Watching Louis Theroux's documentary on autism

Howdy pals!

I'm locked away in my residency at a little studio apartment working on my book. So I thought I'd share a short comic with you about how I felt when watching a documentary about autism. 

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The thing I found the hardest when I was growing up with Rob was watching my brother attack my Mum. It's something that happened almost every day and we all know he wasn't trying to hurt her on purpose, it was just he didn't know how to communicate how he felt. But it's really hard to watch, it's really hard to think about and it's really important that people realise what it can be like living day-to-day with someone with a severe disability who you love to bits.

 

Write again soon. 

Gx

Good Reads for January & February

Hello hello!

I really like making comics but I also really like reading them. And I'd noticed that I'd stopped reading as much and was only working on making my own comics, which sounds pretty great and is! But I'd been feeling pretty down and uninspired by my work and I realised it was because I'd been putting out but hadn't been taking in. So for the last couple of months I've been trying to read more again and I've been feeling much better. As an encouragement to continue this dedicating-time-to-read, I'm going to start a regular bi-monthly post about the comics I've read. 

First up (in no particular order): 

1. Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes

This is probably one of my favourite new YA series (there are currently 2 books out in the series, with a third released this month). I've always been interested in math and programming patterns but never really had a head for it at school and quickly would get frustrated with anyone trying to teach it to me. But reading this book made me realise what was going on: I was a visual learner and my teachers weren't always using the visual cues that helped me understand the problems. 

What I really like about Secret Coders is that they explain a programming puzzle two ways: once in just dialogue and then visually (two different characters who think differently explain it to the reader in the different ways). It's written in a way that doesn't talk down to the reader and you are encouraged to try to figure out the puzzle first before turning the page to find out the answer at the end of each chapter. I really really enjoyed this book and recommend it to everyone!  

For those who love: binary, sassy teens & robots. 

2. Hotel Strange: Wake Up, Spring by Katherine & Florian Ferrier

This Bande Desinee style comic was a really fun read. Cute characters going on rad adventures through a semi-magical world meeting fantastical creatures. It's the kind of book I would have gotten obsessed over as a kid and I can't wait to locate and and read the whole series of books. 

Also how good is the name Florian?!

For those who love: exciting adventures, fanatical creatures & pipes. 

3. The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins

I wasn't sure at all which way this book was going to go before I started reading it. In fact, I wasn't sure which was it was going to go while I was reading it either. But the loose rhyming couplets style of narration and soft pencil markings lured me into this intriguing meditation on conformity or society or something like that. I enjoyed it even though I probably didn't understand the finer points of it. 

For those who love: beards, poetry & untidiness.

4. The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

The second book by Isabel Greenberg, The One Hundred Nights of Hero,  is another love letter to storytelling and folklore. Greenberg just has this knack for creating new folkloresque tales in her own made-up universe that feel both new and old at the same time. One Hundred Nights interviews stories of the past and present and takes you on a rambling adventure that ties it all back together neatly at the end. 

For those who love: stories, brave women & deliciously inky drawings.

 

5. Plumdog by Emma Chichester Clark

Originally an online blog written from the point of view of Plum (an adorable dog), Plumdog is cute and easy to read. It was a very pleasant read but I have to admit it was hard for me personally to get through because ever since our family dog passed away last year my urges for wanting a puppy pal to hang out with have been growing. Unfortunately my partner Owen is super duper allergic to pretty much everything and getting a dog while living in a small city apartment without a backyard is really not feasible.  

For those who love: dogs, watercolours and more dogs.

6. Oishinbo by Tetsu Kariya & Akira Hanasaki

I've tried to get into manga before but, like superhero comics, I've just not been exposed to the right one for me and don't really know what to look for in the shops. I'd kinda given up on finding that perfect manga for me until I was recommended Oishinbo by my studio-mate Greg. It cut from fairly dialogue-heavy scenes explaining the intricacies of Japanese-style food preparation and culture to intensive family drama sequences.  

For those who love: fine food, dramatic manga & bad father-son relationships.

Anyway, those are some things I read over the past two months. I can't wait to read through the pile of comics next to my bed. 

What have you been reading lately? Any recommendations?

Gx

You've got mail!

Hey guys!

As I'm busy as a bee working on the thumbnails for part two of Oh Brother in preparation for my residency with the May Gibbs Children's Literature Trust in a couple of weeks, I've only got a quick little update for you this post. I've been working on a few more diagrams about day-to-day life growing up in the Chadderton household. This one is about the average mail we each received. 

 

JSYK the residency I'll be doing through the May Gibbs trust is called the Ian Wilson Memorial Fellowship. I'll be working and living in a studio apartment in Norwood. My aim is to make as much headway as I can into the pencil draft of part two of Oh Brother. I'm hoping I can finish the whole draft of part two ready for reading by the time I finish up at the residency. While I'm there I will also be doing some networking and meeting with illustrators, publishers and children's librarians to find out about the industry side of children's literature. 

Alrighty! I best be off, still so many pages to get done before I pack. OH BOY I'M SO NERVOUS.

