Archive for the ‘Other stuff’ Category

The Fellowship of Tahrir

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Like many people, I’ve been following the extraordinary events in Egypt via a range of sources, including Al Jazeera and Twitter. One of the biggest revelations – for me, anyway – has been the way Twitter offers a chance to follow the thoughts and comments of people in the thick of things on the other side of the world.

So yesterday (February 8th), I was following various Egyptians’ reactions to the emotionally-charged interview with Waed Ghonim on Dream TV. And two tweets from Pakinam Amer, an Egyptian journalist and blogger, stood out to my nerdy eye:


A quote from the Koran? Words of inspiration from some great Arab political leader? Nah. The first is a line from Aragorn; the second from Gandalf. Somewhere in Cairo, this young Egyptian journalist had turned to Lord of the Rings for comfort and inspiration.

An open letter to journalists regarding Wikileaks.

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

(I apologise for interrupting with something completely unrelated to comics, but I want to post this somewhere, and here seems the easiest place. Normal ‘Magic Pen’ posting will resume tomorrow!)

As the war on Wikileaks heats up to fever pitch, this has become an issue far greater than the nuanced specifics of the Cablegate leak and whether you think its release was flawed or its contents trivial.

Think back to the Pentagon Papers and ask yourself: would you like to have cooperated with Nixon’s attempts to suppress, persecute and harass Daniel Ellsberg, Neil Sheehan and the Washington Post? Or would you have taken a stand on principle?

The nature of the two leaks are, of course, very different; but make no mistake: this is that kind of once-in-a-generation moral challenge. As attempts to crush Wikileaks move beyond the reasonable and into the extralegal and Orwellian, this is becoming a profound moral crisis for free speech, journalism and democracy.

Frankly, I no longer care whether you find Julian Assange annoying and arrogant or how you feel about Gaddafi’s buxom nurse. The issues at stake now are far more significant and the outcome of this crisis will shape the environment for journalism, whistleblowers, the internet, free speech and democracy for a long time to come. In that, at least, there is a clear and striking parallel with the events surrounding the release of the Pentagon Papers and its aftermath.

So please: think about how your actions today might look in twenty years time, and please – for the sake of whatever ideals and principles first led you to consider journalism – take this crisis SERIOUSLY!

(And while I’m on the subject, please remember that Julian Assange is not the only person being persecuted over this. Remember Pfc Bradley Manning? If anyone’s the Daniel Ellsberg in all this, it’s Manning, who is currently in military prison, being kept in isolation and facing over 50 years imprisonment – all for trying to do the right thing. A few more stories about him wouldn’t go amiss…)

More Horrocks film news: Dad wins in Amsterdam

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Yesterday I mentioned my sister’s new feature film, After the Waterfall, which premieres at the New Zealand Film Festival tonight. And now, continuing with the “My family is awesome” theme, my father’s short film about Len Lye, Art That Moves, has just won a prize at the Amsterdam Film Festival.

Roger Horrocks (that’s my Dad) has written various books about New Zealand-born artist and film-maker Len Lye, including the definitive biography. For his latest book, a study of Len’s work as an art of movement, Dad also made an 18-minute film – a dramatisation of key moments in Lye’s childhood and youth, when his fascination with light and motion set him on the path to becoming a pioneering kinetic artist. The film features various family and friends in the role of Lye; my hand has a brief cameo as Len’s hand drawing in a sketchbook and my 4-year old nephew Oscar appears as the Very Young Len.

The film is included on a DVD (along with some of Lye’s own films and footage of his kinetic sculpture in action) that comes with the book, also called Art That Moves (available from Amazon here).

If you’ve never come across Len Lye before, here’s one of my favourite of Lye’s films, which was made by scratching directly onto the celluloid itself:

And this is an excerpt from an earlier documentary about Lye made by my step-mother, showing one of his awe-inspiring sculptures doing its thing:

My sister’s movie, ‘After the Waterfall’ is out!

