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Rob O’Connor

Wednesday, October the 5th sees the return of The AusComX show… back for Season 2. Sizzle is back with a new co-host, Lady Rattus herself, the fabulous Lauren Marshall. Our first guest is none other than Brisbane Local and creator of Deathship Jenny and LIFF – Rob O’Connor. Who is Rob? Who is Jenny? Join…


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Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (00:12):
Welcome to season two of the Oz Comic Show. You Are Me Sizzle, and here with Lady Ratti as well. My new co-host.

Lauren Marshall (00:22):
Woo. How you doing Sizzle?

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (00:25):
I’m doing well, thank you yourself?

Lauren Marshall (00:27):
Yeah, look, I’m kicking on. It’s fantastic. I’m ready for the first episode of season two and we’ve got a spectacular guest from what I know.

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (00:37):
Yes, we have Rob O’Connor. He wrote and drew this beauty here. This is the cover of number one, so let’s get on with the show and let’s meet Rob.

Lauren Marshall (01:12):

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (01:12):

Rob O’Connor (01:14):
Hey guys. How’s it going?

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (01:15):

Lauren Marshall (01:17):
Good. Hey Rob, welcome to the show. First off, Hey, by kicking off season two, you must be pumped.

Rob O’Connor (01:27):
Yeah, I’ll call it Pumped.

Lauren Marshall (01:30):
Hey, we’ve got to probably a little bit, a little bit unc clunky today, so we’re running it off. Minimal sleep for me and Sizzle being absolutely bonkers with all the stuff he does for the comics community. Let’s just roll with it, shall we?

Rob O’Connor (01:44):
Yeah, let’s do it.

Lauren Marshall (01:46):
Cool. So we’re obviously here with you. You’ve creator of Death Ship, Jenny. We’re going to be talking about that and touching on some parts about your comic shortly. But before we jump into that, I want to just get to know you as a creator yourself. Maybe have a chat to us about yourself in your creative journey, how you got started. I know lots of people love hearing about in particular when you started picking up a pencil, so don’t forget to mention that. But yeah, we’d love to hear a little bit about yourself.

Rob O’Connor (02:23):
Okay. My favourite topic. Me. Okay. Oh look, I’ve been drawing cartoons forever. I was a kid, I just locked myself in my bedroom and just draw and draw and draw. Probably not really superheroes, probably more like political cartoons and caricatures and sort of stuff like that and just any weird stuff that comes out of my head as all good cartoonists would. And so when high school finished, I, oh, I’ll go to art college and that’ll be really cool. And it didn’t work out well. I didn’t get in basically because I wasn’t as serious artist for your fine arts groups or your illustrators and whatnot, which was

Lauren Marshall (03:21):
A bit for that year, wasn’t it?

Rob O’Connor (03:23):
Yeah, I was just showing them all my weird cartoons and didn’t impress them all that much. So I became a primary school teacher. I know that’s a bit of a leap, bit of 180 little kids. It was great. I had a great time. I was the teacher who could draw, so I drew lots of cartoons for the kids and did all of that in amongst teaching all of the other things that you do in primary school, all the bits and pieces, but the art itch never left.

Lauren Marshall (03:55):
It never really does, does it?

Rob O’Connor (03:57):
No. So I thought, oh, well I’ll just go off and set up that serious side. I’ll do a whole heap of serious art. So I got ready, I did some really nice serious paintings and all of that sort of stuff and came down to Queensland Art College and discovered there was an animation department. So I thought I’d check them out and I brought in all of my stuff and they looked at all of my Doy serious art and went, do you have any cartoons?

And after I stopped hitting my head against the desk, I went off for two straight weeks and just did nothing else but draw all day and just created a folio of cartoons. And so I became an animator. I went through all of that and eventually I got a job in the animation industry. It was a multimedia group and I was doing animation for them that was educational. It was health stuff for kids, and it was sort of explaining parts of the body and how the digestive system works and all of that sort of stuff. So I became the artist who could teach which

Lauren Marshall (05:19):
Link back to your teaching career as well. It’s crazy.

Rob O’Connor (05:24):
And that’s what happened as the years went on, I was a flash animator. Yeah, cool.

Lauren Marshall (05:35):
I remember that. I’m an animator as well. Yeah, flash was my go-to

Rob O’Connor (05:39):
And eventually Flash died of course. And besides that, my role was becoming more and more the teaching side of things. So I decided to, after a long hard think, just go back to doing art for fun again.

Lauren Marshall (06:01):
Yeah, nice.

Rob O’Connor (06:02):
So I started drawing cartoons. I did stuff for H two G two, which was the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy website. This was all pre Facebook. And I was just doing a weekly comic about life at home. There was an indie comic in the nineties or early two thousands called Sporadic that I also contributed to. And then I got involved with the Oz Comics Group, Darren Close and the Oz Comics Weekly Challenge. And that opened some huge floodgates and started to get to know a few people in the indie comics industry in a, and eventually that led down the path of Darren asking me to be the artist for one of the Kroo gang wars stories.

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (07:10):
Alright, cool.

