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Sarah Firth

Eventually Everything Connects - and the time for ComX to connect with Sarah Firth and her latest book has come.


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Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (00:08):
Welcome back to the Odds Comic Show, the first one for 2024. This is season four, episode one. I didn’t name it that way, someone else did and I just went with it. So probably just a few announcements before we start the show. There is X is doing two Kickstarters at the moment and one is presents X Studio. I was bringing that up. That is presents that’s in its last, I don’t know, probably 20 hours or something. It was 24 earlier today, so I’m not sure exactly where it is right now. But last day, get in there, people get in there. And of course we also have running, X studio. That is a cool little thing about, it was described yesterday as Spy versus Spy on Crack, so that’s an interesting way to describe it. So that’s all I wanted to say. Shaden

Sheydin Dew (01:10):
Mate, absolutely stoked to be back after quite a bit of a hiatus from last year, but I’m super, super excited. We’ve had this guest on tonight’s show in the pipeline for a while. We are eventually, everything connects. So I’ve been absolutely stoked reading this book, so I’m really, really happy to dive in. So I think without further ado, Shane, we should launch straight into it.

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (01:38):
Yes, we shall.

Sheydin Dew (01:40):
Sounds good,

Sarah. Oh my God, some cool dramatic. Sarah, thank you so much for being on the show. We’re so excited to have you on. Thank you. We’re so stoked to have you on. I’ve been reading this little gem here in my hot little hands, and I have wanted to speak with you so badly about you, everything about this book. Oh, thank you. Yeah, I’m super, super stoked to share with our viewers this little, but first and foremost, I think our viewers really want to learn a little bit more about you. Can you give us a little bit of a rundown of who you are as an artist, maybe where you’re from?

Sarah Firth (02:46):
Yeah, so I am originally trained as a sculptor and then I had a car accident, which left me in bed, and I turned to the dark arts of comic making and animation because I was stuck in bed and it’s a lot cheaper than sculpture and I fell in love with it, and I’ve always liked drawing and writing, but I guess as a comic maker and author, I’m really interested in turning lived experience into comics and I have a lot of everyday elements, but also questions, conversations with people, but kind of big stuff like philosophy is in there as well. So I think people would possibly say that I’m a kind of thoughtful, humorous creator.

Sheydin Dew (03:34):
I would definitely concur with that. This was something that really surprised me. And I guess if people haven’t already read this, can you give us your best elevator pitch?

Sarah Firth (03:47):
Oh, okay. So it’s been out since October. It’s been out since October last year, and I still cannot nail a elevator pitch because this eventually everything connects, so it’s got it all in there maybe. So I tend to tailor what it’s about to who I’m talking to. So I would say for this audience, it is a eight interconnected essays, fully illustrated graphic novel about trying to make sense of WTF is going on, being a human in the world right now, and obviously caveats of it’s set in Australia. It’s me, I’m a woman, I’m a white woman, I have privilege. And so there’s various things that are caveats of that. It’s not a universal experience, it’s a very personal experience, which you can see from the nudity. A lot of people have said to me, oh my gosh, why are you naked on the cover, Sarah? And I have to say, that was not my design decision. That was actually decision by the editorial group. Basically they were like, we need to make it really clear that this comic is not for children. It’s got some very explicit adult stuff in it, and that’s why I’m naked on the cover. But interestingly, when this is getting published in the US in June, they were like, we can’t handle you being naked on the cover. So the cover in the US will have this closed. Nice. The US can’t handle it.

Sheydin Dew (05:22):
Classic us. Yes,

Sarah Firth (05:28):
That’s my best pitch of the book and it really doesn’t do it justice or explain what it is. Sorry. No,

Sheydin Dew (05:34):
Absolutely no. I think that just shows that if you are watching and you do not have it, then you need to pick it up so you do understand what’s, that is phenomenal and it is written in such a way that I haven’t quite read before and I was blown away by it. I’ve received this in the mail not knowing exactly what I was going to get into. And by golly was I glad that I did get into it. So thank you again, Sarah. I guess moving on, we did talk a little bit about your art on the front cover. How would you describe your art style? Let’s start with art style first. I reckon

Sarah Firth (06:10):
Look, art style. I do a range of art styles. I dunno if you can see on my wall, I have some really scrappy black line drawings with a pen there that’s sort of just very brush worky. Then I also, I make paintings that are very, I guess color is a big thing in my work. I do a lot of random, I do a lot of random sort of, I dunno what this is.

Sheydin Dew (06:39):
I love it.

Sarah Firth (06:40):
I do a lot of random drawings, color, I’m heavy on the line work. I draw a lot of everyday real things. I also draw a lot of fantasy things and throughout the book I’ve got quite mundane sequences of us, my family and I going camping and it’s just the everyday moments of making food together. And then I have some quite dramatic surreal EL elements. When I was younger, I got bullied, not shamed at school. And here is an homage to the Hulk where I, yeah, I remember that one where I turned into Slut Hulk, I can’t get this to work on the camera or I turn into slight Hulk, which is a surreal emotional moment of me kind of embodying female rage.

Sheydin Dew (07:39):

Sarah Firth (07:42):
So I think that I kind of move between quite realistic and detailed too surreal too. Fantasy color is definitely my thing.

Sheydin Dew (07:58):
Sarah, you’re speaking my language for those list of color. You’ve talked about art. What about your writing style? How would you describe that? I know you touched a little bit and it’s kind of like these graphic essays.

Sarah Firth (08:16):
Sorry, I just saw that my writing style, I still feel a little worried about this, but basically my training with writing is writing essays at school and at art school and then journaling. So I’ve always had a very strong journaling practice where I write my feelings, my thoughts, my questions, my complaints, and I think, here’s an example of my journal, and I have stacks of these and I just write in them every day. And I think this is kind of a backbone of my writing style. It’s also how I keep records of things which often feed into my work. You’ll find with this book, a lot of it is autobiographical. Each chapter is based on things that happened. Yeah. So I think that a journalist diaristic voice is very strong in my writing, but I also have the essay voice of here’s my experience, but what does that mean in a broader context with what other people have written or said. And so again, in my book, I’ll have me talking about slut shaming at school, but then I will bring in sex theorists and people who’ve written about erotica or people who’ve written about sensuality to have a dialogue with other cultural voices.

Sheydin Dew (09:44):

Sarah Firth (09:44):
So I really enjoy that kind of micro my life going to macro, bigger picture culture, other ideas kind of that.

Sheydin Dew (09:53):
Yes, I think you said that perfectly as well. You balance that so well and it’s evident that you support a lot of these ideas and stuff like that with all these quotes from scientists, philosophers throughout the book, which I think just supports what you are saying even better. It’s so clear, but I know it’s such, almost maybe when you first read it, it’s like a brain dump of all your ideas and all your experiences, but when you support it with all these facts and all these, I’ve learned so much from this book about the BB bottle and the Beatles. I had no idea about that and I thought that was absolutely, that was fantastic. Anyway, guys, you got to read to be there. But I just thought that was, yeah, I just learned so much about things that I just wasn’t expecting. So I think you’ve paired that beautifully and you’ve balanced it out really, really well. But having said that, you

Sarah Firth (10:51):
Touched on something there that might be worth mentioning, which is I actually really, really like science writing and academic writing. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I’m neuro divergent and I actually people explaining stuff, how people go, I hate mansplaining. I actually love mansplaining sometimes I don’t actually know what something means. And so I quite like it. And if someone’s telling me stuff I know, I’m just like, yeah, yeah, I know. I know. But academic writing can be very didactic of explaining what things are and why, and I actually like that. And so for me, yeah, science, writing and writing about animals, people, bodies, how things work I find really useful and interesting. And so to your point, I really wanted to bring that into this work to make it, because I think that writing is great and a lot of people, I hate didactic stuff, but I’m like, maybe it’s good. I’m going to weave it in. And so far no one’s complained,

Sheydin Dew (11:46):
But weave it in. You did and you did it in such a fantastic way. I think it was really, really entertaining and it was really informative and I really enjoyed it. So it was a nice little kind of a view into your mind and I really enjoyed it. But yeah, I guess that also leads me onto my next question is a bit of a big chunker of a question, but what inspired this graphic novel? I know you said that this was the backbone, this journal that you had, but what spurred you on to actually make a graphic novel?

