Into the Woods
Interview with Jase Harper, creator of Awkwood
by Anthony N. Castle
Stuck in a boring office job. Living with a deadbeat flatmate. Surviving from payday to payday. Relentlessly pursued by giant monsters. Liam’s got the talent to take his musical ambition further and escape everything, if only he could gain the confidence to stare down his inner Bad. When his psychedelic therapy visions burst forth into flesh, Liam must face them, and himself, before more than just his dreams are stomped flat…
The legendary Jase Harper is known across Australia for his gig posters, animation work and his long running mini-comic Guh! Milk Shadow Books recently launched his debut graphic novel Awkwood, the journey of a young man who searches the woods for his true love, so I dropped him a line to chat about the new book…
Over the years you’ve been known for producing gig posters for artists like Adalita, The Morrisons and Foghound, with over a decade’s experience as an animator and illustrator. Where does making comics fit into your passions as an artist?
Making comics has always been a great outlet for myself artistically. The animation and illustration side of things are my work-life and most often dictated by the client. With my comics I get to do what I want with little outside influence. Out of all my artistic endeavors it’s certainly the one with the most freedom.
How long has Awkwood been in the works?
Awkwood has been brewing for about two to three years. The story was initially just a short comic idea loosely based on some articles I read about the Ayahuasca ceremonies in Peru. James from Milk Shadow Books had approached me a few years back about publishing something of mine in a larger format than my usually minis, I took this as motivation to develop a few ideas I had and saw the potential to turn Awkwood into a full blown graphic novel.
Awkwood is about a young man overcoming his inner and outer demons. The woods in this book begin as starting point for this journey. I’m not sure what it is about this setting, maybe it’s the seclusion and peacefulness of nature that causes such self reflection. There are certainly themes and elements within in the book that I can relate to and I think a lot of creative types would as well.
You’ve been a storyboard supervisor and assistant director for TV and your short film Potato won the 2009 Big Fish Film Fest. Do you see visual storytelling skills translate from one medium to another?
A lot of the time I treat my comics the same as when I storyboard. I create an establishing shot then plan out where the characters are at all times and go from there. I also try and use the techniques I learnt from storyboarding, keeping the action going all in one direction, don’t cross the 180 degree line, try not to spend too much time tight on characters. Then again, it’s comics so you can break the rules and play with medium a fair bit, but it’s nice to have a grounding first.
So what can we expect from Jase Harper in the future? Are there more comics on the way?
I’m about one chapter into writing the next book, which I’m hoping to do a limited release in three parts, then collect together, rather than having such a long wait between books. Other than that I have some smaller projects and collaborations on the boil that should keep me busy.
To keep track of how busy Jase is, check out jaseharper.com
Awkwood is available from Milk Shadow Books