Gx

Week fifty two - I'm all Thumbs

Hello!

I thought I would give you guys a little update on where I'm at with the book. It's been a while since I finished the draft of part one (of three) and wrote the massive post about the process of making the draft (you can read that post here). In the time since then I've not done as much work as I would have liked but I have been trying to plug away a little bit at a time. 

Writing for me is the hardest bit. Once I get started it's okay but it's the getting started that's hard. I have to sit down and force myself to write for minimum of 15 minutes, which may not sound like a lot but it it feels like an achievable goal, and after the first 5 minutes of constantly reminding myself not to check my phone and just sit and write I usually get on a roll and write for longer than my personal minimum of 15 minutes. 

 What's even going on with my left arm....

What's even going on with my left arm....

I'd set myself the goal to finish the written script for at least part two and part three by the end of January if I could (I couldn't, part three is still buffering) and then finish the thumbnails by the end of February. This would mean that I could go into my artist residency with the May Gibbs trust in March (more about that later) with a full script to work from when I start drawing up the pencils.

But I found that I was getting bogged down by staring at a computer screen trying to write up a visual script with just using words, so even though I wasn't super happy with what I had (I thought I might have missed a few stories and included stories that I shouldn't have in part two), I printed out what I'd written and started to re-read a whole (terribly spelt) script. 

I wanted to get stuck into the thumbnailing because I remember how good it made me feel when I thumbnailed part one. But I struggled to get on board the thumbnailing train and then I remembered I'd missed a step that my pal and mentor Pat Grant went through with me last time. The post-it note stage!

The point of the post-it-ing is to write down the main mini-stories in this chapter and see where they fit in with each other. I also added in scene setting stuff so I can see where there will be story breaks for the reader so they are not too overwhelmed with info. Because colours are king I colour coordinated the post-its. Scenes are in blue and stories are in orange.

I like the post-it method because it helps me to visualise the collection of short stories as one big story (something I struggle with a bit). The post-its help me sort out the general flow and structure of the piece, getting me ready to thumbnail part two. Well, mostly ready: I still don't know quite how to end this section. It leads into the heavier section of the book and I'm not sure what tone I want to end this part on.  

Post-it notes mostly done, it was time for the main act: Thumbnails!

I can't explain just how exciting it is to grab a red marker and sit and look at what you've written and scribble over the top of it. Figuring out what works, what doesn't and what you entirely forgot to put in. That's when you end up with a whole page of big thumbnails (see below) of a very important scene you could've sworn you'd written. 

This thumbnail panel below could literally be my Mum and me at anytime in our lives with pretty much anything. 

 This happens literally once a week. 

This happens literally once a week. 

Something I really enjoy about thumbnailing is that because it's quick and small, everything is the essence of the characters and I find it hilarious seeing what my mind has decided is the essence of me, my parents and my brother. 

 NO.

NO.

I'm doing okay with the thumbnails but do need to pull my socks up and get them done ASAP as my residency starts in a couple of weeks. I was trying to do a scene a day but I think I'm going to step up my game and aim for two-three a day to make sure I get everything ready. 

So that's where I am at with the script at the moment. I'm pretty excited to be working on something with a visual element again. I find just writing words can feel like I"m not doing very much and it's hard for me to connect with the work. 

Can't wait to start the pencils and share those with you!

Gxx

Week fifty one - Autism in film Part 1

Hello hello!

For a little while now I've been wanting to write a bit about autism being depicted in other mediums (e.g. books, radio, films), because most of what people who haven't grown up with someone with ASD in their life know about autism comes from films and books. 

I decided to start with films because I love movies and, as has been said before and will be said again, comics and movies - although not the same thing - share some similarities. Films are also often more accessible to people, because you don't have to be able to read to learn and be immersed in the world.

I'm not sure exactly how many parts there will be to these posts about Autism in Film but I've planned at least two. First up we have Temple Grandin and Rain Man

I didn't really want to write reviews of the movies and as I myself do not have ASD I sometimes feel uncomfortable commenting on the accuracy of characters and portrayal of traits. So I did a sort of mind map of thoughts that crossed my mind.


Movie: Temple Grandin (2010) 

A biopic about Temple Grandin's life growing up as a woman with autism.

Tagline: Autism gave her a vision. She gave it a voice. 

I liked this film and find Temple Grandin a fascinating lady. I think it talks about common traits of autism and explains them to the viewer well. I felt like Claire Danes' performance did justice to Grandin and the film made me appreciate that, although the awareness of autism these days is far from perfect, we have a lot more understanding about it and how to support people who need support. 

How much did I cry while watching: 2 out of 5 teardrops. 


Movie: Rain Man (1988)

A road-comedy drama about two brothers. One's a jerk and one has autism.

Tagline: A journey through understanding and fellowship. 

I remember thinking this film wasn't great when I saw it in high school for an English class. And I still think there are better films about autism and ASD out there. But on a rewatch it wasn't as bad as I remembered it being. Maybe I connected with it more because the focus was on the sibling (Tom Cruise) moreso than the person with autism and as I've grown older I think more about the connection between siblings. 

