It’s a new era at Broken Frontier and to usher in the next stage in BF’s evolution we’ve been building an expanded writing team to broaden our scope and approach to our coverage. Every Thursday we’ll be introducing you to a member of our committed crew of comics commentators with a view to connecting you to the names behind the bylines.
This week we continue our ‘Meet the Broken Frontier Team’ features with a chat with one of the most recent staffers to join our team, Contributing Writer (and small press comics creator) Ally Russell…
I moved from a small town in Western Australia to the big city of London in the hopes of pursuing my love of popular culture as a day job. I now work in PR at a TV network, while making, reading, and writing about comics in my free time.
How, when and why did you become a part of the Broken Frontier team?
I applied to write for Broken Frontier last summer, which was around the time I was making a change in career from journalism to PR. I’d always loved what the site was doing, and wanted the opportunity to keep writing and reviewing while expanding my comics horizons, so Broken Frontier seemed the perfect fit.
Tell us about your role at BF? What are your areas of coverage?
I’m still relatively new to the team as a Contributing Writer, however I look forward to writing more reviews and blog posts, and hopefully getting into some events coverage, too. At the age of 23 I also consider myself relatively new to comics in general, and am still discovering so much great work from the ’80s and ’90s. My goal for 2017 is to be less stuck in the past and more up to speed with the 21st Century and its many talented younger creators!
What’s your very first memory of comics?
It was my mother who introduced me to comics, sharing her love of Peanuts, Archie and Tintin with me from as early as I can remember. She would take my brother and me to a place called Sunny Bookshop in Singapore when I was really small. It’s a buy and rent store, and I remember it being packed with shelves buckling under the weight of manga, sci-fi novels, trashy paperbacks, magazines that were way out of date, and American comics with yellowed pages. It was always an awe-inspiring experience, which left a huge impression on me. I recently learned that the shop had closed down due to rising overheads and changes in reading habits.
What is it about comics as a storytelling medium that you are most passionate about?
Maybe because I’m a History graduate, I think comics have a unique power of documenting different societies from diverse periods and places. From the language used, to how the characters are dressed or how they’ve decorated their houses, to the way in which the actual medium has been printed and distributed, comics are such a rich (and oft overlooked) anthropological resource. But asides from all that, I love the democracy of independent and small press comics publishing, allowing insular weirdos (term used lovingly) who may not otherwise have much of a voice to make a mark, however big or small, on their place in time.
Name three current favourite (plus three all-time favourite) graphic novels or comics…
How current does current need to be? I’m shamefully out of the loop when it comes to new releases! A few favourites from the past 3 decades…
Real Stuff – Dennis Eichhorn
Neat Stuff – Peter Bagge
Susceptible – Geneviève Castrée
Ice Haven – Daniel Clowes
Stargazing Dog – Takashi Murakami
Concrete – Paul Chadwick
Are you involved in comics or any other artistic practice outside of your Broken Frontier work?
I’ve been working on a comic adaptation of the ’80s low budget horror movie Killer Klowns from Outer Space for the past two years. I’ve just completed page 77, and am pleased to say I only have 20 minutes left of the film to draw.
(You can read all about Ally’s comics work in more detail in our ‘Small Spotlight on…’ interview with her last summer here…)
And, finally, give us one creator or project you think we should be looking out for in 2017 and tell us why?
I’m really excited to see more from Nick Drnaso, whose debut graphic novel Beverly came out via Drawn + Quarterly last year. It was without doubt my favourite release of 2016, surpassing titles by some of my all-time favourite creators with its incredible emotional intelligence and artistic precision. Check him out if you haven’t already!