Ferguson’s 7 Questions With… Sarah Bowie
Time for another edition of 7 questions. Yes. They’re like buses. Up next is the extremely creative member of the Comics Lab… Sarah Bowie.
What was the first comic work you did that was published?
Work for BUZZ (published by Oonagh Young Gallery 2015). I was commissioned along with Fintan Taite and Phil Barrett to take the stories of two groups of 6th class children from a boys and girls’ school in Crumlin. They talked about a lot of stuff, including their perceptions and fears of secondary school.
What is the biggest thing you have learned since that book?
Usually I write and illustrate my own work. For the BUZZ project I was asked to illustrate. But actually, it was very much a writing job also. We were handed large stacks of transcripts, and from these we had to sift through and make the best stories we could from them. So I learned that sometimes when you’re commissioned to do artwork, you’re doing a lot more besides!
What’s your process for writing/drawing a comic book?
First there’s a gathering period. I have an idea for what I want to write about, so I’ll spend some time going out into the world, observing and sketching. I’m working on a semi-fictional, longer-format piece at the moment, and am doing a lot of stream-of-consciousness writing for it. Then I start thumbnailing like a mad thing. This is how I think, and ideas really only start to come together at this stage. I consider this the most important stage. After that, onto roughs and then final artwork. I hand-draw everything, scan in and composite as needed.
What is the biggest influence on your work?
At the moment I’m extremely inspired by the writer Alice Munro. She brings an unparalleled depth and believeability to her characters and their struggles. Her writing is utterly plain and stripped down. Every word tells you something. I would love to do this with comics. For similar reasons to Munro, Joanna Hogg is a film director that really excites me. Her trio of films Unrelated, Archipelago and Exhibition catch their characters at brief but intense moments in their lives. Nothing is overtly explained, yet you are drawn right into the centre of these characters’ emotional lives. Andrea Hogg’s Fish Tank is similarly compelling. In terms of artists, George Grosz’s work is alive and fresh to this day. It is grim and scathing but feels like a real, unaffected insight into human beings.
What are you working on right now?
I’ve just started on a personal project, as mentioned above, a semi-fictional longer-form comic, which is new territory for me. Very much looking forward to seeing how it develops.
What do you out now or coming out next?
I launched Worse Things at the Bristol Zine and Comic Fair in October. It’s free to read here.
What is your favourite Irish comic?
Anything by Phil Barrett – great writer as well as superb artist. Gus Hughes ‘Songs for Leider’ is in a league of it’s own, and ‘Ructions’ by Joven Kerekes is really good stuff. Also Debbie Jenkinson’s excellent ‘Remorse’ and Paddy Lynch’s ‘Last Bus’ series.