an intellectual and cultural virtue. Willie Saunders, one of my all-time favourite comic artists who seems to have disappeared, once used the term “cerebral vomit”. That’s probably out of context, but I think it represents a lot of what artists do (myself begrudgingly included). I’m more proud when my illustrations fulfill a set function, than when they just seem like my soul self-indulgently spilt on a canvas.
Gavin Mouldey

5 minutes with Chris Guise – Comicfest feature

Comicfest 2015 is here! Head over to the Facebook event for all the details and to receive event updates. There are panels and workshops for comic-lovers of all ages, and don’t forget to come along to the Central Library on Saturday 2nd May to pick up a free comic book on Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC!

Chris GuiseToday we’re talking to Chris Guise about his work, and what we can look forward to at his Comicfest panel. Chris Guise was a self-employed shopping mall caricature artist when special effects company Weta Workshop hired him to work on Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. During the film’s production he worked in a number of areas including the Miniatures, Armour/Weapons, Painting and Sculpting/Merchandising departments. He was then incorporated into the design department and was employed on a wide variety of projects including “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, “King Kong”, “Jane & the Dragon”, “Black Sheep” and “The Wotwots”. Chris then went on to become Weta Workshop’s Lead Conceptual Artist for the Steven Spielberg film “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn” following which he wrote and art directed the book “The Art of the Adventures of Tintin” as well as the critically acclaimed iPad app version of the book. 16 years after first being hired, Chris is still currently working as conceptual designer for Weta Workshop.

What is the first significant comic related job or project you remember working on?
I used to make a living as a shopping mall caricature artist before I joined Weta Workshop. Half an hour to draw an A3 sized likeness of someone in full colour pencil while occasionally having unwanted hamburger pickles thrown at me from the mall food court. Suppose it got me used to working under stress. At least flying food isn’t involved anymore.

Chris GuiseCan you tell us about your current, or most recent project?
Because of multiple confidentiality agreements I’ve signed, the most recent thing I did a bit of work on that I can actually mention is the current Te Papa Gallipoli exhibition and Peter Jackson’s Conflict Museum exhibition. As for film projects, if I told you I’d have to either kill you or spend the rest of my life on the run from the law.

Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
Film wise – Anything and everything. Especially Steve Spielberg films.
Comic wise – MAD Magazine especially artists Mort Drucker, Don Martin and Sergio Aragonés. Classic Looney Toons from the golden age (especially episodes directed by Chuck Jones). “Asterix” creators Goscinny and Uderzo. And, last but not least, Herge – creator of “Tintin”

What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
Taking a popular 2D graphic book series and bringing it into a “realistic” filmic world isn’t exactly easy. There were many challenges in the making of the “Tintin” movie that the average movie viewer wouldn’t even realise. Heck, most of us that worked on the film didn’t even know these challenges existed until we came face to face with them.

If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
Since I’m pretty scruffy at the moment and have access to a ships captain’s hat, I suppose I’d probably go as Captain Haddock. (Gee. What a surprise.)

You can catch Chris at his Comicfest panel at the following time:
Saturday 2nd of May 12 – 1.00pm – ‘Tintin – the journey from comic to film’
Captain Haddock - Chris Guise

5 minutes with Sarah Laing – Comicfest feature

Comicfest 2015 is here! Head over to the Facebook event for all the details and to receive event updates. There are panels and workshops for comic-lovers of all ages, and don’t forget to come along to the Central Library on Saturday 2nd May to pick up a free comic book on Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC!

SarahLaing-selfieToday we’re talking to Sarah Laing about her comic work, and what we can look forward to at her Comicfest panel and workshop. Sarah Laing is a Wellington-based novelist, cartoonist and graphic designer. She’s contributed regular comics to Metro magazine, Little Treasures, the AA magazine and many international anthologies. She ran a comics blog, Let Me Be Frank, for a number of years before she put it on hold to complete her Katherine Mansfield-inspired graphic novel. Pikitia Press published five issues of comics selected from her blog. Her most recent novel, The Fall of Light, encapsulates drawings evoking the dreamscape of a troubled architect. Sarah has also illustrated children’s books, and although her work mainly deals with adult themes, her children are petitioning her to draw a kids’ comic next.

