Showing posts with label Funtime comics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Funtime comics. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Nothing Fits - Mary Tamblyn Interview

 'A group of unlikely heroes: a girl, a clone and an undead mummy attempt to make sense of the strange world they've been thrown into.'

Christchurch comic makers Mary Tamblyn and Alex McCrone have been working on their comic Nothing Fits for two and a half years and recently launched a Kickstarter to raise funds for a print edition. As of this writing Nothing Fits is about halfway to their goal of $5000 with 18 days to go. Serialised online a page at a time since 2011, Nothing Fits tells a fantasy tale of several characters who intercross in a strange world of humans, clones, mummies and anthropomorphic characters. Nothing Fits is an ambitious and impressive first comics project for a couple of young creators please consider having a look at Nothing Fits online and supporting their Kickstarter.

I asked Mary Tamblyn a few questions about Nothing Fits and making comics.
How did you meet Nothing Fits co-writer/artist Alex McCrone?
We met at high school, in Year 12 painting. We didn't talk very much then, Alex is quite reserved, but we both had troubles with the teacher and her opinions on the directions we needed to take with out paintings. Luckily in Year 13, we both had a better painting teacher - and Alex and I were in Sculpture and Print-Making together. There was a lot of free time in Sculpture, and she asked me if I had any original characters (as she had overheard me once talking about them, I think) and I drew them out for her and told her about them. I had tried to start the comic on my own, but I wasn't very good at drawing. Alex sent me a lovely Christmas card that year, saying how she couldn't wait to start Fine Arts at University with me and that we were going to make really cool stuff. She drew some of my characters on the card, and in that instant, I knew we must do a comic together. She had been thinking the same thing, so we quickly started work. I came over to her house for the first time and we just sat in her room and I just spilled all of the information about my characters and the setting to her and she drew all of the characters out, making tweaks and slight re-designs (especially for the hair) and we got to work on the first 3 pages!

Did you have goals in mind when you started Nothing Fits? Has any of the web material existed in print prior to now?
The goals are really to have a printed product, something we can both be proud of and work to do better things in the future. For a first project, we are aiming high, so that when it's finished, and we go on to make other work, that we'll have to work to be better than Nothing Fits. We want to push ourselves to do our best and for a first project, we are pretty proud of our efforts. It's been going online since we started making pages, and without it being online I don't think we would have come this far. The support of the readers and the community on ComicFury (our webcomic host), really helped us keep up the momentum of the story. Actually I really need to post the rest of the pages soon... My laptop is broken so I will have to wait till it's fixed/I get a new one to finish those pages though... But yes, it's always been online. Some people have warned us against doing that, because they feel anyone could steal it from us? But, in the two years it's been up, it hasn't been stolen, and we have all the original hard copies of the pages, so we can prove that it's ours if someone stole it. 

Is there much of a comics scene or community in Christchurch? I don't hear a lot about goings on down that way, I know Funtime Comics used to have more of a national presence although I guess people have had other things on their minds after the earthquakes.
 There really isn't a lot, we go to Funtime every month, but it isn't a huge group of people. There's always Armageddon Expo, but that's not really New Zealand comic focused, so there has never really been much of a comic presence while we've been doing our comic, which is why we turned to being a webcomic. To be honest, I don't know how big the comic scene was here in Christchurch before the Earthquake? I was only 16 when the first September one hit, and 17 in the February one, I hadn't noticed much of a comic scene before those times, but that may have been due to my age. I only remember there being one comic shop in the city though, Comics Compulsion. 

Post-earthquakes have led to a lot of new and innovative creative projects in Christchurch though, the gap filler project, where different things would be exhibited, or preformed on the gaps that were left after buildings were taken down. A lot of art from the people of this city, decorating the fences in the central city and putting flowers in road cones. I think that it's just going to get more exciting here art-wise, the art scene here might not be as strong as other cities, but the main players here work really hard and produce great works for the community as a whole to enjoy, and they've made living in a broken city a lot more pleasant, they've given a lot of hope for Christchurch's future. I hope the comic scene follows suit, but who knows.

How has your collaboration evolved over the last three years? How do you approach creating comics together now?
We've worked really well together, Alex can pretty much read my mind when it comes to what I want things to look or feel like. It helps that we've had many sessions of staying up far too late or going off to the corner at parties and just talking and talking about what we wanted to achieve story-wise. She's really forgiving with me, especially because for a long time we didn't know how it was going to end. For most of the time we worked on the comic, I was writing only a few scenes before Alex was drawing them, which didn't help with seeing how long or far this project would go, but last year, 2013, in about October or November, I finished the script and just left Alex to finish - because it was getting to a point where it was easier for her to sketch all the pages, then ink them all, then colour all in one go, and I was being a slack writer. It's amazing she managed to work with me, I'm not the easiest person to deal with on creative ventures! I think after this, we won't work together on a comic for a while, maybe again in a few years we'd do a short story or a picture book together. We will do exhibitions together though, we did one last year called 'Ghost Hotel', which was her prints and a sculpture I did, we can't wait to do another one this year, just working off each other's artistic vibe. Her works give me a lot of inspiration. 