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

My very cool sister Simone Horrocks’s new feature film has its New Zealand premiere tomorrow (July 14), at the NZ Film Festival. After the Waterfall is Simone’s first feature, but her short films have done very well, including winning a prestigious prize at the Berlin Film Festival.

atw-antony-starr-press-picAdapted from Stephen Blanchard’s novel Paraffin Child, After the Waterfall is about a man whose young daughter goes missing; itfollows his descent into darkness and slow climb back into daylight. There are many great things about this film: Antony Starr’s extraordinary performance in the lead role (the whole cast are excellent), a powerful sense of place (Auckland’s west coast and suburbs), and an emotional intensity that will leave you reeling, but greatly enriched. I’m very excited about it – and very proud of my awesome sister.

Anyway, if you’re in Auckland or Wellington, you can catch After the Waterfall at the NZ Film Festival (tickets available here). I’ll post any later release news as I hear it.

And here are some interviews with Simone and other news about the film:

A long interview with Simone on Wellywood Woman
A story about the film’s screening at a festival in Beijing, China
An interview with Simone on KiwiFM (via youtube)
After the Waterfall’s Facebook page
After the Waterfall on the NZ Film Festival website
Book tickets for After the Waterfall at the NZ Film Festival (via Ticketek)
After the Waterfall at



Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

I want to give a big (belated) thanks to the person who sent me two books from my Amazon wish list. Very much appreciated – and if you’re reading this, send me an email to confirm your mailing address. I’d like to send you a little something in return.

Thanks again!

New page: The Magic Pen

Friday, June 11th, 2010
Click for new page

Click for new page

Interview roundup!

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

With the new edition of Hicksville out (both the Drawn & Quarterly edition and the New Zealand edition from VUP), I’ve been doing some interviews and podcasts. Here are some of them:

(Updated 9 June: now with even more podcasts and interviews!).

inkstudsInkstuds – podcast
A great comics podcast, hosted by Robin McConnell on Vancouver’s CiTR. This was a joy to record! Plus I got to choose some music: Broken Social Scene‘s Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl, Bonnie Prince Billy covering Chris Knox‘s My Only Friend and Bachelorette‘s Instructions for Insomniacs.

TheComicSpotThe Comic Spot – podcast
A very fun interview I did with the irrepressible John Retallick, the awesome Jo Waite and the phenomenal Bernard Calleo while I was in Melbourne in April. This is a great show, which goes out live on 3CR community radio. The podcast of our episode is now available on The Comic Spot’s own podcast page.

comixclaptrapThe Comix Claptrap – podcast
The very cool Rina Ayuyang and Thien Pham indulge my lengthy ramblings about life, art and babies. Lark Pien was also lurking in the background but didn’t pipe up till after the podcast was finished. Anyway – whether I make any sense is questionable, but Rina and Thien are a hoot, and they do a mighty fine podcast!

inkpanthersInk Panthers – podcast
Mike Dawson and Alex Robinson host this hilarious podcast series, and here they interrogate me about my lifelong obsession with pen & paper roleplaying games. We also talk about watching movies on an iPod, I say rude things about Apple, and we come up with a very cool project involving alternative cartoonists and a new D&D Monster Manual (which someone really ought to make happen)… Good times!

ListenerThe NZ Listener
David Larsen did this interview and write-up, and then the Listener sent a photographer to take pictures of me and my cat. Unfortunately the online version doesn’t include the pictures, so no, you don’t get to see Moogli in all her glory. But the interview is great!

This is an interview I did over ginger beer at a bar in Melbourne, just across the road from the Wheeler Centre, where I was running a workshop all week with some very fine cartoonists. Martyn Pedler did the interview, and we ended up chatting for hours about all kinds of things. In fact, he later posted a fascinating footnote to the interview here.

Film-maker Jonathan King interviewed me for Idealog, a NZ-based magazine. We ended up talking a lot about copyright and new media, which was fine by me. The interview is nicely illustrated, too.