How much did I cry while watching: 1/2 out of 5 tear drops. 


Neither Temple Grandin nor Rain Man focus on people with severe autism like my brother. So I didn't connect entirely with their situations. And even though Rain Man was about siblings it wasn't about two siblings growing up together. The next two films I'm going to talk about hit a lot closer to home. But I'll wait until the next post to talk about them. 

Gxx

Week fifty - Fun Discoveries

Hello hello!

So the other day I found out that the app I've been using has been recording all of the drawings I've been doing and then making time-lapse videos. I They look pretty cool. I keep watching them back to see how I draw and which bits I do first. It's pretty mesmerising to watch and I can't believe that it's all stuff I did. 

So I thought I'd share e a few of my favourite videos with you of some things I've been working on.

Here is my most recent badge design.

A page from my Quit My Job comic. 

Illustration commission for the a board game. 

My most recent tiny letter. 

Some fan art from last weeks blog post about podcasts. 

It's been super fun working on the iPad and learning new skills. I think once I have more of a grasp of what I'm doing with the Procreate app I'll try and write a tips and tricks post. But I've got a lot more learning to do before that happens!

Hope your week is looking peachy and your weekend keen.

Gxx

Week forty nine - Podcast recommendations

Hello!

An important part of my art creating process is listening to podcasts while I'm inking. I can't listen to music: I find it too distracting and my body can't sit still while there are sweet rhythms beating in my headphones. So this week I want to share with you some of my favourite things to listen to at the moment, with accompanying fanart. (This is just a list of 5 of my current faves; I've got heaps more but I'll share them another time).

1. REPLY ALL (Gimlet Media)

I was little late to the Reply All bandwagon. I heard about them when they moved to be part of the Gimlet Media network. It's supposedly just 'a show about the internet' but it's really so much more. 

Listening to hosts Alex Goldman and PJ Vogt talk is like listening to your most favourite and most interesting friends tell you cool stories. PJ's laugh makes you feel like there is nothing bad in the world that can't be fixed and the various theme tunes are aces. 

Episodes you could start with (but really they are all so good):

#86 - Man of the People

#64-67 - On the Inside (mini-series within the show)

#57 - Milk Wanted

#56 - Zardulu

2. THE ADVENTURE ZONE (Maximum Fun)

I can't remember how I got onto The Adventure Zone (TAZ) originally but I have been listening from pretty early on. I think I was getting into playing D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) myself at the time and googled 'D&D podcasts' and TAZ came up. It's hosted by the three McElroy brothers (of My Brother, My Brother And Me podcast fame) and their father, Clint. Each episode of TAZ is pretty much just them playing D&D for an hour but with much hilarity. Simple but effective. You do not have to play or know anything about D&D to listen along and enjoy the tales that Griffin (The Dungeon Master // Story Teller) weaves.

This podcast is a story-based one so you really need to start from the beginning. But trust me it's worth it, the characters and stories get better and better with each ep. Man, I can't wait to find out what's going to happen next!

3. HOMECOMING (Gimlet Media)

A new fiction podcast from Gimlet media. Sort of in the style of 1940s radio plays but with a modern twist. It's about the main character Heidi's (played by Catherine Keener) previous life before she was a waitress, working on the Homecoming project. I don't actually want to tell you too much more about it because I think it's great going in with very little knowledge of the story about to unfold. 

Again, this a story-based podcast. So don't listen backwards! Start from episode one and get swept away with the story. 

4. MY DAD WROTE A PORNO (Acast)

Quite possibly my favourite podcast at the moment. It's hosted by Jamie and his good friends James and Alice. And as the title suggests, Jamie's dad wrote and self-published an erotic fiction book called "Belinda Blinked". Each episode Jamie reads a chapter of Belinda Blinked to James and Alice and they interject with questions, concerns and discussion about the logistics of the sexual positions written by Rocky Flintstone (Jamie's dad's nom-de-plume). 

I haven't laughed so hard for a very long time. The dynamic between the three hosts is magical and Rocky's words bring that je ne sais quoi element. 

You can jump in at any point, it's pretty easy to pick up the story partway through, but for full Belinda enjoyment I recommend starting from episode one. 

5. UNDONE (BBC radio 4)

My final recommendation is a sci-fi radio play. Written by (and also starring) Ben Moor, it follows Edna Turner as she moves to London to work for a listings magazine but then she discovers a weirder version of London (called Undone) just beyond normal logic. She meets up with Tankerton Slopes (Ben Moor) and they work together to stop the incursion of weirdness from Undone into London. 

The show is super witty and has lots of puns and wordplay (my favourite!). I've listened to it so many times now that I can pretty much quote it word-for-word. Each series gets better and I just fell for this exciting world that Moor has created. I really want to make a comic version of the story. 

Unfortunately this radio play was originally heard on BBC radio 4. So it's not always available to listen to on demand but they often replay all 3 series on the listen again website. So if you ever get a chance to listen to it please do!

