Showing posts with label milk shadow books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label milk shadow books. Show all posts

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Tim Molloy Interview Part One

My first encounter with Tim Molloy was at an Auckland Armageddon convention in the early 00's. In those days artist's alley was bundled into the foyer of the Aotea Centre and tables were free (!).  I was tabling next to Tim and friends and I recall them throwing things around the room and generally terrorising other cartoonists in the vicinity. The second day I saw one of the guests from Babylon 5 come over and hang with Tim and his pals. He'd been out with them the night before. Wow! I thought, these crazy comics guys hang out with tv stars!

On the last day I traded Tim my minicomic for an early Mr Unpronounceable comic which had the same disturbing surrealism of his recent work in a still developing roughly hewn art style. There's a period of New Zealand cartoonists from the
self-publishing boom of the '90's and early '00's that have kept their hand in the comics game,  of which I'd regard Tim and I'm glad to see his work reaching a wider audience in the last couple years through Melbourne publisher Milk Shadow Books.

What were the first comics you read? What were the comics that inspired you to make your own?
It would have been Tintin,  Asterix that kinda thing. Disney comics.. . Got into superhero stuff later,  then 2000ad Etc... Calvin and Hobbes... I was making comics very young. These probably had a hand in that...  I got into Milk and Cheese later . I started doing a mash up/ rip off of them and Calvin and Hobbes called Nasty Neville and Mr Weasel. When I discovered local stuff,  local creators I've Andy Conlan,  Wade Shotter,  Corn Stone,  knuckles,  you know,  James James... I dived right in with Poot,  Ninja Sheep,  Drunken Otter...

What are some of the influences from outside of the world of comics?
I draw inspiration from all quarters. I've actually spent a lot more time imbibing novels, audiobooks, cinema and fine art than I have spent reading comics... Earliest memory of art would be pulling a Dali book down off the shelf and having my 5 year old mind blown. I have a very active dream life also. I've always had a sense of 'the other' and explores that realm as best I can through experiments in lucid dreaming, readings into the Occult and in the past, psychedelics. Life itself is an inspiration... a turn of phrase, the way light might be streaming in through a strange window, a half glimpsed person down an evening alley... It's all good!

How do you find balance between working in various art mediums? to the best of my knowledge you create comics, paintings, sculpture and music, does any one art form take precedent?
I kind of tend to gravitate towards one thing or another at any given time. I'm just coming out of a heavy comics period (1 or 2 pages a day) and going into some traditional art territory. Whatever is most important at any given time is what I tend to concentrate on. Working out whats important can be the hard thing sometimes... In the end though, comics will probably win out. Here's hoping I never have to make a choice to stick to any one thing! Music is serious fun, and the only team sport I have ever taken part in. My band Plague Doctor explores a lot of the same themes I do in my work, but you can dance to it.

What led to you moving from New Zealand to Australia?
I am an economic refugee. I came by plane though, so thankfully I was not locked up indefinitely in a detention center.

Can you talk a bit about the comics/art community in New Zealand when you lived there.
My journey started with me going to those early 'Iconz' conventions (Is that what they were called?) I ran into the likes of Willi Saunders, Wade Shotter, Andy Conlan, Karl Wills. Loved the irreverent, DIY aesthetic. When I came across the work of James James, and then met him in person, I started getting my work out there. That was 1997? My last year of High School. Those were fun days. Comics and music and art and poetry were all in the same place in those days. I imagine they still are. K Rd was where it was at.

James and I were the youngest, and (sometimes) the most badly behaved participants at 'Poetry Live' at Alleluyah in St Kevins Arcade. Hanging around at Corn Stones house, playing Sooth, reading comics, smoking Beedies and drinking the cheapest booze available. Met a whole cast of weirdos and geniuses through that scene. Everybody knew everybody else and the yearly con at the Aotea Centre (sometimes a trip down to Wellington!) was a good chance to get drunk, hassle B-Grade Science Fiction celebrities and unload some photocopied comics on an unsuspecting public. 

