Be a Mental Organism Designed Only for Comics! Our best picks for comics that inspired the 2021 MCU shows

With 2020 firmly in hindsight, the Marvel Cinematic Universe can continue apace as new films and television series expand the ever-growing stable of characters and worlds. In 2021, we’ve had The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, MODOK, Loki, and the upcoming Black Widow and Eternals. But before these characters hit the small and silver screens, all of their stories came from the comics, which tend to be far wilder and crazier than most cinematic budgets allow.

Did you know that the reason Sam Wilson became Captain America was because Steve Rogers was rapidly aged to be 80 years old? Or that before MODOK became a stop-motion sitcom patriarch, he ran his own Ocean’s Eleven heist crew and built a gun made of mushrooms for SHIELD as a Secret Avenger? Or that the Winter Soldier once went to space and romanced an telepathic alien princess from a planet named after a Japanese noise musician, and fought Loki, who was also fighting a younger version of himself at the time, and went to the moon with Black Widow to shake down a newly omniscient Nick Fury?

Whether you’re a True Believer following your favourite MCU characters or just need something to tide you over before the next series hits, check out our recommendations below. And if you wanted to do the same for WandaVision, you can read Monty’s recommendation blog here.

All-new Captain America [1] : Hydra ascendant / Remender, Rick
All-new Captain America is the first series where Sam Wilson takes on the role of Captain America, combining his winged Falcon suit with a slick new red, white and blue update. Writer Rick Remender uses the opportunity to reintroduce the weirder and pulpier science-fiction enemies that defined the franchise in the 70s and 80s, and Stuart Immonen is one of the best comic artists for style and action, which makes Sam Wilson’s debut as Captain America a high-flying, HYDRA-punching thrill-ride.

Bucky Barnes, the winter soldier. 1, The man on the wall / Kot, Ales
After Nick Fury becomes the Watcher (long story), Bucky Barnes takes over his position as ‘The Man on the Wall’, the only espionage agent protecting Earth from extra-terrestrial threats. Only once he gets to space, Bucky doesn’t find threats, but peace, love, and mind-expanding telepathic conversations with alien princesses. Writer Ales Kot is one of the best at subverting the bleak and world-weary tropes of modern spy fiction, and artist Marco Rudy makes the whole series look like a 50s sci-fi paperback novel cover.

Super-villain team-up : MODOK’s 11 / Van Lente, Fred
Ever wanted to see a heist movie where all the thieves have superpowers? Fred Van Lente and Francis Portela give you the best version of that idea in MODOK’s 11. The titular Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing is ousted from his position as the head of the science-terrorist group AIM, and in revenge, he assembles a team of C-list villains to steal an absurdly powerful energy source from under AIM’s nose. Snappy one-liners, double-crosses, and explosions ensue in the Merry Marvel Manner. The comic also gets a fun reference in the MODOK TV show (although in that version, he can only manage a mere MODOK’s 6).

Secret Avengers [1] : let’s have a problem / Kot, Ales
Run the Mission. Don’t Get Seen. Save the World. This is the credo of the Secret Avengers, a clandestine team made up of the Marvel heroes best suited for spy work. This time however, they’re joined by MODOK, who’s been put to work making weapons for SHIELD in exchange for immunity. Ales Kot and Michael Walsh deliver high-stakes superhero wackiness paired with some surprisingly deep character drama, as MODOK falls in love, sentient bombs are talked out of exploding, and the team confronts their individual traumas through the power of friendship and Argentinian magical realism. If you’ve ever wanted to see Jorge Luis Borges explained by Deadpool, then this is the book for you.

Loki : agent of Asgard [1] : trust me / Ewing, Al
After a stint in the Young Avengers, Loki goes solo and discovers that trying to keep on the straight and narrow is harder than it seems. Especially when you have a) a living lie detector for a friend, b) an older version of yourself hunting you down, and c) your morality flipped so you can only be good, just in the same overly complicated and circuitous way you were when you were bad, so either way no-one trusts you. Created by Lee Garbett and Al Ewing (of Immortal Hulk fame), Agent of Asgard is considered the best modern take on Loki, so if you’re a fan, it’s well worth your time.

Black Widow : the complete collection / Waid, Mark
Writer Mark Waid, artist Chris Samnee and colourist Matt Wilson, who worked together on a critically beloved and fan-favourite run on Daredevil, team up again for this Black Widow miniseries in which the Avenger’s premier spy must go on the run from SHIELD after they declare her an enemy. Featuring some of the best visual action storytelling I’ve ever seen in a comic (Samnee dictated the story more than Waid, a rarity in comics where the writer normally takes the lead) and a creatively versatile use of a sparse colour palette by Wilson, this series is a great primer for Black Widow that will get you psyched for the movie.

The Eternals : monster-size / Kirby, Jack
Kirby’s Eternals revealed an entire new realm of heroes. Once worshipped as gods, this fantastic group left Earth to explore the stars after warring with the Greek, Roman and Norse pantheons for supremacy over humankind. But the Eternals are just one part of a cosmic mythology. Their opposites – the Deviants – also secretly populate Earth, and the towering cosmic entities that created both – the Celestials – are fated to return and judge us all.

ComicFest 2019 – 5 minutes with Paul Diamond

ComicFest is back for 2019! On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 2 to 4 of May at the National 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 May the 4th and celebrate Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC! For full programme click here and follow our updates on our Facebook event.

Today is the first day of ComicFest! To finish our special “5 minutes with…” feature we have Paul Diamon, the author of three books (A Fire in Your Belly, Huia 2003; Makereti: taking Māori to the World, Random House NZ 2007; and Savaged to Suit: Māori and Cartooning in New Zealand, Fraser Books 2018), and has also worked as an oral historian and broadcaster. From 2007 to 2009 Paul managed the Vietnam War Oral History Project for the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. In 2017 Paul was awarded Creative New Zealand’s Berlin Writer’s Residency to complete a book about Charles Mackay, a mayor of Whanganui who was killed in Berlin in 1929. Paul Diamond appears at ComicFest with the support of the New Zealand Cartoon Archive.

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: I was asked to write a book about the history of Māori and cartoons. This initially focused on editorial cartoons in newspapers, but the scope was broadened to include images of Māori in other places, such as comics and graphic novels.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: Ideally, made up of coffee, collections, cartoons, cycling and cursive creation.

