Showing posts with label squishface studios. Show all posts
Showing posts with label squishface studios. Show all posts

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Grubby Little Smudges of Filth - Daniel Reed Interview

In a golden age of comics publishing and accessibility it can feel like a lot of projects come out to little fanfare, buried by next month's heavy publishing slate. One of the accomplished efforts to come out in 2013 from an Australian cartoonist was Daniel Reed's Grubby Little Smudges of Filth, an eighty page fairy tale of a comic from Slave Labor Graphics.

from Slave Labor Graphics PR;

"In a land ruled over by a self indulgent king a prisoner uses whatever filth is at hand to create a work of great beauty on his cell door. When it is discovered, those who seek to profit from his talents drag the artist through the thorny forests and sterile deserts of the kingdom. Only when he stands before the King himself will we learn of his true nature..."

The first issue of Grubby Little Smudges of Filth is available free on Comixology, with the stories remainder available in five 99 cent chunks. GLSOF can also be bought in hardcover from the usual booksellers:

I asked Daniel a few questions about his background, making comics in Australia, and the production of Grubby Little Smudges of Filth.

Where and when did your interest in comics and making comics develop?

My first exposure to comics that I can remember was when I would get the old Fleetway annuals for Christmas. Whizzer and Chips was one year, there was a Monster Fun Annual one other year. Would have been around ’82, ’83.  Footrot Flats was another one that I remember being pretty keen on at an early age. Later in my mid teens I briefly became interested in Spider-man during the Todd McFarlane period, but I think 2000AD in the end was a bigger influence.

In terms of what got me interested in making comics, there was a period during the eighties when a bunch of locally produced comics made it into the news agencies. I remember that I had a handful of them, Southern Squadron was one of the titles, Niteside and the Rock was another that captured my imagination. I think the fact that they were Australian made the idea of making comics seem more achievable. In fact now that I think about it, I remember picking up a local comic from Minotaur called Mr Gunhead. It was about a guy with a gun for a head, as the title suggests. While I don’t remember much of the story it had some really nice renderings of Melbourne buildings and seemed really different to everything else that was around. The book was just photocopied pages stapled together, but the artist’s effort was obvious which made it somehow more valuable. Wish I still had it.

Around that time I put a comic together for a School Communications Project, might have been Year 10 or 11. I hope I still have it somewhere, should try and track it down.

Then of course, as an adult in my late twenties when I saw things like The Silent Army collections and Ben Hutchings’ You Stink and I Don’t I knew I wanted to create something that could be read by an audience. Inspired in part by all these individual voices heading in different directions.

I don't know a lot about your background in making comics beyond the Crumpleton Experiments, which seemed by local standards to have had a lengthy run of independently produced issues. Can you tell me a bit about that series and other work you've done?

The Crumpleton Experiments went for nine issues between ’02 and ’10, or thereabouts. It was a self-published comic, set in fictional time and place. I was aiming for something a little bit Jules Verne or early Doctor Who with a surreal bent. The plot device of having the Professor being able to travel into people’s dreams (pre Inception by the way), enabled me to indulge in a variety of freaky landscapes and characters. It’s always fun to draw that kind of thing. It never sold a heap but I feel that there was a group of readers who genuinely loved it. On a personal level it was a big learning curve in making comics, which was great. I think you can clearly track the improvement from issue one to issue nine. I’ll have to get it together in one volume one day.

Other than Crumpleton, there were a bunch of short stories for various publications like Tango and Going Down Swinging. Crumpleton though, really was my main focus for quite a while.

How did the story of Grubby Little Smudges of Filth develop?

It seemed to develop organically after the initial idea of the guy with the door. I didn’t approach the story with any ‘intentions’, other than its look and feel. As a story though, it does look at revenge and grief. There is this revenge thing that pops up a lot in stories. Something tragic happens in someone’s life and a quest ensues that ends with revenge taken on the perpetrator. Movies like Mad Max and Gladiator come to mind. As a viewer, you sit there filled with glee as the bad guy gets slaughtered in some spectacular fashion. The audience is easily manipulated because of the human tendency to sympathise with the hero’s loss. At the time of writing Grubby, I had been thinking about this. At the end of the first Mad Max movie, he torches the car that the bad guy is trapped in. I may well have done the same thing in similar circumstances by the way, but I had been thinking about whether that is the right course of action. What alternatives are there? What if you become passive rather than reactive? Channel your grief into something else other than revenge...

