I N T E R V I E W
Indira Neville of Sonic Comic/The Biscuits
By Arpie Shirehorse
HUP had a yarn with Indira Neville of The Biscuits, about Sonic Comic, a sound and visual sensation which was released a couple of weeks ago with a show at Auckland's Audio Foundation. I haven't sold it all well there so read on to find out more about Sonic Comic's unique greatness and the heavy influence of a fearsome, knife-wielding Hamilton gang!
What is Sonic Comic? Sonic Comic is a collection of single works that have both a comic element and a sound element. Edited by myself, Beth Dawson and Chris Cudby, it’s a publication and playlist, you buy the book and get a download code, and read each comic whilst listening to the relevant audio track.
It’s a celebration of musicians who make comics and comic artists who make music!
Who had the idea/How did it come to be? Firstly, me, Beth, and Chris are all comic-makers/musicians, and we know lots of other comic-maker/musicians. So the idea of someone who makes both comics and music has been part of all three of our lives for ages. About nine months ago we all seemed to independently come up with the idea of making something that showcased these artists, and because we’re pals we chatted and we decided to do something collectively.
As well as this, for me personally there was a strong motivation relating to ‘breaking up’ the NZ comics hegemony. For the last 5 or 10 years NZ comics has been dominated by what I call, the ‘competent boy comic’ narrative. That is the highlighting of a few (male) comic artists who make ‘graphic novels’ rather than comics, and who draw in an inoffensive and commercially appealing, things-that-look-like-things kind of style; and who are touted as ‘quality’. I perceive this narrative as gross and untrue. I think it ignores or downplays all of the true amazingness of NZ comics (the weird, the punk, the horrific, the hilarious) and I want to change it.
As part of this ‘mission’ I co-edited Three Words, an 2016 anthology of NZ women’s comics (making the work of sixty NZ women comic artists visible) and I see Sonic Comic as a continuation of this work, helping to make another interesting and important NZ comics community more visible.
When did work start/finish? Chris, Beth and I started working on this mid-last year. We applied for CNZ funding, didn’t get it, and then decided to try and make Sonic Comic anyway. We invited the individuals and groups we wanted to be involved, giving them a January deadline (and it’s important to say that this project is in no way a ‘history’ or ‘survey’ of all NZ comic-makers/musicians. It’s VERY subjective, artists whose work we liked or were fascinated by or wanted to see more of). Worked really revved up at the start of this year with the wrangling of late submissions, laying out the book, liaising with the printer, setting up the Bandcamp page, doing communications, organising the launch and exhibition, getting an ISBN number etc. All this stuff is over now – Sonic Comic is in the world! But I guess the work won’t really finish until all the books are sold (and there are only 160 available, individually numbered).
Was it all plain sailing or were there any angsty artistic moments of indecision or disagreement? It was an incredibly positive project to be involved in. Beth, Chris and I all had similar motivations and expectations, and a similar aesthetic. We hardly disagreed at all and when we did, because there were three of us, we just voted on the issue and it was sorted! For me it was a joyful and energizing and worthy thing to do. Contributors have been similarly positive – good vibes all around (though this is not to minimise the hard work). I did however have plenty of angsty artistic inner moments when making my own sonic comic!
There's a huge Hamilton contingent involved - you mentioned Oats - tell us more about that! Yeh, so Hamilton alumni involved are 7 Keys, Dean Ballinger, Stefan Neville and Clayton Noone, Matthew Davies, Adrian Ganley, Wendyhouse, G. Frenzy, Greg Page, Oliver Stewart, Matt Emery and me! That’s 11 out of 35 contributors or 31.42 per cent! I am probably to blame (or credit) for this. My formative comic-making years were the nineties, spent in Hamilton as part of the rabid-knife-wielding-photocopy-frenzied street gang Oats; and pretty much all the Oats terrors were also part of Plop Recordings, the Hamilton music stable that spawned such legends as Grommet, Teen-x-Ray, The Crawdads, Armpit, The Biff Bangle Experience, oh yeh and Pumice :) I just know/am a fan of a lot of comic-maker/musicians in/from Hamilton I guess.
Mark I Comics kindly sponsored drinks at the Sonic Comic launch because of the Hamilton connection (and Chris and Rachel who own Mark I are old Oats allies). My first comic - Nice Gravy – used to be sold in Mark I (as were all the Oats titles). It was kind of a loud obnoxious silly mutilation feminist body-politics kind of thing, and issues were put in sealed bags and placed on the high-up shelf alongside the pornography! :)
Any plans for a follow up/series/world domination? Not yet. We are still working on this project and then I think we will need a rest!
Where can we get it? You can preview and buy Sonic Comic direct from the Bandcamp page (we’ll ship it to you promptly!) Mark I also has copies in stock.