Sarah Firth (12:21):
Yeah, so I think for me, I don’t know if it’s called story medicine or if I’ve just made that up, but basically people writing stories where graphic novels or not people writing stories about real hard experiences and their human experience and how they have overcome it or learned to live with it, I’ve found so powerful for me just as a person. And so for example, in this book, I talk a bit about being an alcoholic and the journey of that and how difficult it has been and all of the kind of secrecy and lying to myself and all this kind of stuff there. And I only came to really understand and realize that about myself through reading other comics that had been written by alcoholics trying to make sense of their behaviors. And it takes a huge amount of vulnerability for people to share these stories. And it really pisses me off when people are like, oh, so many people just write about themselves these days and it’s so boring, blah, blah. But I’m like, people talking about real stuff can really can help save lives.

Sheydin Dew (13:26):

Sarah Firth (13:26):
I’m going to say that. I’m going to say that sharing real experiences of hard stuff can be so important for people not feeling alone and for busting shame. And so that kind of thing has been so important to me that I guess in this book, a lot of the very personal stuff that I share is coming from the perspective of other people have shared this kind of stuff with me and it’s helped me. And so I want to share back. And already I’ve had so many comments from people saying, oh, I had this happen. I had that happen too. I felt really alone in that. But reading this makes me feel like it’s part of the human experience and obviously this is my experience, but a lot of people have similar stuff, different stuff that’s vaguely similar. And to me there’s some real power in that. And I call it story medicine, which is just being honest and sharing about stuff in a way that is not doom and gloom, but it’s more about being real about struggle and finding ways through it being a human.

Sheydin Dew (14:29):
Yeah, absolutely. Well said. I think, and I like that term, I’m going to use story medicine. I love it. You should check

Sarah Firth (14:37):
If it’s a thing for something else. I mean people do it, graphic medicine, people making books about their lived experience in medical institutions and stuff like that. And with illnesses, I feel like that is an example of what I’m talking about, which is really getting into the what does it feel like to go through this or have this and how do you live, what works, what doesn’t work, all that stuff.

Sheydin Dew (15:05):
I think it would be really comforting for someone to know that they’re not alone in that situation either. So I think that’s wonderful, especially just that there’s more things like this on shelves, so that’s awesome. But I also, I just noticed something a little funny thing. So I know in the book you also reference how much you love stripes and how much you love wearing them stripes. And it’s literally littered through her book. Even when you said for the version you’ll be closed on the front feather wearing arning your beautiful stripes. So that’s so good to see. I love it. I love some continuity.

Sarah Firth (15:42):
I didn’t intend that, so thank you for noticing.

Sheydin Dew (15:46):
Of course. But just looking at these illustrations, flipping through the entire book, I just love how raw it all is really. How long have you been drawing for?

Sarah Firth (15:57):
I’ve been drawing since I was a baby. As soon as I could hold 10. I’ve been drawing. I’ve just always enjoyed moving. And I think I did a comic that’s in a book that’s called Growing Up Disabled in Australia, where I talk about trying to navigate school, being dyslexic and not knowing and being neurodivergent and not knowing and having a learning disability and stuff. And for me to just sit down and not be a nuisance. My mom realized that me holding a pen and drawing the pen, which we call dancing the pen, because otherwise I’d be like, you’re doing this. This is disruptive. And for me, this is a laser way of focusing hyper energy. And so I’ve always been drawing, and I work as a graphic recorder, so I take notes. I do big live visual drawings at conferences and stuff, and people always ask, oh, how did you get into that? And part of that was just like I had to write and draw to focus at school. And so I’ve been practicing that ever since then. And I can’t take notes, can’t not take notes. Even now talking to you, I’m doing doodles and little things here on my desk. So it’s just how I operate.

Sheydin Dew (17:16):
I like the dancing. I really like that. As someone who works within the allied health industry, your references to Neurodivergence is something that really hits in my life as well as in my career. So it’s nice to see that being acknowledged, I think, in a piece of work like this. So yeah, I think that’s really, really interesting. That’s

Sarah Firth (17:43):
Actually something that friends of mine who are various different types of neurodivergent have come patted me on the back saying, Sarah, that’s a very spicy book. It’s very structured in a funny way that a lot of people are like, why is the book like this? Why is it connected in this way? What’s the point? Whereas I think for people who have a DHD or autism or mental illness or various brain differences, I think that it makes a bit more sense to people like that is the feedback. I mean is a small selection of people who’ve said that, but that’s the feedback that I’ve had is that a lot of people are like, oh, my brain does that too. I am going down here. And then it goes here and then it goes there and then it comes back.

Sheydin Dew (18:35):
I think that again touches onto the thing that it’s nice to know that you’re not alone in that situation kind of thing, and you’ve got someone up to for kids or I know this is probably not a kids book, but I mean in that instance, it’s nice to know that you’re kicking goals. So I think that’s really, really fantastic. And I get that. I guess that leads me onto my next question. Is that probably what inspires you to draw, would you say? Or is it just part of it, part the process,

Sarah Firth (19:03):
Part of it. I find it really hard to write without drawing. A lot of people are like, why is this a graphic novel, not a prose book? And I don’t really know how to write without drawing so much. I want to communicate in words that I can’t, so I need a drawing. And then there’s lots of things that when I just draw, I’m like, it’s not specific enough. It needs words. So I’m just like, comics is my jam because

Sheydin Dew (19:32):
Yeah, absolutely. Okay, I see. Yeah, I can totally see that. Oh my gosh. So what would you say is your strengths when it comes to creating something of this magnitude? What strengths do you draw upon, would you say?

Sarah Firth (19:47):
I would say quite literally, I’m very strong, so I’m a weightlifter. I have a lot of stamina, so I’m literally, I’m a strong drawer where I have more strength to draw longer because I lift weights, which is actually why I lift weights. People are like, oh, you do that. It’s like, because I was getting fatigue and RSI, and one of the best ways to manage that is to actually just get stronger. So my strength of drawing is big, strong.

I also say that I’m very playful in my style. I’m quite free and easy with drawing. I’ll just draw. I’m not afraid to draw brain farts. I’m not a perfectionist. I enjoy lines. I enjoy just putting pen to paper and just doodling. And so I think for me, that means I can come up with quite novel ways of drawing or representing things that are not conventional. I don’t have quite the same comics making ideas as other people because I’m kind of just doing my own thing, which is a good and a bad thing. Any strength is also a weakness. It’s like my friend Chris Gooch, I love his comics so much. His so cinematic. His work is watching a film because he has all of the distinctions of how to set up scenes in ways that are cinematic. I don’t have that, whereas I’m able to draw more diagrammatically or something which connects with graphic recording as a profession. So yeah, so I’m able to connect things in interesting ways that are non panelled and non cinematic, but I also wish that I could do cinematic work, maybe one, I don’t know. Yeah,

Sheydin Dew (21:38):
I guess courses. Courses. But there was one reference that you did have in, I think it was the chapter. What Makes Me and Me I believe was, and it was where you draw the parallel between perhaps, I’m not sure what side it is, I always get it mixed up, but your left and your right side and how creative one side is and how logical the other one is, and how you’ve kind of harnessed both to really be as successful as that’s the one. That is it. I love that page. I think that is so clever. And I think something that also kind of resonated with me because I’m such an organized person, but at the same time, whenever I’m writing or whatever, and I’m pretty sure a lot of people can probably agree with this, is that when you’re making something, it just seems like such a mess in your head. But I think that’s the beauty of it as such, without saying being too pretentious or being too cliche, I guess. But yeah, I think that was illustrated really well in this book and something that was really interesting delving into. So again, it was nice to know that I wasn’t the only one.

