Over the last two weeks, the Aussie Caravan of Comics have been invading North America, taking part in both the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) festival and the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF).
After stopping by their busy table at the MoCCA festival in New York, we caught up with Matt Taylor, one of the members of the caravan and author of “Lars the Last Viking Goes to The End of The World.”
Was is difficult to organise?
Between 12 people we actually delegated it all pretty well. A lot easier than planning it all yourself, and knowing you were rolling with such a talented crew pushes you to want to make the most out of every day.
What’s been the highlight so far?
We got a great reception at MoCCA and there was a fair amount of talk about “the Australians.” There were several hundred talented stall holders there so it is exciting to stand out amongst such a crowd. We all met some heroes – both in the drawing and publishing worlds – and also made some friends and fans in America. we took a trip out to Staten island to do an in-store drawing session at Comic Book Jones and apart from them being a friendly bunch of guys, I think we earned some adventure points, making it deep to the burbs out there.
Are you going to make this a regular thing, or is this a one-off?
See what the damage is of this tour, although I know everyone’s keen. Main thing is having new books to show and work to sell.
Why do you think comics/graphic novels are so important?
I’m pretty biased on this subject, but comics are important for me because they are a self contained graphic storytelling format which you can create as an individual without needing a huge crew or a lot of money. They also area flexible and diverse medium which once you start getting into them you realise just how limitless their potential as a storytelling art form really is.
How did you get your start in writing/drawing comics?
I was always drawing since the age of 2, but I caught the comics bug with Asterix and Tintin and then as I grew older my tastes warped and changed. I drew comics in high school and art school, but then stopped for quite a while as I was busy running my animation studio, Sixty40, in Sydney. After an amazing time at graphic novel residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida I came up my viking story and was firmly back on board.
You’re all creatives with diverse backgrounds and other gigs. What are some of the other things you do?
Pat (Grant) is a PhD scholar, Dave (Blumenstein) is an animator, Greg (Mackay) is a quality auditor, Mandy (Ord) works in hospitality, Michael (Hawkins) is a social research interviewer, Andrew (Fulton) is a web developer… it’s a pretty mixed bunch. Ben Hutchings is the only full-time cartoonist out of all us.
Do you think there’s any difference between the creative world in the USA vs Australia? If so, what?
Yes. The opportunities in America because of the size of market and population are a lot bigger. There are a lot of amazing creatives in Australia in many fields but there are definitely a lot of exciting things going on in the states, and folks are pretty welcoming towards anyone who wants to get involved.
Any advice to aspiring comic artists or illustrators who want to make their mark via comic books/graphic art/illustration?
Do the work, rule the world, don’t stop. It’s important to read a lot of comics and meet people who make them. Keep up to date with our tour at www.caravanofcomics.com
The Caravan do their final in-store appearance in the US at Quimby’s bookstore in Chicago this Wednesday.