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: My book, Savaged to Suit: Māori and Cartooning in New Zealand, was launched by MP Louisa Wall at the National Library in September 2018.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: Not really, but preceding this, my cycle along the Wellington waterfront means it’s difficult to arrive at work grumpy, even if I may be a bit puffed.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: Personally: my parents, Briar and Eddie Diamond, and my bicultural ancestry, which I wrote about in the acknowledgements section of Savaged to Suit.
An illustration inspiration: An exhibition I saw at the House of Illustration in London in 2016, Comix Creatrix: 100 Women Making Comics, was wonderful to experience and has stayed with me. The exhibition introduced me to artists and work I wasn’t aware of, including Jacky Fleming and her marvellous book, The Trouble With Women as well as Barbara Yelin, see below. The exhibition was also a powerful reminder that just because work by different groups may not be obvious doesn’t mean it’s not out there. Which is why books and exhibitions play an important role in bringing collections to audiences and providing context to understand them.

 Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: As part of my research it was great to find out more about the Māori who’ve worked at editorial cartoonists. It’s not a very long list: Harry Dansey, Oriwa Haddon, Mark Tapsell, Noel Cook, James Waerea, Anthony Ellison, and Sharon Murdoch. I’m also a big admirer of Murray Webb’s caricatures.

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: A graphic novel about the story I’m going to be writing about in Berlin later this year, check it here. This is to do with the 1929 May Day riots in Berlin, in which Charles Mackay, a former mayor of Whanganui was shot. There are at least two graphic novels about the 1929 May Day riots: Babylon Berlin by Arne Jysch is a graphic novel adaptation of Volker Kutscher’s novel, Der Nasse Fisch and Jason Lutes’ Berlin series. Another inspiration for how to tell the story is Irmina, by Barbara Yelin, which I saw in the Comix Creatrix: 100 Women Making Comics exhibition in 2016. Subsequently, an English translation of Irmina was released, and I’ve been meaning to have a read. I loved the way Yelin combined images and text to bring alive a remarkable story and the history of the period leading up to the Second World War.

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: I’m looking forward to yarning about how cartoons work. In my research I learned about how nothing in a cartoon is there by accident, but the layers of meaning are not always obvious. It’d also be good to talk about stereotyping in cartoons, as I’ve been reflecting on this in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Christchurch.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: Not sure, but I might see if another of my inspirations, Varla Jean Merman aka Jeffery Roberson has any ideas!

You can find more about Paul online here.

5 minutes with Dylan Horrocks — from ComicFest 2019

Next up on our special feature “5 minutes with…” we have Dylan Horrocks, a cartoonist best known for his graphic novel Hicksville and his scripts for the Batgirl comic book series. His works are published by the University of Auckland student magazine Craccum, Australia’s Fox Comics, the current affairs magazine New Zealand Listener from 1995 to 1997, the Canadian publishers Black Eye Comics and Drawn and Quarterly, and the American publishers Vertigo and Fantagraphics Books. He currently serialises new work online at Hicksville Comics.

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: My Dad has always been interested in comics, so I grew up in a house full of classics like Carl Barks’ Donald Duck as well as underground, European, and experimental comix. He also taught film, and watching the movies he’d project on our living room wall made me realise you could use visual narrative to do anything.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: I recently started teaching at the Victoria University of Wellington School of Design, so my days have become very busy. I’m often either in class or planning a class, or looking at students’ work. Otherwise, I’m probably at my studio writing or drawing. To relax, I watch old movies, read (often history), or play table-top role-playing games with friends.

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Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: I’m working on a long non-fiction comic exploring the history and culture of Dungeons & Dragons. It’s about world-building – the urge to create an imaginary reality so detailed it begins to feel almost real – and how the emergence of fantasy role-playing games 45 years ago introduced a new way to inhabit these fictional worlds. There are other, shorter, comics I’ve drawn recently, but that’s the big one that’s occupying my time.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: One trick I learned a while back was to leave something unfinished at the end of each day. That way, when I sit down to start drawing or writing, I don’t have to stare at a blank page; I can just pick up where I left off – and before I know it I’m back in the groove.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: There are so many! Hergé’s Tintin is a huge influence on my work. But one New Zealand cartoonist who’s had a big impact on me for most of my life is Barry Linton, who died last year. He drew comics for more than 40 years, and left behind an extraordinary body of work. I hope someone gets it all back into print soon.

 Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: Again, there are too many to mention even a fraction! Strips was a New Zealand comics magazine published between 1977 & 1987. Barry Linton (who I mentioned above) was one of its founding artists, but there were so many great cartoonists in there: Colin Wilson (the main driving force for the first few years), Joe Wylie, Kevin Jenkinson, Laurence Clark. There are earlier comics I’m fascinated by, too, including the work of Eric Resetar, Harry Bennett, and Jack Raeburn (all of who were publishing locally in the 1940s and 1950s). These days New Zealand has a large and diverse comics scene, with many cartoonists whose work I find inspiring. And every week I find someone new who’s putting out beautiful zines or webcomics. Each new discovery is like a treasure: an Instagram post or a page in a student’s sketchbook.

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Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: I have a comic I daydream about now and then. Sometimes when I’m lying in bed half-asleep, or when I’m walking to work in the morning, I’ll think about it. So far, all there is to show is a few words in my notebook. It may never happen. But I love that stage in a project, when everything’s still open, possible, uncontained. When it really is still a dream….

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: That depends how much I get done between now and then.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: I reckon Toby Morris and I could do a mean Captain Haddock and Tintin (now, if we can just find the right dog to play Snowy…).

You can find Dylan online in the following places:
Twitter: @dylanhorrocks
Website: hicksvillecomics.com
Instagram: @dylan.horrocks

5 minutes with Jem Yoshioka — from ComicFest 2019

Edited 07/21: Jem Yoshioka is back for ComicFest 2021! Have a read of our 2019 interview with Jem ahead of this year’s ComicFest — coming up Saturday 21 August at the National Library in Thorndon.


Next on the list is Jem Yoshioka, an illustrator and comic artist living in Wellington, New Zealand. Deftly weaving words and pictures together, Jem’s comics tell evocative and emotional stories with themes of belonging, place, and heritage. Jem’s current webcomic project is a soft science fiction romance between an android and a human called Circuits and Veins.
Jem Yoshioka appears at ComicFest with the support of the New Zealand Cartoon Archive.