Rob O’Connor (07:13):
And so that was a big learning curve. It was about 11 pages, but it was nothing like I’d ever done before. So that was pretty far out

Lauren Marshall (07:24):
Working within someone else’s parameters and script and stuff. It’s a bit of a challenge sometimes.

Rob O’Connor (07:30):
It definitely is. But I needed it. I needed somebody else’s script at that stage just to sort of run with it. And then from there I went, Stuart Cook has a great comic called Dave Zombie Hunter, which I dunno how many people know it. It was basically things Sean of the Dead, but with Bogans.

Lauren Marshall (08:04):
Alright, so we need Sizzle. We need him on the show pretty much. Yeah.

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (08:07):
Yeah, it sounds like it.

Rob O’Connor (08:11):
And that’s my first full comics issue, like 24 pages, the whole shebang.

Lauren Marshall (08:18):

Rob O’Connor (08:19):
And that was, again, that was the next steep learning curve. And all the way through it, I’m going, oh, during mutant kangaroos in biker gangs, that’s really cool. But I don’t know if that’s what I’d do. And then, oh, bogans fighting zombies, that’s really cool. But I don’t know if that’s what I’d do. And so there was a voice inside me where, well, what would you do? And gave myself my own slap down and yeah, death ship Jenny was the result.

Lauren Marshall (08:59):
Amazing. So that obviously leads into my next question. Obviously you’ve got death ship, Jenny, fantastic read by the way. I don’t want to give too much away, but I can’t refer it to this specific movie, which I said I think that might give away a little bit too much in terms of the story, but I definitely get post-apocalyptic a little bit, but also Matrixy a little bit. I don’t know, I’m really trying not to be specific with this movie Anyway, it’s a really well-rounded four issue comic. Tell us a little bit about Jenny and the story and everything that you love about it. Pretty much.

Rob O’Connor (09:52):
Okay. I had to prepare for this because I think I’ve created the worst comic in the world to give an elevator pitch for. There’s no one sentence. The closest I’ve got, and I had to write it down because I was trying to think of how you’d describe,

Lauren Marshall (10:13):
Use your cue card.

Rob O’Connor (10:14):
Yes, I’m using my cue card right now. Basically the comic is about reality television, engineering and martians.

Lauren Marshall (10:25):
That’s pretty spot on. That’s what I was trying to get to.

Rob O’Connor (10:30):
And that’s kind of it for the listeners who are probably very confused right now. It is post-apocalyptic, but it’s the world we see in the comic book is a utopia. Basically a revolution happened. We got rid of borders, we got rid of wars, we got rid of money, we cleaned up the environment, we put industry, we moved all of our industry on the moon basically. You don’t have to work if you don’t want to. We want for nothing basically. And the comic is set 200 years after that happened and this was the topic, this was the thing that I was actually quite interested in doing. If you’ve gone through all of that and you’ve come out the other side, what’s life like 200 years after an event like that? And basically I sort of came, the satist in me went, if we want for nothing, basically all of the things that we would complain about in life, like war, all of those things, hunger’s gone as well and all of that sort of stuff with all of the big things gone to complain about, we’ve become obsessed with the little things and it’s a completely celebrity reality television engrossed culture.

And I’m making this sound very theoretical, but it’s not. It’s really silly

Lauren Marshall (12:21):
Everybody. Some people are obsessed with celebrity and reality tv even in this day and age when we’ve got millions of problems. That totally makes sense.

Rob O’Connor (12:31):
That’s it. And I’ve sort of tried to amp that up. I’ve tried to turn that to 11. That’s just the pop culture desire for everything. And so within that, Jenny is at a Kardashian Kardashian level in a world where everybody wants to be a celebrity. Jenny is a Kardashian level celebrity. She had a hit TV show when she was a kid called Death Ship Jenny, where she played the main character, it finished and her pushy B grade celebrity parents have tried to keep the gravy train going by, putting her on every ad, every product known to humans. But the thing is, Jenny hates all of it. That’s the thing. She hates it all. She thinks it’s all fake and horrible and all of that. She has a secret desire to be an engineer in a world where everyone’s sort of after celebrity, she runs out, she’s a really good engineer and she’s just graduated with honours from studying and she’s just, the whole story starts with her announcing to her parents that she wants to get out, but of course it’s not as easy as that when you are Kardashian level celebrity. So she thinks the best thing to do is to run away from home and help defend the earth from the Martians. So in this world, martians exist.

Cool. Yeah, most of the story is her trying to run away and failing.

Lauren Marshall (14:36):
At the beginning of reading it was very, I’ve seen the story before in terms of the parents trying to control their children, children going against the parents, but it really does take its own turns and stuff later on. I thought it was really awesome. The ending is spot on and to fit it all into four issues I think is fantastic. It’s a really well-rounded issue. Well, I see it as a full solid issue of one story, which I think is really good. You’ve done it really well and you illustrated and wrote this story as well, which is a big pat on the back. I couldn’t do it myself. Did you find that challenging at all in terms of not working in the collaborative team, which I’ve, in terms of a creator myself, I do bouncing off other people, but working by yourself, did you find that it was fairly easy or did you come against any roadblocks at all?