This of course is not the sole reason for the book,  it was less contrived, but I guess if it is ‘about’ anything its more ‘about’ that than anything else. I like those movies, by the way. They would’ve been pretty strange if Mel and Russel became all contemplative and arty.

Another intention was to tackle a story that was self-contained. After Crumpleton I was ready to do something a little less convoluted, without any loose ends.

When did you start Grubby Little Smudges of Filth? Can you talk a bit about the gestation period of the book, the art in particular I thought was quite different to your work on the Crumpleton Experiments.

Grubby Little Smudges of Filth was germinating (festering?) away in the back of my head for quite a while. The initial driver really was the idea of some guy in prison creating an artwork on his cell door that was so beautiful it went on to be sold. It struck me as a really elaborate and hard to pull off escape plan, because the door has to be removed in order for it to be sold. In the final printed story, the artist’s intentions are much more mysterious than just seeking freedom, but I kind of liked that original idea. It could have worked as just a short story: Guy in prison decorates his cell door with golden balls of snot, prison guards sell the door as a work of art, prisoner escapes. Something funny about it, or at the risk of sounding wanky, maybe a little poignant.

After settling on that idea I needed to find out where the door would end up. With the creation of the Kings character, the rest of the story came about quite effortlessly.

You mention a difference in the illustration style between Crumpleton and Grubby. It is probably most relevant in the character design.  The simplistic look of the farming family is a nod in the direction of Cerebus and Bone, both works that I have a great respect for. There does seem to be this strange little tradition in comics and cartoons where the main character is stylized in a way that is at odds with the rest of the cast. I guess it makes it easier to emphasise their emotions and reactions. In general though, the characters in Grubby are much more exaggerated physically than those of Crumpleton. The Grubby characters are more fun to draw and perhaps a bit less challenging, but it was a nice change as an illustrator.  It’s worth adding that I was going for a Jim Henson/Dark Crystal, Terry Gilliam/Time Bandits kind of feel that seemed to suit those sort of people.

Are there benefits or difficulties you've experienced making comics in Australia?

Given the manner in which technology has shrunk the world, I don’t think that there is much of a difference. I guess Australia is a much smaller market than the U.S. for example, but I’m not sure that it is easy making money from comics anywhere in the world. Australia has a nice comic creators community (Melbourne certainly does) that is a valuable resource in terms of bouncing ideas around, getting advice from, showing work to etc.. Seems to be a few publishers around now that are more open to comics, which is great.

Are you a reader of digital comics? What has the response been to Grubby Little Smudges of Filth in digital form?

I have never really read many digital comics before. I have only just recently taken the step of reading my first literary novel on a Kindle. Don’t know why it seems to be such a big step. I’m sure my kids won’t have a problem with it, having grown up with the technology.

One of the guys at Squishface had a copy of Grubby on an iPad. It was the first time I had ever even used an iPad before, but I was struck by how well the comic came up in that format. I thought it looked great. I know that SLG has the opinion that the floppy single issue comic format is being killed off by the digital version, and I can see where they are coming from. I haven’t bought a floppy in ages. I do seem to buy perfect bound Graphic Novels though, rather than digital versions or single issue printed versions.

The fact that digital comics give the reader another option can only be a good thing, I just hope that the technology returns us to a point whereby the artist/writers can get fair compensation for their efforts.

In regards to how well Grubby was received digitally, it received some great reviews on various websites and podcasts, which I was really chuffed about. I think that the idea behind the initial digital release was also in part to publicise the printed version.

How did you get involved with publisher Slave Labor Graphics?

