Sean Ed Whelan
Minicomic.club 2017 Season
Do you keep a sketchbook? What do you fill it up with?
I have a few books now, full of sketches, watercolours and ink drawings and the like. Most of the stuff in there stays in there, but it’s the place to try new things out. Flicking through them for this q&a was a good reminder to go back and finish some of them off.
Tell me about your favourite pen.
I got some really nice Staedtler mechanical pens years ago and I still use those a lot. Same for the watercolour set. A couple of taklon brushes and that rounds out my favourites.
What’s deader. Print or Mail?
Print is going strong. Definitely not dead.
Compared to the sorry state of mail these days, especially if we’re talking about the costs, I’d say it’ll be replaced by something robotic and automated way before print ever is.
What’s a good comic you’ve read recently?
Can I choose more than one? I read anything that comes with a recommendation, so this might be a weird list.
Still, standouts recently were the Alan Moore run of Swamp Thing, Meg & Mogg in Amsterdam by Simon Hanselmann, Sunny by Matsumoto Taiyo and Black Hole by Charles Burns. They all do something really different, in their styles and the way they tell stories.
I discovered your work on Instagram, but don’t necessarily know you as a “comics person”. How do you think about Story in your painting?
That’s right. I’m not a comic person, and I don’t draw panels — but I have a real appreciation for it.
The closest I got to making a comic were some character designs/storyboards I did for a music clip, so this project is pushing me in a new direction. But narrative is really important in my painting, for sure.
Symbolism, colour and composition are all ways I try to get that story across. Not as explicitly as a line of dialogue, but from what I’ve learned from comics, it’s that these elements are just as important as the text. Black Hole comes to mind here, and the paintings I’ve been doing most recently share some beats with that kind of storytelling I think.
You exhibit in Japan a bit — what’s your connection to that place?
Japan was home for about 10 years, and while I was there, I tried my best to show people what I was up to. A lot of the work I’ve made since about 2009 has come from my observations and jumbled up understandings of the culture.
I came back to Australia just over 2 years ago now, so my last show was in 2014, but hopefully I can get back and do something again soon. From what I can see online, it looks like there is a surge of independent galleries showing young, contemporary artists, from all types of backgrounds, including manga and illustration. So yeah, it would be great to go back sometime.
The Minicomic of the Month Club is an annual subscription series of Australian and New Zealand Cartoonists. Subscriptions are open for the 2017 season, you should go ahead and subscribe at minicomic.club/2017.