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.



  1. hey adrian,

    good work this is awesome!


  2. Cheers!
    I've got some more 'studio visits' coming up!

  3. Ant mentioned Willie Saunders. I'd be interested to know what he's doing now as I used to look up to him at Wanganui High School. I was his inadequate replacement as Tearaway cartoonist when he left Wangas in the nineties. Still have some of his minicomics.

    Anywone know where/who he is now?