What is the first significant comic related job or project you remember working on?
When I had my first son in 2003, I started a Mama diary, recording all the frustrations and minutiae of motherhood, and my attempts to finish my first novel. I’d just finished Marjane Satrapi’s Persoplis series and I was inspired to start drawing again.

Can you tell us about your current, or most recent project?
I am working on a memoir/biography inspired by Katherine Mansfield, charting her life and my desire to be ‘a writer, a real writer’*. I have also just completed a short residency at Wai-Te-Ata press at Victoria, working on comics inspired by Patricia Grace’s novel ‘Tu’.
*’Oh to be a writer, a real writer’ is a quote from Mansfield’s diaries.

SarahLaing05Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
Before I wanted to be a writer or a cartoonist I wanted to be a singer. I think one of my biggest inspirations are musicians – at this moment I most admire Björk. She is constantly reinventing herself, she reveals her most intimate, visceral experiences, she is avant-garde, innovative, and uses her entire voice – the ugly and beautiful parts of it.

What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
I want everybody to know that they can make comics – you don’t need to be a good drawer. And comics can be anything: poetry, abstract art, a rip-roaring yarn, a diary. Comics is a powerful medium in which to express your own take on the universe, your own world view.

Do you have another job outside of comic creation, or any significant hobbies you enjoy?
I’m a novelist and a short story writer. I voraciously consume novels and podcasts and I also love watching all the great TV series that are coming out these days. I used to go to the movies and bands all the time, before I had my 3 kids. Now I garden, cook, work as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator.

You can catch Sarah at her Comicfest workshop and panel at these times:
Saturday 2nd of May 10 – 11.30am – Comics 101 workshop with Sarah Laing
Saturday 2nd of May 1 – 2.00pm – Panel: New Zealand Women’s Comics with the editors of Three Words
SarahLaing04

5 minutes with Jonathan King – Comicfest feature

Comicfest 2015 is here! Head over to the Facebook event for all the details and to receive event updates. There are panels and workshops for comic-lovers of all ages, and don’t forget to come along to the Central Library on Saturday 2nd May to pick up a free comic book on Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC!

Jonathan KingToday we’re talking to Jonathan King about his comic work, and what we can look forward to at his Comicfest panel. Jonathan King makes films and comics in Welington. He has directed feature films Black Sheep, Under the Mountain and REALITi and was the co-writer of The Tattooist. His comics have been published in Faction, High Water, From Earth’s End: The best of New Zealand Comics, online at www.jking.co.nz and in his own recent collection Perplexing Stories.

Can you tell us about your current, or most recent project?
I have a collection of surreal adventure stories called Perplexing Stories just out. It’s a compilation of stuff I’ve put online over the last couple of years, and a new story.

Jonathan KingWhat is your favourite part of your working process?
Uninterrupted drawing time! (Which I rarely get!) Making people and places out of thin air and seeing them become ‘real’; looking back and wondering how I did it!

Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
Hergé, originally. Later Dylan Horrocks, Daniel Torres, Yves Chaland, Darwyn Cooke, Milton Caniff

Do you have another job outside of comic creation, or any significant hobbies you enjoy?
I make films. I’d love to bring these two worlds closer together — make short films as easily as I can make ‘fantastic’ comics and I’d love to animate (more — I’ve been playing).

If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
Freddy Lombard!

You can catch Jonathan at his Comicfest panel at the following time:
Friday 1st of May 7 – 8.00pm – Panel: The current and future state of New Zealand comics
Jonathan King

5 minutes with Matt Emery – Comicfest feature

Comicfest 2015 is here! Head over to the Facebook event for all the details and to receive event updates. There are panels and workshops for comic-lovers of all ages, and don’t forget to come along to the Central Library on Saturday 2nd May to pick up a free comic book on Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC!

Matt EmeryToday we’re talking to Matt Emery about his comic work, and what we can look forward to at his Comicfest panels. Matt Emery has been intermittently active as a cartoonist for twenty years in New Zealand and Australia. Currently based in Melbourne, Matt set up micro publisher Pikitia Press in 2012 publishing works by several New Zealand and Australian cartoonists. He is also active writing and researching historical and contemporary cartooning in Australasia. Online at: pikitiapress.com and guzumo.com

Can you tell us about your current, or most recent project?
Personally finishing a comic about how making offensive comments can affect your life. Also publishing a wonderful comic by David Blumenstein, #takedown: My evening on a pier with pick-up artists and protesters, it goes to print in a week and is available to pre-order now!

