Indie Interviews – AOGunnoo
This week we sit down and talk to the one and only AOGunnoo. If you like comics, and we’re sure you do, you’ll want to take a peek at what AOGunnoo is up to.
What was your reason for getting into comics? That is, how did you end up involved in comics?
It was actually accidental. I was submitting my book to publishers under the category of ‘children’s book’. From their feedback, I was told that my book was too expensive to print due to all the color pages and the sheer length of the book. They felt my book was more in-line with a ‘graphic novel’. Immediately I ‘googled’ graphic novel publishers. I began submitting to comic publishers and within two weeks I was signed by Markosia Entertainment. There began my foray into the comic industry and the rest is history! Although I do hope this is just the start.
Who would you say is your comic book inspiration as a writer? As an artist?
I would say as a writer I draw inspiration from Roald Dahl. I love how he could make what may seem ordinary appear extraordinary, such as that of a child’s life. He used simple, witty and clever storytelling to make things seem all the more special. I was also inspired by Hergé the author/illustrator of the TinTin series. In some ways, I like to draw comparisons with Hergé, as my book uses humor whilst subtly touching on global issues.
Before comics, what did you do? If you’re still doing it, what are you doing?
This is my first venture into the comic industry. At present, I work as a Community Psychiatric Nurse. Creative Writing has always been a passion of mine and I hope to continue writing and making illustrated novels.
What was your first work in comics like?
I can say that having known very little about comics but just diving straight in has been a wondrous adventure. It is lovely to see other like-minded people apply their craft.
When submitting to agents/publishers, I learned something very powerful that I believe the comic industry is a leader in. I obviously submitted my manuscript to English speaking agents and publishers but what I learned about illustrations is that they are a universal language and thus you can reach the entire world with your message. It has been lovely to see the genius of artists and writers from around the globe. I definitely have more than enough inspiration for my sequel.
How many years have you been working in comics?
Only a few months.
Tell me a little bit about your work. Where does it draw inspiration from? Where do you come up with your ideas?
This book tells the story of Zach and his family, who head out on a holiday to Australia. However, almost as soon as they touch down in the land down under, things start going terribly wrong. Zach’s dad disappears at the airport, leaving behind a boat ticket and a seemingly random pile of items. It soon becomes evident that Zach’s dad has been kidnapped, and that it’s all somehow tied up with the return of the famous Nanga Mai Boomerang, an Australian event that’s managed to capture worldwide attention.
Keeping his wits about him, Zach must now go on an epic journey, following clues and solving mysteries as he and his mum gather knowledge about his dad’s whereabouts. Trekking through exotic locations, facing perilous dangers, and (of course) solving the most terrific puzzles, Zach learns a lot about both his family and himself as they continue on their extraordinary adventure across the outback.
I started writing this as a personal story for my son, and it has since grown into a much longer tale than I’d anticipated, taking some details from our family life and fictionalizing them into an epic adventure with lots of twists and turns. This book not only looks at the dynamics of a small family with an only child but also at much larger topics, such as the relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in Australia, as well as the universal notions of love and friendship.
My book/work mainly draws inspiration from my life, growing up in Australia. I always grew up in a multicultural community. I had a fascination for cultures and indigenous cultures. As someone with dyslexia/ADHD, I was quite observant of the world around me as that was my main resource for learning as opposed to my school education. I have a passion for wondering and my ideas come from the people around me, their stories. I love to learn about other people and always wonder, is there another story or adventure behind what they are telling me.
Who have you worked alongside in the industry?
At the moment only my publisher, Harry Markos and Ian Sharman (Chief-in-Editor).
Growing up, who is your favorite character or team? Who is it now?
I would definitely have to say TinTin and his pet dog Snowy. It actually still is now!
Do you have any advice for a new writer or artist who is just getting into the business?
What I have learned very quickly, is that it is important to be yourself and be true to yourself. When one thinks of the word ‘business’ it is very easy to get caught up in trying to put on various personas when networking or marketing. However, if you know who you are and highlight your strengths, these will come across to others. Your honesty and candidness can be attractive features.
Where do you see your work taking you?
My book has a large human element to it, covering significant and important topics such as family dynamics, indigenous peoples of the world and multi-culturalism. I also have ADHD and dyslexia. In this sense, I see my work being a way forward to hopefully reach out to these communities and inspire and support them in any way I can. I hope to continue writing/illustrating further books that work in this way.
What are you up to next?
I am already working on the sequel, so we will have to see where Zach’s adventures take him next.
Where do you see the direction of the comic industry heading in 20 years?
I believe that the comic market will grow incredibly over the next 20 years. I believe that illustrated books in general have been lost and that this style is really only maintained in children’s pictures books. I think Comics have taken over larger illustrated books through the development of graphic novels. In this way, the comic market is opening and more and more comics are being turned into films, which in reverse will bring film viewers to the comics.
How can people get hold of you?
Via my social media accounts:
- Twitter @ AOGunnoo
- Instagram @AOGunnooza
- Tumblr @AOGunnoo
- YouTube (Zach’s Adventure AOG)
- LinkedIn A.O. Gunnoo
Where can we buy and/or see your work?
My book is available for pre-order. The official launch will be June 20 and publication will be on July 9th. To pre-order a copy, you can click on these links:
- Browns Books for Students
- Browns & Noble
- Book Depository
- Books etc
AOGunnoo, any last words for the industry?
I truly believe that with the advancement of technology, gaming, and social media that the comic industry is really in the perfect position to access a wider audience. Comics have the ability to give that instant feedback, which can appeal to many people. Lastly, working in comics is a lot of work but actually a hell of a lot of fun and if you’re having fun then, work doesn’t seem like work at all!
A Little History
Seven years ago, AOGunnoo made the big move from Australia to London, where he now lives and work as a Community Psychiatric Nurse. His partner and he have a wonderful baby boy, who was my inspiration for writing Zach in The Land Down Under. He comes from a mixed-race, multi-cultural background, which was something he wanted to include in the story, helping to teach children about different countries and cultures.
Whilst completing this puzzle adventure book AOGunnoo became aware that I was dyslexic and had ADHD, so this project was a personal triumph for him, not only in completing it but also in unlocking the ultimate puzzle that was his life.