This year, ahead of Noted, Bela Farkas interviewed six festival artists. In this fifth instalment, he chats to ACT Comic Meet organiser EmmJ, who is a writer and artist with work appearing in various anthologies published in Australia and Sweden.
What is the ACT Comic Meet?
The ACT Comic Meet is a Canberra-based community of comic creators. We enjoy reading and making comics, and there are opportunities to meet and draw or chat about comics every month. Our members are very active in the local comic community and many – in addition to their own comic work – have contributed to a number of the meet’s publications to date. Not everyone comes to meet-ups – there are quite a few people who are not able to meet up in person due to work or other commitments, but they are still active online and participate in our anthologies.
What happens at a typical meet?
At a typical meet, people show up some time between 2pm and 4pm. Some people stop by the comic shop and bring their haul to the meet-up to read and discuss. Some people bring drawing materials and sketch at the table. Some people drink beer (or gaming-themed cocktails and mocktails). Some people do all of the above. Some do none of the above. All are welcome.
Has it been growing?
The group has been growing for the last couple of years, but the number of attendees at the monthly meet-ups can vary from two or three up to more than twenty. We appreciate it if people find us on Facebook or email us beforehand so we can give the venue a heads-up, but it is certainly not necessary.
What is the process of coming up with a comic and how do comic meets help?
One thing that our meet-up helps with is having a group of interested folk to keep you accountable. For myself, I know that if I tell people I am working on a project, and I think they might ask me how it’s going, it helps keep me motivated. Another thing is that there are a lot of people who will happily share their hard-earned experiences in comic creation, from writing tips to screen printing, from paper making to fully digital creation techniques and programs.
What do you find is the hardest thing about creating a comic?
Deadlines. (Even self-imposed deadlines.) There is always something more you can do, some little tweak to make it perfect, but at some point if you want to get the story told, you have to abandon your art.
How important are comic fairs to getting your work out there?
Comic and zine fairs are really important. Sure, putting your work online is great, but it can be really difficult to tell if your comics are being read, or if you are just shouting into the void. There are as many goals to making comics as there are comic-makers. For the creators who primarily want to tell their stories, fairs bring your work to the reading audience.
For those who aspire to work for a comic publisher, in Australia or overseas, fairs let you meet up with others on the same journey – to network, to find support, and community. It’s a great feeling when someone finds us at the same zine or comic fair a year later and tells me that they enjoyed the book they bought last time. The best feeling is when they then tell you that they have started making their own comics, too.
The ACT Comic Meet will feature at Noted Writers’ Festival 2016 in the following event: Independent Publishing Fair – Sunday 20 March, 10am-3pm at Gorman Arts Centre.
Canberra-based writer and 2016 Noted artist Bela Farkas's work is heavily influenced by popular culture and current events. Bela's work will also appear as part of Bill Poetries at this year's festival.