Sarah Firth (22:41):
Yeah. Yeah. I feel like I oscillate between playfulness and then being analytical, and that sort of comes in and out in various ways in the chapters. And some chapters are more about ideas, and so they are more analytical. And then other chapters are more about the experience of particularly the chapter or about sensuality is very much about being embodied, and so it’s much more sumptuous. And so I guess that I kind of push and pull those in different directions depending on the subject matter. Yeah,

Sheydin Dew (23:17):
Yeah, absolutely. Okay, well, you’ve kind of drawn on some of your strengths. I want to know if there’s any kind of skills that you’ve been currently improving maybe recently. Is there anything you Yes.

Sarah Firth (23:31):
I’m laughing because I’m dyslexic and even as an adult I still have funny word challenges. And so I feel like the more that I write, even just making this book, I feel like my writing ability has improved significantly just through writing this. And so that for me is a huge win, is just being able to not spell things terribly and also understanding word structure better. And also working with Erica Wagner, who’s an amazing Australian comics publisher. She helped me understand grammar a bit better because she was editing my book and it was a mess. She had a huge job. I have learned a little bit of how to use commas and a little bit more about the order of words, and it’s been drilled into me a bit more. So I feel like I’m definitely getting a little bit better at that. I guess at the moment, post book, I am really interested in freeing up my drawing style a little bit more. So I’m doing much more kind of spontaneous free drawings. This whole book was drawn digitally on my iPad. And for this work, because it’s about thinking and about detail, I did want the drawings to be quite precise and quite detailed, but for now, I’m kind of in a different mode and I want to muck around a bit more, be a little bit more messy and free. So that’s sort of what I’m working on now is more gestural.

Sheydin Dew (25:09):
Yeah, nice. Absolutely. Working with that red side of the brain, so to speak, from your book. Yeah. Yeah. I love it. I love it. I love it. So having said that, you are currently being a lot more freer in your drawing. What is something that you really enjoy drawing at the moment?

Sarah Firth (25:26):
Oh, something I’ve been loving is just doing these really, I mean, they’re not bad. I’m just trying to find one that’s not terrible. But basically every morning when I journal, I write words and then I do a drawing and I’ve just been enjoying doing random drawings. I’ll occasionally draw, whoops, and then I’ll draw a starfish with an eye.

Sheydin Dew (26:01):
Oh, cool. I love it.

Sarah Firth (26:04):
And they’re drawn in a composition book with just my pen and watercolor and for no reason other than having fun, because after doing a huge project where I was literally a robot of a comic artist, literally eight to 12 hour days, clock in work, work, work, work, work, go for a walk, work, work, work, work, work. I think it’s really important for me to have time to just play and make art for no reason other than the joy of it.

Sheydin Dew (26:35):

Sarah Firth (26:35):
Absolutely. So that’s really important kind of phase that I’m in and people ask me, oh, what’s next? What’s your next book? And all this kind of thing. And look, to be honest with you, I’m quite burnt out. This book is eight years in the making. When I finally got my publishing deal, it was a year sprint, and basically both of my editors were like, Sarah, you’re doing two years of work in eight months, are you going to die? And I was like, no, no, I can do it. I can draw too strong. I do weights, but it’s kind of crumpled me, to be honest. Everyone who’s done a big graphic novel says this. It’s like it takes the wind out of your sails. Such a draining thing. But I’m definitely feeling that. And then doing three months of publicity and launches and travel off the back of that, I have pushed myself beyond my limit, God. So I am recharging. So when people say, what is your next piece of work? I say It is resting. Well,

Sheydin Dew (27:42):
Yeah, absolutely said, having talked about some of your favorite things to draw, but mind you, one thing that I just noticed, I love how you’ve drawn in a composition book because I can literally feel, hear the texture, and I love, it’s like music to my ears.

Sarah Firth (27:59):
It’s like crunchy. It’s cheap. They’re so cheap.

Sheydin Dew (28:04):
Yeah, I love it. Yeah, I love it. I love it, love so much.

Sarah Firth (28:08):
I’m actually very inspired by Linda Barry’s work. She has all her comics on composition lined paper. And there’s something for me that I love about it, like you’re not meant to draw on lined paper. Lined paper is for words, but it feels like you’re being naughty, like you’re drawing in your notebook at school or something. And I enjoy that.

Sheydin Dew (28:32):
And to literally pull a quote out of that same page that we had up before between the two parallels of your brain, it’s like break the rules kind of thing. And your logic side of the brain saying, no, no, no, no. Breaking rules. We love rules. So I love that, I think. So what would you say is your favorite medium to work in? You said that you’ve worked with iPad and you’ve also worked in your composition book, naughty You. What would you say is your favorite? Or do you have

Sarah Firth (29:02):
Not? I love my Lamby Safari fountain pen. I also love my Pentel brush pen. These are my two most favorite. I have

Sheydin Dew (29:14):
The same brush pen, and I love that brush pen, that thing. Hold on one second, Sarah. We have so much in common,

Sarah Firth (29:27):
And I love this watercolor set that is called, it’s a Japanese watercolor set that’s just, I love this. I have this on my desk, and I just use these aqua pens and just watercolor with them, and I love it in my crappy notebook. I love that. It’s very fun. But I also love working digitally on my iPad because it’s so easy to change things if you stuff things up. And I use procreate to make my stuff. Oh no, it’s not charged.

Sheydin Dew (30:16):

Sarah Firth (30:18):
Anyway, the magic happens on this bad boy. I dunno if you can see, but I haven’t changed the screen cover since I started. And you can see this big circle. That’s all the work that went into making the book. I wore out that part of my screen

Sheydin Dew (30:36):
Surface can tell stories. That’s awesome. Having talked all about your art and your creativeness, I want to kind of turn it to some other things that inspire you, but I kind of want to ask, what would your favorite genre be to read Comic wise?

Sarah Firth (30:56):
I do like a lot of fiction. I don’t have a favorite genre. I love a lot of nonfiction, graphic novel. I have a stack of graphic novels here to talk about

Sheydin Dew (31:10):
Show tell.

Sarah Firth (31:12):
So I will batch them. So these are two nonfiction Australian graphic novels that I love still alive by, and our members Be Unlimited by Sam Wallman. Love both of these. I feel like they’re culturally really important works. They’re very informative, they’re very moving and harrowing. So yeah, love those. But here are some fiction books that I love, stone Fruit by Lili and by Brecht Evans. I think he’s Belgian, I hope I haven’t got that wrong. And Stone and Lili I think is in the US or Canada. I’m so sorry. I forget. Lee originally in Australia, maybe lives and works across continents. But yeah, these are both fiction. Love them. And then we’ve got Linda Barry, who, I don’t know what you would call her books, educational, how to make comics. Yeah, I love her work. I feel like if you are creatively stuck, her books are just so freeing and wacky that I find that they really help and full of amazing comics, drawing exercises. Absolutely.