I sent Grubby to SLG as a submission. It was the initial 12 pages of finished artwork, along with a synopsis and pitch. I had sent it off to a number of places around about the same time, and while there was a bit of interest, SLG were the only takers. There was a lot of two-ing and fro-ing before they officially decided they’d take it on. Questions regarding the internal logic of the story had me writing lengthy responses in justification of certain aspects of the plot. After that they were very “hands-off”, which is good. A guy I know volunteered to do the editing, which I am very grateful for, but other than that it is a very much independent project.

What are you currently working on?

At the moment I am working on a project with Isobelle Carmody.  She has written this amazing story about a post apocalyptic society that has reverted to a kind of medieval existence. There are kings and princesses alongside remnants of a modern civilisation. Having never worked with a writer before, it has been a great experience so far. I feel very lucky to be working with someone in the midst of a successful writing career.

In the past I had worried that it would feel too much like “work” if I were to draw for someone else’s writing but it hasn’t felt that way at all. Its been much more collaborative, the visualization of the world and the characters has been very open ended. I feel as enthusiastic about it as I ever have about my past projects. The book has bounced back and forth between us in a series of drafts and I think it will result in something pretty special.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Art Spiegelman & Françoise Mouly Melbourne Visit

In Melbourne for a couple of speaking engagements during early October, Art Spiegelman & Françoise Mouly met up with a handful of local cartoonists at Squishface Studios to talk comics, art and publishing.

Sarah Gooding wrote about Françoise Mouly's career overview with Penny Hueston at the Wheelers Centre on Oct 9th.

Bernard Caleo wrote about Art Spiegelman & Françoise Mouly's Squishface visit at An Island Art.

pic by Bernard Caleo

 Art Spiegelman and Shaun Tan

Colin Wilson and Ben Hutchings

Jo Waite lunch sketch

Pic by Bernard Caleo

All pics by M.Emery unless credited otherwise

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Paper Trail

I have a dickload of things to do this week so will try posting daily mini Paper Trails to offload my rapidly overflowing link pile.

Excerpt of  HTMLflowers’ comics from  š! #13 ‘Life Is Live’.

Dylan Horrocks talks Australian Comics with Bryan Crump on Radio New Zealand's Nights.

Jason Chatfield recaps and follows up on his horrific taxi experience from 2011.

New Squishfacers.

Roger Langridge interviewed on Where Monsters Dwell.

Tane Williams on tumblr.

Simon Hanselmann's Truth Zone is back at Comics Workbook and taking no prisoners. New installments #70, #71, #72, #73.

I made a new mini comic (Not for Young Folk). You can buy it from some place at some point.

Karl Wills has teased a Connie Radar short film currently in production. Shot from a script by Wills and Timothy Kidd.

Hey, here's a Connie Radar animation test from a little while back.

 Oh Gosh, it's the Connie Radar Dailies blog from a couple years back.

Have you ever thought about buying a Connie Radar t-shirt?

Paper Trail masthead courtesy of Toby Morris.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

2012 in Review: Sarah Howell

Sarah Howell

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

It has been a massive year when it comes to comics stuff for me, there have been lots of great times, but if I have to name a handful they would be: starting Squishface Studio; starting the Ladies Drawing Auxiliary talk series at Squishface; teaching cartooning on a weekly basis; meeting Bill Messner-Leobs (co-writer of The Maxx) and his wife at a very pleasant comics meet in Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Dave (Blumenstein) giving John Porcellino a copy of my comic when he met him at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival.
Who are some of the comics creators that you've discovered and enjoyed for the first time in 2012?

Organising Ladies drawing Auxiliary has introduced me to a pile of new creators that I wasn't aware of, or only knew a little bit about: Scarlette Baccini, Lily Mae Martin, Lee Lai, Megan Nairn, Leonie V. Brialey, Kate Moon, Adi Firth, Rebecca Hayes, Katie Houghton-Ward, and Lindsay C. Walker.
Also I read Jason Franks' work for the first time. I picked up The Sixsmiths from him at Sticky's Festival of the Photocopier. The Sixsmiths made me laugh and it captures the feeling of suburban Melbourne really well.