What is your favourite part of your working process?
The daydreaming phase of writing while I’m menial day-jobbing or commuting. When I’m doing the writing/editing phase I’ve usually worked everything over in my head and the hard work is done. I found it fascinating to see other writers work similarly there is a great clip of Ray Bradbury discussing his method for percolating ideas.

MattEmery02I also like the inking stage, I can pick up a new brush, a fresh pot of hot black coffee, and have some laughs at my own stupid jokes.

Who/what are some of influences and inspirations?
I admire these people or their work for a lot of reasons, My Mum and Dad, Mai, Ed Wood, Karl Wills, Marjane Satrapi, Gary Groth, Kim Thompson, Tim Bollinger, Moira Bertram, Joe McCulloch, Judge Dredd, Dean Mullaney, Osamu Tezuka, Los Bros Hernandez, H. W. Bennett, Michael Hill Jeweller, Steve Ditko, and countless others…

What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
I’m excited to talk to Rae, Sarah and Indira about the Three Words anthology which is shaping up to one of the most revelatory publications/happenings/conversation starters in New Zealand comics ever. I’ve learnt a lot about comics, cartoonists and people from the conversation around this book already without having seen a page of it.

If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
Possum Von Tempsky from James Davidson’s Moa comics.

You can catch Matt at his Comicfest panels at these times:
Friday 1st of May 7 – 8.00pm – Panel: The current and future state of New Zealand comics
Saturday 2nd of May 1 – 2.00pm – Panel: New Zealand Women’s Comics with the editors of Three Words
Matt Emery

5 minutes with Sharon Murdoch – Comicfest feature

Comicfest 2015 is here! Head over to the Facebook event for all the details and to receive event updates. There are panels and workshops for comic-lovers of all ages, and don’t forget to come along to the Central Library on Saturday 2nd May to pick up a free comic book on Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC!

Sharon MurdochToday we’re talking to Sharon Murdoch about her comic work, and what we can look forward to at her Comicfest panel. Sharon is a political cartoonist for The Sunday Star Times and the Christchurch Press. Born in Invercargill, Sharon moved to Wellington to attended Design School. Most of her working life has been as a graphic designer, and sometime illustrator, most notably with Wellington Media Collective, and a stint in South Africa working with a Xhosa women’s community development group, where they did comics on early childhood education and AIDS prevention. Gradually, over the past few years, Sharon has moved into cartooning full-time, although she still doesn’t regard herself as a “real” cartoonist. As well as the political cartoons, Sharon does a cartoon of a ginger cat, called Munro, which runs in the Dominion Post and the Christchurch Press. She has done over 500 drawings of this cat now. She also has two daughters, two cats and one husband. You can follow Sharon on Twitter at @domesticanimal

Can you tell us about your current, or most recent project?
I’m doing political cartoons 3 days a week for newspapers and draw a cartoon of a cat, Munro. I took part in the upcoming Three Words Anthology of women’s comics – I think I made a bit of a hash of it and if I was doing it again I would do it quite differently. Because I trained as a graphic designer I always seem to feel torn between a “designed graphic” and a more spontaneous, freer drawing.

Sharon MurdochWhat is your favourite part of your working process?
Doing the preliminary sketches – exploring an idea. They quite often seem to have something that is hard to retain in the finished work.

Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
Lynda Barry, Wanda G’ag, Lat (a Malaysian political cartoonist), Tomi Ungerer, George Grosz – a German cartoonist/artist from the 1920s-50s, Kliban, Leunig, Tove Jansson. There are many more…

What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
Amongst others, Dylan Horrocks, Ant Sang, Trace Hodgson’s early work, Tim Bollinger, Sarah Lang and my step-daughter Hannah Salmon who does the zine Daily Secretions.

Do you have another job outside of comic creation, or any significant hobbies you enjoy?
I also work as a designer. I’m mother to a 13 year old, which is fairly preoccupying. And I like watching the world go by.