ComicBookResourcesComic Book Resources
CBR’s Alex Dueben emailed me a bunch of questions for this interview, and they were so interesting I really took my time replying. Then he sent some follow-up questions that were even more interesting! So the interview took a while; but I enjoyed it!

This interview by Graham Reid was published in the NZ Herald, but this archived version from his website is splendidly illustrated; he’s even included a clip from my step-mother Shirley’s wonderful documentary about NZ comics. Years ago, I turned an interview Graham did with Egberto Gismonti into a comic strip for the Herald, and we’ve also visited schools together (me talking about comics, Graham talking about journalism and travel writing), so it was nice catching up again.

Blukeko is a blog run by Auckland student Philip McKibbin, and he’s used it to interview an astonishingly diverse range of New Zealanders, from clergymen to politicians, journalists and writers. It’s worth a browse.

DomPostThe Dominion Post
This was an interview by the very clued up Tom Cardy, which was published in the Dominion Post’s weekend magazine supplement Indulgence. They were nice enough to put my self-portrait on the cover. By the way, this is the first self-portrait I think I’ve ever done in which I’m smiling – at the insistence of my kids, who were sick of seeing “glum dad” pictures everywhere. I sincerely hope this is the start of a new, permanently happy stage in my life… Also illustrating this interview is an actual photo of me in real life (with my kids), as taken by my lovely wife Terry while on holiday in New Zealand’s mindblowingly gorgeous South Island.

Newsarama got in early with their interview by Michael C. Lorah, in which I talk a little candidly about my ambivalent relationship with mainstream comics. Mind you, I suppose I do that in several of these interviews, since it’s been a theme of the questions, on account of the new edition’s uncomfortably candid introduction. So really I have no-one but myself to blame…

publishersweeklyPublisher’s Weekly
This interview was going to be conducted via Skype, but my laptop chose that very moment to go all SNAFU (as a result of having just installed Windows 7 on it). So we finished the interview by email. Laptop is all better now, thanks to the careful installation of some drivers, so I’m all ready for more action-packed full-video Skyping!

There are a few more coming, but I’ll post about those once they’re online.

There have been numerous reviews, too, but I thought I’d point out a few of particular interest (to me, anyway):

popmattersPop Matters (a really interesting review by historian and cultural commentator W. Scott Poole, whose book Satan in America is high on my reading list).

boingboingBoing Boing (because it’s one of my favourite websites and seeing Hicksville on there made my day!)

The Comics JournalThe Comics Journal
Rob Clough wrote this long and thoughtful review that made me look at aspects of Hicksville in new ways – which is always a treat when reading a review.

Doodling at the gaming table…

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Gaming notebookIn the course of finding something for a rather nifty project Lark Pien is putting together, I found myself looking through various sketchbooks and notebooks looking for doodles. So I thought I’d put some of it online, because… well, just because.

The following, then, were all drawn during two Roleplaying Games: a Bushido game run by my friend John, and a Fudge-based game set during the First Crusade, run by my friend Matthew. I do a lot of doodling during games, and I often love what comes out. These pictures have nothing whatsoever to do with what’s going on in the games – it’s really just stream-of-consciousness stuff, letting my hand draw while my mind is busy elsewhere.

I wish I could draw comics that looked like this…

Off to New Caledonia

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

Terry and I are heading to New Caledonia for a week, as guests of a comics festival: BD Folies Boulouparis. The festival is this weekend (August 8-9), in the apparently beautiful seaside town of Boulouparis (a little way north of Noumea), and sounds like a lot of fun.

I’m looking forward to it, of course, although my French is very rusty – so wish us luck!

Summer/Winter reading list

Monday, July 6th, 2009

The fine Canadian comics blog Sequential is posting Summer Reading Lists by various comics folks, and my one is here. Of course, it’s winter down here in New Zealand, but then I actually read most of my picks over the summer anyway, so whatever.