Yeah. So if you’re ever stuck, there’s so many great exercises here of how to generate ideas for stories for characters, how to get in touch with your creativity. So I think that Linda Barry is a living genius who I return to on the regular. And then this is another graphic novel I love called Flattening by Nick Suis, which is about ways of seeing it’s very academic. I think it’s his thesis turned into, oh, no way, into a graphic novel. Oh, wow. So it’s very meticulous and yeah, I love this too. So those are just some of my favorites. I have many, many more. I have a bit of a book addiction. It’s my kryptonite. It’s like I love books. I love just sitting near them and reading them. I have too many. Absolutely. Yeah,

Sheydin Dew (33:45):
I think it is a very similar kind of story for a lot of artists. I think we can’t always just pick one favorite. It’s your favorite child, I guess.

I don’t want to do a bit of a change of pace. Now, this is kind of a quirky question, but I’m quite interested to see if you do have one, if you don’t, maybe do you have any funny quirks or rituals while you are creating, for example, for myself? And if anybody in the comments has something similar, please tell us. Because for me, when I’m drawing, I cannot draw unless I’m listening to music. Music has to be constantly playing or else I just can’t get into it. But I’m curious to see, or here, what are some of yours? Maybe

Sarah Firth (34:33):
I have a lot of quirks. How much time do we have? Okay, so with writing, I find writing sitting at a desk really hard, unless I’m writing in my journal. If I have to type words, I have to actually get on my iPhone like this, and I have to walk up and down the street and type into my phone because I literally, if I open my computer and sit there and I’m like, right, I’m going to write a thing. Now, my brain just goes, Uhuh, this is boring.

No, you’re not. So I have to do all these weird little workarounds because I get stopped in my tracks. So that’s one thing. Similarly to you, when I’m doing the drawing side of things, I need music. I often watch TV shows while I’m drawing. I need some other stimulation going on for whatever reason. Podcasts don’t work particularly well for me, but music and TV shows or movies, yes. What are other quirks? I also have, so dance is actually a very big part of my creative process. So particularly writing a book like this, when I get working with heavy topics or things that are a bit hard to synthesize, I’d often need to just stop and then go and dance to figure it out.

Sheydin Dew (35:55):
Yeah, the joy of movement.

Sarah Firth (35:58):
That’s so cool.

Sheydin Dew (36:01):
It’s funny that you said, sorry, just going back to how you walk and you type on your phone. It’s so funny to me because I’m similar, however, I can never really think of what I want to put down onto paper unless I’m in my car. So if I ever get blocked and I’m driving in my car, my mind is, I mean, obviously be cautious while driving and be present, but at the same time, my mind is like, oh, this is something that could happen in my comic, or blah, blah, blah. And then as soon as I get home, all thoughts out of my head empty, and I’m just like, that’s so interesting that you’re kind of similar, but walking is something that you do that Es Yeah, that’s really cool.

Sarah Firth (36:40):
Yeah, walking also in the shower, get a lot of ideas in the shower, oh, sorry, my husband would tell me to say this. A lot of parts of my book early on I wrote in the bath and I would actually use the tile. We have big tiles on the wall, big like that, and I would actually sit in the bath writing and drawing and stuff with my notebooks. And then I would stick up post-it notes on the tiles, and they’d be like panels. And so our bathroom turned into this weird comics making space, and it was just like, how it happened is I just got really stuck. And then I was like, I have good ideas when I’m in water, I have good ideas in the shower. Okay, I’m going to hop in the bath and try riding in the bath. And it worked, so that’s

Sheydin Dew (37:23):
Awesome. Has your husband also draw, or was it just exhibition of Sarah in the bathroom?

Sarah Firth (37:30):
So most of his inputs were text suggestions or verbal talking stuff through, but he was definitely a shadow editor also. He’s in the book a lot. His butt is in the book, which a lot of his colleagues have bought the book, and they’re like, Jason, it’s your butt. But I have another quirk with writing and what is that? I was going to say it, but I’ve forgotten what it is. Post-it notes.

Sheydin Dew (38:06):
Yeah. Exhibition of Sarah Love. Yeah,

Sarah Firth (38:09):
Actually exhibition of Sarah. To that point, I also have a thing called a Fantasia where I don’t make mental pictures of stuff. And so I have to write and draw stuff down. And a big thing that happened to me is I’d be working away on my graphic novel and blah, and then I’d close my iPad, put it on my desk, and then be like, I haven’t made anything. I haven’t done anything. And I’d panic. And then I realized I actually needed to print out the pages as I pulled them and stick them on the wall so that I could hold in my brain what was happening because it wouldn’t stick. So yes, that point of exhibition of Sarah, my house literally turned into a second brain during the making on all the balls because I just didn’t know how else to get it made.

Sheydin Dew (39:04):
My gosh. I love that. I think you definitely have to turn that into something exhibition of Sarah. Shoot my own horn, but I’ve got this. Okay, so in your book, one of my favorite chapters, I believe is something somewhat sentimental and something that I really related to because I too am a very sentimental person. I hold onto anything in everything that has some sort of memory attached to it. But there was one particular quote that really hit the nail on the head for me, and that was actually by Merlin Shel Drake, if I’m pronouncing that correct. He’s a biologist reference in your book in this particular chapter.

Sarah Firth (39:47):
I call him Hot Mushroom Man,

Sheydin Dew (39:51):
I can get that. I get that. For those of you watching at home, this is said Mushroom hot Mushroom man. Is that right? Yeah, I can draw the parallel between him. Yeah, he’s a good looking lad, and you’ve hit the nail on the head definitely with the illustration. I’d say I do curly mop if I do say so myself. But his quote that you referenced here is All life forms are processes, not things. And I was like, that’s really profound, and something that I’ve never really thought of in that way. Which actually leads me to my next question, which is if you can, can you probably guide us through a step-by-step of the processes that were taken in making this book? What were some of the steps that you did?

Sarah Firth (40:40):
Oh yeah. Okay. So to begin with, I was very happy back in 2015. I was very happy making short comics. I was like, I’m a short comics lady. That’s all I will ever do. No worries. But then I found out about the Comic art workshop, which is this workshop that’s for ambitious graphic novels that’s run for a few years now. And the night before the applications were due in 2015, I heard about it and I was like, oh, who are all these cool comic artists? Oh, I want to go to that reading terms and conditions. You need to have an ambitious graphic novel. I’m like, oh, okay. I’ve got to come up with something. I’ve got 24 hours. And so I just scrapped together this absolute nonsense idea for a book that was just stream of consciousness and you had to write a letter to the person they’d nominated.

So I wrote a letter saying, I want to make this comic, and it’s going to look like this. I thought, I’m not going to get in, because it was really half-assed, basically. But they actually thought, oh, this shows some promise. And so I actually got accepted and then I was basically like, oh, crap, I need to make a thing. So I came up with a very rough, I’m just looking at my shelves to see if I’ve got the initial version. I can’t see it. Nope. Okay, so that was 2015. I had a very rough idea of a graphic novel. I ended up taking a huge piece of butcher’s paper with post-it notes of like, I’m going to write about all these things. I have no idea how to make a graphic novel. And at that two week workshop, I met all these other graphic novelists who actually talked about how you make a graphic novel.

And I found it so inspiring, connecting with this amazing community of Australian and international comics makers that I was like, and that’s where I made really good friends with people like Josh Sand Spirito and Chris Gooch and Finn McCabe and Pat Grant, Elizabeth McFarlane and all Campbell White, all these really great comic artists. And I was like, okay, this is going to be hard, but I’m going to do it. So I had the little fire in my belly lit, but then I realized that making a long book is really hard, particularly if you’re making a weird book about living, that there’s a lot that you want to put in and you’re not sure how to do it. So then that took eight years, and I realized I needed to do a lot of research and basically self-work. The more I looked at stuff, the more I was like, oh, I’m an alcoholic and I’m lying to myself.