So that's it. That what I've been listening to for the last little while. These yarns have been getting me through my first few weeks of freelancing. When I've felt like haven't been doing enough or that maybe I've made the wrong decision, I put on a podcast and listen to other people creating great things and know that I can do that too! I just need to go ahead and do it. 

I hope you are having a splendid week and hopefully I've enlightened you to a few more fun listens for when you're doing the dishes or walking the dog or drawing. 

Gxx

Week forty eight - Just quit your day job

I've had a couple of weeks in the studio now and I'm slowly settling into the idea of supporting myself with my art. It still feels pretty scary when I think too much about being able to pay the rent. But I don't want that to be what I think. I want to think about the comics I can create and the improvements I can make on my drawing skills and the story-writing skills I can learn by having the time to write more. 

So I'd better get going and make me some comics. 

Gx

Week forty seven - Hair Guide Update

Hello hello hello!

This week we have just a mini-update entry for you. A little while ago I did a post about having a Hair Guide as a key to help readers know what time the stories were taking place, instead of having to write things like 'When I was 16' or 'Back in 2005' over and over again.  

For that previous blog entry (which you can read in full here) I used a guide I'd already drawn for another project. Since then, my drawing style has changed slightly, so I thought an update was in order. 

At the graphic novel draft read-through party I held, I explained that I would be having this hair guide to help the readers know what's going on with the timeline, and it was suggested that I should do an accompanying guide for Rob. I hadn't really thought about this before as I never really saw Rob as having differing hairstyles. But the more I thought about them, the more differences I saw.

That's it for this week. I'm off to a Comic Art Workshop reunion thing in Melbourne this weekend. So hopefully I'll have time to work on next's week post about working with mentors this year in-between workshops and serious discussions about comics. 

Be well pals, 

Gx

Week forty six - A day in the studio

Hello hello!

This week we take a sneak peek at my studio. The studio is this magical place for both the artist and anyone looking in at the artist. It reflects how they work, what they love, and what they aspire to do and create. For me a tidy organised study is the only way to go - I try to clean it up at the end of each day before I head home but while I'm there it's a total bomb site. 

For years I thought that spending time creating work was like filling a sketchbook; if you were a real artist you worked hard from 9-5, got a tonne of work done and then knocked off for a G&T with your other artist buddies talking about philosophical things and all the rad projects you're working on. 

I soon realised that this was rarely the case. Those dream studio days do happen but they are few and far between. 

I have many plans to organise my days. Plans so that I'll work really hard on big projects, writing work, commissions, planning lessons (all the brain work) in the morning, and then go and visit libraries and museums in the afternoon, reading and learning about new things. Or watching films or sitting in the sun and drawing people and plants and buildings I see. 

Of course these plans are admirable but have not yet come to fruition. Paid work comes first and I don't want to 'put off' finishing Oh Brother but I've been finding it so hard to sit down and write it. Often when I do, I get emotional, remembering the stories. Or I start worrying about whether what I'm writing will be good enough; will this actually help anyone? I know these are thoughts I must dispel from my mind if I am to get anywhere with the next two parts and hey, some days are diamonds and I get quite a bit done. 

And I do worry about my work ethic. Am I creating enough work? Am I creating quality work? Am I focused enough? Am I posting enough online? I worry that maybe I just don't have what it takes to work in a studio full-time. Maybe I can't hack the ebb and flow of the creative process and I won't be able to push through those slump periods. The line between work and play is blurred when you are creating because you can't tell your brain to stop thinking about your project (at least I can't).

Having a separate space to work does help. Walking somewhere and sitting down to work. Going home and now you can relax. Although I find it hard to not do something. I feel guilty if I don't just finish off that drawing or send that email but also my body is telling me to relax. All work and no play makes Gina a dull cartoonist. I should listen to my body more. 

I'm constantly questioning my abilities to create the art I want to create, which hopefully will translate into improving and honing my skills rather than turning me off from creating my work all together. I want to create work I'm happy with but I also never want to stop learning and getting better. 

Stay Excellent Pals,

xx

Week forty five - The draft

This week I'm giving you guys a look at some of the stories from part one of Oh Brother (draft version) that I finished a couple of months ago. I've picked three short stories that I think stand alone okay for you to have a little look at. These stories are currently somewhere between detailed thumbnails and loose pencils (I haven't really decided what to call it other than Not Final Art). 

Story one. From near the start of part one we have How to Explain Rob. This is fairly self-explanatory. Before this story we have a few examples of what it's like to live with Rob. This is the first time in the book that you see Rob and Gina interacting with other kids. 

Story Two. The Diagnosis. As it sounds, this story is about my parents finding out about Rob's diagnosis. Rob was two when he was diagnosed with autism (I would have been four). We also jump forward in time to see my reaction to their story of Rob's initial diagnosis.

And story three. As part one is called Communication, most of the stories and anecdotes are about my and my family's attempts at communicating with Rob. In The Mist I talk about the more ethereal feelings around having a brother with autism. 

Those are the three samples I thought would work well displaced from their home in the book. I hope I picked the right ones.

