Time to start working out, actors!

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January rolls by fast, doesn’t it? I still haven’t worked out what this year is going to be like news-wise – there’s no World Cup, election or Olympics. There must be some big distraction, or else people might start paying attention to what’s going on around them, and that wouldn’t be good for our leaders at all.

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Why Otaki?

Many people have asked me, “Why Otaki?”

Wellington is an expensive place to live. House prices. Rentals. Rates. There’s a reason everyone with a car motors out to the suburbs to do their weekend shopping. New World runs a monopoly in the CBD, charging a premium for supermarket basics. It’s a great city if you can afford it, but it’s also blatantly obvious that Lambton Quay is geared for the comfort and expectations of a very specific sector of society, and if you aren’t part of that sector, then life is a lot harsher than it should be.

Wellingtonians are often accused of being oblivious to the problems of the rest of New Zealand. Auckland is indifferent – it’s nothing personal, it just doesn’t need the rest of the country. Christchurch has serious problems of its own. Wellington has a cosy self-absorption coupled with vague contempt for people who are less educated or wealthy, or, horror of horrors – people who work with their hands and vote for John Key because he seems like a good bloke.

I didn’t deliberately chose to move 70km to a community with no bookshops or single women between the ages of 20 and 40. I saw a great-looking converted bach on Trade Me, and went for it. If I wish to stand on a staggeringly beautiful beach which extends to the horizon north and south, I just have to walk down the road. I can sit on my deck and listen to a dozen different types of native birds fighting. I can work at my drawing board in my lounge with my ranchslider open.

I can spend an entire day researching and drawing Jitterati by methodically reading Wellington online news – an activity which, thanks to low journalistic standards, widespread unashamed shenanigans, and the fact that I have a fucking analytical brain in my head, leaves me wrung-out and physically nauseous every week. For the sake of a four-panel cartoon.

Yes, there’s no-one to talk to, and that’s hard sometimes, but there’s no-one else to annoy or let down, and that’s what I need right now.

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The drink for when you like your cider pink

Rekorderlig Cider

Available in six varieties (although I’ve only ever seen four at once) and very nice. They’re made with Swedish spring water and come in sturdy dark-brown 500ml bottles which make the drink look far more manly than it really is. The bottlestore in Otaki regards them as a bit avant-garde and stocks them reluctantly, but I believe they’re quite popular in Wellington.

There’s the usual pear and blackcurrant varieties, which are okay if nothing special, and then the more specific mango-raspberry and strawberry-lime flavours. Disappointingly, the label doesn’t tell you if it’s real fruit or not, and if so, what it’s doing in Sweden. I haven’t tried their winter cider, which is apple-cinnamon-vanilla flavoured, but it sounds fun. Half a litre (at 4%) is a bit much in one go, so they’re best consumed in the sun slowly with ice and no ambitious plans in the immediate future.

The website is as orderly as you’d expect, and includes a hilarious Beautifully Swedish section with suitably austere snapshots of a land where the trees are photogenically bare, it’s always overcast, and the women are eleven heads tall.

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Well, hello again. Are we sitting comfortably?

I hope you all had a nice holiday, and are fully braced for everything 2013 may throw at you.

2013 is the 20th anniversary of Brunswick and the year of my Magnum Opus – the Brunswick graphic novel I’ve been talking about for the past ten years. It’s one of the main reasons I now live in Otaki and have forsaken all external distractions, including sushi, the Central Library and quality conversation.

I meant to spend December in pre-production (or, rather, organising the past decade-worth of pre-production) so I could start on January 1st, but ’twas not to be. I’m hoping to have something concrete to show for my efforts in February. If you’re sick of checking this site and finding no changes, I’d try subscribing to the RSS feed (click on ‘Subscribe’ at the very bottom of the page) to alert you to updates. I’ll also note (on the right) when the next update is likely.

I’ve started by reworking the original Brunswick strips to transfer them to this site. The new versions are similar to the Comic Genesis versions, scanned from the originals, with my scratchy writing replaced by the rather nice Blambot font I use for everything, except now each cartoon is slightly larger and tidier:

Detail from p13 of Salient #25, October 11th 1993

As it was originally printed: detail from p13 of Salient #25, October 11th 1993

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Detail from 2003 scan

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Detail from 2013 edit

I’ll upload these sets as I finish them, as indicated by the list of updates on the right.

Because not much happens out here and I don’t have any graphic novels to review, the content of this blog will change. This is a big transition for me, but if you can indulge me just a little longer, hopefully I’ll have something special to show for it soon.

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