Showing posts with label fantagraphics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fantagraphics. Show all posts

Monday, December 17, 2012

2012 in Review: Mat Tait

Mat Tait

What have been your personal cartooning/comics highlights of 2012?
Just getting a few pages finished that I was happy with.

Who are some of the comics creators that you've discovered and enjoyed for the first time in 2012?
Carl Barks via the great Fantagraphics reprints. It was nice to discover work that I've heard so much about lived up to the billing.

What is something non-comics that you have enjoyed in 2012?
I've been enjoying poring over a massive collection of Piranesi's fantastically detailed and grandiose etchings (via a cheap 2 volume set from Taschen - well worth a buy).  Best movies I've seen this year: Drive, Kill List, and The Battle of Algiers.

Have you implemented any significant changes to your working methods this year?
Mainly making sure that I draw every day, no matter how little, or how busy I've been with other stuff. It gets things done and avoids The Fear.

What are you looking forward to in 2013?
Getting some of the stuff I'm working on completed, maybe getting some stuff into print.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr Interview Part Two of Two

Read part one of James Andre's interview with Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr here.

Find Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr online here.
Find Milk Shadow Books here.

A lot of your horror work seems to either be set in the prehistoric times or in the future. Your visions of the future and past seem unlike those of the Flintstones or Jetsons. What interests you in these time periods?

  The very fact that these time periods are not in the here and now allows the imagination far greater freedom to explore the kind of concepts and images that we do. Stories set in the present, with a basis in firm reality, make this more difficult to achieve. The more unreal, surreal or bizarre the setting or scenario, the more creative your imagination becomes, resulting in uniqueness and originality. Also, issues such as social politics, et al, can then be addressed in a far more lateral way and remain in the subtext without crowding the story and action. When working within genres such as SF, horror and fantasy, as a general rule, the further from reality the story, the more diverse the interpretation of the readers. We feel that this is ultimately a positive thing. We have found that settings in other realities, in the far past or distant future, or on other worlds, work best for us when dealing with pure “fantasy”

You have released several works with titles such as Gorgasm etc, what do you think of the new trend in mainstream filmmaking, and possibly mass media in general of the pornography or torture porn style of entertainment? Recent works such as Hostel etc?

For a start, it’s not exactly a “new trend”. Do not forget the Video Nasties and the Pre-Code horror comics of the 1950s, or the “Penny Dreadfuls”, the pulps of the 1930s and just as infamous, the Grand Guignol, which featured staged rapes, torture and mutilations such as eye gouging – as do films like Hostel and Saw.

There is far less censorship now than there was in the hideously politically correct 1990s. Back then; it was just too fashionable to be offended by just about anything at all. There is more freedom now, and that can only be a good thing for artists who enjoy pushing the “boundaries”.

We feel that films such as Hostel 1 & 2, Dawn of the Dead remake, Devil’s Rejects, Hills have Eyes remake, and such, are bonafide modern horror films that do not pull their punches. There are many interesting themes and good performances in these films, along with genuinely threatening and confronting images of terrifying violence. These elements make these films much more powerful than your average lightweight thriller.

One thing these films are not, and that’s pornography. While the violence and elements of sadism may well be intense, they contain no porn. Nudity, naked breasts and simulated sex does not constitute pornography. Nor do bucket-loads of SFX blood and guts. Pornographic films have real people indulging in real sex for the camera. These “new trend” horror films are not real. They are created through the use of special effects. No one is ever “really” tortured, raped, mutilated or murdered.
On the other hand, there are women who are involved in the porn industry that clearly would rather be doing something else. In effect, they are trapped. That kind of scenario is pretty depressing. This is simply not the case with films like Hostel, no matter how “offensive” the themes and imagery.

Horror is visual and visceral as well as psychological. In a thriller or suspense story it is the notion of implication and an atmosphere of fear that drives the story and characters. It is not until “that which is truly unacceptable” actually transpires and is shown rather than implied that a story can really become a “horror story”. This is what puts horror apart from other forms, such as suspense and fantasy, etc.

All good stories, horror or otherwise, have a combination of elements– a good premise, strong concepts, suspense, drama, action, interesting characters, a cohesive plot, and in some cases, even moments of impactful violence. But if you intend to do horror, then it’s a good idea to make it horrific – conceptually and visually. Matters of “taste” or theories of what does or does not constitute “porn” and “torture porn” don’t enter into it.

Splash page from Phantastique #4

Can you talk about the relaunch of Phantastique?

Yes, Phantastique has re-emerged as Fantastique. The first two issues are in circulation throughout the underground and a third one is due to be released soon. It includes The Well of Souls - scripted and pencilled by us and inked by Glenn Smith, and Ocean Born, a script of ours that has been illustrated by Tanya Nicholls (of Storm Publishing).

Fantastique is more overtly oriented towards fantasy and science fantasy, but it also contains obvious elements of horror and gore. On the other hand, Charnel House is a hard-core horror comic that is extreme and very explicit.

Ever thought of doing something with some fluffy bears and a nice little romance?

Not likely. Not our thing.