Probably my favorite international find was Englishman Luke Pearson. I read his Hilda and the Midnight Giant earlier in the year, and then picked up Everything We Miss from his publisher Nobrow Press while in Toronto. There is an influence from Chris Ware in Pearson's work, but his obvious love of the mythic makes his stories far more entertaining and moving for me.

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

I watched Wings of Desire again, mostly so Dave could see Peter Falk in it. I came home the next evening to find Dave listening to the Director's commentary, which was fascinating. The film wasn't scripted, Wim Wenders had a framework of the opening poem and the idea of the angels wandering around Berlin (this is before the wall comes down), but everything else is pretty much improvised. I found his comments resonated with my own preferred way of working.

Breaking Bad. I find Breaking Bad emotionally very affecting. Dave often watches it late at night before bed and I have to put ear plugs in because it agitates me too much before trying to sleep. Again we listened to the director and cast commentary and it is very inspiring, the amount and quality of thought and intention that goes into achieving the emotional tension of the show.

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

Research and writing a script! I mostly drew silent comics in the past and never enjoyed writing a script because for me the images always develop first in my mind, so I would thumbnail script. Last year I found myself inspired to do a historical comic and started researching. I was confident that I could just thumbnail script again, and was quite resistant to writing one, but as my research notes progressed I just got to a point where I realised for clarity and speed I needed to write the sequences and dialogue out. Now I'm really enjoying the process.

What are you looking forward to in 2013?

More Squishface adventures, particularly Ladies Drawing Auxiliary. Mini Comic of the Month Club. Getting all nerdy at the National Archives and Old Parliament House in Canberra with the aim of getting a good chunk of my graphic novel done. Dave's comic about a fictional cult leader.

Friday, December 14, 2012

2012 in Review: Ive Sorocuk

Ive Sorocuk

What have been your personal cartooning/comics highlights of 2012?
Being a part of Squishface and having it be five minutes away from my home. Having my first solo exhibition in years, using it as an excuse to tighten up and show some process doodles. I brought out two zines made up of sketchbook drawings that I see no reason not to keep doing. Came out with The Diggables Handbook minicomic which got a nice response.

Who are some of the comics creators that you've discovered and enjoyed for the first time in 2012?
I recently read Sanctuary, a manga by by Sho Fumimura and Ryoichi Ikegami from the early 90's about the yakuza and Japanese politics. The cleanness and consistency in the art plus the over dramatic dialogue makes me want to seek out more by them. Checked out all the Brubaker/Philips crime comics I could find this year and they blew me away and made me really want to do my own noir stuff. Jason, Brandon Graham, DMZ, Fables, Darwyn Cooke's Parker are all things I hadn't read until this year.

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

Breaking Bad has never done me wrong. The Walt vs Gus season stressed my guts out every single episode. Adventure Time has always been good but it's really gone up a few notches in the last two seasons as it goes back on itself and creates a continuity rather than being as stagnant as most cartoons. I've been working my way through the original Twilight Zone and it's like a straight version of everything I love about Silver Age comics. I feel not enough people talk about It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The Muppets made me bawl my eyes out both times I saw it. Beasts of the Southern Wild got me drawing horns on everything.

As part of my BrunswickArts duties I attended as many graduation showsas possible and that was pretty inspiring. There were a few stand out things but mainly just seeing young folk busting their butts as creatively as they can got me pumped and made me question why I'm not drawing all day every day.

The food at Squishface's Exhibitchin' will be hard to top.

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

Being at Squishface allows me to throw around ideas and jokes and get feedback on things in progress rather than just doing a page and hoping for the best. The biggest change I've made is starting to worry about whether my finished art actually looks good or not. I used to be all about visual short-cuts and as long as a reader could tell my drawing of a table is
meant to be a table then that was fine, where as now I try and draw the best darn table I can. I've barely implemented that in my monthly Comics Face strips but it was my main focus in my Diggables minicomic.

Also, I dressed as a cowboy at three separate special comic occasions.
I want to do more of this.

