Archive for the ‘Other cartoonists’ Category

Sketch a Day (Cartoonist week): Jack Kirby

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Two sketches today. Bear with me…


Jack Kirby (Jacob Kurtzberg, USA, 1917-1994)

Comics Will Break Your Heart
(pencil & watercolour on 300gsm paper)
A5 (148 x 210mm, 5.7 x 8.3 inches)

US $ 50 (+$5 postage)

This sketch tells the story behind the quote that opens Hicksville. It was told to me by James Romberger, an artist and cartoonist whose amazing graphic novel Seven Miles a Second (written by activist and artist David Wojnarowicz) has just been reissued by Fantagraphics.

In the 1980s, Romberger met Kirby at a convention in New York. Kirby kindly looked at Romberger’s work and then gave him a piece of advice: “Kid, you’re one of the best. But put your work in galleries. Don’t do comics. Comics will break your heart.”

Romberger followed Kirby’s advice for years, mostly exhibiting in galleries, while drawing comics for alternative and literary magazines – and occasionally for commercial publishers – on the side. When the first edition of Seven Miles a Second was published by Vertigo in 1996, Romberger mentioned in his artist’s bio that he’d once been told by Jack Kirby “comics will break your heart.” As soon as I read that, I knew I would have to use it in Hicksville. I’m grateful to Romberger for later sharing the full story with me and I urge you all to buy his & Wojnarowicz’s extraordinary book.

Anyway, after drawing this sketch, I felt so sad I had to draw Kirby again – but this time the young Kirby, on the eve of World War Two, when American comic books were new and he was one of the people carving its mythology out of nothing, at the beginning of his extraordinary career. So here he is…


Young Kirby
(pencil & watercolour on 300gsm paper)
A5 (148 x 210mm, 5.7 x 8.3 inches)

US $ 50 (+$5 postage)

There you have it. Having done two today, I’ll probably take a break over the weekend and return with more sketches next week (and, hopefully, some new Magic Pen pages too).

Sketch a Day (Cartoonist week): George Herriman

Thursday, March 14th, 2013


George Herriman (USA, 1880–1944)
The great gentle genius George Herriman, writer and artist of Krazy Kat.

(pencil & watercolour on 300gsm paper)
A5 (148 x 210mm, 5.7 x 8.3 inches)

Buy this sketch!
US $ 50 (+$5 postage)

Sketch a Day (Cartoonist week): Tove Jansson

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013


Tove Jansson (Finland, 1914–2001)

Writer, artist, creator of the Moomins. Go look.

(pencil & watercolour on 300gsm paper)
A5 (148 x 210mm, 5.7 x 8.3 inches)

Buy this sketch!
US $ 50 (+$5 postage)

Sketch a Day (Cartoonist week): Hergé

Monday, March 11th, 2013


After last year’s enormously fun watercolour commission frenzy (see the results here and here), I’ve decided this year to try doing a sketch a day (for as long as it’s still fun). Each week will have a different theme*, and what better theme to kick things off than Portraits of Cartoonists! And what better cartoonist to start with than…

Hergé (Georges Remi, Belgium, 1907-1983)

Writer, illustrator, Boy Scout and tortured artist, Georges Remi is best known as the creator of Tintin. Remi pioneered the Ligne Claire style that dominated Franco-Belgian comics for a generation. An asteroid discovered in 1953 is named in his honour (1652 Hergé) and another (1683 Castafiore) bears the name of one of his creations, the Milanese Nightingale.

(pencil & watercolour on 300gsm paper)
A5 (148 x 210mm, 5.7 x 8.3 inches)

Buy this sketch!
US $ 50
(+$5 postage)

*Note: I reserve the right to repeat a theme if I like it too much to stop.

Making scratchboard art with Line Hoven

Friday, March 8th, 2013


Line Hoven Liebe schaut weg Reprodukt german comic

Get this book!

Yesterday I attended a workshop run by Line Hoven, whose beautiful graphic novel Liebe schaut weg (Reprodukt) is due to come out in English as Love Looks Away from Blank Slate Books.