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: I have always loved to tell stories and draw pictures, so in a way I feel like I was always on the path to comics. I read a lot as a kid and loved picture books fiercely.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: I work a full time job in communications, so I spend my day getting to help tell people’s stories and make sure things are understood by as many people as possible. I walk to and from work along the Wellington waterfront. I spend my evenings drawing, with breaks for dinner, chores, or whatever. It’s a balance that has worked well for me, but I am careful to be mindful of my limits and not push myself too hard if I know I need a break. Lately I’ve been playing a lot of Tetris and Star dew Valley to recharge when I need to!

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: My webcomic Circuits and Veins is my current biggest project. I’ve been updating it since July, 2017 (coming up on two years, goodness!), and it’s honestly such a rewarding project. Long form serialised webcomics are notoriously difficult to keep going, and some weeks are a lot harder than others.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: I’m constantly listening to podcasts or watching YouTube. Podcasts have helped me so much to keep focused and motivated when I need to meet a deadline. Having my ears occupied helps keep my mind from straying away. I’m a big fan of Actual Play podcasts (listening to other people play table top roleplaying games), because it’s like a form of collaborative storytelling. My favourites are Friends at the Table and The Adventure Zone. If you have recommendations, let me know! I’m always looking for new ones.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: That’s a tough one. Can I say my grandma, Taeko? She’s led an amazing life, growing up in Hiroshima, Japan, witnessing the horrors of war as a young girl and teenager, meeting my granddad in Japan, and moving to New Zealand in the 50s, before you could even really find rice here, let alone the right kind of rice. Whenever I get stuck I think back on who she is, that she still has such a lightness and humour about her through everything. It makes me feel strong again. This has been something that has been coming through in my art since 2015, when I started writing autobiography comics exploring my connection to Japan and my Japanese heritage, which of course is all through her.

 

Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: I love Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe, published on Webtoon. Rachel’s my best friend and we’ve known each other for half our lives, so I’m a bit biased. Rachel is a master illustrator and her work is so expressive, emotive, and even now her sense of storytelling, drama and comedic timing all work together to make me gasp. What else could you want from a comic?

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: To be honest, I’m doing it! Making Circuits and Veins is honestly a dream, and I’m so happy that so many people love reading it. It does have an end though, and I’m also equally excited about my next story, which will be a fantasy story based on Japanese folk stories. I tried to launch it last year as Starstruck, but I wasn’t completely happy with the execution, and splitting my time between two ongoing comic projects wasn’t the smartest, so I’ve pulled it back to the drawing board. I chip away on concepts for it in between updating Circuits and Veins

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: I’m keen to talk about what it takes to update a regular serialised webcomic, and also about how to balance comics and non-comics life.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: Marceline, from Adventure Time. She’s got the best style.

You can find Jem online in the following places:
Instagram: @jemyoshioka
Twitter: @jemyoshioka
Blog/Website: jemshed.com

ComicFest 2019 – 5 minutes with Alex Cara

ComicFest is back for 2019! On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 2 to 4 of May at the National 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 May the 4th and celebrate Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC! For full programme click here and follow our updates on our Facebook event.

We caught up with Alex Cara and asked her a couple questions for our “5 minutes with…”. Alex Cara is a Christchurch-based comic artist. In addition to being featured in recent issues of Funtime Comics, her work has also been published in the Three Words anthology.  She has completed a BFA in printmaking at the Ilam School of Fine Arts, and since graduating has developed and produced her own prints and comic projects, self-publishing the New Zealand historical short comic collection “Dreams of Here, Far from Home” in 2017. Her sketches and works-in-progress can be found at @alexcara.art on Instagram. Alex Cara appears at ComicFest with the support of the New Zealand Cartoon Archive.

 

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: I used to read the Beano and old English things like that when I was first learning to read, so that was pretty early exposure! I also had a volume of Krazy Kat and some very comic-like picture books that I loved, likeCaptain Abdul’s Pirate School by Colin McNaughton. They all had good grotesque characters with lots of background details and jokes, as well as speech bubbles. I was able to read lots of different manga and graphic novels as a teen, but reading TamaraDrewe by Posy Simmonds made me really want to write and draw my own comics.

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: I feel like I’ve been caught up in a studying-slash-new-job whirlwind for a long time, but I self-published my own first book of comics and illustrations in 2017 (“Dreams of Here, Far from Home”) and launched it at Chromacon. At the moment I’m looking at putting together a little book or pamphlet of drawings and am also working towards posting some short comics online.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: A few different things; all my various niche book interests, especially writers like Denton Welch, Barbara Comyns and Colette. Real life and people-watching. Definitely old photographs and different types of graphic art like painting or illustration, and of course other comics; my current top favourite would be the Belgian comic artist Olivier Schrauwen, I love everything he’s done.

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: It would be something where I can try lots of different art-styles, very ambitious and with interweaving themes and multiple time periods, etcetera… But I’m not high-powered enough to get very far with that kind of thing and need to build my way up from shorter works! I do often think about finding some obscure old public-domain novel or story to adapt as a comic, so maybe that.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: Maybe the Groke from Moomins…

You can find Alex online in the following places:
Instagram: alexcara.art
Blog/Website: alexcaraart.bigcartel.com

5 minutes with Sarah Laing — from ComicFest 2019

Edited 07/21: Sarah Laing is back for ComicFest 2021! Have a read of our 2019 interview with Sarah ahead of this year’s ComicFest — coming up Saturday 21 August at the National Library in Thorndon.


We are pleased to have Sarah Laing for our next “5 minutes with…” feature. Sarah is a Wellington-based writer and illustrator who has had novels, short stories and the graphic memoir Mansfield and Me published. A collection of comics from the past ten years is forthcoming from VUP – Let Me Be Frank will be published late 2019. She also the co-editor of Three Words: An Anthology of Aotearoa/NZ Women’s Comics and has illustrated a number of children’s books.


Q: What first got you interested in comics?

A: My dad was a big comics fan – he’d grown up on the war comics you could buy at the dairy – so we always had comics lying around. Tintin, Asterix, Garfield, Charlie Brown. My cousins had a big stash of Disney comics and I particularly liked tales of Uncle Scrooge and his mountains of money. I also used to read Bogor in the Listener, and wrote some fanmail to him, with my own fanart of hedgehogs and snails. He offered me a job when I grew up – I wonder if that offer is still on the table?