Photos from Ghost Hotel Exhibition

Are either of you interested in pursuing comics as a career? Do you have other artistic aspirations?
Oh man, that would be amazing, but it's near impossible to achieve that. Making comics or doing illustrating or writing would be a dream job for either of us - but it's such a hard thing to break into. The art scene may be easier, if we can keep doing exhibitions and stuff through arts school, but I don't know about selling things and making a career out of it. Alex would totally be able to make money out of her prints, they are stunning and so very detailed. We're planning on selling some stuff at some markets this year to get some money, her selling her prints and me making wee ceramic creations to sell. It's good to have aspirations, but I think Alex and I are a bit too cynical and realistic, we have high hopes, but we don't really go into them - like we don't talk much about "oh, what about a Nothing Fits tv show or movie or video game?", just because we know that would never happen, and we prefer to have realistic goals, getting printed, getting the story out there, sharing our work - those are things within our abilities and can actually control. Also it's great to have something that is done that we can show to potential future publishers when we have other work we want printed, it's a good thing to have on our artistic resume really. 

Building on top of and doing better each time we do a new project, is the best way to have a good stable foundation for achieving great things. Rushing into things and making grand plans isn't helpful, it makes you not appreciate the work you are doing now as much, the work you are doing now becomes just a means to and end. You should always think of your work as the end, which means being as passionate and dedicated to it as any other work you do.

Images © 2014 Mary Tamblyn and Alex McCrone

Friday, May 10, 2013

Debra Jane Boyask 11 April 1966 – 23 April 2013

[Editor's note: The following remembrance of Debra Boyask was written by Darren Schroeder.]
Debra Jane Boyask aka Teacake aka Pelms, aka Bad Astronaut  
11 April 1966 – 23 April 2013
Born in Chelmsford England, Debra and her family moved to New Zealand in 1974 where they settled in Auckland. Brought up with the occasional UK kids comic It was while training to be a hairdresser in the mid 8o's she developed an interest in comics when she began reading the subversive British kids comic Oink.
She moved between Christchurch and Auckland in the late 1980s, and at one time was on the fringes of the Flying Nun music scene, where her musical skills came in handy tuning guitars for various male musos who needed her help with that sort of practical detail but wouldn't let a girl play in their bands.
When a group of us at the University of Canterbury got involved in setting up a small press comic fanzine/anthology Debra helped out by picking the title: "Funtime Comics". She designed the masthead, submitting comics for the anthology under the pen name Pelms as well, including her ongoing tales of Spunky, Punky, and Monkey. Her humorous approach to storytelling and the medium itself was questioning of the "grim and gritty" comic clich├ęs that we, a bunch of geeky male comic fans, held dear in the late 1990s.
Debra completed a BEd at the University of Canterbury in 1991, then BEd Hons 1992. After university she got work at the Education Training & Support Agency as an educational evaluator. As her interest in self published comics grew and she started publishing her own small press comics titles she travelled with me to the 1999 Small Press Expo in USA, and we took a side trip to take part in a comics jam held in the Cameron building, Toronto. Inspired by the work of creators such as Ariel Schrag, James Kochalka, and Joe Matt she began to produce comics with more autobiographical themes and narratives.
Wanting to get more time to draw comics she helped establish the tradition of Midwinter comic retreats in 2001: a weekend away where a group of comic artists drew comics without too many other distractions apart from food and walks in the country.
After several years working with as an educational developer at Otago Medical School in Christchurch she began looking for jobs in England, finding work at the University of the West of England as an educational developer. She had particular interests in equality and diversity issues in education, and became involved in support groups and message boards for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual communities in Bristol and the wider UK.
She continued to send Funtime the occasional submission while being involved in a variety Bristol's creative communities, taking part in Stitch and Bitch workshops, ladyfest, the Here Shop/Galley, rambling, and much more besides. She also made wider contacts within The Caption small press comics festival in Oxford, submitting material to the Girly Comics anthology, and introducing UK comic creators to the delights of midwinter comic retreats.
Debra took funny comics very seriously; taking great pleasure in reading them, making them, hanging with folks who did the same, and hanging out with people as they made and read comics while they ate the food she made for them. She was also very supportive of other folks giving comic creating a go.
In her final days her huge store of inner strength was much in evidence as she dealt calmly with the cancer that claimed her life, but never took her dignity. I have no doubt that she'll be the subject of a number of autobiographical comics documenting the impact she had on so many peoples' lives, and would have heartily approved of any bum jokes that folks decide to include.

