QUICK QUESTIONS WITH Hilary Lawler
WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT IS YOUR CONNECTION TO COMICS?
I’m a Meath based comic artist, and also a Life Coach and I am finding my way to being as creatively authentic as possible. My connection with comics is with creating Superhilbo! and being part of a publication called Longstone Comics.
WHAT COMIC ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
Longstone Comics Vol.6, acting as associate editor for it along with Peter Loftus, the main editor. I’m also starting other little projects while battling with the drawing board for Superhilbo – Issue 2. What is it with an issue 2 that makes you want to head for the hills? The stuff is pretty much done yet I’m draggin my heels. Superhilbo would seriously kick my ass if she could jump off the page, she’s already been staring back at me in a folded arms and stompy foot pose going ‘we done farting about yet chump?’.
WHAT’S THE BEST PART OF MAKING COMICS?
Connecting with that moment when you feel you’ve gone up a level and the image on the page reflects your thought or vision. That is such a lovely feeling, it would be nice if it wasn’t a fleeting thing and more regular. The other bit is when you find yourself being focused and getting the job done before a deadline. Sense of satisfaction is well cool on that one.
WHAT’S THE WORST PART OF MAKING COMICS?
Fighting with yourself to do the work. The ‘just shut up and draw’ approach works, only sometimes it is better hearing it from Dee(Deirdre de Barra). We’ve clocked up a lot of big phone bills, and man can I rant when I’m dodging drawing! A presentation on 101 -valid- reasons- why- I’m- not –putting- the -effort -in- despite- having- the- time could be given before the ‘C’MON!..’ Will Arnett voice shouts out. It always boils down to the same thing, just do it. Drawing comics makes me a very happy Hilbo.
HOW DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER COMICS?
In college, Peter(Peter Loftus) had Arkham Asylum, and I read it and loved it and was hooked. Before that comics were not on my radar, and in Meath there weren’t a lot of shops that would stock anything other than Irelands Own, jumpers, monster munch, bucket & spades and some milk. So comics were discovered compliments of Peters collection in college, and I blame them on me dodging lectures…ahem.
WHO IS THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WORK?
Jeez, I’m not in it that long to say that my work could a) have a clear enough style yet and b) be influenced fully by any one artist. There are so many styles and artists and ways of creating out there that I’m sure I’ll lean more towards one than another, but not entirely sure if there is any one influence coming through just yet. Artists that I really love at the mo though are Grant Gould, Joshua Middleton, Todd McFarlane, Becky Cloonan and Tara McPherson. I definitely like their lines, approach, style and vibe. Manga appealed too for a good while, but lately it just doesn’t work for me.
WHAT TOOLS OF THE TRADE DO YOU USE?
A lovely blue mechanical pencil with HB leads when I can find leads, and HB pencil (Faber Castell) with the eraser top. Other cheap pencils with a crappy lead in them tend to end up in the bin quickly after I get sick of sharpening them only to have the lead fall out. The Pentel Brush Pen is great too.
WHAT IS THE SINGLE WORK OF WHICH YOU ARE MOST PROUD?
Superhilbo – regardless of the quality as it’s easy to point that bit out. It was something I set my mind on doing and got it done within a good time frame. There are tons more stories to come out too. It makes people laugh and I’ve had such positive feedback from the people that connect with it that it makes me very proud. I even have a fan of Superhilbo (outside of family and friends) called Paul Trimble!
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED?
Just shut up and draw..heh heh.
WHAT IS THE WORST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
Hmmm…not sure. I’ve been very lucky to have met some brilliantly honest but kind people in comics. The advice bit tends to come across more as guidance and there have been too many moments of that to mention. Some people can pass off rude criticism as ‘advice’ however, so I think being aware this can happen is good and trusting your instinct on the intention behind it is important.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE CURRENT IRISH COMIC SCENE?
It’s growing fast. The scene has always been there, it just seems to be forming a more coherent shape. With printing costs considerably cheaper than they were, it makes it easier for people to publish their work so independent comics seem to be coming out more and the quality is going up. On top of that there are some brilliant careers that you get to see being created along the way so that is really cool!
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN IN IRISH COMIC IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
A proper Irish Comic Con being organised that features the independent publishing scene prominently as well as all other genres and that is advertised within an inch of its life so that the world and it’s mother knows it’s on. Talent scouts go to it and we’ve got guests from all key comic industries featured and it becomes a regular calendar event to look forward to. It’s a con that attracts a wide range of people and not just basement enthusiasts in their marked tracksuit trousers.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN IN COMICS IN GENERAL IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
More Irish artists getting jobs in comics please.
WHAT WAS THE LAST COMIC THAT MADE AN IMPACT ON YOU?
It was a graphic novel called ‘Skim’ by Mariko & Jillian Tamaki. It’s a beautifully drawn diary of a young girl finding her way in the world. It has a flow to it that breaks up the traditional sequenced structure of panels and I just love the freedom of the lines in it.
FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU COULD GIVE SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO START MAKING THEIR OWN COMICS? (And don’t say DON’T 🙂 )
Planning, pacing and having a deadline has worked when you know what you’re doing and have a focus. Realising that my artistic voice is valid and has a place in the world helps me a ton when I don’t know exactly what I’m doing because I’ve lost focus. It’s going to be different for everyone, just be aware that in 5 years time do you want to look back and say ‘I should have at least made my comic!’.
ANY FINAL THOUGHTS?
Thanks Petey and Dee for putting up with me and listening to my ranting while I do all this!! 🙂
Hilary Lawler is a comic artist based in Meath. She is the creator of Superhilbo!, an associate editor for Longstone Comics and event organiser for the Point Village Comic Festival in 2010. Her work such as Superhilbo – Kitty Kapers & Thar She Blows, They Came from Outer Space and Murder Room has been published in Longstone comics Vol.1 – Vol.4. Her cover art has featured in Longstone Comics Vol.3 and Spluc! Comics. For updates on her work please visit www.superhilbo.blogspot.com and www.hilbo.blogspot.com