If you want to read more of the draft and live in Adelaide, you can! I'll be putting on an end-of-year Oh Brother wrap-up show, exhibiting some of the diagrammatic illustrations I've done during the year, the sketchbooks with notes and illustrations, and the full comics manuscript draft for people to read and flick through. I've also put together a mini-comic sampler of some of my favourite Rob comics and background material. For more info about the event, click here.

Write you next week. 

Gxx

Week forty four - In which our hero gets a new sketchbook

I hope you liked this week's post! I ended up buying the fancy Moleskine - in fact I drew this comic in it! What are your favourite ways to get your ideas down? Do you prefer sketchbooks or individual sheets of paper or digital? What's your favourite sketchbook to use?

Have a lovely rest of the week if you can!

Gx

Week forty three - All those other ideas

This week I have just a short little comic for you about some of the other ideas that are floating around inside my head. 

Sorry, it's kind of an abrupt end to this week's blog comic. A lot of my time is being taken up with prep work for my very first real-life scary-big comic convention (more on that later).

Hopefully one day I'll get around to writing all these stories I have in my head. I would love to illustrate science and non-fiction stories as well as a ridiculous adventure/fantasy tome. 

What kind of stories do you write?

Gxx

Week forty two - What is a 'Patreon'? - Special announcement

Hello hello hello!

SO GUYS! I have some news. I have started myself a Patreon account. For those who don't know what a Patreon account is let me explain!

A Patreon account is kind of like a Kickstarter, where you donate money to an artist or group working on a one off project (for example funding the publication of a comic book or to produce a podcast or board-game), and receive a reward (how rad the reward will depend on how many dollars you donate). 

Patron has this same donation // reward system except instead of a one off payment you make a monthly payment, kind of like a subscription, and you get a monthly reward! Of course you can unsubscribe at anytime and you can just do a one off payment (then unsubscribe the next month) if you want to help me out but can't commit to a monthly deal. 

I want to keep working on my book about growing up with a brother with autism (and also to keep drawing silly little autobio comics). If you’ve been enjoying these blog posts and can spare even $1 a month and help me out by donating (and get yourself some sweet rewards as well as my everlasting gratitude) I would be over the moon!

If you’re keen to become a George Rex Comics Patreon Member, just follow this link to my Patreon page and then click on the orangey/red 'Become a patron' button and pick your donation level. Any and all dollars are appreciated, literally every dollar counts. 

If you can't/don't want to donate for whatever reason - I understand! I'll still be making comics and writing this blog (I don't think I'll ever be able to stop) and you’ll still be able to see them. Patron members will just be able to see them a little earlier than everyone else and will get a few extra treats (like Badges sent to them through the post or special extra short comics just for them). 

If I can get some regular Patreon support then I'll be able to focus on my art and get more of it out to you wonderful people. And for all of you wonderful people who have already read about this on my Facebook and Tiny Letter I'm sorry you've been hearing about it from so many different angles. I promise that I won't be talking about it for a while now. 

Thanks for reading, back to normal, once a week posting now. I really appreciate you guys just reading my blog, it's a pretty awesome thing to have people read your blog and take the time to respond and comment on what I write. 

You guys are great. 

xx

Week forty one - Artism

I have always loved art in its many mediums – particularly drawing (comics) and writing (comics). I've dabbled in music, I tried my hand at printmaking, I even once made a nifty fish-shaped knick-knacks dish (it was a cartoony fish, giving the knick-knack owner a thumbs up, of course). I've tried sculpture and installation but I can't say that I was, hmm, successful. 

My mother is always a whiz at most things crafty. Where I would fix a broken zip on an overall dress with several button badges, she would sew in a new zip. Where I would blutak the crack in the broken vase, she would plant a succulent in it. Where I would throw away that pair of old jeans with the awkward hole in the crotch, she would craft them (with the help of paint and glitter) into nifty bags and quilts. Where I would knit a scarf that gained so many new stitches that it had doubled in width by the time I'd finished, she would knit me a rad knitted vest (with a design to make it look like I'm wearing a tie). 

And where I couldn't see that Rob had any interest in creating art, she would see Rob's many abilities to create art out of the most ordinary of objects. Mum would see what she calls Rob's 'Artisms' (like art and autism smooshed together) all over the place. And once Mum pointed them out to me I couldn't not see them. Here are a few of the highlights from over the years. 

Now that Rob lives in full-time care, I don't get to see these Artisms anymore, as you need to spend lots of time around Rob to really get to know him and to experience his creations. 

That's one of the things I miss most about having regular doses of Rob in my life: the moments when you just stumble across a pile of things, arranged just so, that you know Rob has carefully thought about and placed. 

That's it for this post. Catch you next week when I write about all those other ideas I have floating around in my head and talk about my addiction to buying sketchbooks. 

Gx

Week forty - Why the blue pencil?

Hello hello hello!

I've been thinking about how much my comics-making has changed this year when it comes to writing and planning, which got me thinking about how much my drawing process has changed too.

This led my brain to the blue pencil and why it is a thing in comics making. If you're a seasoned comics nerd you will know all about the blue pencil - if you are new to the game you may not know. If you want to find out more about blue pencils and how the pencil (blue, lead and otherwise) has played a part in my comics life so far, read on...

