Writers On Writing / Fionn McCabe & Ben Juers on the Australian comic scene

‘No one knows quite what ‘Australian comics’ are, and everyone is eager to figure it out for themselves, which is a wonderful place to be creatively.’

Fionn McCabe has run workshops and classes on collaborative art making in the USA, most notably at the Visual Art Institute in Salt Lake City, and the Indian Mountain School in Connecticut. As well as co-teaching a handful of comics and storytelling workshops this summer, he also works as a tutor/demonstrator in the visual communications department at UTS.

Ben Juers is a cartoonist and illustrator whose work has appeared in the Australian Book Review, Lifted Brow, Advice Comics and Seizure. He currently teaches at the University of Sydney and has also taught indigenous high school students in week-long comics workshop at UTS. He’s also the co-art editor at Lifted Brow, and a co-organiser of the annual Other Worlds zine fair.

What sets comics apart from other forms of storytelling?
Fionn: One thing is that it’s a young medium that has only recently begun to hit its stride, which is exciting. It’s also a personal medium. In the age of the computer, most comics are still made by hand, and opening a good comic can feel refreshingly like receiving a handmade letter from a friend.

What attracted you to making comics?
Ben: I always knew I wanted to make comics, maybe because it seemed like the ideal point of intersection between other mediums that I was also interested in. I really dedicated myself to it, however, after I’d learnt more about the history of the medium and the sheer variety of approaches to which it lends itself.

What do you like about the local comics scene?
Ben: The Australian indie comics scene is vibrant because it’s small and allows for a sense of proximity to people whose work you admire and could learn from. In general, the scene is very supportive.

Fionn: I found the same thing, it’s a wonderfully welcoming community. And for how small it is, there is a disproportionate amount of really fantastic work. And it’s work that doesn’t fit comfortably into any one category or genre either, which I love. No one knows quite what ‘Australian comics’ are, and everyone is eager to figure it out for themselves, which is a wonderful place to be creatively.

Unleash your creativity with Ben and Fionn in The Guts and Glory of Indie Comics on Saturday 5 August, 10am-4pm at the NSW Writers’ Centre.

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