Comicfest 2021

Join us for this fantastic — and totally free — national celebration of all NZ things comics-related. Featuring a whole galaxy of Aotearoa’s finest graphic artists and authors in a full day of events for comic fans of all ages, plus hundreds of free comics to give away for Free Comic Book Day!

Star-studded line-up

This year’s star-studded ComicFest line-up includes many of Aotearoa’s comic greats in workshops, talks and activities for the whole family.

The talent includes a huge host of award-winning comic artists like Kay O’Neill, Jem Yoshioka, and Dylan Horrocks.

It brings together comic geniuses like Sarah Laing, Jonathan King, Austin Milne, Tara Black, and Giselle Clarkson. Former NZ Poet Laureate and Mophead creator Dr. Selina Tusitala Marsh joins worldwide comic phenomenon Toby Morris for an exclusive live reboot of The Spinoff’s Two Sketches series.

Lore Olympus creator Rachel Smythe, whose works have just been snapped up by the Jim Henson Company will join Mary Guo, creator of the hit children’s series Kiddets to talk about adapting work for the silver screen.

Zak Waipara and Michel Mulipola will talk about super hero creation and celebrating indigenous voices with live demonstrations of their art.

The day promises to be unmissable for anyone who is interested in comics and graphic novels in Aotearoa. See you there on Saturday 21 August.

Programme

Here's the programme for the day. We’ll be updating the page with links to the free tickets in mid-July.

All day | Free comics!

Graphic Comics has generously sponsored this mega giveaway – they will have a wide range of free comics available, there will be something for everyone! Graphic will also be selling a range of New Zealand-made cartoons and comics.

Te Ahumairangi Foyer

All Day | Drawing competition

Head over to our drawing competition table and create your own work of art! Draw us your favourite character from a book, movie, TV show — or perhaps even a character from your own imagination. There’s a panoply of awesome prizes up for grabs!

Prize categories are — 8 and under, ages 9-13, 14+

Te Ahumairangi Foyer

9am to 1pm | Talk and draw in the round

Meet your favourite ComicFest comic/graphic artist as they draw and talk about their work in these informal half hour demonstrations.

Suggested for — all ages

Te Ahumairangi Foyer

9am to 10am | The Inkberg Enigma with Jonathan King

Debut graphic novel sensation and film director Jonathan King discusses the creation of his mystery adventure comic The Inkberg Enigma.

Suggested for — ages 8+

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Programme Rooms

10am to 11am | From page to screen with Rachel Smythe and Mary Guo

Rising superstars Rachel Smythe and Mary Guo will be delving into the challenges faced when your beloved characters make the leap to cinema, television or the game world. How does this process happen? How much control do you have? Hear from two fabulous artists who have been doing this for some of the biggest entertainment companies in the world.

Lore Olympus, created by Rachel Smythe, has been snapped up for a print edition later this year and is being developed by the Jim Henson Company for an animated series.

Mary Guo is a comic artist, illustrator and concept art designer. Her work has been used in mobile games like Sewer Rush, and she is the Art Director for hit children’s series Kiddets. She is currently working on a book of illustrations and short comics about Wellington cafés.

Advance booking recommended.

Suggested for — ages 12+

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Auditorium, Taiwhanga Kauhau

10.10am to 11.10am | Meet everybody’s favourite axolotl, Dewdrop — with creator Kay O’Neill

Kids (and big kids) are welcome to join the Eisner and Harvey Award-winning illustrator and graphic novelist Kay O’Neill to help create friends old and new for their character, Dewdrop the Axolotl.

Advance booking recommended.

Suggested for — ages 4+

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Programme Rooms

11.10am to 11.30am | Kids’ cosplay

If you are 12 or under this is your chance to dress up as your favourite comics character (you could even make up your own character). There will be lots of spot prizes and a parade, and it promises to be loads of fun! No weapons or military cosplay please.

For — ages up to 12

Te Ahumairangi Foyer

11-30am to 12.30pm | How to draw heroes – a masterclass with Michel Mulipola and Zak Waipara

This how-to masterclass features two awesome artists who will show you how they go about drawing and creating heroes -- whether they be from real life or from myth. Crack the code of superhero creation with Zak Waipara and Michel Mulipola in this live demonstration.

