The comics world is a funny old place. After being largely ignored by both the mainstream and the art establishment for decades and decades, the scene grew around itself; becoming a network of friends, collaborations and support rather than a traditional industry.
In this atmosphere some of the most interesting voices working in any art form have flourished. Underground creators who touch a nerve with the comics scene and go from bedroom creator to globetrotting artist without having to bend to any sponsor or major label’s will.
Of such artists, and there are many, Australian creator Simon Hanselmann is perhaps the most intriguing. From self-published zines to Vice webcomics and Fanatgraphics collections, Hanselmann’s work spans the gammit of our medium – popping up in ever more unique and unexpected ways.
We managed to grab a few minutes of Simon’s time, while busy on trip promoting his smash comic Megg and Mogg, to ask him how it’s all come about…
Hey Simon, how are you? Where do we find you today?
I am exceedingly hungover and exhausted. I’m in a hotel room in Poland. Was in Russia for a week. Moscow comic con was intense. Megg and Mogg is surprisingly popular in Russia.
Of all the art forms out there, why choose comics and illustration for expressing your ideas?
Comics is cheap. You need very minimal equipment, just ideas. I’ve been making comics since I was seven years old, it’s literally all I’ve ever done. I have no idea why I’m so obsessed with the form, I’ve been asking myself why all of my life. It really is a very odd thing to commit yourself to. It’s a weird cult.
Your style is super-distinguishable. How would you describe it?
Shitty Simpsons / “Ben jones rip off”
A lot of your work is posted online, both on your personal site and serialised on Vice. What’s your stance on print vs web comics?
I don’t like webcomics. I won’t read digital books. I read some stuff online, but generally I’m just a book buyer. I spend all my money on zines and books. The presentation and craft of bookmaking is integral to the comics I read, the printing and reproduction is part of it.
Books like Mould Map and Volcan, omfg. Breakdown press. Fuck the internet. Fuck Wacom. I put content online, you have to these days, but everything I make is made with a final print object in mind.
How much of your comic Megg, Mogg, & Owl is drawn from real life? The stories feel like they’ve been lived through.
All of it. I have no imagination. I’ve known a lot of junkies.
I’m just trying to write honestly about my perception of people and myself. I want the audience to be entertained first and foremost and secondly to question themselves, their social groups and society.
How’s the comics scene in Australia? We don’t tend to hear so much about it here in Europe.
It’s pretty lively but we’re trapped far away from festival circuits. Melbourne holds the largest group of talented, passionate, prolific, interesting artists.
My favourites are: HTMLflowers, Katie Parrish (now Tommy Parrish), Michael Hawkins, Merv Heers, Nicky Minus, Marc Pearson, Michael Fikaris, Lee Lai, Lachlan Conn, Sam Wallman… We put up a good fight.
We’re slowly going to take over America and Europe in the next few years. We could start our own publishing houses but why bother? We just need to make good content and go straight for the international jugular, that’s where all the audiences are. Save on shipping.
Are there any artists that we should be rushing out to find?
I’m currently obsessed with Marie Jacotey and really into Alexis Beauclair and Sammy Stein. Nacho garcia is awesome. And also Aisha Franz and Conor Stetschulte.
And what’s next for you?
Gotta finish my next book for Fantagraphics that is super late because I’ve been travelling all year. Doing another book straight after that with my favourite British publisher, then maybe a thing for a French publisher that I’ve wanted to do for a while.
I’ve got a bunch of zines I want to make. Want to do some non Megg and Mogg stuff I have planned. Yeah, a ton of stuff. Gotta try to get Megg’s Coven, my next “major project” going at some point, waiting until I feel ready, don’t wanna fuck it up. Moving to Seattle soon to live with my wife. Waiting on the visa. It’s torture.