Friday, May 25, 2012

Darren Schroeder Interview


Darren Schroeder served fourteen years as the editor of Christchurch comic collective Funtime Comics, New Zealand's longest running comic collective. As well as creating his own series of mini comics, Mopy, Schroeder edited the small press section of Comics Bulletin for 7 years (2000-07) and contributed the occasional interview and review of mainstream comics. Schroeder has also written articles on New Zealand comics for Comic Edge, Comic Quarterly, Stripschrift, Comic Australia and various other magazines and web sites. Since the late twentieth century Schroeder has also maintained fan sites for the comic characters Man-Thing, Jonah Hex, and comic creator Keith Giffen.

Find Darren Schroeder online here.

 Darren Schroeder

The following interview was conducted via email May 2012

What were the first comics you took an interest in?

From a young age I had a box of comics by my bed which I used to read over and over and over. They were mostly Disney including Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge and even a Super Goof. There was also some other random issues of other comics: a few Australian/NZ DC reprints, Jonah Hex, Fear # 16, Unknown Soldier etc.

When did you start drawing comics and what were your initial influences?

I started working on drawing my own in the late 90s. I'd been a fan of local comics for many years but hadn't really though about drawing my own until I read a comic by John Weeks which ended with the words "You could have made this comic", and it just made me suddenly think "Okay, I'll give it a try!". Content wise the autobiographical work of folks like Ariel Shcrag, Harvey Pekar, and Amber Carvan appealed to me so I tried that approach, and the humour of Brad Yung's "Stay As You Are" had a strong impact.


Who was involved with the creation of Funtime Comics?

Funtime Comics grew out of Comic Soc, a club at the University of Canterbury established by Jason Brice. The club's aim was to promote the comics form by providing a meeting place for folk of like minds, and publishing a comic/zine was part of Jason's initial plan. He got a lot of folks involved, editing the first issue of Funtime Comics with university friends Bean McGregor and Nigel Campbell, with the name Funtime coming from a competition for the title and cover banner which was won by Debra Boyask.


Have there been any other South island collectives or groups of cartoonist's?

Dunedin had a few well before Funtime - I get the impression Razor, Jesus on a Stick, Treacle, and Umph all came out of a collective approach. In Christchurch there was also the NZ Cartoonist Collective with their own anthology.

What lead you to taking the role of editor for Funtime Comics Presents?

It became available after issue 4 had a troubled production. I'd done some editing of a small zine for another club so said I'd give the job a go.


What sustained you serving fourteen years as Funtimes Comics Presents editor?

The look on the faces of the contributors when they saw the comics arrive fresh from the printers.

Were any comics rejected for publication during your time as Funtimes editor?

No and yes: Everyone who submitted work had something published, but if someone sent us lots of pages I'd select from it what I thought best represented their style, and keep the other material for possible future use. When I stopped being editor there was a large file of stuff for the next editor (Isaac Freeman) to work with.


What did your role as Funtimes editor entail?

I'd collate the contributions for each issue from the work that had been submitted, produce any text pages, commission cover artwork, decide on a subtitle for each issue, deal with the printers, and distribute the finished product to contributors, subscribers and comic shops. As the only "official" of the group I also took on a range of administrative tasks like treasurer and buyer of animal biscuits for the monthly comic workshops.

Dylan Horrocks stocks up on animal biscuits

Who are some of your personal favourite New Zealand Cartoonists?

Tim Cornelius's "Colonel Void & Bisbay the Axolotl" in The New Zealand Comic Gazette is a kiwi classic.

G.C.R. - I loved Grace's autobiographical Bip Bip.

Brent Willis - lots of folk think they're funny, Brent's stuff is always hilarious, and he is so prolific.

Indira Neville - Her comics were great fun

What is the appeal for you of Jonah Hex?

Michael Fleisher wrote great little morality tales, and managed to Jonah a rather tragic figure: alone, despised by most people, unable to escape violence, and even coming face to face with his own stuffed corpse. The future Hex stuff was an odd idea but it worked, and Giffen's artwork is some of my favourite comic artwork - such an extreme, almost expressionistic way of telling a story that used intense closeups on details instead of showing the action.

 
While you were in Christchurch where were the best places to get comics?

Comics Compulsion did well for mainstream material and were always supportive of local comics. The second hand shops were surprisingly useful for older US stuff back in the 90s as well.

What prompted your move to England?

The woman I love got a job here so I came along with her.

Are you currently doing anything in comics creatively or reading?

I haven't drawn any comics for about 5 years, but recently I've been asked to guest edit a new local comic/zine anthology Quixotic Press.

I'm also looking into running comic creating workshops for schools.

Reading wise I get Jonah Hex, anything that Keith Giffen draws, and the occasional random small press comic.

All images copyright 2012 Darren Schroeder, Funtime Comics

5 comments:

EnidW said...

That was a really good interview. I especially liked the pink pom pom.

Tim said...

And the animal biscuits!

Jason Brice said...

I liked the bit where my name got mentioned. :-)

Jason Brice said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Debra said...

I made that pink pom pom!