Ahead of our Talking Writing and Drawing Stories event on Thursday 13 February, we caught up with our panelist Bailey Sharp. Cartoonist Bailey will be joined by Kinokuniya Books Comics Consultant Chewie Chan and Stephen Ford from Kings Comics.
What attracted you to telling stories through pictures?
Even before I found the kinds of comics that really spoke to me I was hypnotised by the medium. Comics have a unique power to be engrossing because they give you visuals and a narrative to follow but then they make the reader participate. Comics require the reader to advance the narrative and fill in the action between panels. When they really work for me, they can be this totally intimate and kind of exhausting experience to read and that’s what I’m after.
How often do you draw, and is most of your output single pieces or do you tend to work on longer narratives?
I draw every day, even if it’s just doodling on envelopes or sketching in my notebook. My comic output has been pretty low while I’ve been at uni, where I’m studying animation, but when I do make comics I prefer to do single pieces. There’s a discipline to creating a single page that I like.
I know a lot of young creative people who have these gigantic stories they’ve been trying to tell for the last 10 years and I just think it’s the wrong way to go about it. I’m still learning how to tell stories: I need to come up with ideas, execute them and then be able to throw them away.
What would you recommend someone read if they were new to comics and wanted to see something special, and why?
I think it’s just important to separate the idea of comics as specific genres from comics as a medium. There really are comics out there for everybody’s tastes. My picks for the year would be Matt Thurber’s Infomaniacs and Anya Davidson’s School Spirits. Both feel really loose and playful but they give you just enough solid story to work, which makes the characters and the worlds a bit magical. I’m really in awe of that sort of play with control, which I think is incredibly hard to pull off in comics. Infomaniacs weaves together the stories of multiple characters through these little segments of a few pages at a time and has a very clever premise backing it up. School Spirits has wonderful moments of stream of consciousness that are so funny that they become quite sweet. These are of a pretty specific ‘type’ though. If you aren’t sure what you’re looking for in comics, I’d say pick up an anthology: I’d recommend Blood and Thunder locally, The Best American series, or Kramer’s Ergot.
Tickets to see Bailey speak with Chewie Chan and Stephen Ford are just $10 – or free if you’re a member of the NSW Writers’ Centre.