By Benedict Quilter.
When I was around 7 my mother came home from the comic shop with a bag full of New Zealand made comics. I’d seen comics before, but it had never occurred to me that there might be comics made in New Zealand. The only comic I cared about in that pile was one with a bright green cover called Fetus Boy (number four). It stood out to me, the cover was bold and full of black lines. I fell in love. I read that comic again and again until the back cover came off. It was produced on the other side of town and had an address to write to but I somehow couldn’t pluck up the courage to write to the creator. To me Brent Willis was like Herge or Hal Foster, he wasn’t just someone you could write to. One day when I was about 9 there was a local comic convention for New Zealand comics held and my mother took me to see it. I wasn’t much interested by it, it was all over my head. But then I saw a stand full of Fetus Boy comics, it had never occurred to me that I might be able to get other issues. But here they all were, all 13 of them. I bought them all and I got them all signed by my hero, I even put number one in a frame. Through other local artists I also befriended Draw who makes abstract comics at Drawingsilence, when I first saw his work it confused me and I don’t mean that in a bad way. I mean that it’s unique and I had no point of reference for it, it was like being shown comics for the first time again. Through Draw I was introduced to Moebius, Manara, Foss, all of the best things in life. Draw also introduced me to the wide array of people who have made comics in New Zealand. The local comic shop also carries a number of New Zealand comics and through them I was able to track down Strips which is a comic started by Colin Wilson of 2000AD fame that ran in the early 80’s. Initially it was a vehicle for he and his friends to publish their work but in time it became a who’s who of local talent. Through Strips I was introduced to the genius of Barry Linton who is one of the finest comic book artists New Zealand has ever produced. For me local comics gave me the confidence to produce art for the love of it, there’s never been any money in New Zealand comics but the people who make them are doing what they do because they’re compelled to do it. When I was 15 I started making fanzine about music, politics, movies and whatever else I wanted to make them about. When I started I copied the format of Fetus Boy as an homage to where I first saw the light. In the second issue I even published a comic by Brent Willis which is and always will be one of my proudest moments, working WITH someone who made me want to do what I do. If it weren’t for local comic books I would be a much less interesting person, I wouldn’t have been able to have the confidence to do much. It was through seeing people make things and seeing their passion that I gained the motivation to want to create art for art’s sake. Which to me is one of the most important gifts of all.
More about New Zealand comics at - http://hicksvillecomics.com/
Drawingsilence at -http://www.drawingsilence.com/
Brent Willis at -http://werewolf.co.nz/2012/06/cartoon-alley-brent-willis/
Colin Wilson at - http://www.colinwilsonart.com/