WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT IS YOUR CONNECTION TO COMICS?
Maeve Clancy, Comic writer and artist, sometime animator and designer. I write a weekly webcomic called Flatmates and a couple of comics for periodicals like Film Ireland.
WHAT COMIC ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
Flatmates (catching up as I’m behind as always).
Inheritance, a graphic novel I began in Berlin last summer. I’m working on it now and hoping to have it fully roughed out by the autumn.
I’m also working on a series of reportage/travelogue comics about Greece while I’m here for the summer. I hope to put them up on the ICN site and so build up a picture of Thessaloniki(where I’m living), Greece and the Greeks.
WHAT’S THE BEST PART OF MAKING COMICS?
Honestly, everything about them. You can tell stories the way that you want, pace the action and create a world of your own. There is so much scope for your imagination, and as someone who also works in animation, I love how quickly you can get a story out there in the comic format.
I can only write in pictures it seems, maybe because my mind works at the same speed as I can sketch images. There’s something really exciting about your mind working out a story as you draw, it feels a little like something outside of yourself is in charge for a while. That’s my favourite feeling.
WHAT’S THE WORST PART OF MAKING COMICS?
Maybe drawing the cleanup version. You’ve done the most interesting and exciting part in the creation of the idea. Making the finished drawings can seem like a slog in comparison, but you do get a great sense of satisfaction when it’s complete.
HOW DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER COMICS?
I read Buster, Dandy and Beano as a kid. We got 2000AD, Asterix and Tintin too as we got older. My older brother Andrew had a couple of graphic novels, but I really started reading them when I lived in New Zealand for a year after I finished college. The Central Library in Auckland had an amazing collection of graphic novels, and I was often waiting about in the city centre between buses so I used to duck in there and read a bit. By the time I left, I’d gone through their entire collection and was irreversibly hooked.
WHO IS THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WORK?
No one person. I really like works by various people: Dylan Horrocks’ Hicksville, Tintin, Asterix, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, Alan Moore’s Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Swamp Thing, Frank Miller’s Sin City, Batman Year One, Daredevil Born Again, Jason Lutes’ Berlin , Jar of Fools, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis….
The list is endless. But I’m not sure how much they’ve influenced what I do myself. I think I mostly like work that is very unlike my own: it’s always interesting to see another point of view or perspective. How I create my own work is quite random. I just make it and see how it comes out.
WHAT TOOLS OF THE TRADE DO YOU USE?
Clutch pencil, felt tip pens, scanner, Wacom tablet and computer mostly.All of my work is drawn by hand, some of it I clean up in pen, but mostly it’s finished in Photoshop.
WHAT IS THE SINGLE WORK OF WHICH YOU ARE MOST PROUD?
I wrote a short comic story last year called Brothers which of yet I’ve not published. It’s a personal piece that took me 7 years to figure out how to write. Writing about something close to your heart is very difficult and with that one I feel I managed to get it right.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED?
I’m not sure that anyone’s ever given me any comic advice. I did, however read an interview with Charles Schultz a couple of years ago where he talks about the need for an apprenticeship for comic artists and writers. His general message was that just because you can make something that looks about right and reads about right doesn’t mean that it’s good enough yet. Creating work that is as good as everything else out there is not enough: you should aim to improve on it.
WHAT IS THE WORST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
“Stop doing that, it’ll never make you any money.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE CURRENT IRISH COMIC SCENE?
I think there are lots of people making interesting work in very small bits and pieces. It seems to me that many of us are working on larger pieces of work right now, so in the next year or two it will seem to the general public like an explosion of comic work is coming out all of a sudden. There is a certain synchronicity to the stages that we are all at in our comic work and perhaps that is due to the formation of groups working together and keeping in touch with each other. The Dublin Comic Jam, Squarebound, 2-D festival and now this site are strengthening ties between a lot of comic artists working independently and so pushing us all to create more and better work.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN IN IRISH COMIC IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
World domination in the storytelling that we do so well. I think that we need to up the ante, take a bet on ourselves and realise that the small comics that we have been making up to now have an audience outside of Ireland. We need to start making them for eBooks and iPads: work out how people are reading comics and put ours on that shelf (virtual or physical). I have a couple of art projects in the planning which would involve large scale comics in Dublin streets. I think we need to look at all of the places we could put comics and the stories that we are creating and not just where we’re used to seeing them. Why limit ourselves in distribution when we don’t limit ourselves when writing the comics?
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN IN COMICS IN GENERAL IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
All of the above: I’d love to see comics used in more interesting ways than they are now. We have to forget about accepted notions of scale: why can’t a comic be 40ft tall and cover a building?
I think that comics and graphic novels in particular are a hugely expanding industry, so long may that continue. But just because that’s working doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be looking for new ways of showing our work or ways of adapting our work to other means.
WHAT WAS THE LAST COMIC THAT MADE AN IMPACT ON YOU?
I re-read Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco recently, and it made even more of an impact on me than the last time. It’s a comic reportage book about the town of Gorazde during the Balkan war in Bosnia and is one of the most horrifying, moving and telling books you could read on the conflict. Sacco is a master of telling other people’s stories with detachment and compassion all at the same time. It’s a must read comic.
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! )
Draw lots, write lots. The more you do, the more rubbish you churn out and get rid of. After a while, you begin to create work that’s not quite so bad and this is a good place to start.
ANY FINAL THOUGHTS?
I think having comics published here is a fantastic idea: I’d been looking at http://www.electrocomics.com
, which is a German site that publishes the work of various comic creators and it introduced me to several artists whose work I ended up purchasing in book form. Check out Ulli Lust’s ‘Today is the first Day of the Rest of your Life’
for a fantastic autobiography in comic form.
Maeve Clancy is a Comic writer and artist, sometime animator and designer. She writes a weekly webcomic called Flatmates and a couple of comics for periodicals like Film Ireland. http://www.maeveclancy.com/