What are you looking forward to in 2013?
I have a few vague ideas for my next comic and I want to lock one down before next year. Camp Chugnut, another exhibition both group and solo, Squishface 1st Birthday Spectacular, hopefully a con somewhere and a book launch.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

2012 in Review: Ben Hutchings

Ben Hutchings

What have been your personal cartooning/comics highlights of 2012?
It would have to be opening the doors of Squishface Comics Studio.  I have barely left the place since it opened!  It has grown and become a household name nearly of it's own accord. (the houses of cartoonists)  I enjoy being there and sharing in the dramas surrounding the other cartoonists. 

There were also two cartooning trips - the Caravan of Comics, and a recent commercial job in Singapore with David Blumenstein, Pat Grant and Rebecca Clements.

Not to mention a trip to Japan where I visited the Osamu Tezuka museum for a second time, and got a personal tour of the Kyoto Manga Museum!
Who are some of the comics creators that you've discovered and enjoyed for the first time in 2012?

Nah not really!  I wasn't paying a huge deal of attention to anybody else's work, let alone their names, sorry.  That's not to say there was nothing good at all! 
I'm just slipping into senility or something.  Probably should be worried.  It could be that so much is happened that I haven't digested it all. 

But I did rediscover and get fresh inspiration from an old artist I have always loved. 
His name is Yamahami Tatsuhiko.  He is best known for a character called Gaki Deka.  What is funny about my work has been funny in his work for decades. 
He is fantastic, with a dirty, but detailed style. I have no idea what any of his comics are about, however.

I also discovered another manga artist by mistake because they have similar names and styles.  I was searching for Yoshiharu Tsuge, and mistakenly picked up some English
translations of the work of Yoshihiro Tatsumi, which looks similar.  This fellow does work of such poignancy, and gravity.  His themes include sexual frustration, loneliness and death. I very rarely do anything this heavy, but would love to.  So I would recommend seeking out both these manga artists.
What is something non-comics that you have enjoyed in 2012?

Dredd 3D, Tintin, Avengers and many other excellent comic movie adaptations.  Seeing Avengers with the other Caravan of Comics dudes was a gas.  Americans know how to watch a movie.  They're so noisy.  And every one-liner they guffaw at so excitedly.  The floor at the end was covered in trampled popcorn and everybody was so darn excited about what they just watched.  When I watch a movie, we usually just walk out pretty much in silence and go for a wee.

I also discovered another band I love called Sparks.  I don't like any music ever, so they're like band #5.  It's good to have music to enjoy.  They repeat themselves a lot, with strange orchestral backing and hard rock riffs.  But mainly I just love the repetition.
Have you implemented any significant changes to your working methods this year?

Not significant changes, but I have noticed my skill slowly growing!  My lines are cleaner, my knowledge of anatomy is better, overall I think I've settled into a particular style that I really like. 
What are you looking forward to in 2013?

Keeping commercial work to a minimum and finally leaping head - first into finishing the last ten pages of my graphic novel draft.  I will also have at least two trade paperbacks out through Milk Shadow Publishing, including two You Stink & I Don't collections, possibly a Glenjamin collection reprint too.

We talked about a book of serious, art-heavy fantasy and drama stories too, which might have to wait til 2014.  I have a selection of scripts which are very different than anything I've ever written before.  They are all melancholy and tragic, but the tone remains friendly and positive.  I'd love to see if I can pull that off.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Upcoming Australian Comic Events

Jan 26th

The bastard child of last years is NGV studio residency by several comic creators is Squishface Studio's , 'Australia's first open comics studio'. Spearheaded by Mr Ben Hutchings the official launch date for Squishface is Thursday 26th January with comics, prints and artwork available from resident artists on the day.

Have a look at the studios here

28 Jan

Fairfield residents Nicki Greenberg and Bernard Caleo and Northcote’s Michael Camilleri are amongst local comic folk featured at The Homecooked Comcis Festival in Northcote. A live podcast from 3ccr's The Comic spot will feature as well as workshops and comic themed entertainment for young folk.

More info here



Following on from the successful combined comic launch of Big Arse in 2011 is Big Arse 2. With an expanded line-up of books and a new venue, Sentidor Funf in Fitzroy, This years launch is another example of the burgeoning Melbourne comic scene that now see's comic launches/exhibitions/conventions  happening on a monthly basis.