Debra Boyask on the NZ Comics wiki.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Darren Schroeder Interview

Darren Schroeder served fourteen years as the editor of Christchurch comic collective Funtime Comics, New Zealand's longest running comic collective. As well as creating his own series of mini comics, Mopy, Schroeder edited the small press section of Comics Bulletin for 7 years (2000-07) and contributed the occasional interview and review of mainstream comics. Schroeder has also written articles on New Zealand comics for Comic Edge, Comic Quarterly, Stripschrift, Comic Australia and various other magazines and web sites. Since the late twentieth century Schroeder has also maintained fan sites for the comic characters Man-Thing, Jonah Hex, and comic creator Keith Giffen.

Find Darren Schroeder online here.

 Darren Schroeder

The following interview was conducted via email May 2012

What were the first comics you took an interest in?

From a young age I had a box of comics by my bed which I used to read over and over and over. They were mostly Disney including Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge and even a Super Goof. There was also some other random issues of other comics: a few Australian/NZ DC reprints, Jonah Hex, Fear # 16, Unknown Soldier etc.

When did you start drawing comics and what were your initial influences?

I started working on drawing my own in the late 90s. I'd been a fan of local comics for many years but hadn't really though about drawing my own until I read a comic by John Weeks which ended with the words "You could have made this comic", and it just made me suddenly think "Okay, I'll give it a try!". Content wise the autobiographical work of folks like Ariel Shcrag, Harvey Pekar, and Amber Carvan appealed to me so I tried that approach, and the humour of Brad Yung's "Stay As You Are" had a strong impact.

Who was involved with the creation of Funtime Comics?

Funtime Comics grew out of Comic Soc, a club at the University of Canterbury established by Jason Brice. The club's aim was to promote the comics form by providing a meeting place for folk of like minds, and publishing a comic/zine was part of Jason's initial plan. He got a lot of folks involved, editing the first issue of Funtime Comics with university friends Bean McGregor and Nigel Campbell, with the name Funtime coming from a competition for the title and cover banner which was won by Debra Boyask.

Have there been any other South island collectives or groups of cartoonist's?

Dunedin had a few well before Funtime - I get the impression Razor, Jesus on a Stick, Treacle, and Umph all came out of a collective approach. In Christchurch there was also the NZ Cartoonist Collective with their own anthology.

What lead you to taking the role of editor for Funtime Comics Presents?

It became available after issue 4 had a troubled production. I'd done some editing of a small zine for another club so said I'd give the job a go.

What sustained you serving fourteen years as Funtimes Comics Presents editor?

The look on the faces of the contributors when they saw the comics arrive fresh from the printers.

Were any comics rejected for publication during your time as Funtimes editor?

No and yes: Everyone who submitted work had something published, but if someone sent us lots of pages I'd select from it what I thought best represented their style, and keep the other material for possible future use. When I stopped being editor there was a large file of stuff for the next editor (Isaac Freeman) to work with.

What did your role as Funtimes editor entail?

I'd collate the contributions for each issue from the work that had been submitted, produce any text pages, commission cover artwork, decide on a subtitle for each issue, deal with the printers, and distribute the finished product to contributors, subscribers and comic shops. As the only "official" of the group I also took on a range of administrative tasks like treasurer and buyer of animal biscuits for the monthly comic workshops.

Dylan Horrocks stocks up on animal biscuits

Who are some of your personal favourite New Zealand Cartoonists?

Tim Cornelius's "Colonel Void & Bisbay the Axolotl" in The New Zealand Comic Gazette is a kiwi classic.

G.C.R. - I loved Grace's autobiographical Bip Bip.

Brent Willis - lots of folk think they're funny, Brent's stuff is always hilarious, and he is so prolific.

Indira Neville - Her comics were great fun

What is the appeal for you of Jonah Hex?

Michael Fleisher wrote great little morality tales, and managed to Jonah a rather tragic figure: alone, despised by most people, unable to escape violence, and even coming face to face with his own stuffed corpse. The future Hex stuff was an odd idea but it worked, and Giffen's artwork is some of my favourite comic artwork - such an extreme, almost expressionistic way of telling a story that used intense closeups on details instead of showing the action.

While you were in Christchurch where were the best places to get comics?

Comics Compulsion did well for mainstream material and were always supportive of local comics. The second hand shops were surprisingly useful for older US stuff back in the 90s as well.

What prompted your move to England?

The woman I love got a job here so I came along with her.

Are you currently doing anything in comics creatively or reading?

I haven't drawn any comics for about 5 years, but recently I've been asked to guest edit a new local comic/zine anthology Quixotic Press.

I'm also looking into running comic creating workshops for schools.

Reading wise I get Jonah Hex, anything that Keith Giffen draws, and the occasional random small press comic.

All images copyright 2012 Darren Schroeder, Funtime Comics