I need to sort this out because this is getting in my way. So there was a lot of personal work that I needed to do to get to a space where I could write. So that took eight years. I went to the comic art workshop multiple times to workshop my work. So I would say that having that creative community has been fundamental to building my confidence, learning skills, understanding how other people work and parts of that that are really useful to me, getting their feedback. And then I started trying to pitch the book in 2020 and realized that people didn’t want it. And so I had the unpleasant experience of just rejection after rejection after rejection. The thing that did come through to support me was I applied for lots of arts grants and I got some very generous arts grants from different arts bodies in Australia.

So that really helped me to get time to research, write, draw, keep building it. Then I would keep pitching it just like, no, what the hell is this? Go away. I was very sad. Finally, an agent approached me in 2022. So I’m represented by Jacinda Dema Management, and my agent is Danielle Binks. She is a hardcore comics enthusiast, which we need more people like her in Australia, but she adores comics, fights for comics, she’s a legend. She managed to get me putting a proper pitch together. We made a video. I made one the first chapter of the book I fully made, and we pitched with that along with kind of synopsis of the other ones, still rejections, rejections, rejections. They were a little bit more positive. They were more, this book is really interesting and cool, but who is going to buy it? Who’s the market?

Who reads graphic novels? And it was very like, this is a risk for us, so we’re not going to publish it. Sorry. But then, and this is a true story, I was so despondent at that point that I was like, I put so much time and energy into this and it’s not going anywhere. I’ve got other stuff I want to do. I’m going to give up. And I actually went away to the dandenongs in the mountains here, and I went and chopped wood. I was just angry and I wanted to smash some stuff with my ax. So I sew chopped wood and I was calling friends who’ve given up on graphic novels and commiserating. And I’m like, how do you let go of it? How do you grieve a book? Blah, blah, blah, blah. How do you not feel like Total Loser? No one wants to publish it.

And have I wasted my years of my life? And while I was there, I got a phone call from my agent. Just as I’m splitting that piece of wood, I get the phone call Danielle saying, oh, Sarah, Nikki, Louie from Joan wants your book. They want it now. Get on the phone right now. And that was a really big turning point for me where she was just like, I love this book. My imprint, Joan is all about publishing books that would otherwise not get made because they’re a bit different. They’re a bit adventurous, they’re a bit unexpected. And I had so much creative freedom with her because it’s not a comics publisher. They’ve published poetry, short stories, other kinds of things, but not graphic novels. And what that meant though is that I needed to contract my own editorial team, which was wonderful. I managed to get Erica Wagner to be my editor and Ale May Harris to be my creative director, and she’s been an editor for the NIB in the USA.

So she has amazing comics experience as an editor. So I kind of had my dream team to work with on this book. And we basically, I made it chapter by chapter and they edited it as we went, and they trusted me as well. They’d be stuff going, Sarah, where are you going with this? But at no point did they go, oh, it’s not working. They were just very like, okay, this is interesting. Where are you going? And then they were like, oh, nailed it. So yeah, had a lot of leeway and creative freedom and support, which I feel like for a book, this is exactly what I needed. Whereas I know with other comics publishers, they’re very much give us the entire type script, then give us the entire thumbnails than give us the entire colored. And it’s much more process heavy with lots of feedback, whereas mine was more editorial at the end. So that’s basically how it got made.

Sheydin Dew (48:18):
That’s so wonderful. The fact that it was a kind of a story and which shopping of all things as well into so amazing makes for a very good story for sure. But I guess out of those steps, I guess that it took you to get to where you are now, what was your favorite and what was your least favorite?

Sarah Firth (48:42):
Oh, look, I know that what was my favorite? My favorite was just finally getting a publisher. That moment I was, and that’s why I did two years worth of work in eight months. I was so ready to get going. I was just like, yes. So that was just such a exciting moment for me where I was like, yes, I’ve got my foot in the door, I can make it. And a lot of people say, oh, but Sarah, you can self-publish. And it’s like, yes, but I couldn’t have afforded to self-publish a book like this. This is very deluxe, and this would’ve cost me so much money, and I don’t have the disruption networks, and I don’t want to do that. It’s so much work. I have done it. I do it as a zine, fair goer. But for something like this, I needed a publisher. So getting one was my favorite part. Yes, exactly. My least favorite part is just rejection. Look, any creative endeavor inevitably has rejection. And I think that you need to be able to just be resilient and you get rejections and it sucks, and then you keep going. But I do feel like people don’t talk about rejections enough or something and

How to deal with it and how much they hurt, I guess. Yeah,

Sheydin Dew (50:13):
With the reaction, the reject, sorry. How did you deal with that in the moment,

Sarah Firth (50:19):
If you don’t mind me asking?

Sheydin Dew (50:24):
Anything else that helped along the way with friends or you did say that you spoke to a lot of people who had let go of books, and I think that was really interesting that you touched on how to let go of a book that I don’t think I’ve ever heard, or I guess I’ve never really, really thought of fathoming that idea. I guess that seems like such a sad idea and yeah, I can’t imagine how you would’ve been feeling in that process.

Sarah Firth (50:49):
I feel like it just happens. It’s like anyone that has an ambition for something could be having children, having a child, or having a house or build, I don’t know. Any kind of project can fail. And it’s like, what do you do with that failure? And exactly to your point, I feel like talking with your comrades, with your other comics makers and kind of commiserating is really important because even people who seem really successful have a bunch of failures and have a bunch of being told that their work is shit. And I just talking to people feeling sad for a few days, and then we are gaining a bit of courage. And I guess for me, a little bit of it was like, I’ll show you said book, buy this book,

Sheydin Dew (51:41):
Get that. Yep, yep. I definitely,

Sarah Firth (51:43):
But yeah, I feel like for any creative endeavor, rejection is part of the landscape, and just finding ways to digest it and not let it take you down is important. That said, constructive criticism can be really helpful and is worth listening to and taking on board. But yeah, I had a rejection from my most favorite publisher in the US who I won’t name, and they basically said, it’s good, but wow, me, sorry. And I chewed on that for so long of are they saying that it’s kind of good, but just not good enough. And so I had this whole thing of it’s not good enough, and it’s like, whatever.

Sheydin Dew (52:30):
It’s so hard to process.

But I think that says a lot about your resilience. And I think as a collective of creative people, I think, I’m sure many other people have faced this kind of challenge in their own projects. And I guess it says a lot about the creative collective and how resilient, and we really are because it’s definitely no easy path for us to go down. The fact that people put basically their heart’s on the line for a project that they really believe in, I think says a lot about how courageous creative people are. I think it’s not always highlighted. People always say, oh, you just draw pretty pictures, man, that must be easy, kind of thing. And it’s like, well, no, not really. You don’t see half of it what’s behind the scenes, just like what you’ve told us with that particular story. And I think that’s something that should really be highlighted a lot more. Again, it’s nice to know that perhaps people aren’t the only, they’re not alone in that particular situation. So I think you are right in saying that there should be more talk around that particular topic, for sure. Yeah, absolutely.

Sarah Firth (53:43):
Yeah. And I also feel like the point there with people who are starting out in comics or publishing, I had a really interesting conversation with an agent and a publisher about, and they don’t work in graphic novels, they work in bigger publishing, but she was saying how a lot of people try to fit market, so they try to make a product, a book that is highly saleable based on what people read and what people buy and all this kind of stuff. And she said that as much as that seems to logically make sense, it never works. And she’s been an agent for 40 years, and she just said the key thing with creative works is that the creator has to be in love with the project. You have to be committed to and in love with it because that is the thing that will keep you going, that will drive you, that will give it life.

Whereas if you’re trying to meet market, I mean, I’m sure some people do and it works well. I mean, I think of people like Stephen King who are very kind of formulaic in what they do, and that seems to be quite successful, and he seems to enjoy it, that kind of thing. But more often than not, it’s like you have to believe in yourself and your work at the end of the day. Absolutely. And so really investing in that and working on something that you enjoy that you would want to make regardless of what people say, it’s playing that game in your mind of let’s say this is a big failure out in the world and people don’t like it or whatever. Do I feel proud of it because I did my best work and I did something that I was interested in?