Rob O’Connor (15:39):
I didn’t find it easy, but at the same time I didn’t work completely in a vacuum. I was endlessly showing people draughts and concepts and hey, is this a good idea or is this a good script? Would you read this story if I made it? And then even once we got past that, once the first issue was made before it went out to print again, leaning on comic book, making friends and sort of going, Hey, do you reckon this has got a shot? Should I keep going with this? It was all of that sort of thing and getting ideas, bouncing back and getting good feedback and fine tuning that writing right up until the point where it was sent to Doug and the good people that comic books on demand.

Lauren Marshall (16:37):
Yeah. Cool. I know obviously it’s better when it’s created. Did you ever have that point? I know a lot of people struggle with, is it ever going to be good enough to print or I know artists always go, I could do better, I could revise this, I could keep going back and changing anything. Did you have any of those moments where you’re like, I’m not sure if it’s ready or not, or did you just get to a point be like, I have to print this

Rob O’Connor (17:05):
All the time?

Lauren Marshall (17:06):
I think as any artist we kind of do

Rob O’Connor (17:11):
And yeah, you touched on working in a vacuum is simultaneously good and terrifying. But yeah, it got through to the end and it was really nice going off to places like Supernova afterwards or it’s not happening at the moment, but Tuan over in Toowoomba, they were doing it there and it was really great meeting with people who’d read it and telling me what they thought and just getting the feedback was really good. And that actually made going past issue one actually simultaneously, it was enough to get me to going into issue two and beyond. But yeah, then it’s sort of trying to keep up with the success of the first one and making sure that the story rounded out and yeah, it was a roller coaster.

Lauren Marshall (18:21):
Yeah, it’s like an emotional, you kind of come out, just get gasping for air once you to finally get something out in print. So kudos to that. You’ve done an awesome job. Me too. Speaking of people when giving you feedback, Jenny is like a powerhouse female lead character. Did you find a lot of people resonate with that character and appreciate it? It was, I found it intriguing. I loved it.

Rob O’Connor (18:49):
Yeah, a bit. Sorry, I’m trying to think about that. That’s a really good question. Or

Lauren Marshall (19:00):
Just as a character in general. Not that she’s female or

Rob O’Connor (19:03):
Anything. I think I got far more feedback from her about her as a character in general. And there was a lot of things that, there’s a lot of things not very typical about a main character with Jenny. And I think a lot of people tapped into that and have really enjoyed that she’s not particularly heroic or

Lauren Marshall (19:29):
She felt relatable, which I think is super important. I could see parts of myself in her and I’m sure other people do, just trying to either go against the grain or realise that what their parents sometimes obviously aren’t thinking of the best for them and stuff. Not that particular. I love my parents just putting that out there. But this is a little question that I thought might be a little bit fun just to learn about your characters a little bit more. If somebody hasn’t read Death ship, Jenny, if you could inherit a trait, whether it be physical, mental, personality wise, whatever, what would it be and why?

Rob O’Connor (20:20):
The thing that I really liked most about Jenny was she was kind of focused and belligerent and never took things on face value. She always asked questions even when the world was at her feet and she was being, oh look, you’ve got all of this stuff now. But no, she wouldn’t take that on face value. She’d always try and ask all the right questions because I suppose part of the thing about being a celebrity all your life was the fact that people will blow smoke up you and she’s used to everybody being incredibly nice to her, but not very rarely were people being real to her. I keep saying being real and she says that a lot all the way through, but that gets kind of flipped on its head as well. No spoilers.

Lauren Marshall (21:30):
Is that the kind of character that you like to write? Because I’m not a writer myself. I imagine as an artist, I still imagine people or characters in general, what kind of character I like. I like women who would, sorry, not women. Characters who are strong go against the grain type thing. That’s the kind of character that I like to put into stories and obviously get a writer to write it for me because I’m ridiculously bad at it. But is Jenny sort of like an I cums of what you loved in a character terms of what you like to go for?

Rob O’Connor (22:08):
Yeah, definitely. Yeah, definitely. Especially since it was the first time I’d written a comic, I went, well, I want to write something that if I saw it on a comic shelf that I’d take it off and have a look through and go, oh, this is pretty cool, and buy it myself.

Lauren Marshall (22:30):
Yeah, well that’s why everyone needs to go buy it, that’s why. So going back on, you mentioned that you worked with Darren on Kroo, specifically Gang Wars. I’ve worked with him as well and I absolutely loved it. How did you find working with an iconic Aussie character that a lot of people already know and is well established?

Rob O’Connor (23:02):
It was tricky, especially Darren’s a hard task master, especially in making sure in good way. In a good way. Oh, definitely. In way especially making sure the characters get right. And I’ve talked with other people regarding that. They’ve all said they’ve gone through the same process. Something about Rufuss ears, a kangaroo’s ears of so very specific. And Darren has that great knack of knowing exactly what those ears should look like, for example, and try again, get those ears right, this is what they should look like. And I go off and I draw some more and it back and no, no, no, you haven’t got it right yet. You’ve got to get, it’s the sort of thing and I’m almost breaking my pencils, but I’m trying to get it right. And the feedback when you finally get them right is,

Lauren Marshall (24:00):

Rob O’Connor (24:01):
I did it. Yes.