Thanks for reading, pals! Have yourself a really lovely Wednesday; not many people give Wednesdays the time they deserve.

Gx

Week thirty nine - F-f-f-f-f-fashion

I've always loved putting together an outfit, although it wasn't until high school that I admitted this. I remember talking to my Dad once when I was about 10 and I was very adamant that I would never wear make up or care about how my clothes looked. His response was 'Just you wait, in a couple of years you'll change your mind'. Well, he was wrong about the makeup but he nailed it with the clothes. I love colour coordinating my wardrobe and finding items that match perfectly together. I love op-shopping and finding the perfect cardigan that I've been searching for, and having 10x the same pair of shoes but in different colours so they can go with different outfits.

For Rob's part, his tastes were less narcissistic than mine and focused around comfort levels. I have always claimed that I would choose comfort over style but I don't know if I'm entirely telling myself the truth. 

But although I'm pretty happy with how I dress now and I think I manage to tread the line of comfort and lookin' good, there were many painful years of trial and error (mainly error) to get to this point. Let's start at age 8 (Gina) and age 6 (Rob). 

Next up we have ages 10 (Gina) and 8 (Rob). Desperately not wanting to look like a girl (but still being proud of being female), I took to wearing baggy oversized clothes and imagining myself as a much more adventurous sort than I truly was. Being a spy was a big one. I would fawn over the 'Spy Gear' in the David Jones and Myer toy sections (they seemed to have the best spy gear range) that I couldn't afford. In particular I wanted a 'Spy night glove', which was just some lights you'd clip to your hand so you could break open safes and the like in the dark. My Dad decided that we could make one (so I could learn about batteries and science stuff) instead of forking out dollars for something that would inevitably break, get lost or thrown out. I still have the glove today. 

Rob favoured the simpler approach of a bright pink body tube. He would shuffle around the house wearing nothing but this thin tube of material. It was pretty hilarious. 

13 (Gina) and 11 (Rob). First days of high school are always daunting and scary. Still a proud tomboy, I would soon find out how mean girls can be. I was pretty okay on the bullying front; I had enough friends that even though I was low-level bullied until year 12 I managed to get through reasonably unscathed. The thing I most remember about my first day at school was that when I was washing my hands in the girls' bathroom, another girl came out and started screaming that a boy was in the bathroom and then laughing at my face. For some reason it didn't much bother me. Maybe because having Rob as a brother had instilled in me that everyone is different and it doesn't matter what we look like or how we act, we are all just humans.

Rob, for the most part, loved school. He would run out to the bus when it came by to pick him up and for a while pretty much wore his school uniform everywhere (not just at school). 

15 (Gina) and 13 (Rob). My tomboy phase, although spanning several years, came to a head when my body hit puberty. Most of my fashion of this era consisted of baggy open button-up shirts over tee shirts and cargo shorts. I was inspired by the fashion sense of Gordo from the popular children's show Lizzy Maguire.

Rob's tastes weren't dictated by popular culture; instead he went for the more natural look. 

17 (Gina) and 15 (Rob). Everyone has a hippy phase, right? Where you just really like flares and corduroy and vintage kitsch kitchenware? I was chatting to a pal about the various fashion phases I've gone through and she talked about how the style of the 'hippy' was a way I could experiment with my femininity but still be kinda scruffy like a tomboy. I thought she raised a good point. 

Rob around this time grew very attached to some 'happy' pants I bought on a whim at the kind of store that would sell beaded bracelets, incense and tarot cards. They were made of a patchwork of crazy patterned materials and Rob loved them. He even started wearing them to school instead of the uniform pants. 

Rob (18) was most famous in our family for co-opting our father's leather jackets and transforming them into works of vegemite art.  

Me now (25). It's scary to think about my age. About how much I wish I'd already done with my life and how many things I want to do before I turn 27 (which is a special number to me) and when I turn 27 I'll basically be 30 and isn't that when you're supposed to have your life together? That seems to be what the movies tell me. Either that or that you shouldn't lose the child in you or shouldn't wish to grow up too fast? Maybe I need to watch BIG again. 

Anyway, I'm pretty happy with my ability to dress myself now. If I was able to just decide on one style I really like, I'd be able to downsize my wardrobe. But somedays I want to look a bit fancy in my culottes and cardys (see below) and sometimes I want to wear dresses and denim or check shirts and cotton skirts. And sometimes it's jeans and a t-shirt or it's nothing. 

Sometimes I think if I just stick to buying a limited amount of colours then I'll be okay. You know, just red, blue and green. And black I guess. Oh and mustard yellow. And you can't forget purple or the occasional orange. And you know sometimes brown can look really nice. You see my problem!

Basically, my choice of what to wear these days comes down to "Can I draw that?" If I can't draw it, is there any reason for me to have it?

That's it for this post. I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into some of the many fashions I and my brother have had. 

xx

Week thirty eight - Scout patches

Growing up with Rob was mostly fun. But at times it felt like a lot of hard work having to remember to lock all the doors all the time and making what felt like 100s of pieces of vegemite on toast. You would learn ways to tell when Rob was about to have an angry episode and know when to dodge his pinch attacks (he has the fastest hands in the west).