Q: What is your average day like?
A: Up until recently I’ve been finishing off my Let Me Be Frank manuscript – a collection of my comics over the past ten years, to be published by VUP in late 2019. I’ve got to be an almost fulltime cartoonist thanks to a CNZ grant. Almost fulltime, I say, as I have three kids and various part-time gigs, including mentoring creative writing students, and illustrating for a number of publications. Right now, since I have submitted my manuscipt, I am lookng for a proper job to pay my bills – feel free to hit me up!

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: My most recent project I talked about in the previous question, but I worked on a great project last year, in collaboration with Dr Giacomo Lichtner, the Italian Embassy and the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand – it was an adaptation of Denebedetti’s account of the SS raid of the ghetto in Rome. You can read that comic here.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: I waste an awful lot of time and feel incredibly guilty about it, and then sometimes I’m freakishly productive. I have to check Facebook, Instagram and Twitter each morning before I start work, and I also have to make myself coffee and a piece of toast and peanut butter. When I’m in my productive phase, I allow myself to draw badly and make mistakes, focussing instead on the shape of the story and actually completing it. The drawings may look terrible at the time, but when I go back to them, they have a looseness and a spontaneity that I like, and I often wonder if they are better than my final illustrations.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: I have so many influences and inspirations! I am a huge fiction reader, so always have a novel on the go. I love all the women I follow on instagram and support on patreon, like Gabrielle Bell and Sarah Glidden, Mimi Pond Lisa Hanawalt, Summer Pierre, Glynnis Fawkes and of course the indominatible Jillian Tamaki. I am also a big music fan, and my latest discoveries include Nilüfer Yanya and Charlotte Adigéry. Nature, films, TV (Russian Doll! So good!), art, foreign cities, family, friends, random encounters… all of this feeds into the psychic soup I take ladles from to make my work.


Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: Again, there are so many people I like and I always scared of making these lists for fear of missing someone off! I really love Sophie Watson’s comics, and I’m excited about her larger project she’s working on. Ross Murray’s latest book, Rufus Marigold, is great – I’m looking forward to hearing him talk about it at ComicsFest. Giselle Clarkson makes hilarious, beautifully drawn comics, and I really admire Zoë Colling’s autobio works. Indira Neville is hilarious and arresting, and Kirsten Slade is unmissable. Sam Orchard makes great comics about his life as a transman, which always hit the spot. The greats are still great – Dylan Horrocks, Ant Sang, Toby Morris – and I really love the irreverant lo-fi nature of Brent Willis’s comics. Austen Milne is an up-and-coming cartoonist who I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot of, and I wish I could see more of Meng Zhu’s comics, who was in Three Words…. Arrgh, gotta stop now!

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: I have a few graphic novels bubbling away in my head… my dream involves being published by Drawn and Quarterly and being invited to all those American and Scandanavian comics festivals!

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: Hmm, tough call. Tove Jansen? Rita Angus? Or maybe Vivienne Westwood. Or am I meant to be choosing a fictional character? In that case I’ll go as Little My or Rachael in Bladerunner.

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

ComicFest 2019 – 5 minutes with Roger Langridge

ComicFest is back for 2019! On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 2 to 4 of May at the National 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 May the 4th and celebrate Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC! For full programme click here and follow our updates on our Facebook event.

 

Our star artist, directly from the UK in this edition of the ComicFest, is next on our “5 minutes with…” feature. Meet Roger Langridge, a New Zealand-born comics writer, artist and letterer who lives in the UK. Notable works include The Muppet Show Comic Book, Thor: The Mighty Avenger and his own self-published Fred The Clown, which was nominated for  Eisner, Harvey, Ignatz and Reuben awards. Roger Langridge appears at ComicFest with the support of Creative New Zealand.

 

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: I pretty much learned to read from Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck comics, which my mum used to buy for my brother and me to keep us quiet on long car journeys when we were very small. I had a sort of epiphany when I was around 6 or 7 years old, when our classroom art assignment was to draw a comic strip – most of the class drew three or four panels, but I covered both sides of the paper with these dense 16-panel comics. I’d found my thing.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: I tend to get up early – if I have a writing job to do I’ll put in an hour or two before the rest of the family wake up, otherwise I’ll catch up on paperwork and correspondence. Then I’ll have breakfast, get the kids off to school and start drawing – usually for the rest of the day, with a break for lunch and dinner. If I don’t have an urgent deadline I occasionally watch TV in the evening with my family, otherwise it’s back to the drawing board after dinner to make sure I hit the day’s target.

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: Currently juggling a couple of things: I’m doing a serialised graphic novel for IDW’s Full Bleed anthology featuring my Fred the Clown character – it’s called Arizona Daisy, and it’s a western of sorts, about the relationship between a man and his cow. I’m also working on another serial – it’s for the anthology Meanwhile, published by Soaring Penguin, with a rural New Zealand setting. It’s called Taniwha. I’m hoping to do some research for it while I’m in New Zealand. My pitch was “Hunt for the Wilder People meets Alice in Wonderland”, which should either give you some idea of the tone I’m striving for or else utterly confuse everyone.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: Ideally I like to start before I’m properly awake, to kind of trick myself into getting something done before I’ve had time to realise that’s what I’m doing – there’s a flow established by the time I’ve caught up with myself enough to realise what’s going on.

Sometimes I’ll play instrumental music (jazz or classical, usually) when I start – it’s a way to help me focus and drown out any distractions. It has to be something without words, though. A human voice takes me right out of it.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: I think my holy triumvirate would be E.C. Segar, Carl Barks and Kurtzman & Elder.

 Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: From before I moved to the UK: I adored Barry Linton’s comics; I was so sorry to hear he’d passed away. I’ve followed Dylan Horrocks’ stuff since his university days. Karl Wills does some amazing work. Trace Hodgson’s comics need some sort of collection.

More recently: I like the bits I’ve seen from Ned Wenlock & Sarah Laing. Jared Lane’s stuff is very accomplished. Ant Sang is a world-class cartoonist. Ben Stenbeck gets better and better all the time. There’s always a ton of great work coming out of New Zealand, it definitely punches above its weight in terms of the talent it produces. I’m missing loads of people. I’m a bit out of the loop these days so I’m hoping to educate myself on who’s current or up-and-coming while I’m visiting.