Sheydin Dew (55:17):

Sarah Firth (55:19):
Yeah. That’s a really important thing to, because I think for me, when I get young artists coming to me, they’re like, oh, I really want to do this style of work because it’s cool and it seems to be popular. And I am like, do what thing is calling you. Don’t feel heaps of peer pressure to make it look exactly like whatever, because it’s like people have their own unique take view methodology or whatever. And I feel like that can be a more empowering thing to explore than

Sheydin Dew (55:51):
Absolutely. And I think that just spurred me on, there’s a famous quote, I’m not sure what’s by, but no one can do you like you can. And I think that’s something that just kind of related to that entire Yeah, exactly. Yeah, for sure. I think, yeah, I’m so glad that we touched on that because it’s not always a topic that is always touched on. So I’m glad that it may be shed some light for maybe our viewers tonight as well. But changing pace a little bit. I know a little bit earlier in the show you did mention about your book launch and that you did a bit of travel. Can you talk us a little bit more about that particular part of the, that seems really exciting.

Sarah Firth (56:31):
Yeah, so in my work as a graphic recorder, I work on events and I do a lot of project management, event management sort of stuff. And as much as I enjoy book launches in the bookstore that are small, intimate, I feel like they can sometimes get a bit same old, same old. And I was like, for me, with this book being a strange book, I wanted to have an unexpected book launch. So I invested in a big book launch here in Melbourne. I connected with the science gallery that is a new really experimental gallery space. They actually have them all around the world. It’s a network of science galleries that are all about art and science together. And so I wanted to have a launch at the science gallery, and I had a whole team of people there to help me with the launch and catering and music and all this kind of stuff.

And the big secret for the launch was I wanted, so I’ve mentioned dance a few times, I love dance. I’m actually a terrible dancer. I cannot learn steps, but I like to wiggle around. And I’ve had this dream ever since I was probably five years old of being on stage and doing a dance performance in front of people and then being like, wow. But I just felt like I could never do that. I’m not actually a good dancer, but I was like, actually, I was driving my car listening to a song and the song just, I could feel it in my body and I could feel moths because I don’t see stuff, but I could feel like moths moving and fire and moths. And I’m like, I know I’m going to do a surprise dance number at the beginning of the launch of my book.

And so for two months prior, I made moth costumes all out of repurposed materials, cardboard and stuff. And I have two friends who are really well-trained clowns. So they do kind of theatrical clown performance, and they’re also dancers. And so I worked with them. Top secret. I usually like to share a lot, but this was top secret. And we worked on this dance performance that only had four different dance moves all my brain could handle. But we had the stage set up with a fire, and we came on and we danced, and then we gyrated on the fire, and then we came and annoyed people in the audience. And I loved that so much. So many people were sitting there expecting a book launch and suddenly dance thing, and everyone’s dressed as moths, and I was a moth the entire night. I didn’t take my costume off. I was just a moth the entire time. And I think, I love that. Whatcha doing, Sarah? But I was living my five-year-old dream.

Sheydin Dew (59:27):

Sarah Firth (59:28):
That’s amazing.

Sheydin Dew (59:30):
That is the best book launch story that I’ve ever heard in my entire life, hands down. And I’m so glad you tied in something that you see not only in the beginning of the book, but also ties in with the very final page of your book. Not to give any spoilers, array or anything like that, but perfect. You could not have tied those two loose ends together any better. One

Sarah Firth (59:52):
Of the chapters is about a camping trip and moss, boong moss being attracted to a fire. And so that’s the kind of reference for the book launch. But yeah, so that was a kind of spectacular book launch. And then I also went to Canberra and did a book launch there and did book signings and stuff, and then also went to Sydney, did a book launch there and a bunch of signings and interviews and stuff like that. And then, yeah, I’ll be going to the US later in the year for the US leg of things. Whereabouts

Sheydin Dew (01:00:33):
Are you going?

Sarah Firth (01:00:35):
Whereabouts? The us. Oh, I can’t say yet. I can’t say

Sheydin Dew (01:00:38):
Limits. That’s so exciting though.

Sarah Firth (01:00:43):
Yeah. But yeah, it sounds really stupid, but one of my favorite moments of this whole book thing was dancing Badly as a moth,

Sheydin Dew (01:00:54):
Four minutes

Sarah Firth (01:00:55):
On stage. That was just such a childhood dream. And yeah, I feel so happy. Yeah,

Sheydin Dew (01:01:04):
I’m so glad that childhood dream got to come into fruition. I think that’s so amazing. But speaking of motifs, within your book, I really wanted, as you can see, I’ve done a lot of annotating and I wanted to go through some of my favorite bits of your book starting off with the first chapter of your book, which is titled, can you pronounce it for me? Because I’m terrible?

Sarah Firth (01:01:32):
Yes. What is De Viv, which means the Joy of Living. So it’s French, and it basically means someone who’s eating food and going really enjoying the food. And to me, when I look at a dog, to me, dogs are an embodiment of Joir de Viv, which is that they are, well, this is not true. Some dogs are self-conscious and anxious, but a lot of dogs, particularly at the dog park, just running a mouth, having a great time, not self-conscious sniffing butts, picking up sticks, catching balls, living their best life. And it fills my heart with so much joy. So that’s,

Sheydin Dew (01:02:20):
I’m so glad that you pronounce that because I never took a lesson in French, unfortunately. But one of my highlights, which is so interesting because it’s such a kind of a juxtaposition that you put in here, which is a reference to Sisyphus, which is one of the most interesting tales that I’ve ever seen. And you’ve paired it in such a great way to give reference to viewers. You reference your cat’s litter box and how every day, which exactly the page I’m looking at right now, every day is for of scooping poop. And on the next page you’ve then paired it with the tail of Sisyphus. Which one? Too many. Yes. That’s, yeah, that’s awesome. I was like, that is genius. That was just a nice little, and not many people that I talk to really know about Sisyphus, and I think it’s just such an interesting concept that for those who don’t know, Sisyphus was banished and as part of his, what’s the word? As part the consequence? Yeah. Was that he had to push up this massive boulder up a hill for all of eternity. And it kind of feels like that sometimes when you’ve got a cat and a kitty literature. So I loved it.

Sarah Firth (01:03:45):
Something and out of fun fact, that’s just really random to me, which is part of why I got a lot of rejections in the US about this book. Number one comment was, there’s too much shit upfront. They were like, can you remove the shit?

Sheydin Dew (01:04:02):
No, I love it.

Sarah Firth (01:04:06):
Do people not have animals in your life or children or,

Sheydin Dew (01:04:10):

Sarah Firth (01:04:10):
Part of life. Oh my gosh, calm down.

Sheydin Dew (01:04:14):
I love it. Going straight towards near the middle of the book. Obviously WeWork here was another huge chapter for me. This particular chapter really touched on sentimental values as such. You go through letting go of things and stuff like that. And that’s something that I’ve always struggled with and I just thought that this was such a beautiful chapter, seeing things. Now, this is something that I really want to quickly ask all our viewers. You is, you referenced so many cool stuff in here that I forgot, and you touched on how your process started back in 2015. This particular page for everyone looking at home. I dunno if you can see, you referenced the 2015 dress and I want to know what do you see and people who are seeing this from home, what do you guys see? Do you see black or blue or white and gold? What do you see, Sarah?

