Monday, 22 November 2010

Interview 16

Sina Evil is a comic artist and creator of BoyCrazyBoy, Atomic Love and the forthcoming zine Magic Urbanism. His work has also appeared in the zines Holy Titclamps and Boy Trouble.

Please tell us a little something about your zine and how 'politics' plays a role. I have been making zines, comics and artwork since I was 16 years old. When I started making zines I had just come out as gay, I felt disconnected and alienated by my surroundings - I was going to a very homophobic all boys' school, and in the wider culture - in books, movies, magazines - I did not feel spoken to or represented - so making comics and zines was a way of finding my own voice and talking about intertwined personal and political issues that mattered to me and which I hoped mattered to other people - this connection with other people was and is also important - and political - It was and is, also, a way of trying to find a community of likeminded people, a group of friends.

Who or what has inspired or influenced your drawing style? My drawing style has been inspired and influenced by many different cartoonists - both mainstream and alternative - as well as by looking at the work of "fine" artists that I admired. Marvel and DC Comics were early influences generally. Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, and Trina Robbins, were also important influences in terms of the more alternative comics. Queer cartoonists like the ones involved in the anthology BOY TROUBLE - people like Robert Kirby, Jon Macy, Mike Fahy, and Anonymous Boy - have all been - and continue to be - an influence on me.

In what ways are queerzines/comics going through a renaissance? Queer comics seemed to slow down a few years ago but lately there are interesting people doing exciting new things - Carrie McNinch's "You Don't Get There From Here", Justin Hall's "Glamazonia", Dave Davenport's "Hard To Swallow", Steve MacIsaac's "Shirtlifter", Brian Anderson's "So Super Duper", Rick Worley's "Waste of Time", Rene Capone's "Hedgehog Boy", and Ned Hugar's amazing new book "Urban Buzz". But also older queer cartoonists who were putting comics out in the early 90s, and then seemed to take a break from it, are coming back with amazing new work. Jon Macy's graphic novel "Teleny and Camille" is an adaptation of an erotic novel by Oscar Wilde and his circle, and is incredible, and so is Jon's new supernatural, gay erotic series "Fearful Hunter" about werewolves and druids. Robert Kirby has started putting out an anthology of queer comics titled "Three"; the second issue, out soon, will have a story about how I lost my virginity, written by me and drawn by Jon Macy.

How does your current PhD research inform or fit into your zine, if at all? Doing my PhD on queer comics has been an incredible experience for me in terms of thinking about why people make queer comics and what they mean both personally and on a wider social and political level, and having talked to and interviewed so many amazing queer cartoonists has given me a renewed passion and desire to do comics again more actively.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Interview 15

DIY or Don't We? is produced by Nicki Sabalu from Olympia, Washington, USA. Here is what she had to say about her zine,'community', and the DIY spirit.

Please tell us a little about yourself and how 'DIY or Don't We?' came about?
The zine is a compilation rooted in collaboration, so much love and acknowledgment goes to all of the wonderful folks who have shared their stories. It came about in hopes of encouraging communication about how do-it-yourself ethics can be incorporated into the ways we work together as friends, family, collectives and communities. "Do-it-yourself" can seem like a solitary term. Sometimes that's okay, because it can be important to have time and space to do truly do things on our own. But sometimes it's important to collaborate on projects, work through tough situations with others, help nourish people we care about, and have fun together! That's where the "or don't we?" part comes in.
The zine is intended to be an ongoing project, with two issues to date. The third issue, which should hopefully be printed next summer, will be about food and community.

In your opinion what defines a 'community' and a 'DIY' spirit?
A big reason for making this zine is that there isn't necessarily an all-encompassing definition of community, and it can mean so many things to different people. I was hoping that this zine could be a way for folks to share stories that explore what community means to them because it can exist in so many contexts. I don't think I have a concrete definition of community myself, but I think it can have a lot to do with things that are shared: interests, locations, identities. I also think that the strength of a community has much to do with working together – through good times and rough times – to address everyone's needs to the best of both individual and collective abilities.
I think that a DIY spirit might be something that can emerge when DIY ethics are incorporated into many different aspects of our lives; when there's something more to it than just having hobbies. Maybe it's the passion that keeps us doing things ourselves, even though sometimes it would be much easier to rely on someone or something else to do them for us. DIY ethics and skill-sharing have been important to me because they can help empower people in ways that make us less reliant on corporations and governments, and hopefully more in tune with ourselves and conscious of the world around us.