Lauren Marshall (24:03):
The good thing about it, I’m a sucker for understanding why you do specific things. So when I was learning about human anatomy and stuff like that, I need to figure out why certain joints go somewhere and why it moves that way and sits that way on the body and slumping and bending. But the good thing about Darren told me why the ears have to be a particular way because the construction of them is completely different to another animal. I think that’s really fascinating and super informative as well and helps a creator, especially when you’re handing over a character and explaining these certain things. I find it super helpful when drawing them. But yeah, a hundred percent the ears. As soon as he points it out, then you’re just like, yep, I understand where you’re coming from.

Rob O’Connor (24:52):
Yeah, totally. There are other things in the story that I drew as well that the brand of Bike that Roof was writing was very specific and I had to do a lot of research into making sure I got that right too.

Lauren Marshall (25:08):
And did you find you learn quite a lot through that process as well, working for somebody else that does have a well-established character and an idea and is quite thorough with this script and also their character models. Did you find that that elevated your work quite a

Rob O’Connor (25:23):
Lot? Totally, totally. And also just the whole, it was also my first real time of trying to draw a comic book story. So all of those things that you sort of learn instinctively from having read lots of comics like panels and the placement of speech bubbles and all of those sorts of things. Yeah, it was more than just getting, destroying

Lauren Marshall (25:58):
A job

Rob O’Connor (25:59):
Rufuss, right? It was the whole shebang and it was such a good experience and such a good learning curve.

Lauren Marshall (26:06):
Yeah, a hundred percent. I got the same thing out of it, which was forever in debt to that fella. So everyone’s art is unique, obviously. Touching on that, including yours, do you have any notable influences that you look up to and reference when starting out to draw? I know you’re talking about animation. I love Dean Yle and some old school animators from Disney and they influence a lot of my work. Is there anyone in particular that’s notable for you?

Rob O’Connor (26:41):
It depends on what style I’m drawing. When the Death Sip Jenny kind of style from a comic book Art point of view, I love artists like Bill Sinkewitz, Frank Miller and Claus Jansen when they were doing Daredevil. And then David Elli a little bit later on when I was doing Death ship, I was also looking heavily at the Hawkeye series that had David Aja, I think that’s how you pronounce his last name. I can never remember a JA. That was really cool. And I was also looking a lot at Gail Simone’s series, black Magic and I loved all of those and I was definitely getting ideas from her stuff. And actually all of those people, maybe not Bill because only Bill can draw like Bill no, but certainly getting a lot of keys on how they laid out a panel, how they laid out a page. Just lots of influences like that. If I’m just drawing on a day-to-day basis, not really thinking about drawing and just doodling on a page. I’ve been told that my styles very tin tin.

Lauren Marshall (28:28):
That’s not too bad.

Rob O’Connor (28:29):
That’s good thing. So just dots for eyes.

Lauren Marshall (28:32):
Yeah. What’s going to say, given that you had the political comics in mind and then also animation which are quite similar, and then Frank Miller, it is quite an eclectic mix. Do you find that it helps if you study different drawing styles to help bring yours to life a little bit more?

Rob O’Connor (28:57):
All the time, especially when you’ve sort of got into the world of animation or basically the art world of working for different clients, you want to have a lot of different strings to your bow. And if they say, oh, we want to do it in the style of the opening credits to Casino Royale, then a, you’ve got to try and draw in that style. And so that was probably a lot of my learning ground, sort of doing that sort of artwork and trying to draw Mickey Mouse or being

Lauren Marshall (29:42):

Rob O’Connor (29:44):
Yeah, definitely.

Lauren Marshall (29:46):
Especially when you want to go into as a career as an artist as well, I’ve always advocated to be open to learning new techniques and different styles so that you are, as said, adaptable to many different occasions where a client will ask for a specific style or not. In regards to your personal style, what resonates the best with you? Is it the Tintin sort of look that you feel more comfortable with?

Rob O’Connor (30:17):
I’m definitely more comfortable with that, but I’ve been trying to train myself over the years to do the classic comic book style. But even then, it doesn’t look a lot like everybody’s got their own technique and their own style and I guess I have mine as well.

Lauren Marshall (30:34):
It’s kind of like a thumbprint almost for an artist. So I feel like owning that, and I dunno if it’s the same for you, but if I’m drawing something and a particular client or whatever asks for me to do in a particular style, I still always find myself seeing my preference sneaking in still, which is good. You’re always going to leave that thumbprint elsewhere, but can also shoot you in the butt a little bit sometimes

Rob O’Connor (31:10):
The 10 tin, sorry to interrupt. I just suddenly realised the Tin 10 style that I say is my sort of default cartooning style I used for a project that I didn’t even mention in my list of things that I’ve done

Lauren Marshall (31:24):
Plug it,

Rob O’Connor (31:26):
I plug it when I was sort of trying to work out what I was going to do as an artist, once the art gigs were starting to leave my workplace, I decided I was going to challenge myself to write a year’s worth of comic strips, just the sort of comic strips that you would’ve seen in a newspaper that you can’t see anymore. We won’t talk about that. That’s

Lauren Marshall (32:00):
Touchy subject.

Rob O’Connor (32:01):
That’s a touchy subject. So I created, there we go. I created Lift.