Sarah Firth (01:05:17):
So when that went viral back on the internet in 2015, because I went to art school, I know how color works, so I was like, it’s black and blue, but people were not wrong in arguing that it was white and gold because it looks like that as an image, but as an actual object, there are enough cues in there to know that it’s probably black and blue. So the actual physical dress was black and blue, so that argument was solved.

Sheydin Dew (01:05:51):
So that was your logical kind of side of your brain talking and be like, ah, color theory now Sarah, we know this. We know this one. I love that. I think that’s so good. I guess a few others sprung to mind because this chapter is all about how people perceive things, whether or not you come from different backgrounds or different cultures and things like that. And I think that was tied in so beautifully in this chapter. A few other funny things maybe that some of our viewers can jump in on is whether or not pineapple belongs on pizza. These are hard hitting questions.

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (01:06:29):

Sheydin Dew (01:06:32):
Shane, what do you think?

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (01:06:34):
Me? Yeah. I love pineapple on pizza. Love it.

Sarah Firth (01:06:38):

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (01:06:39):
Wine is one of my favorites.

Sheydin Dew (01:06:41):
I love it. I’m so glad we’re all on the same page. Another thing you also reference is the Yani versus Laurel on this page. Oh yes. What did you hear?

Sarah Firth (01:06:53):
So I have a funny brain, so depending on how I focus on it, I hear different ones. Even if the pitch is high or low, I have a similar one where there’s this optical illusion of it, the shadow of a woman with her leg out spinning, and apparently if you’re more left brained, you see it spinning this way or right brain. I see it spin one way and then the other way and then the other way and then the other way. Me too. Exactly.

Sheydin Dew (01:07:19):
Yeah. I was talking about all these little references before the show began with Shane, and I was telling him all about these ones and I was like, oh my God. It just brought so many memories for me and little memes, so to speak, that I’ve seen on the internet, which I think really supports your chapter here with how easy it is to see different perspectives when you really try. So I think it was really tied in really well. And I guess another perspective, I’m not sure, but I am really interested in Korean culture and so when I was studying I realized that for them, Christmas and New Year’s is kind of swapped for them as opposed to our west. And I was like, oh, this jogged my memory as of how different are on other parts of the world. And so for those listening, I guess if you don’t already know in Korea, Christmas is usually spent with your friends and years is usually spent with your family, whereas in Australian culture usually it’s the other way around. So that’s another little perspective. That’s something that I’ve never really forgotten about is that different holidays and different times of the year is always kind of different depending on where you are in the world. And it just kind of highlighted all these different things and I think this particular chapter was definitely one of my favorites. Oh, thank you.

Sarah Firth (01:08:50):
Appreciate you.

Sheydin Dew (01:08:52):
Absolutely. Another little thing was another thing when you look at stuff and you can never unsee it. I love this particular picture of you with your glasses and your, I don’t know if you know about this one, but I’m currently studying graphic design and one of the famous logos with this illusion is the FedEx logo. You can never unsee between the E and the X. There’s a nice little arrow that kind of signifies movement in the logo. I have never been able to unsee it. Every time I see a FedEx track I’m like, oh. As if all these years I’ve just never been able to see it. And now whenever I see it, it’s the first thing that I see. So I think that jogged my memory in this particular chapter. So I dunno, you just tied it in so really, really well. Another part, another quote so to speak, was you say, I like playing with zooming in and out.

It’s exciting and humbling and this was a really introspective chapter about our part in this massive crazy universe that we live in. And I think that’s really good because comparatively speaking, sometimes when things, we worry about little lives and everything in them and you have to pull yourself out and be like, I’m literally this energetic meat sack sitting on a floating rock in the middle of nowhere. It kind of puts you into perspective, but I think later in the chapter you also kind of tied in really well with a balance of things because if you go too far out, you get a little bit, it’s very overwhelming, but if you go too far in, it’s the same way around kind of thing. So particular really stuck out with me and I am so glad that I’m just so glad that I got to read this book. I think it was just really, really insightful. Thank you.

Sarah Firth (01:10:48):
Super appreciate it. Yeah, because some people read it and they’re like, nah. So it’s nice when people like the book.

Sheydin Dew (01:10:55):
Absolutely. I found it. So

Sarah Firth (01:11:00):

Sheydin Dew (01:11:02):
One little last funny question in this particular, what is it? Which chapter is it? I think it is What makes Me a Me is you talk about the experience where at one of your, I think it’s, what did you call it? You draw out your conventions? No, it’s not conventions. Sorry, what did you say?

Sarah Firth (01:11:22):
I think that one is just a workshop.

Sheydin Dew (01:11:24):
A workshop? Is it? Oh, okay. Yes. You talk about how you were asked the question of if you could be an animal, what would it be? And you go through all these amazing different options and you kind of come to the conclusion that you are a rat because you were born in the year of the rat and I’m born in the year of the rat. And the reasons as to why you say you are a rat, especially I forget how you, I was born the year of the rats, chewing things helps me playful, alert and observant, and I’m an invasive species, and I was just like, that is so funny. And hits the nail in the head. I was just like, that’s gold. I love it. So

Sarah Firth (01:12:07):
Yeah, that was a little in joke because my publisher is indigenous, and that was something we talked about a lot is having these little jabs in there. It’s like, this is my home. This is where I live. But we invaded here and came on ships and it’s a lot like rats

Sheydin Dew (01:12:29):

Sarah Firth (01:12:29):
I currently have rats in, I have a trumpet vine along my wall, and I know a lot of people don’t like rats, but the rats we have here are very cute, and they actually come and they hold the flowers and they go and then run away and they’re really, really cute. My cat sits there watching them going. I’m not using that in a derogatory negative sense. I have fond. They’re just another creature. Any other

Sheydin Dew (01:12:58):
Not they’re here kind of thing. Yeah, yeah. I do want to ask Shane, if you could be any animal, what

Sarah Firth (01:13:07):
Would you be?

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (01:13:08):
Any animal. Oh, that’s right. No, any animal. Maybe a hip because everyone’s scared of them and they’ll leave me alone.

Sheydin Dew (01:13:20):
Oh my gosh.

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (01:13:23):
Their way

Sheydin Dew (01:13:25):
Page. You go on the same maybe. I don’t remember that. Yeah, that’s awesome.

Sarah Firth (01:13:32):
Hippos are pretty cool.

Sheydin Dew (01:13:34):
Yeah, I think so too. I think if I were, they

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (01:13:36):
Swim so fast, they don’t look like they should be able to, but they can swim so fast.

Sheydin Dew (01:13:43):
Yeah, absolutely. I think

Sarah Firth (01:13:45):
Aiden, what animal would you be?

Sheydin Dew (01:13:48):
I’ve always loved the idea of whales. They always seem so, exactly. Literally. I don’t on

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (01:14:00):
Purpose, of course. Yeah.

Sheydin Dew (01:14:02):
Always been cap by whales and how big they are, but how gentle they seem to be. So I really like that. As someone who’s five foot, I’d love to see what it’s like to be someone of size and big and you know what I mean, bigger than I actually am kind of thing. But otherwise, these are just some of my highlights of the book. And I guess we’re kind nearing the end of the show, so I wanted to ask a few wrap up questions post book. I know that you are having a bit of a spell, having a little bit of an unwind, rightfully deserved. This is an amazing piece of work that I think you should be absolutely super stoked with and really proud, really. But are there any other projects on the horizon that you are entertaining the idea of,

Sarah Firth (01:14:54):
I’ve got a few, I can’t talk about them all. One I can talk about is my first academic piece that I’m writing, which is currently out for peer review, that’s for a comics journal. And that was so hard to write. Oh my gosh, I don’t know that I’ll ever do a PhD.