Learning all these skills and clocking toast-making time felt like I was part of the Scouts. I always liked the idea of Scouts: adventuring and exploring, always being prepared. I felt I was a born cargo short wearer. I particularly loved collecting things (literally anything), so the idea that you could earn cloth badges for learning skills was very appealing. But for some reason I never ended up being a Scout. I was probably too scared to meet new kids.

Anyway, thinking about all the time I spent learning to be prepared for and around Rob, and learning ways to avoid Rob's meltdowns, I realised I was a Scout. A Rob Scout. So I thought I'd design myself some badges to celebrate my preparedness. I mean, the bruises from bites and pinches are okay but they don't look as good as cloth patches sewn on a sash. 

I picked pink to be the Rob Scout colour because, as mentioned in the Pink is the New Black blog post, Rob's favourite colour is pink, so I thought it appropriate.

It's just a little blog for you today but don't worry, more will be coming soon. 

xx

Week thirty seven - In which our hero meets 'The Slump'

You may have noticed that in the past few posts I've been writing about going through a bit of a flat patch or, if you want to go all '50s horror movie on the idea, 'The Slump!'

So with The Slump hanging over my head -- or more specifically in my head -- I thought it was time to get my thoughts out onto paper. I grabbed a book I've been using to keep track of thoughts and things to talk about with my mentor Pat and started writing what I'd been feeling. BUT THEN I COULDN'T STOP. It just kept coming out. Because this was originally just going to be something that I would send to Pat and not share online, I didn't pencil anything or even plan what I was going to write. Sometimes I think I managed to pull it off and then some pages maybe not so much. Anyway, here it is, in all its glory. 

Halfway through writing these thoughts I kinda wanted to stop. I wasn't really sure where they were going and not knowing when the comic would finish made me start feeling flat. But I pushed through with a few pitstops to breathe and think about what I was writing and once I'd finished (despite it not being the best thing I've ever drawn or written) I was so glad to have done it. 

Even though I would say the process of making something is maybe sometimes more important than the final product, it sure feels good to hold a finished thing in your hands. Even if the very next day you think it's terrible. 

Hope you guys are doing well. Can't wait to write you again real soon!

Gxx

Week thirty six - Self portraits

The other day I was asked to write a bio for a comics piece I did that was about to be published and, as is customary, provide an accompanying self portrait. I searched my self portrait files for an appropriate illustration (I rarely provide an actual photograph because comics) and as I've been writing autobio comics for pretty much my entire cartooning life I thought it would be easy to find something that would work. But to my dismay I couldn't find one that really represented how I was currently drawing. Also I'd just gotten a haircut and now sported a wicked fringe. So I quickly drew up a headshot of myself and sent it off. 

After searching through those self portrait pictures I felt a burst of nostalgia towards all those styles that I had tried out, embodied for a while and then moved on to the next George Rex look. Like a hermit crab finding the right shell.  

So I thought I'd share with you a little timeline of my cartoon selves from yesteryear leading up to just this week. 

Let's start with my most recent self-portrait and a general overview of some of my hairstyles (and then jump back to the less great ones of my teen years and move chronologically).

 This is my most recent self portrait. Still having trouble drawing my killer fringe. 

This is my most recent self portrait. Still having trouble drawing my killer fringe. 

Below is the hair guide I originally drew up for my Oh Brother graphic novel. Even though I only drew it last year I already find the illustration alien and strange compared to how I'm working now. Like reading an old diary entry. 

Next up is the earliest self-portrait I could find, from circa 2005 (I would have been 14-y-o). This was taken from the one of the comics I made in high school about the music teachers, in which I would constantly play with reality and breaking the fourth wall. Note: This was the height of my Goon Show and Monty Python fandom. 

Below is me from an early 2009 (I would have been 18) comic zine called 'A Week of Perfect Conversations'. It was all about the semi-realistic adventures of me and my friend Kyra (who was travelling around the world on a gap year post high school graduation). This comic was drawn coming out of my Jhonen Vasquez (Squee, Invader Zim) phase and for some reason I picked up this habit of drawing eyes coming off the side of people's heads and drawing thin lines in place of actual backgrounds. Also I apparently couldn't decide between all caps or lower case for my speech bubbles. Note: This 'joke' doesn't make much more sense when you read the rest of the comic.   

The self-involved little portrait below is, unfortunately, the most whiny teenager portrait ever. I think it would be from about 2009/2010. I almost didn't include it in this post because it's a pretty embarrassing insight into my brain from when I was 18/19, but I thought it was good example of how I've been using labels and arrows and words as part of my portraits for ages. It also has this almost side note about how worried I was about my jaw reconstruction that brings me straight back to that time after I'd had my jaw partially removed (due to cancer) and before I knew that my jaw was going to grow back after the surgery (like magic). It was a weird time of relief for the most part but with just a hint of uncertainty. 