Line is visiting New Zealand (along with fellow German cartoonist Mawil) thanks to the Goethe Institute, whose exhibition Comics, Manga & Co: The New Culture of German Comics is currently showing at the St Paul St Gallery (alongside an exhibition of New Zealand comics, Nga Pakiwaituhi). Line and Mawil are also doing workshops and other public events in Wellington next week. Thanks also to AUT University and the Auckland Arts Festival.


Line Hoven using my coloured pencils to make something fabulous

Line works with scratchboard (also known as scraperboard), and her workshop was the first time I’d really tried it. Scratchboard is an art board with three layers. The top layer is black ink, covering a layer of white chalk. You use a knife to scrape away the black ink, making a white line.

I’ve always been intimidated by it as a medium, but Line quickly overcame that fear and everyone there was soon happily scratching away, discovering a whole new way of making art. By the end of the day, I’d fallen in love with the process, which is slow, pleasurable and almost meditative. Each movement of the knife reveals a bright new line – kind of like pulling away the curtain to let in the light. It’s delicious.

The work I made was based on the cover of Atlas #2. It’s 250 x 307 mm, and you can buy it below (sorry – it’s sold).

ylena scraperboard

(Click for larger image)

(250 x 307mm, 9.8 x 12 inches, scratchboard)

US $100
+ $9 postage


New Zealand Comics and Graphic Novels

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

I recently made this catalogue of New Zealand cartoonists (and some of the comics & books they’ve made or are making). We handed out hundreds of copies of this at the Frankfurt Book Fair and the Treviso Comic Book Festival in September and October, but you can download a free pdf of it here.

Because the catalogue is necessarily an incomplete list, I also made a page of links to NZ comics creators, anthologies, events and blogs. If your website is not on this list but should be, let me know and I’ll add it forthwith!

Please note this catalogue is NOT for retail sale; it was published with the assistance of Creative NZ to promote NZ comics at Frankfurt etc. But there are some very exciting books on NZ comics due in the near future which will be for retail sale, so keep your eye on From Earth’s End and Pikitia Press, two very good NZ comics blogs, to be forewarned.

Italy! Germany!

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

I’m about to get on a plane for a whirlwind trip to Italy and Germany. Here are the details:

25-30 September: I will be in Treviso for this festival, along with 6 other New Zealand cartoonists (Roger Langridge, Ben Stenbeck, Greg Broadmore, Chris Slane, Colin Wilson, Rufus Dayglo). There’s an exhibition of New Zealand Comics, including a fair bit of work by me. I’m also running a workshop.

30 September-4 October
: I’ll be in Northern Italy, doing a couple of events for my lovely Italian publisher, Black Velvet (with the new Italian edition of Hicksville). Details to be confirmed; check with Black Velvet if you want more info.

4 October
: I’m doing a talk/signing at Strips & Stories in Hamburg, at 7.30pm (with the new German edition of Hicksville from the fabulous Reprodukt).
6 October (my birthday!): talk/signing at Ocelot in Berlin at 7.30pm.

9-15 October
: I’ll be at the Frankfurt Book Fair, along with an army of New Zealand authors (New Zealand is the highlighted country at this year’s Book Fair), including cartoonists Roger Langridge, Greg Broadmore, Colin Wilson and Ben Stenbeck.

My events will include:

10 October: panel discussion on the New Zealand School Journal (I’ll be reading a short excerpt from my short story Steam Girl and discussing the School Journal, a much-loved NZ institution): 11am.
11 October: Signing at T3 comics shop in Frankfurt: 5-7 pm.
12 October: NZ Comics talk (& signing) in the Comics Centre (Halle 3): 1 pm; followed at 4pm by an Artist Talk with Filip Kolek (of Reprodukt), at Leseinsel der Jungen Verlage in Halle 4.
13 October: Signing in the Comics Centre (Halle 3) in the morning.
14 October: NZ Comics discussion in the New Zealand Pavilion at 12 pm.