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: I’d really like to try my hand at a daily strip for a sustained period – some absurdist character-based thing with a Goon Show sort of feel to it. To do it well at my current rate of production it would totally have to be a full-time job, though, so either I need to find a way to draw a lot faster or find some way to get paid for it.

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: I’ve been asked to do a workshop about using formal constraints as a creative instigator, so there’s that! Should be fun for people who want to get involved. I’ll try to keep it silly.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: Maybe I could be the back end of Barney Google’s horse, Spark Plug?

You can find Roger online in the following places:
Twitter: @hotelfred
Blog/Website: hotelfred.com

ComicFest 2019 – 5 minutes with Sharon Murdoch

ComicFest is back for 2019! On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 2 to 4 of May at the National 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 May the 4th and celebrate Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC! For full programme click here and follow our updates on our Facebook event.

Meet Sharon Murdoch, a political cartoonist with Stuff Media. Her cartoon series Munro, about an orange cat, also appears in Stuff’s daily newspapers. Murdoch won Canon Media Awards Cartoonist of the Year in 2016 and 2017, and Voyager Media Awards Cartoonist of the Year in 2018 (formerly the Canon Media Awards). Two collections of Sharon’s work have been published – one on her political work written by Dr Melinda Johnston, and another of her Munro cat cartoons, which came out in late 2018. Of political cartooning, Sharon says she can’t think of another job she would rather do. Even on a bad day.

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: After I finished Design School I lived with Trace Hodgson, who at the time was a political cartoonist for The Listener, so cartoons were a normal part of the day, and he had lots of comics around – mainly underground. Later I worked with a Xhosa Women’s Community Development group in South Africa, and we used comic strips as a way to communicate information about AIDS prevention and early childhood development. I also helped put together a kids paper for the Evening Post newspaper, called Presto. Gradually I started doing political stuff. And so it went…

Q: What is your average day like?
A: On days I have to do a political cartoon I turn on the radio as soon as I wake up and listen to RNZ and trawl through news sites. If I’m lucky my partner will bring me a cup of tea – which may be straight kindness, or may be because he likes the kitchen to himself. Our cats Munro and LaLuna usually clamp me to the bed, so it takes a bit of manouvering to extricate myself. I walk into town and have another cup of tea at a cafe while I read the newspaper, and rough out ideas. Then some more walking is usually involved while I try to sort out what the characters are saying. Most days I draw at my desk in the Stuff newsroom. It’s a great place to be, because there’s more tea, and I get to hear what’s happening about the place.

I usually work till around 6.30 or so, and then I walk home again. If I have other projects on, I try to do them on the weekends, or if I’m on a deadline I’ll work in the evening, but I find as I’ve gotten older working in the evening is more exhausting than it used to be, and also takes time away from being with my partner, my teenaged daughter, the two cats and the dog, Iris.

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: My regular political cartoons for Stuff newspapers and Stuff.co.nz. A book of my cat cartoons, Munro, came out late last year, and I’ve been drawing penguins for South Cider cider cans. At the moment I’m doing drawings for a book by Mike White about dogs.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: Lots of tea. Lots of walking. A favourite dip pen handle that I got off Trademe – it’s quite old and has it’s own reservoir, and Hunt and Brause nibs. The sketchbooks I use are from Japan City. When I found out that Japan City was closing I went in and bought about 50 of them. I use one a month, so I figure when I run out of those sketchbooks my cartooning career will be over. If not before.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: JJ Grandville, Lynda Barry, Edward Gorey, Edward Lear, Chris Blain, Mervyn Peake, Mathieu Sapin, Ben Shahn, Wanda G’ag, Kate Beaton.

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: Something with animals.

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: Excitement about drawing stories, whether that’s single panels or pages.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: Dressing as myself is challenge enough.

You can follow Sharon on Twitter @domesticanimcal

ComicFest 2019 – 5 minutes with Jesse Barratt

ComicFest is back for 2019! On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 2 to 4 of May at the National 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 May the 4th and celebrate Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC! For full programme click here and follow our updates on our Facebook event.

 

Next on our special “5 minutes with…” feature we have Jesse Barratt. He is a Senior Artist at Weta Workshop’s gaming studio and was instrumental in shipping Weta Workshop’s first and multi-award nominated title Dr. Grordbort’s Invaders for the Magic Leap One. Jesse’s talents were used to develop the 3D aspect of Dr. Grordbort’s Invaders including the creation of spaces and objects, and increasing immersion within the world of Mixed Reality.
Jesse Barratt appears at ComicFest with the support of Weta.

 

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: Art, definitely the Art. my older brother, Brad, used to buy comics all the time – he’d buy half a dozen or so a fortnight so we had plenty in the house when I was young. Much to my mum’s worry, I would sit for hours at a time, pouring over the images in comics such as Hellraiser, Tales from the Crypt, Ironman, Wolverine and Hellboy.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: I wake up early and go to bed late so my days are long. Most days I work around the 10 hour mark. Once you add portfolio work and life’s other commitments, my sleep schedule is usually shortened to the 5-6 hour mark. Healthy eating and exercise becomes important to an artist at that point. Who knows what could happen otherwise – your hands might drop off!

At Weta Workshop, I usually start my day around 7:30am, make a nice coffee in the staff kitchen and begin reading my emails and talk to a few people. This helps me prioritize my workload for the day. Once I’ve got the utmost deadlines out the way, I get stuck into a day’s worth of development. On any given day, this could consist of modeling, texturing, etc. at Weta Workshop every day is varied and interesting.

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: Last year Weta Workshop released its first mixed reality game, Dr Grordbort’s Invaders set in the retro-science fiction universe of rayguns, rocket ships and deadly robot miscreants. This was also my first time working in mixed reality and it came with a host of new and exciting challenges. I certainly learnt a lot from the project. Now I continue to work within this inspiring new medium – it’s a little different from traditional comic book drawing and I relish the work.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: I think the only tradition I have regarding helping me at work is to just really focus. People speak about “focus” like this mystical or difficult to obtain phantom. But I think that focus is more about building it over time. I usually just say to myself, Ok, from 9am to lunch I don’t get off this seat and I work. As creative people, I think we all get distracted easier than others. But by being prepared and organised you can really force yourself to shoot some goals.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: Honestly? It’s the people around me. People like our Lead Artist, Stephen Lambert, our Game Director, Greg Broadmore, and the rest of the amazing team at Weta Workshop’s gaming division. These people inspire me on a daily basis.

Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: Have to shout out to the best boss I’ve had and one of the most amazing artists on the planet, whether he thinks that or not, Greg Broadmore. Incredible. Check out his stuff.

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: I’d actually love to work in a style like Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. Something dark and gritty, terrifying and beautiful.

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: I’ll be giving attendees at ComicFest a look into the weird world of an artist’s mind. I’ll be showing and discussing how we analyse imagery and extract the information we use to recreate or spark inspiration. Using the world of Dr.Grordbort’s and Greg’s comic book work I’ll introduce the audience to principles such as line, color, form and more.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: My go to is John Bender from the Breakfast Club because I can rock a denim jacket. But for comic fest it’s a tie between Jareth the Goblin King from Labyrinth or a yellow banana.

You can find Jesse online at jetty218.artstation.com

ComicFest 2019 – 5 minutes with Ant Sang

ComicFest is back for 2019! On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 2 to 4 of May at the National 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 May the 4th and celebrate Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC! For full programme click here and follow our updates on our Facebook event.

 

Next up on our special “5 minutes with…” series is Ant Sang. He is the author of celebrated graphic novels The Dharma Punks, Shaolin Burning, and co-author of Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas. Ant was the designer for the animated television show bro’Town. When not writing and drawing, he teaches ‘Comics and Graphic Novels’ at Manukau Institute of Technology. Ant Sang appears at ComicFest with the support of Penguin Books.

 

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: My childhood was filled with comics and I’ve loved them for as long as I can remember. I’ve always loved the way a comic can magically transport a reader to an imaginary world.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: My days vary a lot. When I’m working on a big project like a graphic novel, I’ll spend long hours writing or drawing all day (and often into the late night). I juggle this with freelance work; book illustrations, storyboards for television commercials etc. Twice a week, I teach comics at Manukau Institute of Technology, as part of the Creative Arts programme.

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: The most recent comics project I’ve completed is the graphic novel Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas, which was a collaboration with author Michael Bennett. It’s a wild sci-fi, time-travel, dystopian future story.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: I usually get into the mood by choosing music to listen to while I work. I might listen to the same song a couple of times to get myself into the right mood for the scene or artwork I’m going to work on.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: I’ve had so many influences at different stages of my life. When I was a kid I’d spend hours copying Asterix and Disney drawings. As a teenager I was a huge Frank Frazetta fan. More recently I love the brush work of Paul Pope; the detail, energy and speed lines of James Harren; and also the storytelling of manga comics from classics like Akira to more contemporary stuff like Goodnight Punpun. Independent and alternative comics are a big influence on me also, in terms of subject matter and creating personal stories which have emotional impact; artists like Chester Brown, Dan Clowes, and Julie Doucett really float my boat.

Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: There’s too many to mention aren’t there. Off the top of my head Dylan Horrocks, Tim Kidd, Karl Wills, Sarah Laing, Indira Neville, Ross Murray, Ben Stenbeck and the late (and great) Barry Linton and Martin Emond.

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: I think my dream comic project is always the next comic I’m thinking up. I’m super excited about my next idea, which is far from fully-formed. I’m exploring the idea of doing a wild, no-holds-barred, web-comic. I want to do a short comic (maybe 60 pages, I’m calling it a ‘graphic novella’) – a simple story with an emphasis not so much on plot but on the experience itself.

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: At MIT I’ve been teaching a way to learn (and make) comics using individual panels, which was inspired by the way Chester Brown makes his comics. I’m keen to show this method in my workshop.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: I can’t imagine ever doing cosplay lol.

You can find Ant online at
Instagram: @antasang_art
Blog/Website:  www.antsang.co.nz/

5 minutes with Michel Mulipola — from ComicFest 2019

Edited 07/21: Michel Mulipola is back for ComicFest 2021! Have a read of our 2019 interview with Michel ahead of this year’s ComicFest — coming up Saturday 21 August at the National Library in Thorndon.



Next on our “5 minutes with..” is Michel Mulipola. He is a self taught comic book artist from Auckland, New Zealand. Michel has been immersed in the world of comic books from the tender age of five and has wanted to draw comic books from that moment on. He has also done work for BOOM! Studios’ line of WWE comics, various anthologies and is currently working on the U.S comic book, Headlocked: The Last Territory.

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: I fell in love with comics before I started school. I stumbed across my Uncle’s collection and instantly fell in love with the bright colours and bold characters.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: My average day is usually spent drawing comics, answering e-mails, scolling through social media and playing video games. Some days, you could find me at Arkham City Comics in Auckland or visiting schools as part of Duffy Books in Homes’ Role Model program.

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: I’ve recently finished up a comic book for the NZ School Journals which should be in schools later this year and am currently working through the next volume of the Headlocked graphic novel series.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: I don’t have any traditions or rituals. I kind of play the day by ear and go with the flow.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: I don’t really have ONE person who is the biggest influence for me. The medium of comic books itself is the inspiration. In terms of artists, as a kid growing up in the 80s and 90s, I can’t go past Jim Lee’s X-Men run as an influence on my art.

Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: Funnily enough, Roger Langridge and Dylan Horrocks are some of my favourite NZ comic creators. I also will have to say Toby Morris and Ant Sang are very good friends of mine and Ben Stenbeck’s work is always freakin’ awesome!

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: I’ve had an opportunity to do short dream projects with BOOM! Studios’ WWE comics, drawing some of my favourite wrestlers. I would love to be able to illustrate a Green Lantern comic sometime as he is my all time favourite superhero.

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: I’m excited to share my story as a Polynesian comic book artist. And maybe I’ll show off some art too…

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: As someone who constantly dresses up in tights and beats people up, I am no stranger to cosplay.
I have cosplayed as Spider-Gwen, Star-Lord, Green Lantern, Bane and the Green Power Ranger in the past. As for now, I would love to cosplay as Thanos. I’ve got the Infinity Gauntlet, I just need to paint my skin purple and grow a scrotum chin.

You can find Michel online in the following places:
Instagram: @bloodysamoanart
Twitter: @bloodysamoan
Blog/Website: bloodysamoan.com

5 minutes with Kay O’Neill — from ComicFest 2019

Edited 07/21: Kay O’Neill is back for ComicFest 2021! Have a read of our 2019 interview with Kay ahead of this year’s ComicFest — coming up Saturday 21 August at the National Library in Thorndon.


