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The Past | The Previous

Anna Brown Interview



Nowhere Near Savannah returns next week, but before then, I am going to introduce you to the quirky humour, down to earth and absurdly modest personality of Anna Brown, in this interview we did.

I have known Anna for close to two years now, ever since she was introduced to me by Kaaron Warren, when I was looking for an artist to do work for 26lies. It's strange, but until this moment, it didn't feel as if I've known her for two years, and I certainly didn't think that I haven't met her once in this time; nor does it feel like I've worked with her for two years, on and off. Perhaps this is because of the nature of our work together, perhaps not. What Anna and I have is a partnership, of sorts, in which I do my thing, and she does her thing, and the two things come together in a natural fashion, in which neither of us question it once it's done. In fact, in truth, there's never been huge debates, hassles, or death threats, and except for that one time when I went to Wollongong but got lost, there's nothing but good and fine things I could say about Anna Brown.

Anyhow, here we go:

Ben: Anna, whatcha name your new boy?

Anna: Sam Jonathan Beadman


Woo! Now, lets have some Anna life background, please?

Born in Melbourne and bred in Canberra.

I've lived in Newcastle, Melbourne and travelled about in the back of a troop carrier for a while.

Currently living in Port Kembla, Wollongong... Living the dream.

Studied photomedia at art school in Canberra and then joined the elite group of trained artists making a living in a totally unrelated area as public servants... More living the dream.

I started drawing comics in art school. I have published solo comics and contributed to many compilations. I edited and published a compilation of comics by artists from Canberra called Northbourne and Glory Bound. I continue to draw comics when life doesn't get in the way
and hope to publish more in the future.

Currently on maternity leave with second child--two kids is crazy business. I got my first smile today thought so all is on the up and up!


Children! Wasn't one enough?

Basically, I am a greedy guts. Kids are the best fun I've ever had but also the hardest work. Two is enough for me though. Unless they increase the baby bonus to infinity dollars, I'm stopping at two...




What was the early influence of comics, then?

Allan and Janet Ahlberg, Viz, Tintin. The discovery of alternative comics through Art Speigleman (MAUS) and RAW comics (http://www.readyourselfraw.com/) were a revelation in college. At art school there were a whole heap of people putting out their own comics and compilations. Some of my favourites are/were Ben Hutchings (http://www.effect.net.au/geeen), Mandy Ord (http://mandyord.blogspot.com/), Dean Tarjavaara, Matt Taylor.


I reckon, just having a look through that list, that I can see a bit of Hutchings' influence on your work. A fair enough call, or would you go elsewhere?

Yeah, I guess so. It's a pretty clean style. Ben's a natural though and very consistent. I think consistency is my weakness.

Ben is also the funniest person on the face of the planet.


How long did it take for you to get your particular voice down in your work?

I don't think I have yet...

I think I have really chopped and changed in my style over the years. I've unconsciously mimicked people before, so I'm pretty hopeful that my work will settle into a style of it's own sometime soon.


Yeah, I remember doing the same early on in my stuff. I've found as I go on, though, that I tend to read less because I worry about that--and in fact, I tend to stop reading when I'm writing to cut out the influence factor. You get the same vibe from art?

Yeah definitely. Another good reason to avoid exposure to greatness is because I have a tendency to get totally intimidated to the point of creative paralysis.




Still, regardless, I'd have to say you have developed quite the Anna Brown style. It was that which drew me to your stuff back when we did 26Lies. How'd working on that go for you?

I loved working on that. Well maybe not actually working on it. I was slogging it out in the early days of having our first child at that point but your book blew me away and I just knew that I could not not do it. I'm happy now that I did it too. Very proud to have put pen to paper. Apart from Kaaron Warren's writing, I just don't get out there much in terms of contemporary Sci-Fi writing (funny that - with all that spare time I have).


Is it me, or do we always end doing things when you have a kid?

Yeah--It's a total breeze and always the best time to take on new projects...




Maybe motherhood and childbirth just isn't that time consuming any more. Kaaron Warren tells me that all the time. Where'd you meet her?

Kaaron lived upstairs from my mum in Canberra a long time ago.


Still, I don't know if I'd call what we do sci fi. In fact, one of the things I like about what we get to do is that it stretches a whole lot of new muscles for me. Indeed, in many ways, I'd call what we do the autobiographical stuff. How's your take on it?

Yeah that's my take on it too. Usually though, I'm drawing my own life so I'm enjoying trying to draw yours.




How frustrating is it, incidentally, to work with me, with all the last minute changes, complete rewriting of dialogue, and so on and so forth?

It's far less annoying than you imagine... I just wish in your life, no-one had hands and they always stood face on...THAT would make my life much easier.


Okay, I'm figuring we should finish up. You ever seen that guy on the Actor's Studio stealing those questions from a French guy? I love them. They're how I end my interviews. So, imagine you died. Imagine that you were coming home one day, and a gang of angry midgets from the 'Gong had unleashed a virus that made all tall people explode. It was a travelling red cloud and you walked straight into it. Your kids are fine, but you're dead and you've popped up in Heaven. Surprise!

Now, what's the first thing you say to God?


I think I would have a full blown rolling on the floor - fists pumping the air - frothing at the mouth - 2 year old style tantrum. No words necessary.

Comments

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lucius_t
Aug. 12th, 2008 06:46 pm (UTC)
Best interview ever. War Anna (that means Kick ass, Anna, if you didn't lnow). Well done.
benpeek
Aug. 13th, 2008 02:35 am (UTC)
thanks, man. shall pass it on to her. she's actually off doing some kind of vacation thing right now.
shadowsandice
Aug. 13th, 2008 03:25 am (UTC)
I dunno..."War Anna" sounds badass without the translation. So true too!
lucius_t
Aug. 13th, 2008 03:38 am (UTC)
It's an MMA term. Martial Arts. Cage Fighting.
kaaronwarren
Aug. 12th, 2008 09:30 pm (UTC)
I love "Northbourne and Glory Bound" so much I brought it with me to Fiji. Not many books made that cut.
I love Anna's humour. She has this great bit in one of her small comic books where she's washing dishes at a steakhouse in Canberra. She's not happy, but at least she's being paid. Her co-worker says to her, "Don't worry, we'll laugh about this one day", and we blur-edge into the future.
Anna at a fancy dinner party, wearing what Anna imagines fancy people wear. She's saying, "Oh, let me finish this hilarious story! Can you imagine? I thought the plug was in the sink, but when I finished washing up, I realised it was only all the fat and gunk gathered from the plates!", and the other dinner guests join her in hysterical laughter...
Love it.
benpeek
Aug. 13th, 2008 02:36 am (UTC)
and we have you to thank for making anna work when with child...

...wait, that didn't come out right.
kaaronwarren
Aug. 13th, 2008 02:48 am (UTC)
I'm not putting that on my resume!
drjon
Aug. 12th, 2008 11:20 pm (UTC)
Gyarrgh. I keep on forgetting how normal you look IRL.
benpeek
Aug. 13th, 2008 02:35 am (UTC)
i plan to make everyone think the chiseled jawed man in the comics is the real me!
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