Thought Bubble 2014: 9th-16th November!


Philippa Rice Minterview by thoughtbubblefestival

Greetings bubblers! There are now only five weeks until this year’s Thought Bubble Festival (18th – 21st November), and to celebrate we have a fresh minterview for you, and some Thought Bubble news as well. We spoil you, do we not?

This week we talked to Philippa “The Juzzard” Rice, whose wonderful webcomic My Cardboard Life continues to entertain us here at thought bubble towers on a regular basis. Philippa’s entry into the Friends of Thought Bubble roster can be found here, and more of her work can be seen on her blog. Let’s rap!

To start off, do you think you could give us an idea of how you first got into sequential art?

I didn’t start making comics ’til I’d graduated from my animation degree and was looking for more accessible ways to tell stories. Prior to that, I always enjoyed reading comics. The first comics I read were probably from the comics section in the Sunday Times called “The Funday Times” which I used to collect in a ring-binder.

Was the transition from animation to static storytelling an easy one?

It’s a nice transition I think. And easier than say, animation to picture books. Because even though comics are static, the story can move through time quite quickly.

I have used animation in a few comics. It’s fun to have a moving panel or two but I’m not sure if it works really. As soon as there’s something moving in there, it distracts your eyes from reading the comic in the proper order. I’d like to experiment with that more at some point though.

So, what prompted the initial choice to create characters from cardboard and other materials, as opposed to simply drawing them?

Just experimenting with different techniques really. When I first wrote about Cardboard Colin I imagined him being painted, which seems a bit strange now.

Collage might actually be more straight-forward than drawing to be honest, because I don’t have to do any pencils, I just cut the pieces out, stick them down, draw the faces and other details on and that’s it.

How long does it take to create a new character? Does the physical making of them take longer than thinking them up?

It really depends on the character. Cardboard Colin doesn’t take long, but Silvia Foil is a nightmare to cut out. She blunts my scalpel. Cardboard Carl probably takes the longest because he’s made up of three different materials. Cardboard body, Denim jeans and a fabric beard. I remake them for every panel they appear in, so if it’s a comic with six panels and Carl is in every one, it will take lots of hours.

Thinking them up doesn’t feel like it takes very long, because I write things down in my sketchbook when I think of them.

What are your favourite comics at the moment? Are there any you consider an influence on your own work?

I just finished reading My Brain is Hanging Upside Down by David Heatley. That was a goodun! I like autobio comics, they can be so touching plus they’re guaranteed to be original.

Most of my influences come from picture books or animation rather than comics. Like the way Lauren Child mixes together loads of different patterns and textures in the Charlie and Lola books. I’m a big fan of unusual materials or techniques, as in animations by Jan Svankmajer and Caroline Leaf. Also I enjoy any kind of silliness. I love those old silly symphonies cartoons, and also Spongebob Squarepants.

You’re appearing at this year’s Thought Bubble, what will you be bringing to the convention?

At the last few conventions I’ve done I’ve had a diorama on my table. A 3D model of the My Cardboard Life characters in a shoebox. At MCM Expo it was a picnic, at UK Web & Mini Comix it was a tea party. My idea for Thought Bubble is that the My Cardboard Life characters are going to be having their own mini convention inside that shoebox and they’ll have mini versions of the comics, mugs, badges and prints that I’ve got on my table, plus some other surprise items (surprises for me too since I haven’t made them yet).

Are the characters in the shoebox environment ‘life-size’ versions of their online counterparts? How big are they in ‘real-life’?

Well the actual size of the characters in the comics varies a bit from panel to panel, but they are generally the same size as the models in the dioramas. Pauline is about 7cm tall and Colin is 4.5cm. The only real difference about the models is that Colin’s got wire legs and arms instead of ink lines.

Do you enjoy attending events like Thought Bubble?

I do! It’s a novelty for me to meet real, actual people who read my comics. Plus it’s a massive inspiration boost to see everyone else’s work.

Have you noticed any changes in the UK community since you started creating comics yourself? Is it different to those in other countries from what you’ve seen?

This is a tricky question! It’s difficult for me to judge. In the past two years that I’ve been making comics, it does seem like the UK comics community is changing and growing, and that people are talking about comics more, but perhaps I just feel that way because I’m gradually getting more involved myself.

No, what am I talking about, UK comics are going through the roof! Look at all the stuff that’s going on, I’m seeing events and workshops appearing all over the place. Look at Solipsistic Pop! It’s amazing. I don’t really know about the communities in other countries, but let me tell you, UK comics are hot news, and we are going to show them!

Finally – Thought bubbles or caption boxes?

If they both asked me out on a date I’d go for the thought bubble. He’s kooky yet considerate.

***

Thanks to Philippa for talking to us, and you can see her talking in person on a panel as part of the Thought Bubble programme which was released recently (segue!).

This year the festival has even more wonderful (and mostly free) events taking place around our centre-piece one-day comic convention! For full details check the website and if you’re planning on attending any of our limited place events then please e-mail thoughtbubbleinfo[at]googlemail[dot]com as soon as possible to book a space and avoid any disappointment!

This year we’ve also expanded the number of screenings being shown in association with Leeds International Film Festival, featuring a number of exclusives that you’ll have to see to believe! Yay!

***

Related to this, our friends at Leeds Central Library’s Your Space are running a regular series of free manga meets for people under the age of 20. Full details on the flyer below.

That’s your lot for now, last few minterviews coming soon, and we’ll have some last minute Thought Bubble 2010 surprises for you as the start of the festival draws ever closer! Zounds!

- Clark

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[...] A sassy interview with me on the Thought Bubble blog. [...]

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