You can catch Sharon at her Comicfest panels at the following time:
Thursday 30th of April 6 – 7.00pm – Panel: From cartoons to comics
Sharon Murdoch

5 minutes with Tim Bollinger – Comicfest feature

Comicfest 2015 is here! Head over to the Facebook event for all the details and to receive event updates. There are panels and workshops for comic-lovers of all ages, and don’t forget to come along to the Central Library on Saturday 2nd May to pick up a free comic book on Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC!

Tim BollingerToday we’re talking to Tim Bollinger about his comic work, and what we can look forward to at his Comicfest panels. Tim Bollinger has been drawing and self-publishing comics from his home town of Wellington since the early 1980s. His work ranges from 40-page ‘funny animal’ and political parables to shorter satirical and autobiographical pieces, many set in a fictionalised urban landscape based on the geography of his home city. He is a regular contributor to international underground arts magazine White Fungus where, as Comics Editor, he also publishes work by veteran New Zealand comic writer Barry Linton. Tim has extensively researched New Zealand’s nascent comics history, and through his articles and exhibitions has helped shine light on many otherwise little known comic book artists and publishers of yesteryear.

What is the first significant comic related job or project you remember working on?
‘Joe Sputnik and the Mystery of Ravioli’s Father’ a year-long serial for Victoria University’s student newspaper Salient in 1979. (Actually, ‘The Hevs, the Rads and the Straights’ for the Onslow College school magazine in 1975 – but I don’t really talk about that…)

Tim BollingerCan you tell us about your current, or most recent project?
Apart from the odd 1-pager, the last big story I drew was a 20-page comic for White Fungus Issue 13, called ‘Dovetail’, a year or two back. I’m currently working on a long-form narrative in three parts as well as completing a couple of the older stories like ‘Little Eye’. Not to mention my ongoing endeavour to document New Zealand’s undiscovered comics history.

What is your favourite part of your working process?
Drawing comics is the most satisfying, but the hardest work, that I have ever done. My favourite part of the process is looking at the finished pages.

What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
Toby Morris, Chris Slane, Sharon Murdoch, Dylan Horrocks, Hayden Currie, Indira Neville, Brent Willis etc. etc. (too many to name – you know who you are!)

Do you have another job outside of comic creation, or any significant hobbies you enjoy?
Like most NZ comic artists, I have a day job, 9 to 5. Plus I write a lot for other people and spend time as a community activist. My favourite thing is reading other people’s comics.

You can catch Tim at his Comicfest panels at these times:
Thursday 30th of April 6 – 7.00pm – Panel: From cartoons to comics
Friday 1st of May 7 – 8.00pm – Panel: The current and future state of New Zealand comics
Tim Bollinger

5 minutes with Cory Mathis – Comicfest feature

Comicfest 2015 is almost here! Head over to the Facebook event for all the details and to receive event updates. There are panels and workshops for comic-lovers of all ages, and don’t forget to come along to the Central Library on Saturday 2nd May to pick up a free comic book on Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC!

Cory MathisToday we’re talking to Cory Mathis about his comic work, and what we can look forward to at his Comicfest panel. Hailing from the small town of Waihi, Cory turned his back on a life on the farm and moved to Auckland to study classical animation. Upon completion he travelled south to the city of Wellington where he endeavoured to pursue a career as some kind of an artist. While living in the capital he dabbled in book-store retail, even more study, comicbook making and in general made a nuisance of himself by constantly drawing all the people in the cafes – of which there were many. Fortunately for the general public (and much to the chagrin of anyone with a position in politics), Cory won the 2013 NZ Listener Young Cartoonist award and promptly found himself enjoying brief stints as a political cartoonist, caricaturist and storyboard artist. Flush with his winnings and hard earned “art-monies,” he fled to Europe to study painting and learn how not to speak Italian. He promptly ran out of the aforementioned funds and is now back in Wellington, employed as a concept-artist at the videogame company Pikpok, where they keep him closely supervised and securely chained up.

