Thursday, September 29, 2016

EVENT: Mansfield and Me Book Launch!

Above: The cover of Mansfield and Me by Sarah Laing.

One of the most anticipated local graphic novels of recent years, Mansfield and Me: A Graphic Memoir by Sarah Laing will be launching at Unity Books in Wellington next week.

Published by Victoria University Press, here's the official synopsis:

Katherine Mansfield is a literary giant in New Zealand—but she had to leave the country to become one. She wrote, ‘Oh to be a writer, a real writer.’ And a real writer she was, until she died at age 34 of tuberculosis. The only writer Virginia Woolf was jealous of, Mansfield hung out with the modernists, lost her brother in World War I, dabbled in Alistair Crowley’s druggy occult gatherings and spent her last days in a Fontainebleu commune with Olgivanna, Frank Lloyd Wright’s future wife. She was as famous for her letters and diaries as for her short stories. 

Sarah Laing wanted to be a real writer, too. A writer as famous as Katherine Mansfield, but not as tortured. Mansfield and Me charts her journey towards publication and parenthood against Mansfield’s dramatic story, set in London, Paris, New York and New Zealand. Part memoir, part biography, part fantasy, it examines how our lives connect to those of our personal heroes.

The book launch will be on Thursday 6th of October from 6pm at Unity Books Wellington, 57 Willis Street. All are welcome, and you can RSVP on the Facebook event page HERE.

If you can't make it, or don't happen to live in wellington - just head to your local bookstore and pre-order a copy using the publishing details below:

Mansfield and Me by Sarah Laing
ISBN: 9781776560691
336 Pages
Paperback, colour
RRP: $35 NZ

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

REVIEW: Rufus Marigold by Ross Murray

This week sees the launch of Mount Maunganui artist Ross Murray's completed webcomic, Rufus MarigoldA thoughtful, and darkly funny comic about a character living and dealing with Social Anxiety Disorder. Inspired by his own personal experience battling anxiety, Murray successfully obtained funding from Creative New Zealand earlier this year to create a comic strip that would help shine a light on this rarely discussed condition.

Above: Panels from Rufus Marigold by Ross Murray. Copyright Ross Murray 2016.

When we first meet Rufus - portrayed in the artwork as a chimpanzee, visually the odd-man out - we find him struggling to deal with everyday interactions: answering the phone, running into a friend on the street; brief exchanges that are major internal challenges for Rufus to deal with on the fly. We then accompany him on more stressful situations that are relatable to many, like a new job interview. Murray's clear-line art style accompanied by flat colouring works perfectly for this subject on a number of levels. Stylistically, it recalls the artwork of safety instruction manuals: clear and easy to follow visual representation without unnecessary detail, which is fitting given its subject matter and Rufus' internal struggles (remain calm, don't panic). It gives his world an antiseptic appearance: non-threatening, but at the same time distanced and detached. The muted tones invite us into Rufus' head-space, where we get to relate and empathise with him as he experiences anxiety in work and social situations.

Above: Panels from Rufus Marigold by Ross Murray. Copyright Ross Murray 2016.

This visual detachment allows us to enjoy the bleakly funny aspects of Rufus' interactions (eg. announcing his mother's death to avoid a work presentation) as situational comedy without judging or short-changing the character. No doubt drawing on his personal experiences, Murray understands the inherent humour in these situations and uses the 'set-up/punch-line' language of the comic strip to express this with panache. 

Above: Panels from Rufus Marigold by Ross Murray. Copyright Ross Murray 2016.

Yet beneath the humour there is a very carefully calibrated emotional arc. As the strips progress Rufus' anxiety increases; he begins to drink more to manage social gatherings and interactions. Soon he reaches breaking point, when his social anxiety affects his ability to act in an emergency situation. The climax and resolution of Rufus Marigold's journey are both wordless strips which speak volumes. Creativity is what ultimately brings Rufus back from isolation and allows him to communicate and connect with others. It's a story that is probably more common than many of us are aware of, and I'm grateful to Ross Murray for creating Rufus and sharing his experiences with us.

Above: Panels from Rufus Marigold by Ross Murray. Copyright Ross Murray 2016.

You can read the full Rufus Marigold webcomic HERE. And for more information on Anxiety, you can visit the Ministry of Health website HERE and the Mental Health Foundation of NZ HERE for information and helpful links.

- AK!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Movin' House!

Hey folks, sorry to the lack of updates lately: Earth's End Central was in the process of moving house (no, not the one pictured) and dealing with all the annoying delays and costs that go with it.

But now that the new office is unpacked and set up, you can expect new reviews and event updates this week!

- AK!