If you are a fan of horror, romance, the cute, or the macabre then chances are this weeks Creator Spotlight has just the right comic for you! We chat with Adelaide comic power-house, Anthony Castle & artist Chadwick Ashby.
What are you playing/reading/watching right now? Chadwick: Revisiting Day of the Tentacle at the moment as it’s been remastered. I was blown away by the quality of DOTT back in ’93 because its pretty much like playing a looney tunes cartoon. Oh, and Stephen Fry is currently reading Order of the Phoenix to me.
Anthony: I finally caught up with Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites and The Good People. The level of research involved in her work is intimidating and her prose is deft and poetic. I pivoted to recent Stephen King, Finders Keepers and End of Game, but after my baby kept me up half the night I decided to start The Shining again. That felt appropriate.
In terms of comics, I read By Chance or Providence, a collection of Becky Cloonan’s lush and gothic fables. I also read Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoir of growing up in the wake of Iran’s Islamic Revolution. I’ll get to a comic shop at some point to pick up the latest Star Wars trade.
What is New London Comics? Why is it important? Chadwick: New London Comics is the banner that Anthony and I produce sequential art under. The work is high quality, varied and in most cases, from the heart. It’s also produced with the intensity of a cornered jackal.
Anthony: We operate the New London imprint to showcase the material that feels unique to us as creators. We have worked primarily in short stories and one-shots since 2014, all of which are in different genres, from horror to fairytale to romance. We’re told there’s something of an existentialist theme to our material, whether it’s an anthology like DEAD ENDS, a horror comic like REDWOOD or gothic Y/A thriller like DAPPLED. As a creative team, we are committed to the art of storytelling and the trade of comic making. Our motto is; life is magical, death is inevitable, make comic books.
Apart from your comics what should everyone be looking out for in local Australian Pop Culture? Chadwick: Check out Pat Grant’s work, he’s the real deal.
Anthony: There is an ecosystem of books emerging in the Australian comics community, primarily from Gen Z creators who are working in webcomics and often on Tumblr. These books are from more diverse creators and often deal in identity, mental health, and also explore genre in interesting ways. I’m speaking in generalities here, but you could include Adelaide books like Heart of Millyera and Hail in this ecosystem, as well as the work you see in an anthology like Fly the Colour Fantastica. This work tends to escape the limitations of just mimicking the genre motifs of the 70s and 80s. Look for it.
Major prediction for Pop Culture 12 months from now? Chadwick: Hand puppets will make a formidable comeback.
Anthony: I’ve not decided whether this is a prediction or wishful thinking, and not fussed either way, but I’m fascinated by the prospect of publishers blurring the parameters of what type of product comics can become. Traditionally the mainstream publishers don’t touch comics, but sequential art narratives can be published as unique works in European album formats, A5 books for all-ages audiences, and even as picture books for pre-schoolers. I think comics are still seen as residing in some sort of literary ghetto, but there’s a lot of talent in this country with some burgeoning skills. We could make some stunning books.
Best last thing you ate? Chadwick: Zomg, it had cheese in it, these little crunchy bits and this crazy-good sauce stuff.
Anthony: Cliché, but pizza. It’s just pizza. I’m a vegetarian with weird diet and fitness rituals that are structured into my writing routine. I exist on coffee, protein shakes and vegetables. I’m aware of how irritating I sound but it’s the only way I can stay fit and focused when I write at a desk for a living. Every Saturday night, however, I order a Family-sized cheese pizza and ask for it to be cut into triangular slices (pizza cut into squares is of the devil). My wife and I add vegetarian pepperoni to the pizza once I bring it home and give it another couple of minutes in the oven. The process has taken a while to get right, but it’s sheer glory and anyone eager to lower their opinion of me can check out the #pizzabethyname on Instagram.