Sheydin Dew (01:15:14):

Sarah Firth (01:15:14):
Just thought I’d give that a go and see what that was like, and it was very hard. Yeah. But that’ll be turned into a comic and be published at the end of the year in a anthology with lots of other comic pieces, so that’s cool. Cool. I guess going to the US is kind of my next big thing, and then once that’s all done, I will then move on to other projects.

Sheydin Dew (01:15:40):
Absolutely. Oh, that’s so exciting. I guess this might answer my question already, but I guess if you’ve already got the US coming up, are there any other conventions? I know you mentioned that you like going to zine markets and stuff like that, and there’s an abundance in Melbourne, so I’ve heard,

Sarah Firth (01:15:58):
Yes, I’ll be at the, first of all the photocopier, which is on this weekend. I’ll be, I think it’s the meat market in North Melbourne on Saturday the 10th from 12 till five. So there’ll be heaps of different comics and zine makers there selling their wares. And I’ll be there with zines and my book and it’s free entry so anyone can come in and browse and stuff. So yeah, that’ll be happening. Other than that, I don’t have anything else locked in just yet.

Sheydin Dew (01:16:33):
Yeah, fair enough. That’s exciting. That’s super exciting. I’m so glad that you’re still doing the smaller, the smaller meet and greets at the local events because yeah, those kind of things are definitely a hidden gem. And I know that Melbourne has just so many of them and it’s on my radar to come and visit one day, that’s for sure. But this is kind of, it kind changes pace with this particular question that I’m about to ask. But I guess for some of the viewers that are watching tonight and maybe people who are just starting their journey, what is something that you wished someone would’ve told you when you first started creating? Eventually everything connects.

Sarah Firth (01:17:18):
I’m laughing because I did get told this, but I didn’t believe people, so when I first started making this at the first comic cart workshop, when I was talking people through my book and stuff, they were like, how long do you think it’ll take you to make? And I said, oh, a year, it’ll take a year. And people were like, that’s, yep. It usually takes a little bit longer than that, even for a shorter work. And they were like, no, no, I’m going to smash it out. I’m going to make it. And I would just say that if your big graphic novel takes under 10 years, you’ve done a great job. That’s a good rule of thumb because books and publishing take time. They take as long as they’re going to take. People have lives, people have jobs. A lot of people who make books really quickly are very rich. That’s another thing for people who have jobs and children or responsibilities, things just take a lot longer and give yourself a break, have some compassion, talk to other makers, get a realistic picture of how long things take and just don’t give up. So yeah,

I was actually told it was going to take longer, but I just didn’t believe them and I just should have.

Sheydin Dew (01:18:42):
Hindsight’s a bitch, ain’t it. That obviously, I mean this in itself is a massive achievement, but do you have an ultimate overarching goal, like a comic goal of yours? Is there something that you’re still reaching for?

Sarah Firth (01:19:03):
Look, I just love making. So for me it’s about being able to continue my practice going forward and just have that kind of sustained long practice of making and getting better at spelling as I do it.

Yeah, I do have a bucket list thing I would love, and maybe with this book, maybe not with this book, but I’d love to go to emm, which is the comics fair in France. I’d love just on my bucket list. I just love to go there and talk comics or sell my comic or something like that because there’s just so many great artists there and great works that have come and gone through there that that’s kind of a bucket list thing for me. I’d like to make more books I’d like to keep making. But yeah, I’m kind of a person that responds to opportunities and emergent things. So given that I’m in a rest period, I’m not quite sure what will come. I know something will come, but I’m letting it emerge

Sheydin Dew (01:20:11):
As it will, and I think that’s super exciting. That’s a really exciting stage to be in as well. I think if anything, it exceeds your expectations, if anything. So I’m excited for you. But I mean, honestly, Sarah, this has been such a joy having you on the show, and I think it’s definitely set a fantastic tone for this year’s season. But I really want to know perhaps what you think the Aussie indie comic scene needs more of? If there’s anything that it needs more of, what would it be?

Sarah Firth (01:20:44):
Oh gosh. Does it need more of something? I feel like we have a really strong and healthy indie comics scene, honestly, and particularly going to, okay, this is something I’ll say. Having taken my book out of comics into kind of a nonfiction, mainstream publishing stream, it has made me really appreciate how strong the culture is for comics makers in Australia. There are lots of different groups, different cohorts and things, but there is just such a good amount of, I would say, goodwill and support. And part of it is because it’s small, but I feel like that’s really valuable.

And what I’d love to see is just more people meeting more people and connecting with more people around the kind of comics opportunities and the knowledge that is being built. And particularly now, I feel like there’s a bit of an upswell in comics making and comics interest in the kind of broader cultural sphere in Australia. And I just really hope that more comics makers can kind of work together to understand how things work, support each other’s work, get out there and just enjoy making and sharing work. Even if it’s tiny little printed zines that you printed on the printer at the library that you made and you’re 11 years old. It’s like just making little zine is swapping it with someone. That’s the great stuff. Very

Sheydin Dew (01:22:23):
Well. Amazing. Oh, I’m so glad, and it’s been such a joy having you on the show. My final question I have for you, where can we find this beauty? Where can we head to?

Sarah Firth (01:22:36):
So it’s in almost all good bookstores, that is the power of having a bigger publisher make your book, is that it is available. So yeah, most bookstores that you go to will have it. It’s always good to buy locally. So I’d always suggest find your local bookstore, buy it from them to support local business because they’re really important to the ecosystem of comics and bookmakers. But you can also go to, my website is sarah the, and I have links to where you can buy the book there. You can buy it from me, you can buy it from me at the Sticky Festival, the photocopier on Saturday if you’re in Melbourne. And you can also follow me on social media. My handle is Sarah the Firth on Instagram and TikTok and Twitter X and all that. And I’ve posted random stuff online that you can see. Yeah,

Sheydin Dew (01:23:40):
Amazing. Well, Sarah, this has been fantastic. Thank you so much again for coming on the show. Those are all my questions, but again, thank you so much for sharing a little piece of your world with us because it was an absolute joy to read. And thank you again for coming on the show and talking a little bit more in depth about it.

Sarah Firth (01:24:04):
Thank you so much for running the show. It’s so wonderful to have you talking with comics makers and sharing the work that’s being done and talking about it. So thank you for doing a great service.

Sheydin Dew (01:24:15):
No, it’s been our pleasure, honestly. But yeah, that’s all from me. Shane, were there any other final announcements, thoughts?

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (01:24:24):
I’m just going to be really cheeky and go with the presents again because we have got 19 hours left people. This is my little love letter to Australian comics where I get people who couldn’t sometimes couldn’t publish their own stuff, or they couldn’t publish a particular story or whatever. Then I help ’em put ’em in this anthology and help them get printed so they can hold it in their hands for the first time. Because when I made my first comic, that was an awesome feeling of holding it in my hands for the first time. So I tried to share that feeling through this book. So yes, please support it. That would be all

Sheydin Dew (01:25:02):
Fantastic. Well, without further ado, thank you so much for watching everyone. We’ll be back in another fortnight with our next guest, who is Shane?

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (01:25:13):
Yes, Aaron Mack. He’s part of Comic Studio. He’s just joined Comic Studio and he and his brother and a team of people are bringing out a book called Ben Sullivan. I should throw his name in that circle, are bringing out a book called Gods Amongst Men. So yes, that’s what we’ll be talking about with him.

Sarah Firth (01:25:34):

Sheydin Dew (01:25:34):
Cool. Amazing. Well, thanks again to everyone watching and thank you again to the amazing, Sarah, thank you so much for being on board. No worries at all. Thanks so much guys.

Sarah Firth (01:25:44):

Shane ‘Sizzle’ Syddall (01:25:45):
Night everyone.

Sheydin Dew (01:25:47):

Voice Over (01:25:47):
Check out Comex CX for all things Comex and find out what comics is all about. We hope you enjoyed the show.


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