Friday, September 5, 2014

STGCC 2014: Spotlight on Gene Whitlock - Diva Uncovers the Shady Background About "The Unsavoury Alphabet"

Aussie illustrator Gene Whitlock aka Danger Gene is a very well-known acquaintance of Red Dot Diva. For one thing, they keep bumping into each other in the same geek circles and locations. Not literally, of course. Gene's wondrous beard and hair (*flick*) does not allow that to happen.

What does happen though, is that their encounters are always fun and full of laughter. So it is with much immorally ambiguous pleasure to throw the Red Dot Diva pre-STGCC spotlight on Gene, who will be launching his book "The Unsavoury Alphabet" at BookActually's booth called "The Comic Strip".

(For more details on BookActually's first foray in STGCC, do read this previous article!)

Here's the (VERY) lowdown from Gene Whitlock about "The Unsavoury Alphabet":

Red Dot Diva: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Gene: Wellll... I'm 1.71 cm tall. I draw funny books and I like pudding.

Red Dot Diva: Hmmm.. Pudding...  How long have you been working as a designer?
Gene: I've been working as a designer for more 20 years. Some of first works include a magazine by Microsoft called Communique. I had my first gallery exhibition when I was 14. And I've been drawing since I was 2.5 to 3 years old.

Red Dot Diva: Who was the one who encouraged you to continue drawing? 
Gene: My Mom is a landscape artist and my Dad is a research scientist. My Mom's dad was a photographer.. actually one of the leading sports photographer in Sydney during the 60's and 70's. My Mom's mom was a portrait artist. My Dad's dad was a veterinary scientist for the United Nations, as well as a landscape artist. So.. I really have *no idea* where the encouragement came from. 'Drawing?' they said... 'Nooo.. can you be a banker?'

Warning: Something's fishy going on at the booth

Red Dot Diva: How did you choose the title "The Unsavoury Alphabet", and how did that come about?
Gene: I like the alliteration that is not quite an alliteration. I've been drawing funny animals since high school. I used to draw a superhero who was a koala with a gun and force shield, who was called The Koala. Then, in university, I started drawing lots more of funny animals, and I love drawing them because there are things you can do with anthropomorphic animals that you can't really do with people.  You can play with stereotypes and roles. One of my favourite character in "The Unsavoury Alphabet" is Cassandra the Elephant Ballerina. Because why can't an elephant be a ballerina. But she's fallen hard many times, so now she's an exotic dancer.
(Red Dot Diva roars with laughter.)
Gene: "The Unsavoury Alphabet" came about because I discovered I was drawing the same old animals - koalas, platypuses and rabbits. And I thought I need to draw other animals. There is so many animals out there I wasn't drawing. Why don't I do animals from A to Z. And I found out that I kept drawing these gangster-type characters. And instead of an alphabet for kids, this is for adults. They will be written in a form of mini-stories and all will fold together, so you will have to read the entire thing for the whole plot.

Red Dot Diva: How long has this project been in progress?
Gene: I started the very first version in 2011. I abandoned it for awhile. About half a year ago, I decided to sit down and do it. I was introduced to Kenny Leck at Math Paper Press, and spoke to him about my ideas and project. He liked some of them and told me to focus on this and this, and that is how the project has progressed till now.

Red Dot Diva: Where do your inspirations in "The Unsavoury Alphabet" come from?
Gene: I lived a veryyyy traumatic life. No. The main character Mike Blood P.I. came about when I was in a train one morning. "Life on Mars" by David Bowie came on and I was thinking of the character Gene Hunt, who is a real badass. I started drawing Mike Blood (who is a crocodile) who was in a city looking for somebody and kept getting into these adventures, so that's how this non-linear story idea came about. The concept is also about how our memories do not work in a linear fashion. We don't think or remember in a nice neat chronology. So, I love the freedom that you are able to tell a story with no linear flow.
Red Dot Diva: So what is your favourite Unsavoury works of art?
Gene: Dan DeCarlo, who did a lot of pinup art in the 50's and 60's and that stuff is just gorgeous and ... very unsavoury! There's also Omaha the Cat Dancer, an underground adult comic series -- Warning: NSFW! I love Blacksad too, which has animals set in a noir setting... which is gorgeous and also.... very unsavoury.  

Red Dot Diva: If you know this was your last day on earth, what would you draw?
Gene: Anything and everything. I probably wouldn't draw anything. I would probably live a life of wild abandon like build a giant robot and I would march across the ocean fighting giant monsters and text attractive people. Whilst I'm fighting giant monsters. "Sorry, can't talk. Killing monster. By the way, I like your profile picture."

Sounds Nicely Unsavoury. *thumbs up* Red Dot Diva approves!

Diva and Danger Gene at STGCC 2013
Don't forget to check out those bad bad animal characters from "The Unsavoury Alphabet" at "The Comic Strip" - Booth H21 this weekend! Gene will also be doing signings from 1 PM to 1:45 PM on both Saturday and Sunday. (Please note: Strictly No Exotic Dancing Allowed at STGCC though.)

Tell him Red Dot Diva sent ya!

No comments:

Post a Comment