Thursday, June 25, 2009

In the Studio with Ant Sang

I'm pleased to present a look into another cartoonist's studio: this time it's Ant Sang!
You'll get to see inside his home studio and a peek at his office set-up at Firehouse Films, base of operations for
'Bro' Town'. And if you look closely you'll see some of his work-in-progress for his up-coming graphic novel 'Shaolin Burning'.

Above: Ant Sang's sunroom/home studio.

Q1: What are you currently working on?

I’m finally working on my kung fu comic, which is tentatively titled Shaolin Burning.

Q2: What are your current drawing tools of preference?

Also, check out my custom built drawing board. I bought the drawing board from the art shop and got someone to cut a big rectangular hole in the middle. He screwed a large sheet of opaque Perspex onto the board and by chucking a study lamp behind it I can use it as a lightbox really easily. It’s pretty similar to the animation boards we use at the bro’Town animation studio, except their Perspex sheets are circular and can be rotated when being used for animating.

Above: Ant's studio set-up at Firehouse Films, with some character designs from 'Shaolin Burning'.

Q3: Can you describe your average working routine?

Now that bro’Town has wrapped up, I’m finally working pretty much 9 - 5 on Shaolin Burning, five days a week. It’s great having the chance to spend a lot of hours on it and really immerse myself in the project after so many years of talking about it. I also squeeze in other illustration work during these hours as well, and when I’m feeling particularly inspired I’m not adverse to working ‘til late at night… though my little kids wake up during the night and get up early so I can’t do too many late nights these days.

Q4: What is your working process?

I wrote Dharma Punks like a screenplay for a movie but when it came to laying out and drawing it, a lot of the dialogue didn’t work so I’m trying a new method for Shaolin Burning. I’m writing it as a plot outline first, then fleshing it out to a detailed treatment, and from there I will sketch out thumbnails and write dialogue at this stage. Then I will scale the thumbnails up to A2 size pencils. Then I ink, scan and add colour or grayscale digitally.

Q5: Do you listen to anything while you work?

When I’m writing I like to have peace and quiet, maybe have late night TV or bfm on the radio for some background noise… but when I’m drawing I like to turn the music up pretty loud. I’m going through a retro phase at the moment and Hole’s Live Through This and GZA’s Liquid Swords are on high rotate.

Above: Ant's bookshelves (note the plastic Bro'Town figures based on Ant's designs...take that Matt Groening!).

Q6: Can you name some of your influences?

Attaboy, Paul Pope, Martin Emond, Ashley Wood, Quentin Tarantino, kung fu flicks, Liquid Swords (GZA). In general I watch more movies than I do read comics, and studying films seems to inform the structures of the stories I’m writing at the moment… though comics influence the way I think about page layouts and the visual side of things.

Q7: What is your most prized comics related item?

I recently built the model boat from plans which Barry Linton included in the back of his Lucky Aki comic. It took two long nights of careful cutting, folding and gluing but was well worth the effort. Apart from that I’m pleased as hell with the Rocker Biker Girl statue, which is based on Marty Emond’s painting. And my beloved copy of Chester Brown’s Ed the Happy Clown, which my wife Delia tracked down for me a few years ago… it’s one of the comics that inspired me to start writing and drawing comics in the early nineties.

Above: Another set of shelves from Ant's home studio.

Q8: What was your best and worst comics convention experience?

Worst experience was having my portfolio folder stolen from one of the very early cons. I was gutted and disillusioned that some prick would do that! Best experience was watching James James, dressed in the bfm “B” boxing Pikachu. Oddest moment was also at one of the early cons, when it was held at the Freemans Bay Community Hall. Willie Saunders convinced me to bring my guitar and amp and despite the fact I couldn’t play for shit, we plugged in and jammed for what seemed an eternity… until Bill finally had enough and asked us to stop.

Q9: Do you have a favorite comics adaptation?

Ghostworld and American Splendor were both great. Both are quite different to the original comics, yet very entertaining and satisfying to watch. Is it true someone wants to adapt Ed the Happy Clown?

Q10: If I could have dinner with five other people from history they would be..?

Probably no comic artists actually… maybe Buddha, Jesus, Kurt Cobain, Quentin Tarantino and either Jamie Oliver or Ray McVinnie could join us and cook up a feast.

Q11: If I could make one edit/change to the history of comics it would be...?

Well I failed “Comics History 101”… but it would have been nice if American comics had gone the same route as European comics and our beloved medium might be more widely respected now.

- Thanks to Ant Sang for giving us a peek into his studio and working processes! For the record, I think that infamous 'BFM 'B' VS Pikachu' grudge match took place in a boxing ring at Armageddon 2002. At the end of the belt, the costumes came off revealing James James (in his 20's) under the BFM 'B' costume, and what looked like a 10yr old under the thick yellow Pikachu costume! This either made it twice as hilarious or incredibly depraved, depending on your sense of humour. I guess the moral of the story is don't dress up as a pop culture icon if their time has passed.