Lauren Marshall (32:08):

Rob O’Connor (32:10):
Which is basic as you can probably see. It’s

Lauren Marshall (32:14):
We’ll bring you up. Can you bring that up on the screen?

Rob O’Connor (32:17):
Sorry. Yeah, that’s okay. Here we go.

Lauren Marshall (32:21):
Yeah, way different from that one. Yeah, art styles way more.

Rob O’Connor (32:25):
Yeah, so the pages, if I just opened it up to a random one, as you can quickly see, it really is your classic newspaper strip style and yeah, I was trying to challenge myself to do a new one every night and put it up on a blog website. So that was kind of fun managed. I managed to stop at 52 weeks. I didn’t do it in a year though. I did it over two years. I had breaks, but it was basically me looking over the couch and watching my family and trying to figure out something funny that had happened that day and turning that into comic book form.

Lauren Marshall (33:15):
I think that sort of style that just sort of reminds me of Tom Tongue. Is it? Yeah, mini Tom. I don’t say it enough to him. I really enjoy his stuff popping up on my feed because it is relatable and it’s personal and it’s just quick and fun. So that sort of style of work I really enjoy as well. So be

Rob O’Connor (33:45):
Keen. Completely agree. I love his stuff.

Lauren Marshall (33:47):
Yeah, yeah, really good. And I don’t say enough to him that it’s, I love it and I’m bummed I missed out him out on a drink and draw. He’s been on a couple of times as well, so be

Rob O’Connor (33:59):
Keen to, he was on the recent one, wasn’t he? Csil? Yeah. Yeah,

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (34:01):
He was on the recent one. That was his first one actually. Really sick. He’s coming back. He’s coming back.

Rob O’Connor (34:06):
Oh, awesome.

Lauren Marshall (34:07):
Be keen to see him some more. Definitely. So talk about Aussie creators and stuff like that. This show we’re trying to promote, obviously Aussie comics, the Aussie comic industry. Oh, before I keep going ahead, if you guys have any questions for Rob, please send them through and we will shoot them his way because we want to make sure that you guys get the most out of the show. As a Aussie creator yourself, what do you hope to see from the Australian comic industry in the future? Whether it’s to provide for yourself or what you want to see happen with the publishing side of stuff, is there anything that you want to see either get better or come to fruition?

Rob O’Connor (35:01):
It’s a really hard one. I couldn’t possibly think of how it could be fixed. I’d just really love to see the time. I’ve done a few supernova style gigs now. I’ve probably done it four or five times at Supernova and a few and three times at two Con. I haven’t done a ComicCon yet, but maybe one day I find one a year’s really good and it sort of drains the social battery and then you bring it back. I’m going to be doing it this year. Quick plug with the Brad Picker skill.

Lauren Marshall (35:52):
Yeah. Cool. Oh,

Rob O’Connor (35:54):

Lauren Marshall (35:55):
Brad. We’ve had on drink and draw as well been, yep.

Rob O’Connor (35:59):
He’s been on the drink and draws lately. What I’d really like to see is more people slowing down in out of stall.

Lauren Marshall (36:10):
Oh God. Yeah. Oh, I think that sort of hits home with lot of us.

Rob O’Connor (36:16):
That’s the thing I want to see most.

Lauren Marshall (36:19):
I saw this really good, I hate to plug TikTok, but there’s this really good TikTok where someone’s like, what? It’s like being in an artist alley and it was like I was pumped to see it. I was like, I wonder if it’s anything that relates to me, but it’s people walking past me. Oh my God, that’s so cool. And just keep walking. You’re like, can you at least stop, have a chat with me, have a look at my stuff.

Rob O’Connor (36:43):
Well, no, I’ve got to spend $80 to get a signature of that guy from that show at that time.

Lauren Marshall (36:51):
That won’t even care that I saw him. Yeah, cool.

Rob O’Connor (36:55):
And that’s cool. I mean the celebrities are what bring people there and the cosplay are great and they’ve spent all of their money on their outfits and they look absolutely fantastic

Lauren Marshall (37:05):
And their artists themselves as well. So their craft is awesome.

Rob O’Connor (37:10):
That’s it. I just love to see a bit more love in the Artist Ali section.

Lauren Marshall (37:17):
Well, and specifically as well is the fact that Oz ComicCon, there’s a key word comic, which is frustrating when they don’t put enough emphasis on it. And then I also find that they do not bring any international artists in at all anymore, which obviously understandable because we had Covid and stuff like that, but they’re bringing in international celebrities now, so it’s kind of like, can you please bring focus back onto that? Absolutely. But totally understandable that people won’t give you the time of day when you’re trying to pitch to them just quickly like a ten second pitch of your story. And because it’s not Marvel, DC IDW, whatever, they just immediately go like, like the confidence is not there.

Rob O’Connor (38:10):
Like I’ve said, death ship Jenny is, it’s a hard one to elevate a pitch, but even when I was trying to sell a comic that I could elevate a pitch, Dave Zombie Hunter was perfect.

Lauren Marshall (38:29):
Keyword zombie hunter.

Rob O’Connor (38:33):
And then if you need any more information, think Sean of the Dead, but with Bogans.

