Andrez Bergen: Magpie
Andrez Bergen / Magpie (writer)
Oi Oi Oi! Issue #7, published by Comicoz February 2016
Andrez Bergen is an Australian expat who’s lived in Tokyo these past fifteen years, working as a journalist, author, musician and artist. He makes music as Little Nobody and previously ran groundbreaking Melbourne record label IF? for over a decade, before setting up IF? Commix in 2013 in collusion with Matt Kyme.
On the side he’s authored five novels and published short stories with Crime Factory, Snubnose Press, Shotgun Honey, All Due Respect, and NoirCon. Bergen also occasionally works on adapting the English subtitles for anime features by Production I.G (creators of Ghost in the Shell) in Japan.
Sequentially, he’s published two graphic novels (Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat and Bullet Gal: It’s Not You, It’s Me) as well as three comic book series (Bullet Gal, Trista & Holt, and Tales to Admonish). With all of these, aside from Tales to Admonish where he collaborated with Kyme, Bergen worked as artist as well as writer.
With Magpie, Bergen has returned to writing alone, while art, lettering and colours are being done by Frantz Kantor.
Frantz – a 3D concept artist, illustrator, lecturer and production designer based in Melbourne – is a veteran of the Australian comic book scene, having worked on zines in the industry’s early 80s days, such as the groundbreaking Inkspots. He created a nationwide scandal (of sorts) when he drew a caricature of newsreader Anne Fullwood naked for Australian Penthouse in May 1993.
Which member of your family influenced you the most?
Andrez Bergen: On the one hand, I’d like to say my mum and dad, since they pushed me onto the path of more eccentric art, my dad dug comics, and both of them were encyclopaedic about films, which set me up for life. On another hand my wife Yoko is a brilliant painter, and supports what I do even when she’s not into it. But if I had a third appendage, that would belong to my daughter Cocoa. She approves (or shakes her head) at art and covers I’m working on. She loves the ‘Magpie’ comic, and is a great artist and dancer at just age ten.
What do you hope for?
AB: World peace? Cue sad laughter, ‘cos that’s hardly going to happen. But I guess I always hope people will be a little nicer to one another, support others’ work and dreams, and just be … well, cool.
Do you think its ok to lie?
AB: My wife is brutally honest, and it cuts me to the quick. Telling people they’re fat if they’ve put on a couple of kilos, or saying to someone’s face that you hate their art is honest, yep, but you’re really taking a hatchet to their feelings. There’s such a thing as blunting the truth. But there is a line. Outright lying is dangerous, hurtful, and cheap. So there.
What does freedom mean to you?
AB: Something that should never be tied to the word ‘fries’. Seriously, freedom has so many meanings, and it depends on your social standing, and the country or city or society you reside in. For some people freedom is associated closely with death, which is appalling to think of in the 21st century.
Most important (personally) is freedom to explore the world, to throw off expected shackles or constraints when you ply your hand at writing, music and art. To see things outside the accepted norm. The Dadaists did that a century ago this month, going against what society expected of them, and I’m still enthralled with their work.
What beliefs do you have that you think will never change?
AB: Supporting people with their art, loving my family, hanging out gasbagging with mates, and being totally into noir, electronic music, and comics.
Do you believe in the supernatural?
AB: Nah. But a lot of Japanese are very superstitious, perhaps because of their Shintō upbringing. It’s amazing how many of my students do believe in ghosts.
Is any religious text important to you?
AB: Plundering religion for use in fiction can be fun and instructive, but for me a book is a book. Whatever people choose to believe, good on them, so long as it’s a personal thing and not used to dominate others.
What do you like the best about your body?
AB: It’s been incredibly reliable up till now, given all I’ve put it through over the years. I used to be quite proud of my bum, and got nice remarks from a girlfriend or two regarding same, but sadly it’s sagged a bit in recent times.
Who is the best teacher you have ever had?
AB: My Year 9 history teacher at Melbourne High School. I already loved history, but he was so passionate about the subject, and he shared that passion with his students in a fun, enlightening way. I still get excited about history, even if it does bore most of my friends stupid.
What was your favourite book as a child?
AB: Easy: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. Dr. Seuss’s Fox in Socks was a runner-up, alongside Hergé’s ‘Tintin’ series and 1960s ‘Fantastic Four’ comics by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
If I asked a good friend of yours what you were good at, what would they say?
AB: Writing – I hope!
What stays the same in your life, no matter how much other things change?
AB: You can’t take the Melbourne out of me, even after 15 years in Tokyo and a year in London. Let me paraphrase Peter Allen here, singing out, ‘I still call Melbourne home’ … yikes.
Andrez Bergen and Frantz Kantor’s Magpie features in Oi Oi Oi! Issue #7. On sale now ($7.95) at newsagents around the country. To find your local stockist, checkout comicoz.com. See also iffybizness.weebly.com and frantzkantor.com
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