EXCLUSIVE: 'Shaolin Burning' graphic novel by Ant Sang

Above: Ant Sang with a page of sample art from 'Shaolin Burning'.

I’m pleased to announce that Ant Sang, best known for his critically acclaimed comic series ‘TheDharma Punks’ and the artist /designer of ‘Bro’ Town’, is currently working on a new original graphic novel titled Shaolin Burning’.

Ant describes it as “a kung-fu comic set in China in the Qing Dynasty and a lot of historical figures and kung fu legends are being weaved into my story of two kung fu fighters whose lives will eventually collide in a climatic confrontation”.

From the early artwork samples I’ve seen, expect it to be epic in scope; a cross between‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ and ‘Kill Bill’ with plenty of bone-crunching kung-fu action! So epic in fact, that Ant has scaled up to A2 sized cartridge paper for the artwork, “I figure working larger will help me loosen up with the brushwork”.

Shaolin Burning’ will be published locally by HarperCollins NZ, and you can expect to see it on bookshelves in the first quarter of 2010.

I’ll have a more in-depth interview with Ant on this project closer to its publication; in the meantime I’ve got a studio visit for you to check out!


Above: A look inside on of Ant's sketchbooks, as he works on character designs and layouts. 'Shaolin Burning' is copyright Ant Sang 2009.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Back from beyond!

Hey everyone,
Sorry for the lack of updates, I came down with a fever recently as my body went through what felt like a complete 'reboot' process (I seem to go through this once every year and a half or so). And no, it wasn't the dreaded Swine-flu, it just felt like it!
So after surviving a week on ice-blocks and toasted sandwiches, I'm back at the keyboard with a bunch of new reports on the way, including a brand new studio visit! (see, it wasn't just a shameless self-promotional plug!). Although I did get a bunch of nice replies to that story, so thanks for the comments and feedback. It's good to know there are faithful readers stopping by to check out my rants and I'm not just shouting into the abyss that is cyber-space!
Anyway, more to follow...


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Auckland Comic book Club June Meeting

Well it's time once again for the June comic-book club meeting, this Friday at the whare wananga on
the 2nd floor of the Central Public Library from 6-8pm.

This month special guest speaker Richard Fairgray will be giving a talk on: "Comics Promotion & Finding a Place in the Market". Richard has made, published and distributed several comics. His latest effort, Blastosaurus, is available monthly from comic book shops. You can preview his book and check out his website

Lawrence the manager of HEAD (urr...don't worry, it's a comic shop), will also be present with FREE comic books to giveaway. So come along and engage in some lively comics debate and get some free books while you're at it! (I would if I wasn't laid up on my death bed this week with the flu!).


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Breaking News: DC Invasion coming to Auckland in October

Above: Cover art from 'Flash:Rebirth' by Ethan Van Sciver. Copyright DC Comics 2009.

Today saw the unveiling of the brand-spanking new Armageddon Expo website, launching with it's special guest announcements for the annual Auckland show, to be held this year at the ASB Showgrounds, 24-26th of October.
After a big response last year with superstar artist Jim Lee, it seems that DC are sending in the big hitters for a visit: starting with the big boss himself, Dan DiDio.

Dan DiDio is the Senior Vice President of DC Comics and Executive Editor of the DC universe.
With a background in television programming and writing, he joined DC in 2002 and quickly became the public face for the DCU line of comics, signing talent and helping chart the creative direction of the books for the company.
He's also the first editorial professional to visit these shores since Dark Horse's Diana Schutz back in 2001; so if you looking to get your artwork noticed, start sharpening your pencils and preparing those sample pages now!

Above: Cover art from 'Green Lantern:Rebirth' by Ethan Van Sciver. Copyright DC Comics 2009.

Following Dan to Auckland is DC's star writer/artist team of the moment: Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver.
This will be Johns' second visit to NZ, having previously appeared at Armageddon Wellington in 2005.
Johns has spent the last couple of year re-vitalizing both the Superman and Green Lantern comic franchises and is currently doing the same on Flash:Rebirth, re-introducing Barry Allan back into the present day DCU with his GL:Rebirth artist, Ethan Van Sciver.

Above: Cover art from 'New X-Men' by Ethan Van Sciver. Copyright Marvel Comics 2009.

Ethan Van Sciver has been drawing comics professionally since high school, starting with his own title 'Cyberfrog' back in 1995. With his trademark attention to detail, he's become one of the most popular artists in the superhero genre. Aside from his work at DC, he's also well remembered for his fill-in run on New Xmen with Grant Morrison (one of my fav's anyway;).

Above: Cover art from 'Secret Six' by Nicola Scott. Copyright DC Comics 2009.

Rounding out the guest list is Secret Six artist, Nicola Scott.
Nicola is also a returning Armageddon guest, having previously appeared at the Auckland show in 2007 with her close collaborator, Secret Six and Birds of Prey writer Gail Simone.

For more news on the Auckland Armageddon show check out the site, and I'll keep you posted on any new developments (also I'll find out what's happening on the NZ Comics side of things and let you know..).