It was a very welcoming, vibrant space to develop and grow as an artist, but not without it's share of drama and beef! We played a lot of music, UMX (The Uncle Marty Experience) was our first band (after 'The Tools of Waste' we made a tape called 'The Resin Sessions') and we terrorized audiences with the help of Uncle Marty, our aged patriarch - may he rest in peace.

I became good friends with Ben Stenbeck, The Sheehan Brothers and some of the other people on the 'weird' end of the spectrum. Drew a lot of inspiration and encouragement there. I hung around at Auckland Uni, got a lot of comics into Craccum, drank at Shadows, smoked in Albert park, studied animation on Queen St. Cheap rent, magic mushrooms, cask wine, The Kiss And Make Up Club, St Kevin's Arcade, inky fingers, good people, late nights and lots of fun parties...

Damn! I'm getting all nostalgic now! I could sit here, peering through the mist of time all day, but these are the first impressions that leap out of the gloom at me.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Ben Hutchings Interview Part One

This is the first part of a belated series of interviews with cartoonists working with Melbourne publisher Milk Shadow Books. If I can manage it they should all run over the course of June.

I first met Ben Hutchings almost a decade ago at a convention in Wellington where the artist's alley consisted of Ben, his esteemed colleague David Blumenstein and myself with a couple friends. It wasn't a great experience for us, it turned out all the hep comic cats in Wellington were attending a New Zealand comics weekend at a pub up the road. I always like talking to Ben, we share a bunch of similar experiences with comics in our formative years and I very much admire his passion for making comics.

MATT EMERY:  What were the first comics you read? What were the comics that inspired you to make your own?

BEN HUTCHINGS: The first comics I read were all the old Whitman and Gold Key ones, who did lots of Disney and Richie Rich, Scooby Doo, all that stuff.

All the comics that used to have the ads for the X-Ray specs, and slim jims, and those bloody genuine flint arrowheads. Oh and ads for selling GRIT magazine. The ads were the most interesting things in them I think.  They made you greedy with all the illustrations of great things you could buy.  All kinds of weird food, practical jokes and toys.  America seemed to have all the coolest stuff. The comic content of all of these was amazingly mediocre. They never made me smile or laugh. I still don't know why people fondly remember Scooby Doo, or any of that Hanna Barbera shite. They were soulless!

I was inspired to make my own comics when I discovered British humour comics. They had a lot more spirit and heart, and even though they were formulaic, I get the feeling they were done by people who cared about what they were doing. They were also strange because they used a lot of British colloquialisms and cultural details like bangers and mash!

Of course I was raised from birth with Tintin comics, but for some reason you never think of them as comics do ya.  But needless to say I adored them, and still do.

EMERY: Where did you grow up? Were comics easily available to you? Where did you typically get them from?

HUTCHINGS: I was born in Moruya, NSW but grew up in Canberra. Every Saturday I'd ride my bike to the local newsagents. Aside from MAD or the Phantom, the selection of comics in newsagents was always erratic, so it was a bit exciting to see what would be there. If I ventured further out on my bike I might find a whole different bunch of titles in some more distant one!  An odd Superman, or some weird Aussie comic, or maybe they'd have three different Archie titles instead of just one. It was always exciting to stumble across a newsagent I'd never been to before, and explore the comic section.

Second hand shops were, and still can be incredible places to discover hidden piles of old, obscure titles. These days they seem to have more comics than before, too. It's fun to scour the foreign sections for cheap manga, Chinese Tintins, Italian Mickey Mouses, or some risque European hard cover comics.

Once I discovered Impact Records in the city, saving up for trips there after school with my mate became my favourite ritual. We'd blow $40 on everything and anything, and as it grew dark outside we'd sit on the floor of the bus on the way home, amongst the legs of public servants, comparing our hauls for the day.

EMERY: Who were the first comic creators that you recognised by name or style?

HUTCHINGS: I reckon I got pretty good at recognising some of the artists who worked on Batman and Justice League in the 90s. I loved Adam Hughes, coz he was really good at clean, appealing faces. They didn't look like the typical rushed sort of thing, and the stories were pretty funny. I could also pick Brian Bolland pretty quickly.  