So, what’s up next?
More art, stories, experimental music and comics.

Thank you both for your time.
Thanks very much for your interest in us, and our work.
All images copyright 2012 Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr. Interview copyright 2012 James Andre.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr Interview Part One of Two

Originally intended for publication in Milk Shadow Books anthology title YUCK, a couple years ago, the following interview ended up unused and was passed on to me by Milk Shadow Books Head Honcho James Andre. As S.C.A.R, Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr, have produced some of Australia's most provocative comics garnering fans all over the globe with their uncompromising visions of the distant past and the far flung future. I hope to do a follow up interview with them to touch on what they have been up to in recent times.

Find Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr online here.
Find Milk Shadow Books here.

Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr Interview by James Andre

When most people think Australian comics, they think of that rascal Ginger Meggs, or maybe the majestic gaze of The Phantom. They probably don’t think of vomitous mutilating mutants with the sex organs of humans. They should. But maybe they’ve never heard of SCAR.

Yuck Magazine recently grabbed Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr by the shoulders, and shook them for an explanation.
Panel from Charnel House #1

What sparked both your interests in art?

Art itself. We have both always had an inherent talent and interest in it. We’ve always been attracted to visual things. It was the surrealists, Bosch, Ernst, Bruegel, Magritte, Dali, etc, and early images of pulp SF and horror that inspired us, along with comic books from the 1960s, primarily Gold Key SF fantasy and early Marvel comic art, Kirby and Dikto, specifically.

Another inspiration was 1950s SF films and TV shows like The Outer Limits, etc. In fact, we are both more oriented towards SF and weird fantasy rather than horror, even though we often include gory content in our work. Well before the time either of us had actually seen an EC comic, we had been independently creating grotesque and surreal comic art and illustrations.

How was SCAR formed?

We met at a comic book artists and writers meeting in Sydney in 1991 and discovered that we had very common artistic tastes and interests. Turned out we were creatively compatible and made a pretty good team. Both of us have been able to do much more together than either of us ever could have achieved on an individual basis.

What equipment/materials did you start the company with?

We are not a company. We simply work together on many art, writing and musical projects. So far as art, comics and writing are concerned, in the beginning we used the basics – pencils, rubbers, pens, paper, inks and cheap printers or Photostat machines.

How has that changed now with the prevalence of computer graphics technology?

Some layouts, scripts and colouring are produced with the assistance of a computer these days. We also use the computer when it comes to our electronic music, mainly to manipulate and process rhythms and noise.

Was it hard to find printers willing to print your material?

In the early days of Phantastique magazine there were problems. Issue #2 was delayed by several weeks because a printer freaked out over the content. There is also the issue of cost. Printing is expense in Australia.

These days, we’ve had very few problems over the content, even our most graphic images, which are far more extreme than anything that was ever in Phantastique. In fact, our current printer likes us, along with most of our work.

Phantastique #4

Steve, you were part of Phantastique. Could you tell us about your involvement with the Phantastique controversy?

Phantastique magazine was financed by a small grant ($5,000) and a loan ($20,000) from the Office of Small Business. The $5,000 was for capital only and the $20,000 was paid out in increments as specific expenses arose, production, advertising, etc. These funds were also to be paid back in monthly instalments from incoming profits.

Issue #1 of Phantastique was released in 1985. The final issue (#4) appeared on the newsstands late in 1986. I was the creative director, as well as contributing art and stories. There was an instant controversy over the content - explicit depictions of gory violence. Consequently, issues #3 and #4 were banned in QLD, SA and WA.

The loudest critics did not come from the conservative Right, as one would assume, but from the authoritarian Leftists. Stories such as Jungle Ghoul Girls, which appeared in issue #4, were seen as being “highly offensive” and labelled as “ideologically unsound”. However, various conservatives and moral reformists also condemned the magazine, its creators and content. The controversy raged on talkback radio and on TV news and Current Affairs programmes for nearly a month.

 Sequence from The Fuglies

Have either of you ever had any interest in producing art or writing for mainstream comics for companies such as Dark Horse etc?

We certainly have. Our work has been published by Dark Horse and Eros/Fantagraphics, among others, as well as appearing in Australian national weekly magazines produced by ACP, Next Media, Gemkilt, etc. We are always interested in mainstream publishers and the possibility of a wider exposure, not to mention making a living off our art and writing.

Currently, much of our work is in very limited release and consists of small runs. Some of this material is very extreme and not particularly “mainstream friendly”. Despite this, it’s very much in demand throughout the counter-culture. Many of our readers also claim that they have difficulty obtaining our material. Support from mainstream publishers and a broader, more commercial release would go a long way in resolving this problem.

What’s the story with the banning of Spore Whores?

The Spore Whores trilogy, along with Femosaur World and Kill of the Spyderwoman were produced for Eros/Fantagraphics. The Office of Film and Literature Classification banned all three issues of Spore Whores in the early 1990s after a package containing our complimentary copies of Femosaur World and Spore Whores #1 was seized by Australian Customs and forwarded by them to the OFLC.

