Monday, June 23, 2014

Q&A with Rachael Smith on her new graphic novel HOUSE PARTY

Recently I've been a very big fan of a comic book label from the UK called Great Beasts Comics. I read their most recent release from the label new-comer Rachael Smith and decided this was something I had to find out more about. House Party is a graphic novel about the difficulty of blending into the real world after leaving university. It's about outgrowing yourself, your environment and sometimes your friends. At least that's what I took from all of it. Enough from me, check out what Rachael Smith has to say: 

TFQ: First of all, congrats on a successful Kickstarter and landing a great publisher with Great Beast. I really love the work released through the label.

Rachael: Why thank you, Amy! Yeah the Kickstarter was amazing; I really wasn’t expecting it to go so well, it was very humbling. And YES, I was very lucky to catch the eye(s) of the Great Beast(s); the book wouldn’t be half as good as it is without them. You also have the correct opinion in loving the other artists they’ve released. It’s excellent stuff.

TFQ: How do you feel about the reception since the June 13th release of House Party?

Rachael: Aw man. That weekend RUINED me. So I had the launch party on the Friday which was rad – I was actually really scared that no one would turn up, but it ended up being really, really busy and I met loads of SUCH lovely fans so I needn’t have worried. Then I had a table at ELCAF 10am-7pm the following day, which was also rad – despite the hangover. So by the time I got back to Leicester I was shattered. I’m only just coming round now! But people seem genuinely excited by the book being out in the wild which makes me very happy. I’ve had loads of tweets and messages about people having read it and enjoyed it – yay!

TFQ: House Party really reminded me of my own life when you realized you've out-grown the house party thing, and you realized that all the indie bands you use to go see actually really sucked... is any of the story autobiographical?

Rachael: Haha! Well I’m glad you were able to relate to it. Yeah it is a little autobiographical. There’s a lot of me in Siobhan. Siobhan did Fine Art at uni and did really well and got told she was special and would go on to do great things, then when she gets shoved into the Real World™ she has to get a job at a coffee shop instead of being a famous artist. Nobody really tells you that it’s going to be so hard to break into the industry you’ve just spent three years learning about and excelling at. So that’s kind’ve what happened to me. There’s bits of me in all three of the main characters though. All three of them feel a little bit lied to and robbed of something since finishing uni, – hopefully that’s something a lot of my generation can get on board with. I’ve made it sound really bleak now. It’s also funny! Honest!

TFQ: As a Canadian and a big fan of Oni Press, I have read Scott Pilgrim. House Party reminded me a little of that story but more centered on a gal's perspective. Were there any books that influenced your creative design for House Party?

Rachael: What a lovely thing to say! I get compared to Bryan Lee O’Malley quite a bit and I always take it as a HUGE compliment. He’s a massive influence, definitely. John Allison’s Scary Go Round books/webcomics were also a big inspiration style-wise when I was just starting out, as was Kate Beaton. I get compared to Marc Ellerby sometimes too which is awesome. I don’t know if any specific book influenced the design of ‘House Party’…probably an amalgamation of all of the above!

TFQ: Where do plan to go artistically after this release and do you have any plans to write a follow-up story?

Rachael: Ummmm well I’m working on a couple of collaborations at the moment – one with Andy Waterfield called ‘Uberblaze’, and one with Will Brooker called ‘Towards the Moon’. I am writing a new thing too, but that’s gonna be a while and it’s still a big mess right now so I’m not even sure what it is. I think it involves a witch but then it might not…

I MIGHT revisit the ‘House Party’ characters at some point, they are pretty fun. I think we all need a break from each other right now though. We’re all still suffering the comedown…

You can order ‘House Party’ from the Great Beast store: store.greatbeastcomics.com
And you can find out more about Rachael from her website: www.rachaelsmith.org

Or follow her on Twitter: @rachael_