Showing posts with label damon keen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label damon keen. Show all posts

Friday, January 31, 2014

James Squires Interview

A year or two back cartoonist/Faction editor Damon Keen turned me onto James Squires' sublime webcomic Moonbeard.  I really like James' absurd wonky and sometimes heartfelt humour which is a special thing amongst the glut of humourless parody crowding for our attention on the Internet.


I asked James a few questions about his work via email.

What got you interested in comics? What got you into making comics?

As a young impressionable child I was gifted some boxes of old comic strip collections, mostly Garfield, Footrot flats, Bogor, Tintin. I assume it was this that got me into drawing comics in the first place because all my very first comics were blatant rip-offs of the above, but eventually I started doing my own thing, more or less. I think it was a couple of old Michael Leunig books—his first two collections—that first got me interested in what a comic could be, because up until that point I'd only really seen newspaper comics and Tintin. I drew a pretty bleak strip Fishing for Orphans for the Canterbury Uni mag Canta for a few years while studying, and have been making silly comics ever since.

Were there other cartoonists contributing to Canta during your study years? Were you drawing a weekly strip?
There were a few during the years I drew for Canta. When I started my comics were messy ink things with a muddy mix of ink wash and watercolour crayon, and I totally forget his name but Canta already had a pretty polished cartoonist to make me look bad (I was). Nearer the end I was joined by surreal cartoonist Michael Leung (not to be confused with Leunig) who had a great unique style. Fun times.

Fishing for Orphans was more or less weekly, usually drawn at 3am the night it was due. I think the comic received slightly more fan mail than hate mail, so there's that.

Why do you make so many comics about cats?
There's not that many, but the ones that feature cats seem to do much better online than any others (turns out The Internet likes cats). I have a cat called Ted Danson who often hangs out around my desk while I'm drawing, so that probably contributes.

Are you involved with a comics community or scene in Wellington?
No but I should be. I bet it's wonderful.

What is the most enjoyable part of the comic making process for you?
I also really enjoy the initial concept phase, when you don't know an idea is terrible yet and you're approaching it with a giddy enthusiasm before you realize it has nowhere to go (unless it does).

I also enjoy playing around with structure and pacing. The comics I make are at their core single page "gag" comics, except usually without gags to speak of, so it's important I (try to) nail the pacing and beats to sell a concept and make a short comic feel complete. I'll often finish a comic ending with a gag or a punch and be left wanting, so I like to take from the beginning and add to the end until I'm left with sort of an anti-comic: something that starts with a punch, or a twist, and then dwells on what happens afterwards (or what doesn't). When I say "play around with structure and pacing" I may mean "take a half-baked concept and butcher it until I think it reads well."

What are some comics you've enjoyed reading recently?
My New Year's resolution was to read more comics, so I'm in the process of stocking up and very open to recommendations. Have been re-reading through Jason's work, which I am in love with: The Living and the Dead, Werewolves of Montpellier. Jim Woodring is amazing. Regularly reading and enjoying a whole lot of webcomics, off the top of my head: Matt Bors, Tom Gauld, Extra Ordinary, Anne Emond. Moth City. Am also regularly reading and enjoying Wellingtonian Die Popular's stuff and Aucklandite Eddie Monotone's work totally deserves more fans. I read far too many online comics because my bookcase is all the way over there.

Any plans to put Moonbeard in print?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Paper Trail

The First 17% of Suburban Archaeology (after Anna Krien) by Mandy Ord.

The National Library in Wellington is hosting Cartoon Colloquium: Looking at women and cartoons today on Friday 15 Nov with a variety of speakers and topics in discussion. More details here.

Sharon Murdoch, "Are you looking at me?", 13 April 2013. Ref: DCDL-0024808.

Adrian Kinnaird and various cartoonists will be at signing events in Wellington tomorrow and Auckland next week. More details here.

Chris Anthony Diaz asks Simon Hanselmann 5 questions.

Caitlin Major and Matt Hoddy at SPX 2013

Every once and a while you'll get treated to a new page at Tiny Kitten Teeth. The latest treat.

The Comic Spot October review episode includes a review of James Davidson's Moa comics.

There's a lot of nice things to look at on Marijka Gooding's tumblr.

Hannah Valmadre profiles Five Female Street Artists to Watch in Melbourne.

 Dave Mahler writes about Katie Parrish.

Aru Singh on Arkham City Comics and Chromacon Event.

Sarah Dunn interviews Damon Keen for the Nelson Mail.

Ah heck, here's a bunch of 'Famous Yank Comics', Australian reprint editions collecting various American newspaper strips from the 1950's.

Paper Trail masthead courtesy of Toby Morris.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Faction Comics TV Spot

A brief feature from TV 3 news on the recent New Zealand comics anthology Faction Comics featuring Faction people Amie Maxwell, Damon Keen and Artists Ralphi and Ant Sang.

Order print copies and free digital version of the first Faction Comics anthology here.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Faction Comics - Damon Keen

Recently formed New Zealand comics publisher Faction Comics released their first anthology this week with a 72 page volume in print via a successful crowd-funding campaign earlier this year. A mixture of veteran and younger cartoonists fill the pages with a free digital version of the comic available from Faction. Faction anthology editor Damon Keen answered a few questions via email on Nov 28 about Faction's first comic.