Lauren Marshall (38:38):
Yeah. So it’s relatable, right?

Rob O’Connor (38:40):
Yeah. Single sentence pitch. Fantastic. Still the same sort of reaction and I don’t want

Lauren Marshall (38:48):
To, that’s what I was trying to touch on before when we started. I wanted to reference this particular movie for death ship, Jenny, but I feel like that would give too much away. And obviously when you’re trying to sell something, you’re not trying to sell a spoiler and it’s a fine line.

Rob O’Connor (39:07):
That’s it. And no spoilers for Jenny, but yeah, it’s a story that has lots of reveals and lots of plot twists and stuff like that. And knowing them in advance isn’t great. Yeah, it’s a better experience if you don’t know.

Lauren Marshall (39:28):
Yeah, yeah, a hundred percent. That’s why I don’t even want to touch on it at all. So going specifically more about yourself and your place within the comic, the Aussie comic industry, what’s your five-year plan? Do you plan on doing more of Degen? Are you thinking of maybe doing a new series or contributing to other people’s projects? What’s on your radar?

Rob O’Connor (39:59):
Actually, I’m very much in flux on that one at the moment. I keep trying to think of a new Jenny story, and I’ve had the inklings. I’ve started to think of interesting things that could happen in future issues. And I’d really like to do that. Again. I’d like to explore that world, but I’m just as keen to try something new or start something new.

Lauren Marshall (40:32):
You kind of need that spark sometimes, right? Just something fresh.

Rob O’Connor (40:36):

Lauren Marshall (40:37):

Rob O’Connor (40:37):
Totally. And I’ll be frank, the spark hasn’t been good the last couple of years.

Lauren Marshall (40:44):
Oh, I think that’s for everyone. We’re too busy dealing with a decent flu.

Rob O’Connor (40:50):
This is very true. Musicians seemed, I mean despite the music industry just

Lauren Marshall (40:57):

Rob O’Connor (40:58):
Having such hard times. The number of new albums coming out now because of Covid, the sort of where we’re out, we’ve been recording and writing all the way through those years. It’s really nice to see so much music coming out lately. I’m hoping we’ll see lots of comics too, but at the same time, during that time though, there were no sparks for me. Yeah, there were times,

Lauren Marshall (41:27):
Well, I think people forget how emotionally invested you do get in projects. People think it’s just a lot of labour. You write a story, you draw it, you publish it, you send it out, whatever you do a crowdfunding or whatever. There’s a lot of hard work in terms of that. But in terms of the emotional investment that you put into a comic, it’s your baby. You create this idea, this world, and you’re putting your heart and soul into this. It’s draining sometimes and having to continue that on. And people just want to obviously love what you’ve done so far and you just need to give more to fill your cup sometimes and be able to wait for that before you can continue on that journey.

Rob O’Connor (42:07):
Yeah, definitely. Though I’ve been very aware of all of that too because, and a bit like I was saying before, that itch needs to be scratched. So I think whatever’s happening is going to happen, start happening next year. There’s going to be the need to create starting big time and

Lauren Marshall (42:31):

Rob O’Connor (42:33):
It’s brewing. So I think next year is going to be the start of new things, whether it’s a continuation of Jenny or something completely new, I’m not sure yet, but we’ll see. Yeah.

Lauren Marshall (42:44):
Awesome. So as a creator, writing and drawing, I’m sure you’ve learned many golden nuggets of wisdom through your time. Is there anything that stands out to you that you would offer to other artists that are striving for knowledge that and want to learn and excel them? I know there’s certain specific things that I’ve been told or taught that have stuck with me for ages. Is there anything that you always go back to that you’re just like, this is a very good piece of knowledge? For me,

Rob O’Connor (43:21):
The one that’s been sticking in my head lately, because I’ve been trying to live by it, but I’ve also been trying to give it to other people as well. The one that’s been sticking in my head lately is if you do nothing, nothing happens. And there’s a lot of bits and pieces to that. It’s sort of doing nothing is kind of your safe zone, but at the same time, you’re not putting your neck out, you’re not

Lauren Marshall (44:04):
Taking a risk,

Rob O’Connor (44:05):
Taking a risk, but also you’re not creating anything. So the only way to move forward is by doing something. And sometimes I get a bit obsessive about that. Once something has started at the moment I’m doing October and I know that that is going, if I don’t create something every day that’s going to weigh on me a bit. Once I start the project, I’m very driven to get it done.

Lauren Marshall (44:51):
Do you think it,

Rob O’Connor (44:53):
It’s just as easy to not do anything and then the month will go by and you go, oh, well nothing happened.

Lauren Marshall (45:01):
Yeah, that brings me to a good little, I don’t know, idea. Social media in terms of ink. Toba is fantastic. I love ink. Toba, I always give up two weeks in because either I lose interest or life gets in the way or something like that. And I know the idea is to keep you consistent and going for it. But I always also feel an immense pressure from social media that I need to post something consistently,

Rob O’Connor (45:32):

Lauren Marshall (45:33):
I’m going to disappoint all these people that have been following me. And then they have been waiting for something from me for a while. And even now that new to motherhood and stuff like that, I’m still trying to look after this fresh child and I’m still in the back of my head going, I haven’t posted anything and I feel terrible about it. Do you feel that same sort of pressure in terms of not even social media, but showing people that you’re doing work and that you’re letting other people down?