Next in our “5 minutes with..” series we have Kay O’Neill. Kay is an Eisner, Harvey and McDuffie-winning illustrator and graphic novelist from New Zealand. They are the author of Princess Princess Ever After, The Tea Dragon Society, and Aquicorn Cove, all from Oni Press. They mostly make gentle fantasy stories for younger readers, and are very interested in tea, creatures, things that grow, and the magic of everyday life. Kay O’Neill appears at ComicFest with the support of the New Zealand Book Council.

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: I was fortunate to have dial-up internet early enough to be deep into the neopets.com craze as a kid, and a big part of that was the rich creative community that formed around the virtual pet-raising game. The in-game weekly digital newspaper featured both ongoing storylines and one-off gag comics, and really got me started viewing comics as a natural way of expressing stories and characters from a young age.

Q: What is your average day like?
A: I’m a full time freelance illustrator at the moment, so it’s really important to me to have structured days with clear down time. Mornings give me good energy, so I try to get up at around 7.30 and have a solid, uninterrupted morning of work until lunch. Then I take a few hours off to make food, go for a walk, do yoga, or get coffee with friends. After that I either continue working on a different project, or do some studies or research depending on how much energy I have left. Evenings are a work-free zone! I love to cook, and relax with reading, podcasts or TV.

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: I’ve recently wrapped up a couple of graphic novels for Oni Press- one is the second book in the Tea Dragon series, which is due out in September, and the other is yet to be announced but was for much younger readers, which was a ton of fun! I also took a few months off at the end of last year to decompress and spend some time experimenting and growing my skills in a new direction.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: I live by the Pomodoro technique- working for 25 minutes, then taking a break for 5. I notice a huge difference in my focus, productivity, and mental and physical health when I get up to stretch, drink water, and bother my cat frequently.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: At the moment, I’m looking for a lot of inspiration and motivation outside of the art world. I love hearing stories of older people who have lived active, engaged and meaningful lives through their daily activities, connection with nature, and community.

Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: New Zealand webcomic authors are making incredible things at the moment! Rachel Smythe, Jem Yoshioka, Chelsey Furedi and Kale de Wild just to name a few.

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: I’m very lucky in that I’ve already pretty much made it- The Tea Dragon series is exactly what I wanted it to be, with so much wonderful support from my publisher and readers. I’ve never needed to compromise anything, and it’s full of the elements and themes I love most. That said, I’d love to work on something collaborative in future!

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: I’m really excited to design some dragons with our younger attendees! Kids always come up with such wonderful ideas, and it’s really fun to be able to bring them to life with them.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: Howl from the Ghibli movie version of Howl’s Moving Castle.

You can find Kay online in the following places:
Twitter

5 minutes with Giselle Clarkson — from ComicFest 2019

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.”)

You can find Giselle online in the following places:
Twitter: @giselledraws
Facebook: GiselleDraws
Blog/Website: www.giselledraws.com

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 Giselle Clarkson: 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.

Giselle Clarkson is a Wellington-based freelance illustrator who is also interested in tramping, growing veggies and making music. She currently has a monthly comic being published by NZ website The Sapling, often featuring the influence of books on her as an illustrator. At ComicFest Giselle will be on our A Wellington View – Local Cartoonists panel along with Jem Yoshioka and Sally Bollinger, moderated by Robyn Kenealy. Come along to get an idea what it’s like to be making comics in NZ’s capital city!

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: There were lots of comics/cartoons on the bookshelves when I was a kid – Tintin, Asterix, The Far Side, Raymond Briggs, Spike Milligan, Rupert Bear – all things that had belonged to my parents or older brother. I loved reading them but it never occurred to me that they were a thing I could ask for more of.
It wasn’t until I was 16 or 17 and discovered webcomics that I realised what the possibilities were! But after that it was years before I started really making and sharing comics myself.

Comic by Giselle Clarkson
Comic by Giselle Clarkson

Q: What is your average day like?
A: I work freelance from home – I wake up early, make coffee, drink it at my desk, fluff around online for at least an hour and then start work. I like to take my breaks in the garden – poking around for interesting insects or something edible.
I love working in my pyjamas and having a flexible schedule, but I’m often working late at night and weekends don’t really exist. Going into town for a meeting is pretty exciting for me!

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: I visited the New Zealand subantarctic islands last year and I’ve been making science communication comics about all the amazing stuff down there and the environmental threats the region is facing. Travelling on a ship for 19 days with a fairly small group of people was a pretty incredible – in a positive way! – experience in itself so I plan on telling a story about that too.
I’m also doing a regular comic about picture books for kids’ literature website The Sapling. Coming up with a good comic idea every month is not easy – I am in total awe of people who do it every day, or every week!

An image from Giselle's work on The Sapling
An image from Giselle’s work on The Sapling

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: When I’m writing or plotting I need silence, or I have a fan going to make white noise. When I’m tidying up my line art or colouring it in I go into a sort of auto-pilot mode and if I don’t have something interesting to listen to and keep my mind focused I go absolutely spare with distraction. So I use podcasts to fix that problem.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: The NZ outdoors and the need to protect what we’ve got here. I’m really in love with all our wild places.
And people I meet, there are so many genuinely brilliant characters out there.

Comic by Giselle Clarkson
Comic by Giselle Clarkson

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: Tagging along on scientific expeditions to remote places, drawing and writing about the environment, the science, the people and my experiences.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: Hilda from Luke Pearson’s comic series! She always looks comfortable.

You can see more of Giselle’s work online at www.giselledraws.com and on Twitter at @giselledraws

5 minutes with Sam Orchard: 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.

Sam Orchard is the author of the popular webcomic Rooster Tails. At ComicFest, Sam will be on our panel Should we all be writing political comics? along with Toby Morris and Sarah Laing, and moderated by the National Library’s Hannah Benbow. Check out Sam’s A’s to our Q’s below:

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: I’ve always loved drawing – as a kid it was always a really nice way to get lost in my thoughts and feelings and imagination… it still is, actually.
I’ve always loved words and pictures together – kids books by Babette Cole, and all of the Where’s Wally books would keep me entertained for hours. But it wasn’t until I was coming out in my late teens , when I went in search of representations of queer characters, that the power of comics (and in particular webcomics) became apparent. I was trying to find people like me, people I could relate to, and people who made me feel less alone. Up until that point I had been a total TV and Film nerd, but all the representations of of LGBT folk, at that time, were all pretty negative. But on the internet I found amazing queer webcomics by people like Paige Braddock, Kris Dresen and Erika Moen, and it opened up a whole new world for me.

