Updated: May 28
We hope you're all keeping safe and well. In light of many comics creators being stuck indoors, we decided to have a chat with Claire Spiller, creator of our latest release RAZE, about how she's getting on during lockdown. Enjoy!
GC: How are you finding lockdown so far? (are you alone? with pet? with people?)
CS: At the moment, I’m at home with my cat, who alternates between loving that I’m here all the timing and hiding from me for hours. My partner lives with me and still has to go to work, so I feel lucky that I’m not completely on my own but also that I have plenty of time to myself. My day job has furloughed me for the next couple of weeks at least, but since I work in education, I’m guessing I won’t be back until September at this rate. I’m really introverted by nature, so it’s not been too hard, but the unpredictability of the situation at the moment does take a toll. And all the good wildlife/nature spots are too far away for me to access under lockdown, so I’m having a bit of nature withdrawal.
How are you keeping yourself occupied?
I’m trying to do lots of short, snappy activities throughout the day to keep my brain occupied, like an hour of housework followed by an hour of reading, then a couple of hours of art-related things if I’m in the mood. I can’t really do anything for too long or the anxiety starts seeping in. And I have an alarm that goes off every couple of hours to remind me to get up and do some exercises, so I don’t become a slug. Not that there’s anything wrong with slugs, I’d just rather not.
Have you taken up any new hobbies since lockdown began?
Not anything new really. I’ve sunk a lot of time into video games, and I’m trying to take advantage of free courses. I’m doing one at the moment about autism and all the assignments and small essay writing is really appealing to my sensibilities and making me want to do a masters or something (if money wasn’t perpetually an issue). I did get into jigsaw puzzles for a hot minute but I wore that itch out pretty quickly. Does taking more baths to calm anxiety count as a hobby?
Do you have any more live drawing/timelapse videos planned? (just so we can talk about how amazing those are)
Aah thank you! I don’t have any more planned at the moment, but they were really satisfying to make so I’ll definitely be doing some again. I’ve always loved putting videos together, so I’d like to play with different angles, focusing on different textures and materials. Like the way that you see the wet ink washes soak into the paper and dry in seconds is really satisfying. My internet connection has really been suffering during lockdown, but I’m hoping that once things settle a bit I can venture into live streaming some art development and comic making.
In a weird turn of fate, RAZE has come out just as we're in full swing of lockdown and wildlife is coming back into towns and cities across the world. Have you seen any more wildlife than usual where you live?
It’s hard to say. I live very much in the middle of a city so the wildlife I see usually is pretty limited anyway. I’m really just seeing more of the same, but there are certainly more gulls on the river and the pigeons are braver. I think with British wildlife, at least within towns and cities, we’ve done so much lasting damage that you’d only see so much wildlife restoration without a RAZE-scale intervention. My hope is that by giving wildlife this time to breath and fill in the gaps we’ve made, even temporarily, people will be more aware of how easy it is to give a little extra room for nature and how much of a pleasure that can be.
There are comparisons I can make between the story of RAZE and the source of the Covid-19 outbreak as well. We’re in the situation we’re in at the moment because we think that wildlife, animals and ecosystems are ours by right to use and manipulate to our needs (coronavirus outbreaks are linked to bushmeat and keeping wild animals in awful, unsanitary conditions). In reality, it’s not going to be an enormous golden deer that puts us in our place, it’ll be the man-made consequences of our own narcissism.
Do you have any parting hints or tips for people - creative or otherwise - to help them in this weird time?
I’ve noticed there’s a real polarization in creative output at the moment – you’re either finding this the most creative time of your life or you’re struggling to pick up your pencil. I’m definitely the latter. I struggled with feeling really unproductive and guilty at first but eventually realized that in the middle of a pandemic I don’t owe anyone anything. This isn’t a holiday. If I feel like making some art or doing some work on new projects then sure, I’ll do that once I’ve had some rest, exercised and eaten. Or I might not. We need to give ourselves permission to take a step back and recalibrate. Though I don’t have children or other responsibilities, so I know it’s not that simple for everyone.
Oh, and don’t read the news too much. And if you have a bit of spare cash from staying in, try to support indie creators and organisations that help wildlife (especially your local rescues).