Rob O’Connor (46:03):
That Feeding the beast thing is very real and I’ve used it for good and it’s been evil as well. I’ve used it to get death ship Jenny jut done actually that sort of, oh look here, I’ve done the first page. And everyone, there’s some sort of reaction to it.

Lauren Marshall (46:34):
You’re like, yes, I have do more. Yeah, yeah,

Rob O’Connor (46:36):
I’ve got to do more now. And that actually spurs me on to get it done rather than sort of petering out and sort of going, oh, I’ll just have a break. And then you find out that break goes for six months before you start up again. So I’ve used it for good. I’ve used it to fuel me, fuel myself to get it, get something done. But at the same time, there are things that are not necessarily your goals that you are just doing for fun. That pressure to get things done can sometimes really knock you for six

Lauren Marshall (47:21):
Eats away at you pretty much. Yeah. So in regards to, I’m going to go backtrack a little bit. There was a question that I just completely forgot about with comic events. Going back to that subject, is there anything in particular that you want, other than the fact that the focus on comics a little bit more, is there anything that you would want to bring to the conventions or even a suggestion to other people, whether they’ve done it or not, if they’ve gone into the conventions before, is there something that you think that they should bring or try and promote that will help them or try and direct the conventions to be what they should be or prefer? Probably more preference to us. They’re not that they’re what they should be because cosplay and celebrities, they’re obviously part of the whole package.

Rob O’Connor (48:21):
And important parts too. I never want to sort of knock them at all because I get a kick out of the celebrities being there. I get a kick out of,

Lauren Marshall (48:33):
I saw the Weasley twins and I was like, oh my God, real humans.

Rob O’Connor (48:40):
And you walk around the corner and there’s John Jarret as he is. He always seems to be at every single, and you just go, nice, good to see you again. It’s really tricky because I’m as guilty of it as many, A certain element of my stall at a comic, at a comic sort of is fan art. I will get out my pictures of Toro and I’ll get out my pictures of whoever this superhero or that superhero, because that does, it slows the customers down and sometimes they won’t buy your original stuff that you spent nine months creating, but they’ll buy the or somebody else’s property that you probably took an hour on. And so by doing so, you get to pay for the table, which is quite the investment for anyone who’s ever is ever sort of sat behind one of those tables. I wish that there was less of that.

Lauren Marshall (50:25):
And the oversaturation of it as well. Everyone has to do the same thing. And what whatever’s trending on social media or in pop culture in general, and that’s the kind of print that you need to do, what people are going to stop for. They’re going to be like, oh my God, it’s Loki. I want, I love Loki. I’m going to have a look if go, okay, well why are you here? Why don’t you have a look at my comic? They’re like, no, I’ll just have a look at your Loki and then I’m going to go

Rob O’Connor (50:51):
Exactly like,

Lauren Marshall (50:52):

Rob O’Connor (50:54):
And you sort of sit there counting the dead pools as they walk past and you go, oh, maybe I should have a dead pool up on the wall. Maybe I’ll get a bit more. So yeah, I’d love to see, but I suppose it’s not even really that. There was one, I do remember the story of one time we were sitting at a table at Supernova and it was a pretty big powerhouse of comic artists. I was sitting with Darren and I was sitting with Stuart mean, so we were selling Dave Zombie Hunter. We had a few other key people that within the indie comics circles, you’d go, ah, these guys are great. They bring out great products and all that sort of stuff. And right beside us, there was a guy that was selling wrestling masks that were themed to superheroes that he’d obviously just got a big box of them cheaply made from somewhere. And you’d have people walking past going, oh, Dave Zombie Hunter, that said, Ooh, Avengers.

Lauren Marshall (52:24):

Rob O’Connor (52:31):
And like I said, I’m as guilty of it as anybody sort of trying, having some fan up behind me and having people buying it. But maybe we need to do that less.

Lauren Marshall (52:43):
I think it’s not going to go away. It’s always going to be there. You’re going to have to fight against it. I think coming up with a five to send ten second pitch for your stuff, that’s really going to engage people when they walk past and just be like, something’s caught their eye at your table. So obviously you’re doing something right already. One success. Two, you need to engage with them and really pull them in, which is tough for some people because then a lot of people don’t know how to socially engaged with their customers that are coming up to their table. So you need to really just pull them in and to be like, do you love a story about whatever? Say we’re talking about you like crime noir with a little bit of mythology, that’s all you have to throw at them. And if that engages them enough, then you can pull them in and talk to ’em about it without hopefully being distracted by whatever’s next door. That’s fine. If they get distracted by that, if that’s what they’re into, go for it. But obviously you really do need to sell yourself and know how to sell yourself. And I think that’s really important with conventions.

Rob O’Connor (53:52):
Yes. But with our audience, I’ve noticed that it really is a fine line between being that person who goes, Hey, do you want? And being

Lauren Marshall (54:21):

Rob O’Connor (54:22):
Yeah, genuine. And also people who don’t react very well to that sort of

Lauren Marshall (54:30):
Yeah. Yeah. You can tell who’s not into it or not.