EMERY: When did you first draw your own comics?

HUTCHINGS: I can't remember when I did my first comic - it must have been when I was 9 or 10. I was already drawing funny pictures but never in a sequential style. I think my first comic was about a legion of superheroes called "Mo".  By Year 6 I had the patience to finish comics that lasted several pages. They were nearly always parodies. I found a big pile of them the other day!  I have one called "Battyman" and I think I called the Joker "The Jokester" or something hilarious like that. It's interesting because I teach children cartooning now, and always remember myself having way more patience and care than they do, but nooooo.

EMERY: Was there a particular project where you felt you had established your own style? I always thought your work had a consistent tone of humour and I wondered if you felt there was a project where you consolidated your craft or style of drawing?

HUTCHINGS: I reckon Lesson Master was the comic that sums up my style!  Very cartoony but with lots of detail.  The people looked a little goofy but the environments and objects were usually pretty accurate. That's the style I feel most comfortable working in, and the most fun. But I never stick with one style and am always figuring out the best way to draw. For example in Iron Bard which I'm doing now, I am pushing the detail way more, and trying to find the perfect mix of funny/realistic to give to the characters.  Even the shading techniques change throughout it coz I can't decide.  On the other hand I'm posting a few webcomics now and then which have a deliberately inaccurate and loose style that I love doing. So really I don't feel like I've consolidated my style of drawing yet, even though I think most people can recognise my art when they see it.

EMERY: A while back you mentioned to me you’d like to attempt projects outside of the humour genre, have you made any progress with this idea?

Not actively working on anything serious yet unless you count rough story outlines and scene thumbnails.  It seems to get pushed back all the time.  I have a number of serious ideas which I think would be great.  Ideas like that are stressful because I know I can do funny joke comics, but I think telling a poignant story will really expose my shortcomings in that area.  They could be hamfisted, or shallow, or derivative or self indulgent or unoriginal without me knowing.  I am not afraid of being insincere with them at least.

EMERY: With Squishface you've established a long running comics studio in Melbourne,  How has having a studio and an environment with several cartoonists/artists impacted on your work? Can you talk about future plans for the studio?

HUTCHINGS: Two years now, which was my original hope. Two years means it has actually made an impression and become a 'thing' people will remember even if it dies. So now we're starting year number three. When you are around other people who are also involved in their own projects, new things always get thrown your way, and being a sort of institution, festivals and events and people always approach us. I started it because I loved having people watch us work when we did Inherent Vice, but I find the public aspect of it very different here. When it's only me here I find I like to shut the door and work away in solitude, but when there's a few of us here I like inviting people in but it's a bit more one-on-one, being a small enclosed room. I find it hard to have one day away from this studio. I always wind my way back. I have no future plans except for this place to survive, but I would like it to have more activity, and to bring in a bit more money from comic sales and art sales. That's about it!!!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Paper Trail

John Higgins on his trip to Australia late last year.

 Tom Taylor, John Higgins, Colin Wilson (Yoinked from John's site.)
Archives New Zealand are posting a selection of material to Flickr including vintage advertising material. Read an article on Archives New Zealand here.

Matt Huynh interviewed by Comics for Grown-ups.

 Daniel Elkin reviews the Sheehan Brother's The Inhabitants.

The Comics Spot review several Australian comics.

Jason Paulos process post for Alter Ego Cover.

I interviewed Tim Gibson for Sequart.

The Ledger Awards have announced Judges for 2014.

Big Joey Morris

Forty page preview of the Legend of Space Cat Bob.

Daniel Kalder profiles Milk Shadow Books.

Sarah Laing talks creative process on Radio NZ.

Scary Minds reviews Frank Candiloro's Mail Order Mutant!

This week on Te Pikitia Blog:

 More cartoons and illustrations from NZ wartime bulletin Korero.

An interview with Golden age Australian cartoonist, June Mendoza.

