Showing posts with label nexus magazine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nexus magazine. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Nexus Comics Issue: Toby Morris Interview 2006

[Editor's note: Toby was living in Melbourne when this interview was conducted and after living further abroad he's now relocated with his family back in NZ.]

Toby Morris Interview by M. Schuerich.

Toby Morris has been a prolific creator of comics in New Zealand - at least, while he was in New Zealand! He is now located in Melbourne, Australia. Toby has been involved with publishers such as Chopper Chick Comics with his Pirate Technics series (up to Issue 2) and has also been the main illustrator for the A Low Hum gig posters. He was even published in Nexus once upon a time ago with a serial comic titled Dreamboat Dreamboat. I gladly took the opportunity to present him with some questions and get his opinions on comic creation

What originally got you into comic creation?
I've always done it I can't really remember why I got in to it. The first time I actually went and got a finished comic printed up I was 13. I grew up with a massive pile of Tintin and Asterix books and I loved those to bits so I think that would have had something to do with it.

How do you think New Zealand comics are being perceived by New Zealanders themselves?
Oh, I think most people who are fairly open minded about the arts in general are prepared to give them a go when they come into contact with them, but there aren't many opportunities outside of meeting someone who makes them for that to happen. NZ comics are ever so slowly growing in profile/acceptance but realistically it is still very much way out on the fringes to your average Joe kiwi.

How viable do you think comic creation and illustration is as a job in New Zealand?
Its not easy. Comics as a job is not even worth thinking about illustration as a job to pay bills while you do comics is do-able - that's what I was doing before I left NZ but I was not making a hell of a lot of money and it had taken me a good few years of doing illos for free and building a profile to even get to that stage.

What are your impressions of the current New Zealand comic scene?
It's funny for me because I'm away from it now. but it seems like having a few new keen people has blown some fresh enthusiasm into everyone's sails. I haven't seen lots of these people's work so I don't know what kind of stuff is actually being produced, but from what I can see it looks like there is a lot of energy there at the moment Like any scene it goes through waves of activity and waves of quiet - good to see its picking up again.

What kind of elements and themes do you try to include in your own creations?
Whatever is on my mind. I have a few things that will pop up again and again (robots and music would be two big ones) but it's usually whatever I'm thinking about on the day. I think about robots and music more than a lot of other things,

What do you like appreciating the most out of your's or someone else's comics?
Impressive execution. Like really flash drawing, is one thing but really it's personality I mainly want to see, a unique idea or perspective. Sincerity and humour are important to me too - people think those two things are opposite but when there are both there that can be magic.

What do you think the future has in store for New Zealand comics?
I don't think NZ comics will ever take over the world but I quite like that about it. I think NZ comics will continue to attract people who do really strange and personal and odd work, and the more generations of people doing that the more the precedent will build to have to do even better stuff than ever before.

What comics have you been reading lately?
We All Die Alone by Mark Newgarden. rereading lots of early/mid Love and Rockets (I love that stuff.), Kramer's Ergot 4 and 5 are still my favourite books after two years, some Ron Rege, Kevin Huizenga.

What was the inspiration for the "Pirate Technics" comic series?
I wanted to do something that tied together my involvement in music and comics. It was also kind of tied specifically to the medium I was putting it out through. It started being in 'the package' which was quite a dance music oriented publication. I felt like I was a rock n roll dude and they were getting me to do all this work for them, and it felt like rock was creeping up and taking over dance music in Wellington at that time. so I started doing stuff for the package with rock n roll pirates 'invading' the package and taking over in the name of rock n roll. By the time they wanted me to do the series I felt like the whole thing had turned around and that whole rock n roll explosion had happened and by that time I felt like rock was being stolen by pop so I made the series about rock and dance teaming up to defend against pop.

With your Dreamboat Dreamboat series, were you aiming for some kind of 'Home and Away' serial?

For sure. very much so. My whole thing was to make it like the whole thing was being sung by a tough 50s girl band (like 'leader of the pack') so that's why I have a 50s girl band as part of the story but also why I tried to do it in a really soap opera serialised way.

Do you prefer to tell a good story rather than make any kind of story up as an excuse to draw?

I love drawing but I have a lot more enthusiasm for writing the stories. I have the concepts for hundreds of comics in my head and scrawled in sketchbooks but I only find the time to draw and complete a tiny portion of them. My sketchbooks are mainly filled with writing - whatever that means.

Your 'A Low Hum' posters are really awesome. Not to mention you've done a million other posters for other bands, including your own. What kind of job are gig posters to you?

Thanks. I love doing posters and approach them in a pretty similar way to comics - even though it's just one image. I still use a storytelling approach. You have to find some kind of connection between a visual image and the music which I love doing. You have to set the tone, the mood the vibe etc for the gig, It's easy and awesome to do if you love the band, hard if you haven't heard, don't like or don't get the band(s). I'm not doing as many these days as I'd like because I'm too busy playing music. but I'll come back to it for sure.

