I adored her sense of humour, her insight into human behaviour, and her ability to capture people on the page with a few strokes. I also admired the community of comic writers, which I first came across when she launched Northbourne and Glory Bound, an anthology of comics she edited and produced. It’s a wonderful capture of life in Canberra as it is, was, should have been.
So I thought I’d ask Anna some questions about her art and her community.
Kaaron: Who are your role models in comics? And, given this is a blog series inspired by female artists, who are women you admire the most?
Anna: Some of my favourite comic artists are women and Australian to boot.
Mandy Ord, who is based in Melbourne, is a long time favourite. We studied together at the Canberra School of Art. Watching her progress has been really exciting. Walking in to mainstream book stores and seeing her work really inspires me.
I find that at the moment I admire people who can consistently get work done and contribute to the community.
I personally find that it is always such a juggle to fit in creativity and produce work even if the intention and inspiration is there. Having to also fit in time for a family, a job and other interests including occasionally sleeping can keep me away from the drawing board. So people who’s output is steady, I find that totally inspiring.
Kaaron: How strong is the comics community?
Anna: I think that the people interested in comics really do support each other. I know of lots of informal and more formal groups that comic artists participate in. Things like monthly jams and weekend camps where artists get together to draw and talk about various comic related issues… I have found that these groups are very open and inclusive to whatever kind of involvement you want. There are always collaborations coming out. Social media and the internet has helped people reconnect and form tangible communities. So isolation (which when I was a young girl, went hand in hand with creating comics) isn’t so much a factor for producers of comics.
Kaaron: What get’s your goat- what makes you want to create?
Anna: I think I am inspired by other creative people and I want to create almost in opposition to the idea of living a life without creativity…So I’m inspired by musicians, writers and all kinds of art makers and in opposition to a hell of a lot of the people I am around day to day through work etc. I’m kind of horrified by the idea of an empty consumer existence with lots of spare time for watching Bondi Vet or Today Tonight…
There is something in me that makes me want to contribute to the creative dialogue. I continue to try to make time to produce bodies of work. Even at a trickle, I think that it all amounts to time well spent.
I feel really good about doing that in whatever way fits for me now. So whether that is through using illustration or photography or something else, it’s more about getting the idea out there in whatever medium is most easily accessable.
With young kids, I returned to photography. It was something that I could do because it was outside of the home (without the kids). Drawing has been almost impossible for me, because I’d always done it in the home.
You can see Anna’s project Light vs Line, where comic artists draw self-portraits inspired by photos. I love the series. The artists are so funny and so honest about themselves.
You can find Anna and her work here: annnabrown.blogspot.com
I attended Anna’s graduation and it was an interesting affair. I remember that her work impressed me a lot more than many others I saw there; in fact I was so inspired by the scene, it ended up in an early version of my novel Slights. Here’s an excerpt:
Tony stood by his work and checked me out like I was his mother’s prospective lover. Or perhaps his own.
“Are these your paintings?” I said.
“This is my work,” he said.
“So there’s no paint in them?” I said. I was genuinely amazed. I leaned closer. It looked like he had lined his bath with paper, covered himself with paint of three colours, then rolled about. The paper was crumpled, the paint smeared, and the creases of his skin seemed full of colour.
“This piece is my favourite,” Margaret said. The painting she indicated was no different to the other three.
“Is there paint in this one?” I said.
I could think of nothing else to say. Tony’s friends had gathered around at one remove, watching me, waiting for my next mistake. It reminded me of something I had long forgotten, something I did not understand as a child, something I had not connected when my mother died and when I died too, just for a moment. It had happened to me at seven. And it happened to me at eighteen. I was alone, in another place, and people watched me, watched my chest rise, looking for signs of life.
I left my circle of admirers and wandered the studio, gazing into the paintings—no, the work—but remembering my own terrible scenes.
Kaaron Warren, recently nominated for a Bram Stoker award for her story “All You Can Do is Breathe”, has been publishing fiction for twenty years. Kaaron Warren is an award-winning author with six books in print. Her three short story collections are The Grinding House, The Glass Woman and Dead Sea Fruit. Her novels are Slights, Walking the Tree and Mistification. She has a fourth short story collection, Through Splintered Walls, coming in June from Twelfth Planet Press.
She has recently been named Special Guest for the Australian National Science Fiction Convention in 2013.
She blogs at http://kaaronwarren.wordpress.com/ and can be found on Twitter @KaaronWarren