Paper Trail masthead courtesy of Toby Morris.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

2013 in Review: Tim Molloy

What have been your personal cartooning/comics highlights of 2013?
Being asked to take part as a guest of the Adelaide Writers Week as part of the festival in March next year! Madman taking on distribution of Milk Shadow Books was a big one.

What are some of the comics/cartoonists you've enjoyed in 2013?
Ben Hutchos You Stink and I Don't collection. Pat Grants story about his dad Toormina Video. Properly investigated  Moebius this year.  Always good. Thomas Ott's R. I. P.  Was amazing...

What is something non-comics that you have enjoyed in 2013? 

My wife and I had a baby boy this year! This experience has easily been the best thing that has ever happened to me!
What are you looking forward to in 2014?
The Writers Week thing should be great...  Later in the year the sequel to Mr Unpronounceable Adventures will be published ,  if all goes well! Just drawing all the time,  or as much as I can,  and hopefully getting better in every way.

Friday, October 11, 2013

SLUG GUTS: Milk Shadow Books Launch - James Andre Interview

From the press release for this Saturday's Melbourne launch of the latest two comics from Milk Shadow Book:

Hi Everyone,
Just a reminder that next Saturday, October 12,we will be launching two excellent new books, Da 'n' Dill - The Showbag Years by Dillon Naylor and Squirt-Stone by Ben (Sea) Constantine.

Both of the artists will be in attendance, signing and sketching. Plus their books will be sold in showbags containing limited edition prints, cool lollies, and other surprises. Also, Dillon and Ben are giving away a page of original art from the books.

The launch is on at All Star Comics Melbourne from 2pm – 5pm. Then at around 5:30pm if people want to have a drink, or can't make the afternoon launch, we'll be having an afterparty where you can sit and chat to the guys and buy books. This will be at Charlies Bar, 71 Hardware Lane (just down the toad from All Star).

These will be our last books released for a while, so we aim to make this a big one! Hope to see you there, and if you can help spread the word to help us make this launch huge it would be greatly appreciated.

I fired a few questions to Milk Shadow Books Publisher James Andre about the two books launching this weekend and what else has been happening with MSB this year.

James Andre Interview by Matt Emery
Can you talk a bit about what goes into choosing artists and books for Milk Shadow Books? Can you talk about how Ben C and Dillon Naylor's work fit into this equation? How much are your choices guided by 'business' and 'aesthetic'?
Milk Shadow Books looks for unique visions and voices. That's about it. Things that will open your mind through paper and ink.

Dillon was recommended to me by Bruce Mutard. At first I was shocked, because Dillon has been around forever. I knew of Da 'n' Dill, Batrisha, and even his stuff such as Pop Culture and Two Minute Noodles. He's a real pro. Bruce said Dillon might contact about publishing some stuff, 'cause he'd mentioned MSB to him. I waited a day or two then contacted Dillon direct. That's how the A Brush With Darkness collected book came about, and with Da 'n' Dill being mentioned early on, we came back to that project as our next one. It's also a good title because of the nostalgia, and all ages aspect.

I've been a fan of Ben's work since picking up a Phatsville comic at a Brisbane Supanova, probably 10 years ago. Plump Oyster was in foetal stages then. At that time I didn't really know an underground/alternative comics scene existed in Australia. I hoped that it did though and that it wasn't all just shoddy superhero/genre knock-offs. Loved Ben's work straight away. Strangely even back then my brain thought, "someone should be publishing this guy."

Most of the other MSB artists are friends who have been self publishing for a long time. I'm a comics nerd/fanboy at heart, and I can generally tell when someone has an interesting style. And it's easy to see different artists who have a strong following online, or at shows. It's not usually a money choice when it comes to publishing, but I don't want to go broke publishing either. A strong sense of style and "something to say" is the main thing. Have some soul basically. Those books usually sell well anyway, as business will follow a good aesthetic.

Both Ben C and Dillon are both well established cartoonists locally, Why do you think other publishers haven't taken an interest in their work prior to you?

