(Most of this post was written on Friday 13th of September 2013, the opening day of the Raptus International Comics Festival in Bergen. I’ve taken the liberty to finish this post in the same way I started writing it, even though I post this on Sunday the 15th.)
This is a short write-up of my personal experiences from Raptus International Comics Festival 2013. Today was the first day of the festival for me. I missed the official opening, but I got there in time to attend a few late afternoon talks. And, of course, to peruse comics and spend some money.
I went to listen to an interview with Sarah Oleksyk (website/tumblr), who is a storyboard artist working on Regular Show. She talked about how she at an early age wanted to be a cartoonist, and how she developed her style through making autobiographical comics. She studied illustration in university, while working on her cartooning in her spare time. An interesting fact was that comics were looked down upon, and not even taught, at her university at the time.
My favorite part of the interview was when Oleksyk (sitting to the left in the photos above and below) explained how a storyboard artist works. She described in detail the process from initial outline of the plot, to how she collaborates with another storyboard artist on the sketches and the dialog (Regular Show episodes are always created by a pair of storyboarders working together). The final step is to make a finished polished version of the storyboard so that it is “legible” for the animators. During her presentation, Oleksyk also showed the audience her workspace, and talked about her comic book named Ivy, minicomics, and the importance of warm-up sketches (tip of the day: doing warm-up sketches is very important!).
After the interview, I stopped by Oleksyk’s signing table and bought a signed copy of Ivy. I awkwardly asked her if she could sign my Moleskine notebook that I’m hoping to fill with autographs by comic artists. To this day I’ve actually only had one sketch and signature in it (hey, you’ve gotta start somewhere). She was very nice and drew a character from Regular Show for me as well.
I also managed to catch a part of an interview with Lene Ask. She talked about her autobiographical comics, and presented a part of her new project based on old letters and photographs related to early Norwegian missionaries on Madagascar. The event itself was very informal, and there were a lot of jokes exchanged between interviewee and interviewer (Ida Larmo, another Norwegian cartoonist and illustrator). The latter had recently become a mother, and was keeping an eye on her baby in her partner’s arms, who were also in the audience.
At one point, the baby started crying. Out of necessity, Larmo had to breastfeed her baby when finishing the last questions of the interview. This all happened on stage, in a very classy manner in front of the audience. Hilarity and laughter ensued, in particular after Larmo had asked if anyone else were in need of some milk. It was a classic “you had to be there” moment, and I’m sorry for not having a better way to tell the story.
One downside of today has been the feeling of constantly standing in someone’s way. The venue is very nice, but also very impractical. There’s a lot going on, and a lot of people milling about, especially in between the events and talks. And to get from one room to another, you have to go through crowded corridors and narrow doorways. Also, you can only fit about two or three people standing beside each other in the lanes in between booths, so it can get awkward if you want to stop and browse the items on sale. Apart from this, I have to say that today was an invigorating start of a great comics festival.