The Diary Continued: An Interview with Sally-Anne Hickman
Bugpowder talked to Sally-Anne Hickman recently. Sheís a fantastic cartoonist who specialises in autobiography and makes beautiful (and often delicate) mini-comics. Hereís what she had to say:
Firstly, can you tell us a bit about how you first got into making comics?
Iíve been drawing since I could hold a pencil. As I got older the next step was to try and bring these drawings to life, so I studied animation for 3 years. Eventually I found that by making comics I could tell stories a lot quicker than by spending hours animating them. I had no real experience of comics and came into the world quite late on.
Your comics are auto-bio and often highly confessional. Why did you choose this approach?
My whole perspective of the genre changed when I discovered artists like Dan Clowes, Jeffrey Brown, and Julie Doucet. I realised that you could write and draw about real life experiences, truth being stranger than fiction.
My diary comic started off in 2001 as a documentation of my last year at university. The year ended but the diary continued. I do also draw fictional stories but I think itís human nature to be a bit nosey and pry into peopleís lives! There is some kind of tension just by holding a book containing private thoughts that I find very exciting. My original diaries were tiny. They could fit in the palm of your hand. I liked to reproduce them this way as small things draw people in. It reinforces the concept of intimacy in my work.
Is there a danger with confessional comics that you might reveal something that you later regret sharing with your readership? Has this ever happened to you?
I do regret some of the things I have drawn and I also regret some of the things I have done, but you canít change the past. When drawing, particularly if itís auto-bio, you have to sit and think, ĎDo I really want people to read this?í Eventually it becomes less contrived and more natural, even stream of conscious sometimes. I do cringe at some of the past diaries I have drawn, especially when the people close to me read them, but I think if you can get that kind of reaction from your art then its coming from somewhere real. If something makes me feel sick then I know itís powerful. Iím very connected to my stomach!
How did you first get your comics out to the comic reading public? What sort of reviews/reactions have you had? Where can Bugpowder readers get your comics?
I first started making comics with some of my university pals under cheesecomics.com. From there we started visiting conventions, such as Bristol and The UK Web Ďní Mini-comix Thing. Every time that I attend a convention, I meet someone new or someone asks me to draw a page for an anthology. Everyone has been so kind to me and helpful. Shane Chebsey and Andy Richmond from Scar Comics really pushed my diary comic. Sean Duffield from Paper Tiger Comics is an amazing person to ask for advice and inspiration. London Underground Comics has been a big thing for me too. Those guys are the funniest! Bugpowder readers can get my comics by emailing me. Iím currently working on a website with Mickey Blumental (nee Bregman) of cheese comics. Hopefully that should be done soon!
For more information on Sally-Anne Hickman's comics, email sallyshinystars(at)hotmail.com