Today is monumental for me because Violet, my youngest, has turned 5, the official age to start school. I have been parenting preschoolers for over 11 years. I started drawing comics in 2003 when Otto was a baby, and here is one from when he was about 6 months old:
(In case you’re wondering what the difficult Booker Prize winner was, it was DBC Pierre’s Vernon God Little, which I don’t remember enjoying very much.)
It was quite good that Violet’s birthday was today, because it distracted me from the NZ Post book awards announcement. I was hoping in a vain and ridiculously optimistic way to make the fiction shortlist, even though The Luminaries would be on it, and there wouldn’t be any chance of winning, but I didn’t. I was in fine company – I could’ve sworn that Elizabeth Knox’s brilliant Wake would been on there, and what about Tracy Farr’s wonderful The Lives and Loves of Lena Gaunt? She made the Australian shortlist, but not ours. Where was Dylan Horrocks’ Incomplete Works? What about Fiona Kidman, Pip Adam, Craig Cliff and Tina Makereti? Actually it was a bloody good year for NZ books, and I have to confess that I was pleased that Tina Makereti’s book wasn’t on the shortlist, because I am reading Where The Rekohu Bone Sings now and thoroughly enjoying it, and I might’ve felt too jealous to finish it. Awards are weird. They are a great way to promote NZ literature, but they exclude so many. The books that made the cut are great – but so are the ones that didn’t.
This Saturday is zine fest, which is always a fun day and a chance to see all the local comics and zine makers. I’m going to be selling issues of Let Me Be Frank, issues 1-5, but then I had a panicky thought that it was not enough – I needed more. So I went back to my little hand-painted books. I’ve made six so far this week: four issues of FAME FAME FATAL FAME, and a monsters and fairies book for good measure.
Here is a spread from my Bloomsbury edition of the FAME book:
Lytton Strachey looks like my father – same nose, same beard, same book obsession, and this picture of Dora Carrington reminded me of Lena Dunham – didn’t she first find fame with a youtube clip of her topless in a fountain?
And here is a spread from my Dead Pop Stars issue:
I also have pop stars who died of cancer:
I can’t go past a Morrissey-themed book:
My final FAME FAME FATAL FAME book is a homage to some of my favourite lady cartoonists, although of course they draw themselves much better than I can draw them:
Today I drew some fairies to keep Violet happy, but she was pretty disgusted because they were the wrong kind of fairies:
Fairies are apparently blonde and none of them have short hair or glasses. And I also drew some monsters for good measure because I can’t rely on everyone having the same fascinations as me – monsters are universal:
Anyway, come on down if you’re keen to buy any of these – one-off! Hand-painted! Stitched spine! Signed to you! Only $25! Which is a total bargain given how much time goes into them, but then again zine fest is hardly the venue to charge high prices.
And so ends my week of drawing school holiday comics. I’ve been reading Gabrielle Bell’s Truth is Fragmentary book, collecting all of her diary comics, and they are really great. I’ve read them as they’ve come out on her blog but something about having them all collected as a book gives the narratives more weight – they become bigger than themselves. She’s made herself do a July diary for the past few years, drawing a comic a day for the month of July. Even though they are filled with frustration and a sense of inadequacy, barriers against working, lost keys, too much heat, I still envy her NYC life, hanging out with cartoonists, going to bars, living in the city… sigh. Another day in the burbs at the end of the world lined up for me…
Ok, I have to stop blogging or else my daughter will watch all the episodes of Numberjacks ever made, and although it’s educational, it’s possibly not so good for her.
…and I was also quite excited to find a collection of netsuke so soon after finishing Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with the Amber Eyes. But I think the fact that I am lead by my children’s whims hampers my enjoyment a bit… all those hours in the war section, in the Gallipoli trench in particular…also we only go when it’s rainy so it’s forever connected with miserable weather. Of course you can go to the winter gardens for some seasonal adjustment afterwards. And now there’s a great song by Tiny Ruins about the museum and the winter gardens:
As my blog has been in danger of languishing, I am trying to post something every day this week. This means that I’m not waiting for the perfect idea for a comic – I’m just drawing whatever comes into my head when I sit down to do it. The wind has been in my head and in my face for the past few days, and the rain is threatening to rain forever and ever. Of course it’s school holidays. I’ve told the kids that tomorrow we’re going to go out in the wind and the rain and imagine that we’re intrepid explorers.
Hello! It is school holidays and I am sneaking some quick comics in while my children have their designated screen time. I’m quite fascinated by how Violet has invented her own superstition, or perhaps ritual around managing her fears.I too was paranoid about random dreadful things happening to me when I was a child – that my eyes might explode, that my legs would snap off, that the monsters would rise up and eat me. These days my fears are too terrifying to articulate - I did consider drawing some of my own, but I was too superstitious to do so. I’ve heard it said that you should write what you most fear and that’s where your most powerful writing will come from. But I’m too scared to do that too.