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/

What’s on at ComicFest 2017?

Love comics? Come along to ComicFest 2017, Saturday May the 6th at the Central library.

Comics go to school

Sponsored by The Ministry of Education

Over the course of its hundred-year history, the School Journal has included work from New Zealand’s greatest authors and illustrators. In recent times, this has included comics from the likes of Dylan Horrocks, Ant Sang, and Andrew Burdan. Visit the Central Library to view a few highlights, new and old, in the lead up to ComicFest.

Comic drawing competition

On Free Comic Book Day, come to the library and draw a comic story using just 4 panels and you could win an armful of comics! Feel free to come to Sarah Laing’s character creation workshop on Saturday morning for inspiration. Entry forms available from Central Library on the day. All ages and drawing levels welcome.

9.30am onwards | Free Comic Book Day

Sponsored by GRAPHIC comics

Grab some free comics from us and chat comics with our librarians at the Central Library!

Comics from all different publishers and for all age ranges are included in the selections, so there will be something for everyone. Thanks to Graphic for providing us with all the awesome free comics!

10am–11.00 | Workshop: Comics character development workshop with Sarah Laing

Mezzanine Meeting Room, Central Library

Sponsored by Wellington City Libraries

Who’s going to star in your comic? A superhero, a cybernaut, a talking sausage or a kid like you? Come to this comics workshop and we’ll work on your character, from its backstory to the way it’s drawn. Bring your own pens and pencils, and we’ll have mountains of paper. Work on different expressions and poses, experimenting with line weight and form. We’ll put them in some tricky situations to see how their story plays out in panels. All drawing levels welcome!

10.30am–11.30am | National Library: From where we started: Reading New Zealand’s comic history

Session held at the Alexander Turnbull Library to enable access to heritage collections

Sponsored by Alexander Turnbull library

The Alexander Turnbull Library collects New Zealand’s documentary heritage and is home to a comic treasure trove. From early newspaper strips and children’s annuals, through to contemporary graphic novels and zines, the Library offers a window into this unique and fascinating part of our history.

Join research librarian Hannah Benbow for a hands on look at almost a century of New Zealand comics.

11am-12noon | Thunderbirds Are Go: Re-imagining the much loved brand for a new audience

Young Adult Ground Floor Area

Sponsored by Pukeko Pictures

Ben Milsom, Production Designer and Episodic Director for Thunderbirds Are Go takes you through the process of re-imagining the 1960’s classic for a new generation. Ben will guide you through the unique production process of this multi-media (CGI animation with live action miniature sets) series paying tribute to the legacy of model locations from the classic series.

Ben will showcase the inspiration taken from the original series and discuss how Thunderbirds Are Go was brought to life in animation, toys and comics through slides and video and present an opportunity to have your questions answered with a Q&A section. All attendees of this presentation go in to a draw to win a family pass to the Miniatures Stage Tour: Thunderbirds Are Go from Weta Studio Tours.

12noon–1pm | Panel: Creating graphic novels with Sarah Laing and Dylan Horrocks

Young Adult Ground Floor area

Sponsored by NZ Book Council

Both Dylan Horrocks and Sarah Laing have authored popularly received and well regarded long form graphic novels including recent publications ‘Mansfield and Me,’ and ‘Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen.’
This informal, personal conversation will highlight the creative process involved in making a graphic novel, but also examine publishing, the graphic novel format and comics in New Zealand.

1pm–1.30 | Cosplay competition

Sponsored by Unity books

Dress up as your favourite character for a shot at a comic prize! There are prizes for all categories, including children, teens and adults.

1.30pm–2.30pm | Panel: A Wellington view – Local Cartoonists

Young Adult Ground Floor Area

What’s it like to be making comics in NZ? Join us for a discussion between local Wellington comic artists Jem Yoshioka, Giselle Clarkson and Sally Bollinger about their unique experiences making comics about life, nature, tradition, culture, and doing all this from Wellington.
Moderated by Robyn Kenealy.

2.30pm–3.30pm | Workshop: Taking your comics to the next level, with Dylan Horrocks

Mezzanine Meeting Room, Central Library

Sponsored by NZ Book Council

Gather up your comics (or that graphic novel plan) and bring them along to the Central library for a sit-down chat with Dylan. This is a chance to examine your ideas and process, to share ideas and techniques and to take things to the next level. Limited to 10 participants. Email at enquiries@wcl.govt.nz to book your place.

3.30pm–4.30pm | Panel: Should we all be writing political comics?

Young Adult Ground Floor area

Sponsored by Alexander Turnbull library

In spite of their subject matter, artistic responses to Trump and the current political climate have been witty, elegant, colourful and empowering. Join a group of panellists including Sam Orchard and Grant Buist to discuss how they have responded to recent events in their work, and the ongoing power of comics to satirise and protest. Panel discussion moderated by Hannah Benbow.

All events are free and unless stated open to participants of all ages.

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Comicfest 2015 roundup – the podcasts!

Sadly Comicfest is over for another year, but you can relive it right here! We mentioned in our last post that you could listen to podcasts of the panel discussions on Mixcloud, but we thought it would be good to have them all here on the blog too, for your convenience. We had a great turnout to the panels, and some exciting discussion came out of them, thanks to the input of our fantastic Comicfest guests. Have a listen below!

Thursday 30th April 2015: Cartoons to comics: Sharon Murdoch, Toby Morris, Cory Mathis, Tim Bollinger & Melinda Johnston

Friday 1st May 2015: Panel: On NZ comics with Jonathan King, Tim Gibson, Matt Emery and Tim Bollinger

Saturday 2nd May 2015: New Zealand Women’s Comics with the editors of Three Words – Rae Joyce, Indira Neville and Sarah Laing, with Matt Emery

ComicFest 2015 is over. Thanks everyone!

2015 was our second year hosting a ComicFest extravaganza at the Central Library to coincide with Free Comic Book Day on Saturday the 2nd of May. Building on our previous year’s success, there was an impressive line-up of high calibre guests for our comics workshops, discussion panels and presentations. Thank you to all who came to take part in our drawing workshops, cosplay and manga competitions, and came to listen to comic artists, curators and historians.

A big thank you for the wonderful help and sponsorship from the NZ Book Council, Alexander Turnbull Library, NZ ComicCon, Pikitia Press, Unity Books and Weta Cave; and to GRAPHIC Comics who sponsored over 1000 comics on Free Comic Book Day.

To revisit these three great days, have a browse through our ComicFest 2015 photo galleries on our Flickr page. You can also listen or re-listen to the discussions that are now available as podcasts on Mixcloud.

Here is a small selection of images from the events :

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