BB had a chance to catch up with artist Karrie Fansman recently…dig below!
You're gaining ground as a graphic novelist (if you term yourself that way), but what got you into the genre in the first place? What was your background?
Ha ha, yes I like the term 'comic creator'- more down and dirty, although 'graphic novelist' does have it benefits if you're trying to appear sophisticated! I was reared on picture books and a bit of the Beno and grew up scribbling stories, but only discovered the comic medium in a conscious way when I was 22 and read Ghost World. An amazing depiction of a female relationship by a male comic artists. I fell instantly in love and knew I had to make them for myself. I didn't let the minor inconvenience of never having been to art college get in the way!
Do you have a particular inspiration or hero?
My all time favourite comic artist is an American indi artist called Eleanor Davis- her smallest sketch book scribbles have more narrative in them than some whole books. But she hasn't, to my knowledge, yet written a long graphic novel and I would give my arm (o.k...maybe just the left one) for her to do one. BUT I normally exercise caution in having too many heroes from the same genre as myself as it's much easier to get inspiration from different sources. So I'd say my childhood picture book artists- Kit Williams and Maurice Sendak are my all time creative crushes.
Your latest work THTG explores some fairly stark realities of modern life - are you reciting personal experience or is it more of a commentary on your vision of urban life?
Well the original inspiration was not urban life but our material bodies and our anxieties with them. I guess that has it's roots in my personal experience as I almost died of meningitis as a child and have always been a bit morbidly fascinated with our physicality. The house was supposed to symbolise a slowly decaying body and the isolation we feel from each-other and the world. But most of the big newspapers that reviewed it emphasised the isolated, urban living. That's fine! I like it when people interoperate the book in their own way!
Do you see your work, and indeed the graphic novel as having an important function to play; for example, a great way to unpack important issues for a lay audience?
I believe an artist's sole responsibility is to engage the reader/viewer emotionally. Comics are fairly cheap to produce and consume and are accessible to all regardless of age, education or nationality and have the power to reach a wider audience with their messages... whatever that may be! u there is a trend to do graphic memoirs and re-tellings of classic stories. There's even a 'graphic medicine' movement that emphasises doctor and patient experiences of illness through the comic medium. My personal emphasis is on sociological issues, psychology and gender. To sum it up in a nut shell!
Are you already onto your next work - any hints?
Ha ha! My next book is still at a very early stage but i'm incredibly excited about it! It will play with the form and language of comics and seep off the page and into the digital worlds while telling a dark tale of friendship, power, destruction and creativity. In the mean time I'm doing reportage comics for The Guardian and Psychologies magazine, working on some short story commissions and have been invited in July to the Interregional Hayes Festival in
. Very excited! Beirut
Finally, are you a fan of the veritable veg we've named our store after? If so, what's your fave way to eat it!
Certainly! I'd say baked, sliced and with Crème fraîche and dill on top. nyum.
Get the book here at Beetroot Books