What is the first significant comic related job or project you remember working on?
It’d have to be my fantasy adventure series, Saurian Era. Significant because it always kept me working on my art and aiming for deadlines in my spare time. It started as an animation when I was a student, then mini-comics which I printed off and sold at expos. In the past couple of years it’s been accepted into the Faction comics kiwi anthology books which has pushed me into using full-colour and taking so much more of the storytelling and world building seriously. It was a massive milestone to see my comic in Faction vol.2 in the comic section here at the library!

CoryMathis05Can you tell us about your current, or most recent project?
My most recent was the climate change themed comic for the Faction – Highwater edition. It was a great challenge to work on a comic outside of my usual dinosaur-centric stories. (Though I still managed to hide a dinosaur in the story!) Right now I’m working on the second part of my, Saurian Era ‘The Reef’ series. I’ve learnt way too much in the last year since I finished part one and am finding it difficult to keep within my original plans – all part of being your own boss I suppose!

What is your favourite part of your working process?
Finishing something! Though the part at the beginning where it’s all crazy brainstorming, drawing and writing at the same time is pretty exciting too. Trying to find the thread that will pull you through to the finished product is always a challenge – especially if your making it solo. I’ve started to really focus on what makes each stage of the creation special, be it thumbing, pencilling, inking or colouring. It can sometimes feel like you’re repeating yourself hitting the pictures over and over again. I take a joy in not finalising any of the text until all the pictures are finished. The characters dialogue develops much like the pictures until the end where I feel like I can finally hear what they are actually saying.

Do you have another job outside of comic creation, or any significant hobbies you enjoy?
I’m working at the video game company, Pikpok, as a concept artist so the comic making has had to take a bit of a backseat as I wrap my head around managing my time with that. There’s a great community of artist here in Wellington so I spend a fair bit of time going to figure, or costume life drawing.
Something non-art related? Whaaaaaat?!

If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
Haha, since I’m going a bit crazy for the new Last Man comic series coming out of France at the mo, I reckon I could pull off a good Richard Aldana!

You can catch Cory at his Comicfest panel at the following time:
Thursday 30th of April 6 – 7.00pm – Panel: From cartoons to comics
CoryMathis02

5 minutes with Tim Gibson – Comicfest feature

Comicfest 2015 is almost here! Head over to the Facebook event for all the details and to receive event updates. There are panels and workshops for comic-lovers of all ages, and don’t forget to come along to the Central Library on Saturday 2nd May to pick up a free comic book on Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC!

Tim GibsonToday we’re talking to Tim Gibson about his comic work, and what we can look forward to at his Comicfest panel and workshop. Tim Gibson has produced illustrations for clients as diverse as Garage Project to the School Journal, Peter Jackson to Steven Spielberg. In 2012 he was awarded Creative New Zealand funding to write and illustrate his debut comic series ‘Moth City’ which has since gained a substantial digital readership, the support of leading American creators and was named as one of Comixology’s Top Comics for 2013. This year he took part in the Le Monde’s COMICS ZUR LAGE DER WELT exhibition in Berlin, and visited Taiwan as part of a comic residency exchange.

What is the first significant comic related job or project you remember working on?
I did some comic book colouring (painting under someone else’s pencils) for Christian Gossett’s Red Star comic series when I worked at Weta Workshop. It was my first professional taste of making comics, and it was a long time between drinks before I got another one.

Tim GibsonCan you tell us about your current, or most recent project?
I completed the art for a small comic project for the School Journal last year which told the story of front-line Kiwi miners in WWI. It was interesting not being responsible for the story as a whole, but artists still have to make very ‘directorial’ decisions with regard to placing the viewpoint, the expressions (or acting) of the characters and the general pace and flow of things.

It was great to be included in a piece of NZ reading history like the School Journal, so a bit of a milestone there.

What is your favourite part of your working process?
Playing with the characters in my head, having them interact with one another or their world. The further the story gets to being readable by others, the less avenues and options the characters and I have, so there’s always a bit of a bittersweet conclusion to finishing something. There’s nothing better than having an idea that changes the entire world that exists in your head.

What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
I’m hoping to share my passion for digital comics and animation during my Digital Comics Workshop. It should give people a few tools to tell comic stories differently now that creators don’t have to default to paper. That said, there’ll still be tree-flesh at the workshop, so bring pens.

