1. Briefly describe your experience at comic artist rehab:
I had a great experience. I went into this comic universe unsure of myself as an artist, and came out with a much stronger vision of where I stand aesthetically and creatively. I think I’ve developed a new style for myself – a sort of pastiche, manic collage feel, which I think works well. In this sense it was highly developmental and educational, illuminating even. I had some rough experiences too though. One of my comics was pulled completely because of copyright infringement. There were different perspectives on this, but at the end of the day, I think the right decision was made in regards to the offending panel. I was also hospitalised around two thirds in and was diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder – so funnily enough, I ended up in a real life rehab, spending two nights in a Mental Hospital in Wyong, NSW. I know which rehab I prefer – give me a pen and paper over Zoloft and Xanax anyday. Give me all four and I’ll be the next Robert Crumb.
2. What, if anything, did you learn from the program?
Creativity is a natural high and beats deadlines better than a Lion beats a Gazelle or a West Coast Eagle beats a Sydney Swan/drug habit.
3. Which one of your own comics are you most pleased with and why?
I actually really like the last one. Spike Milligan has always been an influence on all my work – writing and comics – and I can relate to him even more now having gone through depression and the manic highs associated with Bipolar. I think I captured something of his spirit in that last comic. I also really like the first one, because it’s the only one made without the use of a computer – besides to scan it in – and it really surprised me and everyone else. I was really surprised by the comments with that one, which were generous, and thanks to Tim Danko, introduced me to the great writer Robert Walser. Also comic five, because that’s when I think I hit the right note.
4. Which one of your own comics are you least pleased with and why?
Day Nine, which must have been my third comic, was obviously a huge debacle. One of the panels were pulled and the whole thing was taken down. Funnily enough, very secretly, it is actually probably my favourite comic out of the lot. There’s something a little nutty about it, and the whole Lachlan Conn/Tim Danko plot at the end just brings a big old smile to my face everytime. Plus, who could pass up Lucy Van Pelt with Mussolini’s face? Or Patty doing the heil? Or, my personal favourite, Linus as Kim Jong Ill? Love it.
5. Do you hope to keep up drawing comics after rehab? If so, how often.
I’m actually working on a new book at the moment, with a Spanish illustrator I met in Melbourne, Cristina Velano. What a great last name! We’re going to maybe turn it into a regular Him/Her sort of thing. At the moment it is called Dogs and Violins and should be available later next month.
6. Any suggestions for future rounds?
Enjoy it. It’s a really great and rare opportunity. Don’t forget to thank Amber for getting it all rolling, and be adventurous and do something a little different. Look at Tim Danko’s comics and ask yourself – can I be that good/weird? Read comments and reply in the comics themselves – I think people got a kick out of that, particularly with the Walserian references. Thanks Danko