Was using crowdfunding always a part of faction's publishing strategy?

Only in a distant way - it was always in the mix, but I didn't really consider it seriously at first. For one thing, Kickstarter was off limits, and I wasn't sure how effective PledgeMe was, so I had to do a bit of investigation.

Originally we went for funding from Creative NZ, but after our application was declined we had to look at other options - and economically it's not a great time to be looking for any kind of corporate sponsorship, so crowd funding started to look more and more attractive. 

In the end it worked out beautifully for us, because with PledgeMe funding we're not constrained in any way by the commitments or compromises that can come with external funding. 

What format will the physical copies of Faction be?

Perfect bound, 72 page graphic novel style book - offset printed.
It was important to Amie and I that the first issue looked great! Future issues will be saddle stitched and shorter. 

How will the Faction anthology be distributed?

First and foremost the main reason for Faction's existence is building up a readership base - so we will be giving the digital version away free if you subscribe on our website. We'll make it available as a pdf and cbr - for reading on tablets - and I'm also investigating other ways of making it available online. There's quite a few options these days, which is awesome.

We always saw the hard copy as a kind of marketing tool first and foremost - as a way to get people to subscribe online (and hence build up our database of readers!), so we haven't thought as hard about how we'll distribute the physical version. We'll be sending out review copies and getting it into the comic shops around NZ (and libraries), and also making it available to buy via our website. But this is a big experiment on our part, so we're still open to suggestions to be honest.

Is their a pre-existing anthology that you would compare Faction to in terms of tone?

That's a tricky one! My inspiration comes from Strips originally, which I loved back when I was 10 or 11 - and also Heavy Metal back in the 70s and 80s. Those were both in mind when we started thinking about creating Faction, but in terms of tone - and something more 21st century! - Best American Comics comes to mind - except shorter and in full colour!

Was there much editorial work undertaken with receiving open submissions?

From the beginning I wanted this to be an edited anthology. Some of my own money going into it, so I don't see any reason why I should print anything I don't feel comfortable with!

Having said that I'm not aware of any NZ anthologies that have been as editorially focused (if that's the right way of putting it!) as we have been on Faction. Most of the NZ anthologies I've seen seem to have a pretty open door policy on submissions - which is great by the way! But as a creative myself I knew I only wanted to include work by people who had significant experience with the craft of comic writing, who were proven, I guess - and were operating at a pretty high level. 

So, yes, we have had to turn away some artists - including some really promising ones - especially towards the end, after the competition became a bit more intense. I hope they keep at it though, there's a lot of talent out there.

Did you encounter any particular difficulties in launching Faction Comics?

Financing is the biggest issue - and nothing else that major; just niggling stuff, like worrying about hurting people's feelings and booking gallery spaces and so on! I was really concerned about standing on people's toes and blundering into the NZ comic scene and being a dick about it, but everyone has been really welcoming and friendly, so overall it's been a terrific experience.

Do you have another project lined up after this anthology is released?

I've got another comic I want to start drawing - it's longer and more complex than the one I included in Faction - which was actually a kind of practice run for it. But other than that, I just need to start thinking about the next issue of Faction, as well as planning the now belated launch exhibition, and other marketing strategies for promoting the anthology. 

It's really annoying to have to do my (paying) day job on top of this fun stuff actually!

More info at the Faction website here

 Faction People Amie Maxwell and Damon Keen

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

2012 in Review: Damon Keen

What have been your personal cartooning/comics highlights of 2012?

Helping to get New Zealand's first crowd funded comic, Faction, out into the world! 

Who are some of the comics creators that you've discovered and enjoyed for the first time in 2012?

I made some great discoveries this year, so that's a tricky one. Finally got around to reading Charles Burns - and in particular Black Hole. It's always great when the storytelling and art come together so seamlessly, and Black Hole is beautiful and disturbing. I love stories that manage to include the surreal and dreamlike, but without becoming self indulgent and nonsensical, and Black Hole pulls it off brilliantly. Loving his new stuff too - the Hive is great.

Also finally read Dharma Punks by Ant Sang! Embarrassingly late I know - but well worth the wait. I think that it may just have catapulted straight to the top of my all-time favourite NZ comics. 

What is something non-comics that you have enjoyed in 2012?

Freaking LOVED the Mars landing by the Curiosity rover in August. We watched it live on NASA TV. It's what I imagine sport fans must feel like when their team wins something. What a bloody awesome achievement, One of those rare moments it felt good to be a human being. The Higgs Boson discovery was also mind-numbingly awesome. 

Have you implemented any significant changes to your working methods this year?

It's my first year of being freelance - so I've had to do lots of boring changes - like figuring out how to do my taxes and invoicing. Blergh. More interestingly, my drawing and comic creation has gone nearly entirely digital, from sketches through to the final work - a fun experiment, but I think the results have been promising so far. I still thumbnail the story outline first in a notebook though, so not quite there yet!

What are you looking forward to in 2013?

Rocket boots. Better instant meals. Otherwise, continuing to grow Faction, I think. It's an exciting challenge. Nationally, it'd be nice to see the disgusting government we've got crash and burn, and globally, it'd be good to see some action on climate change. Anything. Anything at all. But I'm not holding my breath.