Wellington Zinefest committee member Brent Willis chats with Hayden Currie, a Wellington-based cartoonist who draws cartoons and designed our 2013 Zinefest poster.
I first came across your work in Book, a zine you have produced with James Roswell and Matt Henley. Was Book your first zine or had you made other zines before then?
My first zine came out when I was zero. But it was drawn in blood on my placenta, so it was kinda controversial and ended up being thrown in a bin of medical waste and burned. When I was six I started making these badly stapled comics with felt pens and crayons. They followed the adventures of me and my little bro’s GI Joes and soft toys. It ended with my brother's turtle (Little Deedle Fozzie) decapitating his Mum (Bambi) with an axe. It's all been downhill from there.
Are there going to be any more editions of Book?
Yeah definitely, even if it’s just me and my cruddy comics like Tinny Cops and Hempie Hoedown.Some of the humour in Book could be described as a bit 'dark' or 'twisted', which I consider a good thing in comics. What are some of your influences in terms of humour and/or comics?
I grew up on a small sheep farm in the Waitahora valley about a half hour out of Dannevirke, staring up at a big hill. It rained a lot. I developed an unhealthy obsession with The X Files. To this day there's a weird Dana Scully shrine in my room. Being a painfully shy dork, I preferred drawing and mumbling to myself to a lot of other things, like talking to people. When I was 6, we visited my Great Aunt in California. It was like seeing the Promised Land. My Great Aunt, with her loud and sunny attitude, her rags to riches backstory, her facelift and Cadillac Lincoln, took us to see Tim Burton's Batman at the movies. We had the trading cards, the comic, the t shirt, pyjamas ... We taped that movie off TV back home and me and my brother must've watched it at least once a week for a year. Later I got into The Simpsons, Ren and Stimpy, Beavis and Butthead...My Great Aunt's 88 now. She's lost most of her money and she had a stroke this year, but she's still driving about with no license, saying stuff like 'Jeepers creepers, guess I cut him off. It's a Goddamn federal case trying to leave the highway here!'So she's a huge inspiration. And I always wanted be a cartoon character when I grew up.
A lot of comic makers get into zines and self-publishing because there isn't a mainstream comics industry in New Zealand. Do you consider yourself a comic maker or a zine maker, or do you think there isn't much of a difference between the two?
I make comics, but they’re mostly A5 and only seen by a small group of deformed morons so they’re really zines. One day Book might be read by over 1000 people, at which point it will cease to be a zine and become a real comic.
Are you going to do any more editions of John Keywi Key?
A third and final Keywi Key should be out before the next election. A local art collective has expressed an interest in drawing it on the side of a school bus and launching it at Key from a giant slingshot. He’d be crushed to death. That may seem a bit harsh. Key has a family, kids. But apparently they’d be killed also. No one left to grieve him, so essentially it’d be a victimless crime.
Can you give some background to the 'Word' project?
That was a wordless comic collection I made with some local artists and a Creative Communities grant I used to get lots of poster-sized comic pages pasted around Wellington with empty panels for people to draw in, and an exhibition selling prints and original art. The Word book is still available, at Matchbox and Graphic. It's at the Library too.
I've seen your art work on the occasional band poster. Does it appear anywhere else?
Oh yeah, some of my posters are here. And I’ve got a website. I put stuff up on this tumblr and I just got an imgur. I've done paste ups and stickers around town but not lately. You can find some of my stuff, including prints and comics, in Matchbox Gallery on Cuba St.
As well as the afore-mentioned projects and your blog, are you involved in any other creative endeavours?
I’ve got a joke rap group but we haven’t done much lately. I’m writing a book on America. And me and this guy I met at a party are starting a new religion to answer all life’s big questions. We’ll start off converting members of existing religions and other gullible types. Picture yourself in the campus library at , cramming hard for finals. You're failing all your papers. They're useless humanities subjects anyway. No hope of gainful employment. Crippling student debt. You're one payday away from jerking off punks for change. Then your phone rings and you're informed that your entire family has just been wiped out in a tragic cooking mishap. You're suffering a nervous breakdown, surrounded by these stacks of difficult books you're supposed be studying. Then I approach, with one book which I tell you is the only book you'll ever need to read for the rest of your life… Our ultimate aim is to be bigger than Islam, Hinduism and Christianity combined, then convince all our followers to kill themselves.
What are you working on at the moment?
A short inoffensive children's book.
Thanks for doing our Zinefest poster this year. How did you go about designing it?
Thanks for thinking of me! I thought: ‘what is a Zinefest? And what kind of a grotesquely ugly freak actually goes to one?’ And I looked in the mirror.
What are your favourite zines at the moment?
Daily Secretion. And 16th and Mission Comics and Bums Of The Bay by the Forsley brothers. These are a few years old now but they're still the best I've seen.
What is your latest project?
A book of quotes and portraits of rappers and comedians drawn with old ink dip pens. For example, Blake from Workaholics: ‘Life is a stage. Smoke weed until you die.’ It's called Great Modern Philosophers. That and the book on America.
Thanks a lot for answering these questions. Are you going to be at Wellington Zinefest this year?
Thanks for asking such great questions! I will certainly be at Zinefest this year along with the rest of you freaks.