That's a good question. I'm not too sure? We're lucky to be working with them. Same as with Tim Molloy, Ben Hutchings, Bobby.N and everybody else really. Both of the guys have worked with larger publishers and publications, but it's usually been in a more restrained sense, or have had short stories published in anthologies/magazines.
We give artists nearly total artistic freedom (with some editorial control/advice being retained by me and the tech people here) to make the best books they can, the way that they envision them. We "package" our books with love, and not to be slathered with tomato sauce and a pickle and pushed down a burger chute. That's probably fairly appealing to artists too.

Were there any difficulties in assembling collections of Ben and Dillon's work, I imagine some of Dillon's work goes back a few years?

The good thing about Ben and Dillon is that they still have a lot of the original art. So it was mainly just waiting for them to scan in the art once we provided them with the technical details. We were originally planning on making Ben's book larger, but most of his early work was drawn A4, so shrinking it down to A5 makes it look a lot tighter than blowing it up to a larger size. While Dillon's Da 'n' Dill comics worked well being collected from different sizes into one uniformly larger book. Then we ran the books through the usual proofing/design process.
How much of your market is divided between local and international sales? Do you have a concentrated focus on either?
We're really focused on local sales at moment after getting the Madman distribution deal happening. That was a big deal for us, and we've been trying to co-ordinate as much publicity and sales opportunities as we can with them. Eventually we'd like to expand overseas more, looking at Diamond and Last Gasp as distributors, but we already have Amazon, The Book Depository coverage so that's the main thing. Currently, I feel that if we can keep working to make a strong local scene for local people (Sorry, that sounds kind of like Edward and Tubbs out of The League of Gentlemen) then it will make things more sustainable for everyone

How important was your partnership with Madman for distribution? Are you at a point were you can evaluate this yet?
Really important. It's hard to keep on top of self distribution when you work full time. Having Madman take care of that frees up spare time to work on production and other business matters. It saves having to call up/go into shops chasing five bucks from eight months ago. The team there have honestly been great to work with. Plus the promo side of what they can do is so much more than we can do ourselves. I got some initial figures the other day and I think the guys there thought I'd be disappointed, but I'm happy every time even if one book sells, so to me, it's been going well so far.

Are there short term or long term goals you can share for Milk Shadow Books?
After these two new books, I'm going to take a break for a while from production. I'm getting married next year so that'll be a priority. But also it would be nice to have some time to go back over the business and catch up with lots of details behind the scenes that are often missed. Walking to Japan was our first major work, and that came out October 2011, so it's been two years. Now is a good time to go back over what's working etc. Even though we'll be toning down our schedule in the future, we've still plenty of really good books lined up.
Do you punch walls when things don't turn out the way you want?
Haha, no. Well, a window in Year 8, but that was more for a laugh.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Mini Paper Trail

Tonight: Silent Army Storeroom 6pm -8pm Once - A New Comic Book by Tim Danko.

Silent Army:

Storeroom open today 12 - late with hardcover book launch of 'once' by Tim Danko tonight and the last pages of the giant wooden comic book being completed live and for your enjoyment.
Katie Parrish's We can go anywhere but we'll always be we where we are.

Jonathan Goodman writes about Gavin Aung Than's Zen Pencils.

Erica Goldson: Graduation Speech on Zen Pencils.

Race Relations Commissioner receives complaint for cartoon depiction of the goddess Kali in the New Zealand Herald. (Hat Tip - Alan Liefting)

Jason Paulos Heavy Metal Submission.

Milk Shadow Books publisher James Andre is Scenestr of the day!

Lucy Frew profiles Toby Morris.

Simon Hanselmann excerpt from The Lifted Brow.

Keith Chatto must win the award for drawing the most Australian comics covers ever.

James James and Tim Molloy share WIP Deerstalker.

Clip from a couple years back of Michel Mulipola on Pacific Beat St.

Pepi Ronald's interviews Sam Wallman.

Q and A with Ben Hutchings on Noncanonical.

Penny Lewis writes about pioneer New Zealand cartoonist Trevor Lloyd's home, Whare Tane.

Eddie Monotone's Sloths and Trolleys.

Paper Trail masthead courtesy of Toby Morris.