King of the absurd and long haired Catweazle of fate Nick White answered our 10 mildly interesting questions.
NW: Hi Henry and Stanley
CCZF: Hey Nick, what are you doing right now?
NW: Right now I am looking around my lounge and trying to think of a funny answer to this question. No luck yet.
CCZF: How long have you been doing comics and art and stuff?
NW: I’ve been doing stuff since I was born (breathing, looking around to start with (Ha I am so funny)), art came a bit later and then comics a bit after that. But I suppose I didn’t start doing Art and that ‘Properly’ till I studied Illustration Animation at Kingston University in 2001. After I graduated in 2004, I carried on making art and doing Illustration. Although I’ve always loved incorporating text and image together in my work, I didn’t start to do comics till 2010 or so when Nobrow asked me to take part in their ‘Graphic Cosmogony’ comic anthology.
I enjoy making comics but I don’t think I’m great at it. Often relying too much on text or just trying to make it funny when maybe it doesn’t need to be. Anyway I am still figuring it all out!
CCZF: Well, we think your work is wonderful.
In order of preference, what are your three favourite soups? We are compiling a chart.
NW: That’s a great question
NW: And one that I could spend the rest of my evening, week, month, year, life contemplating, but as I have some other things I should probably be getting on with I will try to answer now.
CCZF: Much appreciated.
NW: 1. Mexican Tortilla Soup (I make my own Chipotle Adobo sauce, (I am fancy) which my friend James has renamed NWAdobo. It makes everything taste delicious. Apart from Lemon Meringue pie. I am guessing)
2. A really good Noodle soup. (I am being vague because I can not decide which exact noodle soup is my favourite but as long as it’s got a delicious veggie or fish based broth and has a load of slippery noodles I am happy.)
3. I’m gonna go for a classic veg soup like Leek and Potato with Stilton. Maybe put some broccoli in there too. Perhaps some cabbage if you have any. I’m hungry now.
CCZF: Solid soup choices.
What are you reading and listening to at the moment?
NW: I finally got around to reading ‘Arsene Schrauwen’ by Olivier Schrauwen after loads of people kept telling me about how good it was. And guess what?! It really is as good as those specific people kept telling me.
It’s a quite beautifully drawn comic about Olivier’s grandfather moving to a strange jungle colony and helping his cousin build a new modernist utopian city.
I am still in the process of reading it because Mr Schrauwen demands you wait 2 weeks between reading chapters, so now I have to wait 2 weeks.
And I don’t want to wait 2 weeks.
But I respect Mr Schrauwen and therefore will wait for him.
(Even if he will never know.)
CCZF: We will know Nick.
NW: I am listening to loads of bits and pieces but the most recent records that I have bought with money and am now enjoying are – Duds ‘Of A Nature Or Degree’ which is an excellent jerky piece of post punk and Spinning Coin‘s ‘Permo.’ which is less jerky and more dreamy Scottish indie. I would recommend both.
CCZF: We love Dud’s. Will investigate Spinning Coin.
Your work can be very small. Tiny and kinda fragile. What’s going on there then?
NW: Working small is often borne out of necessity but also I enjoy giving myself limitations to work with, scale being one such limitation. I started making tiny books (2cmx2cm) using offcuts from zines I was making, as I realised i could fit a load into an old cigarette box and then work on these when I was commuting to Norwich to teach. These were just one off tiny books that I would then house in old matchboxes and then sell for not very much money at zine fairs etc. Once I started teaching at Winchester I scaled up a bit and used some other offcuts that were around 7cm x 7cm. I then used these to draw on whilst on my morning and evening commute – just using a Uniball pen and seeing what nonsense came out of my head onto the paper. These ended up being the basis for my ‘Train Drawings’ zines / books. Which I will have copies of for CCZF. (Nice promo right?!)
I recently made a tiny book of collages called ‘Leftovers’ for Micro Library books, using ‘unsurprisingly’ leftover bits + bobs of paper I have kept over the years. I could have made the collages bigger and then scaled them down on the computer but I liked the idea of forcing myself to work tiny to see what would happen. (What happened was I made tiny collages out of tiny pieces of paper. I could have guessed that.)
CCZF: You recently worked with the Tate to produce a book about Giacometti. How was that?
NW: That was very fun and enjoyable project. I not only got to illustrate the book, I got to write a lot of it, design the layouts and come up with the activities to help kids learn how Giacometti approached his work. Giacometti could be seen as quite a serious and dark artist, so I loved the idea of making a book about him for kids. I kept calling it ‘Existential despair for kids’ and although I don’t think I quite managed to teach Children about existentialism through drawing their face over and over again, I had good fun trying.
CCZF: If you had to recommend a comic/graphic novel/zine for a 11 year old what would it be?
NW: Ayeesha! That’s a hard one as there’s so much good stuff out there. It also depends on the kind of 11 year old. As a 11 or 12 year old myself I collected pretty much all the ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ books I could find. I still revisit them now and they still make laugh like a laughing man laughing. However a more recent creation that I would recommend to a 11 year old who perhaps thinks Calvin + Hobbes is kids stuff, would be Andrew Rae’s ‘Moonhead and the Music Machine‘. I am of course biased being good pals and in a band with Andrew, but it really is a future classic. Reworking all the well known tropes of life at ‘high school’ or ‘Secondary school’ but also celebrating imagination and the joys of making music. Or something.
CCZF: Moonhead is cool. We’ve got a Moonhead T shirt. Might wear it at CCZF.
What are you working on at the moment?
NW: I am working on lots of different things but I keep forgetting what they are and so i start working on more things like books and zines and prints and so not much ever gets finished. Mostly I am trying to work towards an exhibition of recent paintings, ceramics and collage. Who knows where or when this show will be but it’s gonna be excellent. Please come.
CCZF: Definitely. You can count on us. Will there be T shirts?
CCZF: Maybe not then.
NW: I also teach part time at Kingston School of Art on the Illustration Animation BA which is a lot of fun. I am currently setting up a Comic Club who will be making their first venture out into the real world at CCZF!!!
What advice would you give to somebody starting out in comics?
NW: DO IT! Keep a sketchbook and draw and note down anything that you find interesting or funny or sad, whether from real life or from inside your head. Think about things that have happened to you and imagine things that haven’t. Start today and make as many as you can. Stop thinking about making comics and actually do them. DO IT! (I think this advice is actually for me.)
CCZF: Do you know how to get to the Blythe Hill Tavern?
NW: I do thanks. I can get the bus from my flat right there. So again thanks for that.
CCZF: Thanks Matt
NW: No worries Dave.
You can meet Nick and Buy his wonderful comics and prints at the Catford Comic and Zine Fair on the 10th of December at the award winning Blythe Hill Tavern.