Michel Mulipola is a Samoan comic book artist who has two big passions in life — comics and wrestling — and who, when he gets the chance, likes to combine the two. His works often feature Pasifika wrestling heroes and recent historical heroes.

Zak Waipara has written and illustrated for comics, created newspaper graphics, children’s books, motion graphics for cinema and worked as a designer for Māori Television’s children’s show Mīharo. He currently leads the Bachelor of Animation Degree at Animation College in Auckland.

Advance booking recommended.

Suggested for — ages 8+

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Auditorium, Taiwhanga Kauhau

12.40pm to 1.40pm | Zinefest workshop – Create your own zine masterpiece

Learn how to set out comic panels, storyboards and how to make zines of your own with the fabulous volunteers of the Wellington Zinefest at our crafting tables.

Suggested for — all ages

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Programme Rooms

12.40pm to 1.40pm | Giselle Clarkson — from commission to ComicFest artwork

Once you get a commission, how do you go about generating creative ideas that meet that brief? Indeed, how do you get a commission in the first place? And what do briefs usually entail?

All will be revealed in this event with the incredibly talented graphic illustrator Giselle Clarkson.

Giselle’s illustrative works include: The Gobbledegook Book: A Joy Cowley Anthology, Egg and Spoon: An Illustrated Cookbook, Secret World of Butterflies and Hazel and the Snails.

Advance booking recommended.

Suggested for — ages 8+

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Auditorium, Taiwhanga Kauhau

1.45pm to 2.45pm | New voices, new perspectives — a panel discussion featuring Rachel Smythe, Tara Black and Austin Milne, and chaired by Jem Yoshioka

The world of graphic art is changing at an amazingly rapid pace — a veritable revolution has been happening in recent years. Developments have included: new definitions of what comprises a graphic work, new platforms with global reach for people to view your work and new high-tech tools to create your works.

This panel features some of the New Zealand artists at the vanguard of these changes, discussing the new opportunities for artists, the challenges inherent in these changes, and — finally — how artists go about taking full advantage of these new frontiers.

Advance booking recommended.

Suggested for — ages 12+

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Auditorium, Taiwhanga Kauhau

3.00 to 3.50pm | Two sketches live — Toby Morris chats and draws with Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh

Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh is an Auckland-based Pacific poet and scholar of Samoan, Tuvaluan, English, Scottish and French descent. She is an Associate Professor at the University of Auckland, specialising in Pasifika literature.

In 2016, she composed and performed for the Queen at Westminster Abbey, and she was New Zealand's Poet Laureate for 2017-2019. Her fabulous book Mophead was the Supreme Winner at the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults in 2020.

Toby Morris is known for his online comics that highlight social issues. His COVID-19 coverage for The Spinoff was done in conjunction with Siouxsie Wiles and was shared globally. In his younger years, he played bass for Wellington band Batrider.

Advance booking recommended.

Suggested for — all ages

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Auditorium, Taiwhanga Kauhau

4.00pm to 5.00pm | Keynote panel — Graphic novels as a form of personal expression

Our final panel explores the idea of the graphic novel as a conduit for personal expression in Aotearoa, and includes such graphic luminaries as Dylan Horrocks, Sarah Laing, Selina Tusitala Marsh, Michel Mulipola, Zak Waipara and Tara Black, with Sam Orchard as chair.

Advance booking recommended.

Suggested for — ages 12+

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Auditorium, Taiwhanga Kauhau

Comicfest2021 is a collaboration between Wellington City Libraries | Te Matapihi ki te Ao Nui and the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa.

Check before you come

Due to COVID-19 some of our events can be cancelled or postponed at very short notice. Please check the website for updated information about individual events before you come.

For more general information about National Library services and exhibitions have look at our COVID-19 page.

Comic drawing of a seagull and people flying on flying carpets, birds, pencils and a bicycle above Wellington. Words are Comicfest 2021.
Giselle Clarkson