There may be other events too, but if you’re in Frankfurt for the Book Fair, hopefully you’ll find me!

There will also be a New Zealand Comics Stand in the Comics Centre, which will include a whole lot of NZ comics and graphic novels, and also this 100-page guide I put together on current NZ comics and graphic novel creators:

Sparkplug needs your help

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Sparkplug Comics’ Dylan Williams is one of the true heroes of comics – a fine cartoonist and a smart, courageous publisher with great taste. Unfortunately, he’s pretty ill right now, and as we all know, being sick in America ain’t easy when you’re living on the income of an alt comix publisher…

So here’s where we come in – and by “we” I mean all of us who love great comics. Sparkplug’s online shop is packed full of wonderful treasures, with comics from Chris Wright, Emily Nilsson, Dave Kiersh, John Hanckiewicz, Julia Gforer, John Porcellino, Renee French, Rina Ayuyang, T. Edward Bak, Ted May and so many other great cartoonists! All you have to do is go buy some – and you’ll be helping Dylan and the whole world of comics.

And if that’s not enough to convince you, Sparkplug have expressed an interest in publishing New Zealand’s very own Timothy Kidd. Now that’s what I call excellent taste…

Book launch: Chris Slane’s new graphic novel!

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Nice Day for a War
The mighty Chris Slane, one of New Zealand’s greatest cartoonists, is launching his new graphic novel tonight in Auckland. Nice Day for a War – Adventures of A Kiwi Soldier In World War 1 by Chris Slane and Matt Elliott recreates the experiences of Matt’s grandfather Corporal Cyril Elliott, who enlisted as a teenager and soon found himself struggling to survive in the trenches of the Western Front. The book is part graphic novel, part illustrated history book – and 100% pure Chris Slane greatness.

Those of you who remember Chris’ earlier graphic novel, Maui: Legends of the Outcast (written by Robert Sullivan), or his many other great comics, will know that this is an event worth celebrating.

So come along to the Grey Lynn RSA tonight, pick up a signed copy and toast Chris and Matt (you can even buy an ANZAC Day poppy).

Nice Day for a War – the Adventures of a Kiwi Soldier in World War 1
by Chris Slane and Matt Elliott

6.00-8.00pm Thursday 7 April

Grey Lynn (RSA) Returned services Social Club upstairs.
(Kids allowed upstairs)
1 Francis Street, West Lynn shops, Grey Lynn/Westmere, Auckland.
(50 steps from Moa, and Harvest Wholefoods)
Click here for map
Enter main door, turn left and follow the chair lift rail up the stairs to the cosy lounge bar.

Even if you can’t make it tonight, you can buy Nice Day for a War from good NZ booksellers everywhere, or online.

Shaolin Burning!

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Apologies for the lack of new Magic Pen pages this past week. Page 56 is turning into one of those pages that takes a week to draw, which has thrown things off schedule. It is, however, getting there…

While you’re waiting, please check out this very important event: the launch of New Zealand cartoonist Ant Sang’s brand new graphic novel, Shaolin Burning.

Ant Sang is one hell of a cartoonist, and a fabulous guy. His serialised story, Dharma Punks, was one of the most impressive New Zealand comics I’ve ever seen, and his inspired work as lead designer on the TV show Brotown has made his style familiar to everyone in the country. Shaolin Burning deserves to sell like crazy – and I can’t wait to read it!

The book is published by Harper Collins, and has already been spotted in some bookstores. The official launch party is tomorrow night (Thursday, 3 February), in Auckland. There’ll be original artwork on show, limited edition prints, copies of the book to buy, and Ant himself to stalk and admire.

Wild horses couldn’t keep me away, and if you’re anywhere near Auckland, I hope I’ll see you there!

P.S. If you can’t make it to the launch, don’t despair. The exhibition will be up till the 18th of February. Details can be found on Adrian Kinnaird’s excellent NZ comics blog, From Earth’s End. And, of course, you can still rush to your local book store for your very own copy of Shaolin Burning!