Beatnik Publishing are releasing Toby's latest book chronicling his first year of parenthood, DON'T PUKE ON YOUR DAD, in Auckland on August 22nd. More details here.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Nexus Comics Issue: Ant Sang Interview 2006

In mid 2006 Nexus Magazine designer Matt Scheurich took inspiration from a recent comics issue of Vice magazine and produced a comics-centric issue of the Waikato University magazine for their 7th August 2006 edition. The full colour magazine featured cartoons from local contributors as well articles and regular columns in cartoon form. Matt interviewed a few New Zealand cartoonists including Ant Sang.

Ant Sang Interview by M. Schuerich.

Ant Sang made his name in New Zealand comics initially with his DIY effort Filth but more break-through was with his serial comic Dharma Punks. If you're still lost, then you might know Ant from the TV series Bro'town as he was the character designer for the denizens of Morningside. I hit him up on some questions to get the low-down on his opinions, ideas and work.

What originally got you into comic creation?

I've drawn cartoons for as long as I can remember but I didn't start producing comics until the early 1990s, when I discovered "alternative" and autobiographical comics... stuff like Dan Clowes' -Eightball" and Chester Brown's "Yummy Fur" and "Ed the Happy Clown".

How do you think New Zealand comics are being perceived by New Zealanders themselves?

I don't think most New Zealanders are even aware of New Zealand comics!

Do you prefer working on comics with other people or by yourself'?

Comics are a very personal form of self-expression for me, so I really like to work by myself. Doing comics isn't really a fun process, it's just something I feel compelled to do.

How viable do you think comic creation and illustration is as a job in New Zealand?

Doing comics as a viable career in NZ is very difficult.. almost an impossibiity really! Doing illustration work is pretty difficult too, but not nearly as hard as basing earnings around comics. With illustration there are a lot more opportunitys and outlets for work such as advertising, children's books, working with design studios etc etc.

What are your impressions of the current New Zealand comic scene? It's a really diverse yet tiny scene. 

There is a whole spectrum of artists working in different genres and towards different goals. Some are seriously trying to make a living from comics while there are a lot of hobbyists who do it for fun. Despite this, most cartoonists seem to know each other or at least know about each other and what we're all up to.

What kind of elements and themes do you try to include in your own creations?
Whatever interests me at the time. Big themes about life, death and why were here seem to crop up a hell of a lot in my work. This isn't a conscious theme I've chosen to explore.., its just that I'm fascinated by this stuff so it winds up in my work.
What do you like appreciating the most out of yours or someone else's comics?

The comics I enjoy the most are ones where the writing and art complement each other seamlessly, neither overwhelming the other. Another thing that makes a good read is a comic which has emotional power and which gives me some heightened sense of being alive.., and these are qualities that I strive for in the comics I create.

What do you think the future has in store for New Zealand comics? 

I suspect NZ comics will continue to exist beneath the radar of mainstream New Zealand. despite our best efforts...

What comics have you been reading lately?

 "Louis Riel" by Chester Brown. "100%" by Paul Pope. -It's a Good Life If You Don't Weaken" by Seth and -Shaolin Cowboy- by Geoff Darrow.

Your 'Filth series is essentially the beginnings of `Dharma Punks'. How did 'Filth' start?
I was inspired by the DIY ethic of alternative and autobiographical comics and thought 'yeah, I can do that!' and just started writing. It was a particularly confusing and angst-ridden period of my life and "Filth" was a natural expression of that.

What kind of themes were you trying to convey with 'Dharma Punks'?

"Dharma Punks" was my attempt at making sense of the "Filth" era of my life. It was also time to move on from "Filth- and -Dharma Punks" was a way of closing that particular chapter.

On your website you mention that you are working on a 'Dharma Punks' script for film. How is that progressing?

Very, very slowly. Though in the last few months I've made a few breakthroughs. I've set myself a deadline.., by the end of this year I will have the first draft finished, fingers crossed.

Doing the character design for the cartoon show "Bro'town" must have been a fun job. How exactly did you get it? 

The show's producer, Elizabeth Mitchell. tracked me down when she heard about "Dharma Punks". She asked me to try out designing some rough ideas of the main characters and luckily she and the Naked Samoans liked what they saw. And yes. its been great working on the show!

How did you come about the design of the characters for "Bro'town"? Did you base them on well-known New Zealand personalities?

Yeah, four of the five main characters are based on the four Naked Samoans, who are the writers and performers of bro'Town... so I had to design teenage, cartoon versions of them and from there had to design the rest of the characters of Morningside.

With your illustration work in publications like Pavement and The Fix, do you generally have free creative will in deciding the final outcome of the works you do for them?

The Fix has been really good about any illustration stuff. Richard either likes it or not and so either accepts it or not I've only done a few illustrations/ comics for Pavement and I've had no problems with them either. They're so supportive of local comics, it's great
'Dharma Punks seems to be one of the very few comic serials you've had completed and printed.

Are you working on anymore comics or are you concentrating more on different avenues?
I'm currently working fulltime on series 3 of bro'Town. Apart from that I'm working on the Dharma Punks script and yeah, I'm also working on my next comic project which will involve kungfu and Shaolin monks and plenty more...