These guys below were drawn about 2011 (I would've been 20). I had been dabbling in watercolours and started reading a broader range of indie comics and art books. Even though I'll never draw like this again I really like these portraits because it's when I started to really love drawing what I was wearing and when I started to buy and wear clothes that were easy to draw. It's about this time that subconsciously I knew that I was an autobio cartoonist (even if I wished I could write like Terry Pratchett). 

Say Hello to 2012 (21-y-o) Rex. This was when I'd first started using the name George Rex for my comics and I haven't looked back. Previous comic nom de plumes include: Georgina Chadderton (actual name), Gee-Nah (phonetic version of nickname), and Bent Drummer Comics (foolish teen idea of a great name). This picture and the picture below it are products of my love of Brisbane artist Lauren Carney. I was (still am) infatuated by her work. Note: I still own the dress that I'm wearing in this picture. 

This here (also 2012) is from my poster for my final musical recital for Uni. I studied Bachelor of Music Performance (classical percussion was my instrument) and for my final recital I, of course, illustrated my own poster and comics program (containing all the info about the pieces I played) for those who attended the performance. This is a good example of how I used to use my Uni Pin felt tips (the pens I still use). I would draw the lines once, then draw them again slightly apart so there was gap between them and then colour in the gap in between the two lines. I also would not pencil - I would just throw ink straight down on the page, baby! I can't believe the kind of stuff I could just ink straight up. I wish I could capture that again. 

2013 brings us the year of the Muppet portraits. I went through a phase of drawing people as Muppets and using really cheap markers. Here's me looking boss with my favourite red jumper and pink & green hair. Note: you may have noticed that I occasionally wear glasses in my self portraits. That's because I need glasses for reading and if I am wearing my specs when I start drawing I generally end up just drawing them on. Sometime I add them to a portrait even if I'm not wearing them because I just like drawing pictures. 

Between 2013 and 2014 I started experimenting with lots of things to do with my art, including: using blue pencils before inking, colouring my comics digitally, writing longer & longer form works and trying out one colour instead of realistic colours. I also started working my first full-time office job which was great but even great office jobs can make you sigh a little sometimes. 

Later in the 2014 year I decided to start a FB page dedicated to my comics work (so I could stop bothering my pals with it in my normal feed). But I quickly started getting some really lovely feedback that encouraged me to keep working on my work. This is the thank you picture I drew for getting to 200 likes on my comics FB page. Apparently I still hadn't nailed the whole skin colour thing. Note: Plz do not look at the hands. 

2015 was a pretty radical year for me and a big turning point re: my comics. These three portraits of me reading were originally drawn for an online and print magazine, Scenstr. Note: I've finally found those nice clean lines that I love so much. 

I started dabbling with different pens and coloured pencils. I lasted about a month before I reverted back to my beloved Uni Pins, although I would love to get more practice in coloured pencil techniques. Note: I still regularly wear this outfit. 

This is the portrait that I sent in as part of the Comic Art Workshop residency I was lucky enough to be a part of. Here we start seeing the inclusion of banners and objects around the portrait. The workshop was a huge turning point in my comics. The residency helped me to think about how to approach long-form comics and I met heaps of lovely people that I probably would've been too scared to talk to otherwise. 

A lot of things change in my various portraits, two of which are my hair and my nose. I'm always dreaming up new hairstyles and cuts and colours that I think would be best for me, which means having to learn to redraw myself every time I get a haircut. My nose is probably the only thing on my face I've never been able to quite capture to my satisfaction. I have inherited my father's long pointy nose (my only consolation is it also belonged to my grandmother) which has been pointed out to me since I was v. young. It has only been in the past couple of years that I've slowly started drawing it more accurately. 

2016 - this year - I am now 25 (gah). Something that I have started doing since the Comic Art Workshop is drawing full eyes instead of just dots (see most of my previous pictures from 2013-2015). This was a suggestion that I took to heart and I'm super thankful for it. I can express so much more using these super cheesy round eyes. I can look scared or think about something or roll my eyes so much more effectively. 

My face shape is another thing that is constantly changing, some days it's square, some days it's round, some days it looks like a jelly bean. 

My body proportions are getting heaps better too. Although who the heck can draw feet? If so - give me all the tips!

One thing that doesn't change in any of these drawings is the polite smattering of freckles that I draw on my cheeks. I've never had heaps of freckles but it's always something I've been proud of so I'll probably always draw myself with freckles. 

My body will alway be a-changing. And sometimes I'm okay with that and sometimes I'm not. I find myself constantly looking in mirrors and looking at my body figuring out if I need to be changing how I draw myself or not. I sometimes struggle with my body image, like a lot of humans out there, and constantly drawing myself and associating my personal image with a 'more perfect' cartoon version can sometimes bring me down. But for the most part I love my body because it's a bloody trooper. 

I think that's enough for this narcissistic post. Here's a version of me I quite like. It's not really my normal style but I think that's why I like it. 

Gina out xx

 

OH! I didn't even get to talk about my ears! Well, basically, they change all the time too. My current favourite way to draw them is as semi-circles on the side of the head with little crosses in them to indicate the auditory canal.