Tim Gibson, a New Zealand based artist and writer is taking full advantage of genre, digital comics on devices and innovating how a reader participates in the comic reading experience with his debut graphic novel Moth City. Mainstream and back catalogs of comics have been available on computers and other devices via ComiXology since 2009. Webcomics themselves are nearly 30 years old. Gibson is transforming the page and webpage with panel layers and acting to give a more full reading experience. Moth City #3 is available today on ComiXology. We talk with Tim about process and the importance of word of mouth support for independent comics.
DIGBOSTON: Tim, thanks so much for taking the time today to tell us about Moth City! We’re here to talk about comics, mind telling the fans out there some of the projects you’ve worked on in the past? Your name probably scrolled by them at some point.
TIM GIBSON: Moth City is actually my debut comic, I’ve mainly worked as an illustrator and concept designer in the Film and TV industry. The closet I’ve come to working in comics before this was being a designer on The Adventures of Tintin film and some coloring work on The Red Star (Image Comics) when I was working at Weta Workshop (Lord the of Rings Trilogy, The Hobbit, King Kong, Avatar, District 9).
How long has this idea been growing? Are all art projects eligible for funding in New Zealand?
The idea of an entire island under the rule of one damaged man has been with me for a while. There is just something about the isolation of an island that makes bad stuff happening so much worse. It’s been with me for many years, but it was really the Creative New Zealand grant that enabled me to dedicate myself the massive amount kind of time needed to translate ideas into comics.
Completing a graphic novel has got to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
There’s so much work when it’s a solo venture, and the things you can’t do (copy editing, websites etc.) you have to convince talented friends/family to help for the lowest wages (i.e. nil) that they’ve ever worked for.
The funding is really the only reason thatMoth City exists in the way that it does. It’s not easy funding to get, there’s a lot of competition for it.
You put forth the strongest case possible, because you’re competing with published authors, people with track records and whole institutions who look to Arts Funding to do their work.
It’s probably safe to say that this book takes place in an alternate history, around the 1930s, on an island in China. There’s always been cowboys and rich tycoons wearing cowboy hats around the world, such as your Governor McCaw. He’s there to weaponize the Chinese army for profit. What else can you tell us about the city?
The island of Moth City shares a lot of features with Hong Kong; it has a highly condensed city center, a towering peak for the elite and scattered fishing villages and docks. There are influences from both Hong Kong’s history, as well as Singapore’s.
New Zealanders, as (still) a part of the British Empire are obsessed with colonization and imperialism. McCaw’s place at the head of his little empire is a part of that.
The populace certainly doesn’t want him there, but they were effectively sold to him as indentured labour along with the island itself.
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