This week we're very excited to be bringing you an interview with Olivia Sullivan, creator of SID. We released SID in October 2017 at Bristol Comic & Zine Fair. Feels like yesterday! We spoke to Olivia about SID, her Japan residency, and what else she's been up to. Enjoy!
GC: It’s been nearly 2 years since SID came out - it’s scary how quickly the time has gone! Can you tell us a little bit about SID and how it came to be?
OS: That is scary, so much has changed since then! It was part of my first short story as a teenager, I was about 16/17 and felt very weird about life and fretted about the future. I wanted SID to relate to that age group in particular. I listened to a lot of Radiohead and Tool at that time and was into a lot of existential philosophy. So, I was obviously a bundle of joy to be around. Those years may be cringey, angsty and confusing, but I think it was a necessary period to go through! A university friend bought a copy of SID for her teenage cousin in the States who really enjoyed it, so I was super chuffed it was getting positive reactions from the right people.
GC: What was your process for creating SID? OS: I wrote an awful lot in notebooks, a lot of it was random poetry and borderline offensive stories. I edited it into a script of sorts and began thumbnails and line work from there. I inked in hand using brush pens and digitally coloured the panels. I wanted the feel of a damp exercise book at the bottom of your school bag with crude drawings on it. But, I also wanted the book to also have sincerity in regard to mental health issues and ‘impostor syndrome’. The process of sequential and abstract/nonsensical elements is to highlight these emotions, to emphasise the feeling of being lost and seeking enlightenment.
GC: Since the release of SID, you’ve been working on a variety of projects that fall outside the realm of comics. Can you tell us what you’ve been up to?
I’ve been working on a lot of experimental ‘expanded comics’ that relate to psychogeographic and visual poetry. I plan to take my comics further into a fine art realm, as exhibition and gallery pieces. I also have a separate moving image practice in immersive full-dome projection. I combine analogue methods such as 16mm film with 3D digital processes, as well as creating my own sound design. The audience can sit under a ‘planetarium’ dome and feel as though they are in the universe of the film.
GC: How does moving image influence your work as a comics creator, and vice versa? OS: Moving image has always been my main influence as a comic creator, storyboarding is not too different from comic-making, and learning about various shots really help when drawing. Not only does the technical side of moving image help, but the imagination of filmmakers like David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick are a constant well of inspiration. I’m also an avid fan of Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network cartoons, especially the ones that overstep the mark, like Cow and Chicken. Keep it weird, why not.
GC: You also have recently been an artist in residence in Tokyo which sounds incredible - can you tell us what you got up to?
OS: I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to take my experimental comic practice to Tokyo, where comics and creativity are embraced a lot more. I had an open studio where I discussed my work and processes. My project was based on my experiences and observations in areas of Tokyo, such as Akihabara and Jinbocho. I responded to these locations through printed posters, illustrated objects, plasticine models and moving image. Multi-modality opens up more layers of a narrative and presents a larger picture of a location.
GC: The three of us at Good Comics are really excited by the idea of opening up comics into multidisciplinary experiences, and your exhibition Old North, Isle Rocks is an excellent example of how this can be achieved. Can you tell us about this project?
OS: My graduate project, ‘Old North, Isle Rocks’, from the Royal College of Art was my first step in taking my comics into a spatial and moving image direction. Going to the college gave me more confidence to think outside of convention and to experiment with all kinds of material. The installation was based on my connections to Cumbria, Northern England, through memories shaped by my Irish and English heritage. I created comic panel animations on CRT monitors, with industrial odes to the County through pallets and Kendal Mint sculptures. I also reference Cumbria’s pagan history though wooden symbols and stone circles.
GC: Do you see yourself working in a traditional comic book print-format again?
OS: While I am applying for my next ‘expanded comic’ adventures, I am planning the next stories that I will print as comics or zines. I’m still excited to put work out in print, as it is still a major part of my passion.
GC: What’s next for you? Do you have any new projects you’re working on? OS: More drawing and more stories. I am working on a new mini comic series called ‘Fried Milk’, a treasure hunt expedition with a twist and fuelled by wanderlust. The first volume will be out for the Hackney Comic + Zine Fair, so for anyone reading this – check it out, it is only a quid!
Click here to pick up a copy of SID from our online store! For the next 2 weeks you can pick it up for just £6 + postage (usual cost £9). Go go go!