FERGUSON’S 7 QUESTIONS WITH… SADHBH LAWLOR
It’s time for another 7 questions. This time it is with Splitting Borders’ writer, and occasional artist, Sadhbh Lawlor. Read on and enjoy a couple of episodes of Splitting Borders at the end.
What was the first comic work you did that was published?
Splitting Borders is the first comic work I have published. It is a webcomic I created with Gareth Gowran. I mainly have writing duties on it but I have been known to illustrate the odd strip here and there. We post Monday through Friday; one strip a day. We tackle lots of things in the comic; creative life, pet ownership, relationships, the surreal landscapes of our inner lives and the making & consumption of food. They are all very live and important issues of the day! We DIY published the first fifty strips for the Dublin Zine Fair in August 2013.
What is the biggest thing you have learned since that book?
I feel I have learned lots of different things from taking on this new process of comic writing. Although writing has been part of my personal art practice for a long time, it has never been the primary focus of my work. It has been very rewarding to collaborate with Gary and to allow myself to concentrate on the writing alone. One of the biggest things I have learned is to clarify my visual story-telling; being as descriptive as I can to help Gary to accurately portray our ideas. I feel I have learned to describe placement, expression, composition, tone and mood. Then, very importantly, I feel I have learned to surrender the idea to Gary and allow him to express the work in his own way, in his own language. I think the thought of not being totally in control of a creative project would have scared me before. But this has shown me that truly wonderful things can happen if you can let go and allow things to unfold around you.
What’s your process for writing a comic book?
After a couple of bumpy starts, Gary and I developed our own process for writing and creating the webcomic from week to week. We have found we produce the best results when we designate time particularly for communication and conversation about the strip. We put a couple of hours aside on a Sunday evening to map out, discuss and brainstorm ideas for the coming week. We write strips together in that time, trying to nail down the nuance and tone of each piece. We act out the scenes; we move around the room, move the furniture and pose our bodies. This is really where I do most of my work on the strip. I sometimes have to don the cap of a tough editor and try to keep a check on the dull realities of time constraints and necessary appointments. Gary draws every day of the week and I do my best to support him to get the work done. I have been making for markets for years and I have experience in self-directed work with solid deadlines. I try to bring this learning to bear on the tasks of self-publishing and producing work of a high and professional standard. It can be hard work dealing with all the different aspects of the process but in the end I have found the results have been worth the effort.
What is the biggest influence on your work?
Hmmm- “What is the biggest influence on your work?” is a tough question to answer. I have studied in both textiles and fine art techniques, I have an animation/comics/literature obsessed boyfriend and we both love film. Our house is an eclectic mix of reference books, graphic novels, DVD’s and art postcards. I am a bit of a Jane Austen nerd and I read, listen to and watch her work on a regular basis. I love Wes Anderson’s aesthetics and Baz Luhrmanns ostentatious attention to detail. Julie Arkle is a textile artist that has had a happy influence on my own work. Glyn Dillon and Craig Thompson are gently introducing me into the world of graphic novels. I have never lost my love for children’s illustration and literature; I reread classics like The Secret Garden to this day. Philip Pullman is an author I really admire for his bravery and his commitment to telling truths through lies and fairytales.
What are you working on right now?
Gary and I continue to work on Splitting Borders weekly. It is our first birthday on the 10th of April and we are busy with writing/drawing/designing artwork to celebrate the big day. The MCM Comic Con is rapidly approaching and Splitting Borders will be in the Comics Village. We are making/printing/merchandising for that also.
What do you have out now or coming out next?
I have written a collection of short stories and we are looking to translate them into a series of comics. We have explored so much through our singular strip format in Splitting Borders that I feel we would really love the challenge to develop some characters and tell a long form story. I think this is the natural next step for us and we are excited to get started.
What is your favourite Irish comic?
I have to admit that I’m new to the comics scene and I don’t know if I have any definite favourites yet, doing the Dublin Zine Fair and the great Laydeez do Comics event has exposed me to some great independent work by creators like Barry Quinn, Maura McHugh and Quidditas.