Comic by Sam Orchard
Comic by Sam Orchard

Q: What is your average day like?
A: Well, I work part-time as a comic artist, and part-time as a personal assistant for a guy who runs an organisation in the accessibility/disability sector. So in any given week I’ll be balancing working for my boss, and finding time to draw. Both roles work really well for me, I often get to be part of really interesting conversations in my PA role, and that helps me to think about topics I want to draw comics about. There’s a nice balance of a quite social PA role, and my solitary drawing role.

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: At the moment my big project is finishing up a children’s book I’ve co-authored, which is being published by Flamingo Rampant (http://www.flamingorampant.com) . Flamingo Rampant is an independent book publisher who published feminist, racially diverse, LGBTQ-positive books , and I’m so excited to be working with them! Our book is a counting book about a little kid’s birthday party – it also celebrates different family structures, queerness, transness, polyamory, disability, and I’m just super proud of it.

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: I need a lot of noise when I work. So when I sit down for the day to draw I pop my headphones on and listen to podcasts or tv. Shortland Street is my fave to draw to – I found a youtube channel that had put up episodes from around 2003 so I’ve been making my way through the last 15 years of it. It’s perfect because the plot is fairly slow (which means it’s ok when I don’t pay attention, because they’ll repeat it), it’s pretty light (so I don’t get pulled in to the emotions) and it’s just a great show so it keeps me entertained.

Comic by Sam Orchard
Comic by Sam Orchard

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: Ohhhh, I don’t think I have just one – I’m really influenced by Alison Bechdel, she’s been exploring queerness and queer communities for decades, and her stuff is amazing, complex, and dykes to watch out for is eerily relevant to today. Other big comic inspirations for me are Erika Moen, Lynda Barry, Lucy Knisley, and I’m really loving Blue Deliquanti’s stuff at the moment too. But I get inspired by a whole host of other people too – people like Janet Mock and Laverne Cox, but also the queer and trans activist scene in New Zealand too – people in No Pride in Prison’s, the Gender Minorities organisation, the list goes on.

Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: I’ve been a big fan of Robyn Keneally and CocoSolid for years, when I stalked them both on myspace.

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: A few years ago I published the first three issues of my comic series ‘Family Portraits’ which is a series of short stories about queer and trans people in New Zealand. I’ve got the stories for the next book but I just haven’t had time to sit down and draw them. So that’s my dream right now – to get time and space to crack that next issue.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: Steven Universe – he is my fave.

You can read Rooster Tails online here: http://www.roostertailscomic.com/
Find Sam on Twitter at @Sam_Orchard

5 minutes with Dylan Horrocks: Comicfest feature

ComicFest is back for 2017! This 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.

Syndetics book coverNext in our Q&A line-up is Dylan Horrocks, author of several graphic novels, his latest titled Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen. At Comicfest, Dylan will be in conversation with Sarah Laing in the Creating Graphic Novels panel from 12-1pm. Dylan is also hosting a critique session for comic creators which we’re sure will be absolutely invaluable. Spots for this workshop have already been filled, but you can email us at enquiries@wcl.govt.nz if you would like to be added to the workshop waitlist.

Q: What first got you interested in comics?
A: Apparently my first words were “Donald Duck,” so whatever it was, it happened so early I can’t remember! There were always good comics around the house, because my father has been into comics since he was a kid. So I grew up on a steady diet of Tintin, Asterix, Robert Crumb, Carl Barks, and many more. My parents were always happy to feed me more comics…

Q: What is your average day like?
A: It depends on the day, and what’s on my plate at the time. If I’m writing, I divide my time between the computer and a notebook; when I get stuck, I change media (and sometimes location), because sometimes that helps shift my state of mind and get going again. If I’m drawing, I’m usually sitting at my drawing board in the studio, lost in the process. I love the way drawing is a physical craft: you’re making something with your hands, out of paper, pencil and ink. There’s nothing like sitting back at the end of the day and looking at a page you made yourself.

From "Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen"
From “Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen”

Q: Can you tell us about a current or recent project you’ve worked on?
A: The most recent thing I’ve published is a short mini-comic called ‘Faultlines,’ which I drew in a single day in my sketchbook, a week after the November earthquake (and floods, tornadoes, Trump winning the US election, etc!). It’s about living with uncertainty in a fragile, damaged world, and it felt good to get it onto paper.

From "Faultlines"
From “Faultlines”

Q: Do you have any traditions or rituals that help you when you get to work?
A: No, and I’m open to suggestions. Sometimes it’s difficult to get started…. I have two quotes on the wall over my desk that help. One is a sticker I was given at Chromacon in Auckland last month: “We’re not here to be perfect.” The other is from a wonderful American cartoonist called Leela Corman: “We can be feral. We are the wilderness. We don’t need to go inside.” Both are excellent advice for artists and writers of all kinds.

Q: Who/what is your biggest influence or inspiration?
A: There are so many, and they wax and wane in importance over time. But some who have stayed significant for decades are Hergé (Tintin), Robert Crumb, Tove Jansson (the Moomins), Charles Schulz (Peanuts), and my family.

Q: What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
A: An all-time favourite – and a big influence – is Barry Linton. There’s a big book of his comics (from the early 1970s to the present) coming out soon from Pikitia Press, and I can’t recommend it enough. Also, Bob Kerr (Terry & the Gunrunners), who I’m lucky enough to share a studio with. Tim Bollinger, a great Wellington cartoonist. Sophie MacMillan, Timothy Kidd, Karl Wills, Adam Jamieson, and so many more. There are too many great New Zealand cartoonists to mention them all! Ant Sang, Sarah Laing, Toby Morris, Cornelius Stone, Roger Langridge – all these people have inspired and influenced me at various times.

To The I Land - An appreciation of Barry Linton
To The I Land – An appreciation of Barry Linton

Q: What is your dream comic project?
A: The ones I’m working on at the moment. That’s why I’m working on them!

Q: What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
A: What I’m most looking forward to is seeing other people’s work at the workshop.

Q: If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
A: Sam Zabel – because all I’d have to do is take off my glasses.

Check out Dylan’s website at http://hicksvillecomics.com/
Dylan is on Twitter too – find him @dylanhorrocks