With the publication of your zine, in what ways is it helping to foster another form of community?
By encouraging communication, I hope! Ideally, the zine is a way for folks to share stories, learn from each other, and maybe make new friends.

What fanzine would you recommend for us to read and why?
Oh, gosh. Decisions like these are tough for me, so I made a little pile of favorites, closed my eyes, and reached into the middle of it. My fingers have chosen the wonderful zine "Seeking Truth" by my friend Charlie Daugherty. It's a comic zine about an inquisitive character who is searching for their lost friend, Truth.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Interview 14

Ben Hutchings is a comic artist and creator of 'You Stink & I Don't' and more recently 'Comic of Smallness'. He talks to us about his work and the Melbourne zine scene.

Tell us a little about yourself
and how your zine 'You Stink & I Don't' came about.
I've been into drawing and reading comics since I was ten and discovered British comics like Beano and Buster. In high school I began photocopying my own comics at school with no idea
anybody else did the same thing. They very quickly became ruder and angry over the years (as I did), but they kept a cute, absurd tone which I like more than material that is serious and dark. Finally, I made issue #1 in '93, which featured strips about childhood friends, misogyny (represented as a parody of Archie), a long adventure about a body-builder named Mr. Sexxo (all written in rhyme) and an 'offensive' comic about Jesus doing all kinds of rude things with his bum. This is still the tone of the comic - mean but funny stabs at beliefs and attitudes and lots of rhyming and wordplay. I always spent heaps on professional printing with colour covers. The inside is all cut and paste though, and drawn with pens though. There have been 9 issues and I got a bit of a following from it.

The city of Melbourne is fast gaining recognition for being a hub of zine activity. What is the zine scene like for someone living there?
It's great.
I can't compare it to much but overseas visitors seem impressed with the art scene of Melbourne, including all the markets and that sort of thing. It surprises me too. There are zine workshops and zine fairs and arts markets all over the place. I think every citizen here has made a zine at some point. The centre of it all is Sticky, a zine shop run from a cramped little store in the subway. There are piles of zines and flyers covering every surface, with stacks of em falling off the shelves. In the middle there's always a table with a handful of misfits cutting stuff out of magazines and pasting it together. The underground comic scene in Melbourne is huge too. While Australia has no 2000AD or Marvel, we do have plenty of self-publishers and Melbournites chug out their own mini-comics like nobody's business. And it's a relief for me to be here. Doing comics for so many years from Canberra was a really isolating experience! Now I draw knowing that people will see it, and appreciate it.

You are also involved in producing other craft-type zines. Can you tell us a little something about your current projects?
I've been printing comics for so long, I forgot the fun of crafting small runs of your own comic. I've been recently making "Comic of Smallness", which is a 32 page, 2 inch tall comic. I make my own little display stands for them out of cardboard. I print 12 copies at a time on 8 A4 sheets then chop em up and bind them with a single staple. Such an effort, but so satisfying making little bundles of em. The three issues are all about a cat named Barry who just sort of wanders about being silly. It's pretty much the cutest comic ever made I reckon.

Please recommend a zine for us to read and why.
I mostly read mini-comics, and a great one is Lumpen by Pat Grant, an excellent cartoonist who loves setting stories in Melbourne suburbia as well as Australian coastal towns. It always comes out in different formats, for example one issue was a large, fold-out poster. Another one that tickles my fancy is Phatsville, a comic anthology from Queensland. It's great because Queenslanders are such dags, and the comic reflects this with its shameless obsession with sex and drug jokes. Then you go up and visit them and all they do is take drugs and talk about sex. If you'd like to see what Sydney cartoonists do, then the anthology Blackguard is definitely worth a look!