Do you have another job outside of comic creation, or any significant hobbies you enjoy?
I subsidise my modest life-style with freelance illustration and design work, and the two worlds play very well together and often influence each other. It probably means that my commercial work is more vibrant and experimental, and my experimental comic work is more polished and commercial looking than it might be otherwise.

You can catch Tim at his Comicfest workshop and panel at these times:
Friday 1st of May 5 – 6.30pm – Digital comics workshop with Tim Gibson
Friday 1st of May 7 – 8.00pm – Panel: The current and future state of New Zealand comics
Tim Gibson

5 minutes with Toby Morris – Comicfest feature

Comicfest 2015 is almost here! Head over to the Facebook event for all the details and to receive event updates. There are panels and workshops for comic-lovers of all ages, and don’t forget to come along to the Central Library on Saturday 2nd May to pick up a free comic book on Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC!

Toby Morris self portraitToday we’re talking to Toby Morris about his comic work, and what we can look forward to at his Comicfest panel. Toby Morris is an illustrator, designer and comic artist who currently draws a monthly non-fiction comic series called The Pencilsword for The Wireless. He has drawn and published his own comics since the age of 13 and now juggles comics, illustration work and parenting two young sons. He has written and illustrated two books and created concert posters for many of New Zealand’s top bands.

What is the first significant comic related job or project you remember working on?
My first comic was terrible – it was called The Amazing Adventures of Okapi and was a really corny story about a superhero crime fighter set at a grunge concert. I was 13, and made a few copies for my friends at school, but really I didn’t know anything about superheroes or grunge concerts. Or comics really, apart from Tintin or Asterix. I think i was just trying to emulate what I assumed a ‘cool comic’ might be like.

At 15 I started a new series called Span that was more personal. I had actually gone to the comics shop by then and discovered some New Zealand comics like Pickle and Absolute Heroes that set me on a better path.

Toby MorrisCan you tell us about your current, or most recent project?
These days my big project is the ongoing non-fiction comics series The Pencilsword which appears monthly on thewireless.co.nz. I’m trying a few new things (for me at least) with it – I’m trying to walk a line between personal and political, and then technically the comics have a little animation on them which has been interesting to experiment with also. It’s the first comic I’ve done that is designed from the start to be read and shared online rather than in print, which is new and exciting for me.

What is your favourite part of your working process?
There is a great daydreamy state you can get into sometimes with drawing that I love where it’s almost unconscious. Time just goes by in a blur, you get really swept up and lost in it. You can’t try to do it – it’s trying but not trying and you can totally tell the difference between drawings where you’ve done it and not. I think of it as ‘the joyous line’. I think the closest description I’ve found to it is the way that Phillip Pullman describes how the Subtle Knife works in the book of the same name. Drawing is like dancing maybe.

What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
So many! Dylan Horrocks was very inspirational for me, still is. His series Pickle was one of the first things I read that really made me want to write in my own voice. Tim Bollinger was another one I read early on that lit a fire for me. Barry Linton was and is the king. I loved the Wellington anthology Pistake in the 90s – Emond, Morse, Dayglo etc – so much attitude. These days there is so much going on, it’s incredible. Hard to start naming people because there are so many. Mat Tait, Robyn Keneally, Sarah Laing, Ned Wenlock, Lauren Marriott/Ralphi, Mary Tamblyn and Alex McCrone, Tim Kidd, Ross Murray, Sam Orchard are a few current favourites that spring to mind. I’ll be forgetting people I bet. I loved Jem Yoshioka’s recent one about the Kimono. I really enjoyed Sarah Lund’s Snap. It’s a great time for NZ comics. There is so much great stuff coming out, more than there ever has been.

Do you have another job outside of comic creation, or any significant hobbies you enjoy?
These days I work as an advertising designer and art director for my day job. It’s a funny thing to balance those two very different worlds. My comics and my job started off as two very different paths – what I love doing on one hand and what I get paid to do on another – but over the years those two paths are slowly getting closer to each other and starting to cross over.

You can catch Toby at his Comicfest panel at the following time:
Thursday 30th of April 6 – 7.00pm – Panel: From cartoons to comics
Toby Morris