Rob O’Connor (54:34):
Few gazes who are just a bit like us,

Lauren Marshall (54:39):
And there’s nothing

Rob O’Connor (54:40):
Wrong with that. We’re just wandering around going, oh, I just want to look at the comics. Thanks.

Lauren Marshall (54:43):
Yeah. If anything, it’s all about retail knowledge, which is hard if you’ve never done it before.

Rob O’Connor (54:54):
So one of the things that I like to do at Cons is sit there and draw. And a lot the sort of stuff I’m doing for in Tabor at the moment, I’ve got this thing where I just got straight brown paper and I’ve got this kind of style, sorry, I’ve got this thing.

Lauren Marshall (55:17):
People love the craft paper with the white popping. They really engages with them.

Rob O’Connor (55:22):
Exactly. So I find that it tends to attract people as well, the ones who don’t want to talk or be talked to.

Lauren Marshall (55:34):
And if they’re into it, they’ll engage with you and be like, what is that? Exactly?

Rob O’Connor (55:38):
And then you

Lauren Marshall (55:39):
Talk to them, opens that conversation.

Rob O’Connor (55:41):
Exactly. And if you’re really lucky, they’ll say, oh, can you do a drawing for me? Yes, I would really like to do a drawing for you

Lauren Marshall (56:01):
For money. But yeah, that’s a good point. Definitely the drawing that’s definitely worked for myself and for them for coming in. And the engagement starts on their end, so they have ownership on that and they feel a little bit more comfortable talking to you. Good

Rob O’Connor (56:19):
Point. And then while you’re drawing, you go, oh yeah, have a look at some of the comics. I do,

Lauren Marshall (56:24):
Yeah. While I’m here. Yeah, go on

Rob O’Connor (56:26):
While you’re here

Lauren Marshall (56:28):

Rob O’Connor (56:29):
Then they’ll pick it up and sort of go, oh, did you draw this?

Lauren Marshall (56:34):
No, I didn’t. This

Rob O’Connor (56:39):
Is my small, I draw these things.

Lauren Marshall (56:41):
That’s a whole nother rabbit hole that we’ll go down. That’s it. So we’re coming out to the end of the show. Obviously we don’t want to leave out any important information. So before we leave, Rob, can you please let us know where we can find your work, whether it’s social media, Instagram, Facebook, and where we can buy your gear?

Rob O’Connor (57:00):
Okay. Well, I’m on the usual things. I’m on the Facebooks, just look up death ship, Jenny. I’m on Insta, but that is Rob O’Connor Art, and those are my main places for putting up artwork and such, as well as my regular Facebook page. Sweet.

Lauren Marshall (57:33):
And also on comics, right?

Rob O’Connor (57:35):
Yes. So selling I’ve, I’ve got an account at Owner Indy, just look that up. And yes, I thought I’d leave the best till last I said Will testify. We just got death ship, Jenny on comics, amazing

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (58:00):
Comics shop, all four issues. Sorry, not three.

Lauren Marshall (58:04):
Yeah. Awesome. And I forgot to touch on the little advertisements that you have through the book. Frigging smart. Super smart. Yeah, I love those. So good. Before we completely ran off the show on your comics profile, which you can find other profiles of other artists on there, if you want to find out a little bit more about other artists, it says there that you are quite fond of the dad joke. Is there anything that you can throw our way just to put a little cherry on top of the interview?

Rob O’Connor (58:39):
Oh, oh, oh, you got me on the spot now. Oh no. My favourite. I always had a soft spot for things going into the bar. Jokes, a horse goes into a bar, the barman looks at him and goes, why the long face? But my favourite one of those is a grasshopper jumps into a bar and the barman looks at him and says, Hey, we got a named after you. Says what?

Lauren Marshall (59:08):
Kevin’s actually funny. I’m going to tell that one to Lockie to save in the bank for later. That was awesome. Well, thank you Rob. Thank you so much for coming on and telling us all about guest. Jenny. I would highly recommend anybody reading it. It was fantastic. I wouldn’t say short and sweet, but nice and well-rounded for issue. I loved it. And yeah, definitely check it out if you cared through Comex or directly through Rob himself. But Rob, thank you so much for being on the show. We really appreciate it and super grateful. Thank you.

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (59:46):
Thank you very much.

Lauren Marshall (59:48):
No problem. Sizzle over to you to round off the show.

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (59:51):
Yeah. Well thank you everyone for watching. Pretty much my little spiel at the end is remember to you like the video,

Lauren Marshall (59:59):
Like it,

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (59:59):
Subscribe to the channel. That’s always helps us out. So yeah, thank you very much for watching. Thank you very much to Lauren. Thank you very much for Rob being on the show and we’ve got one last comment. Oh look. That awesome first show. Good

Lauren Marshall (01:00:18):
Stuff. Oh, thank you Lee. No problem. We’ll see you guys next week.

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (01:00:21):
Yeah, see you next week.

Lauren Marshall (01:00:23):
Bye. Goodnight,

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (01:00:24):
All see you. Check

Voice Over (01:00:26):
Out for all things Comex and find out what Comex is all about. We hope you enjoyed the show.


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