Due to its content of graphic and explicit depictions of gory sexual violence, Spore Whores #1 was immediately banned in Australia. Issues #2 and #3 soon suffered the same fate. However, Spore Whores remained on sale in various comic book specialty stores for some time afterwards; the banning was never widely publicised. Some stores were raided and their stock was confiscated or impounded.

 Page from Once Upon A Time In Australia

Besides influences such as Tales From The Crypt and horror comics, what are some of the influences behind your art, both visually and the writing style?

There are countless influences: Death Metal, Black Metal and prog rock art are a source of inspiration, not to mention the music. SF authors such as H. G. Wells, Harry Harrison, Eric Frank Russell, Robert Sheckley, John Sladek, Bruce Jones and Fredric Brown have had a lasting impact.

Influential horror authors include David Case, Alex White, Nancy A Collins, and Joe R Lansdale. Early fantasy writers like Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E Howard, Lovecraft and others were among our earliest influences, along with the Pan Books of Horror.

Visually and conceptually, our work would have evolved very differently had we not been exposed to concepts like dadaism and Cubism, etc, Ray Harryhausen films and their modern counterparts, as well as primitive and tribal art.

Of equal importance are negative influences, such as mediocre ideas and anti-progressive and prohibitive ideology. These things often motivate us to create something that we find inspiring, regardless of any “barriers” or “limitations” that are transgressed in the process.

There’s a strong portrayal of females in your work. The villains seem to almost all be female. Any reason for this?
We think female villains are way sexier than lame do-gooder heroines like Xena and Wonder Woman. And they are fun to draw. Besides, the traditional “male villain” archetypes have been fully explored in a myriad of ways. There’s a kind of freshness to the idea of using female villains that makes them more appealing to us than your average generic bad guy. However, that’s not to say that male villains are no longer relevant or that female villains are anything especially new.

When it comes to art, fiction and fantasy, we are both interested in and inspired by the concept and images of hyper-predatory females. Global legend and mythology is full of female monsters and demonic goddesses of destruction – Lilith, Hecate, Kali, Echidna, Tiamat, Medusa, harpies, banshees, lamiae, etc.

These powerful female archetypes have endured throughout history. They provide a diverse source of inspiration for storylines, concepts and characters. There is a plethora of subtext and themes – social, political and Freudian - just waiting to be explored through these archetypes.

Panel from The Fuglies

All images copyright 2012 Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr. Interview copyright 2012 James Andre.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Inherent Vice: Michael Hawkins

 At the recent Inherent Vice Residency I spoke briefly with Michael Hawkins.

What is the average day like at Inherent Vice?

I try to make it in as much as possible, usually I come in around 10am or 11am. I settle in, say hi to everyone, and decide what I want to do for the day. I've got a major project I'm working on which is a series of inter-connected stories. I try and set some sort of goal ahead like today I've penciled up a couple of pages which was my goal to at least get done. I've got that done now and I'll see how much I can ink and so forth. The rest of the day consists of just drawing comics, chatting to the public if they pass my desk, and usual stuff like eating, sometimes going out for a beer with the guys, or whatever happens.

What has it been like having the general public walking through your studio?

It can be a little distracting from time to time. The flip-side is the fact you have people seeing what you're doing as you're doing it and appreciating your work which is very encouraging and very motivating. As you probably know from drawing comics at home it can get a bit tedious. You get sick of doing it and you just want to go do something else. You know you're not going to get that positive feedback or validation until weeks or months down the track so having that instant feedback from the public can help you keep going.

What are some of the artists and comics that interested you in making your own comics?

I got into comics when I was about fifteen. I had always been an artist and I drew cartoons as a kid but decided I wanted to be a more serious artist. When I was in high school I was really into films 'cause I had that narrative impulse and I wanted to do something like that. Thought maybe I'd be a film maker then I discovered what was coming out of Fantagraphics at the time, Dan Clowes, Charles Burns, Jim Woodring, and so forth and that's when things clicked for me and I decided I wanted to be a cartoonist. 

More recently I've gotten really into the Kramer's Ergot stuff, artist's like C.F. and Dash Shaw that have more a lo-fi look and a certain kind of crazy trippy fantasy vibe. My friend Simon Hanselman is a constant source of inspiration. He's probably my favourite cartoonist out of anyone. He does the best comics I've ever seen and is always an inspiration to work harder.

What tools do you use to make comics?

I use a pacer to pencil with and for outlines I've got a special fountain pen for drawing from a Japanese site called Jetpens, fine point Manga illustration. Most people think I'm doing my comics in watercolour but usually it's with grey felt tip pens. I've got a couple of Copics which give a good flat gray. A couple shades with those and a couple with Faber Castell Pitt Artist pens which are a kind of a warm fuzzy grey. They're warmer in tone and the texture is softer and fuzzier. They last a little while but they don't keep their point for as long as you'd want them to. I use a little bit of grey water colour as well. I have another pen from Jetpens,  a brush pen that is refillable, it's like working with brush and ink except you don't have to dip. I use that for blacks and some of the stronger outlines.

Hawkin's Corey the Dweller in the Hollow has been released in a limited release run and will have a wider launch through Blood and Thunder.