Like this page?
Send it to a friend!
Suzy has always loved drawing
Suzy Varty's early love of cartoons and comics developed into a successful career.
Think of comics and more than likely the first that springs to mind will be something like the Beano or The Dandy.
But comics aren't just for kids.
Suzy Varty is a cartoonist and has been fascinated with comics all her life.
One frame of Suzy's RaW comic
"I always drew comics from when I was really, really young," she says. "I was very keen on Rupert. I used to write stories and then I would illustrate them a la Rupert Bear. Then I made little books and stitched them together at the sides."
Suzy, who was born in Gateshead, also kept a visual diary for several years, filling little sketch books with drawings and cartoons (but not doodles - that word is one of her pet hates!)
From those early days of Rupert, Suzy, 58, moved on to work on an underground newspaper in Birmingham in the 1970s with other artists in the city at that time, and started producing comics for people in the UK and abroad.
Pretty quickly she was making a living doing the thing she loved - making comics - and she still is today.
Now living back in the North East, in Jesmond Vale, Suzy works with a huge range of people.
"I've done a lot of stuff working with young people. I've done issue based comics, comic workshops, all manner of stuff using the medium really.
"I've done artist residencies, a lot of social art and social justice [work]."
It's clear that Suzy's love of the medium has not diminished over the years.
"It's a fabulous medium, really fantastic," she enthuses. "You can draw a face with two dots and a couple of U shapes and you can go on and on ad infinitum.
"Using those same elements you can show someone being very happy, you can show someone being embarrassed... surprised, angry. You can get such a lot of expression into a very basic drawing.
"And then of course you get the opportunity to either contradict or amplify what you've said using the text and speech balloons. So I like the marriage of text and drawing."
Suzy uses pen to draw her cartoons
Suzy is currently working on a comic for RaW, the BBC's reading and writing campaign, on the theme of post-natal depression, and gets really annoyed when people assume all comics are comic.
"The other thing that's really good about comics is that you can do things on very sensitive subjects and it marries really well with the medium.
"Comics don't have to be funny, they can be hugely informative."
Though Suzy's art has become her work, it is still also her pleasure. The walls of the house are hung with collages and big, bold, abstract paintings she has done. They're a million miles from the drawings in her comics and deliberately so.
"The other things I'm doing apart from comics I think are to do with comics being very controlled," she explains.
Suzy's office/studio is full of comics
"[With comics] You've got to get the right people in the right places, the right text in the speech balloon, everything in the right order. If you're going to colour it on the computer all your lines need to join up so you don't flood the colour.
"It's real kind of nit-picking stuff. So the collage work and the paint and printing has all been about texture and colour, which is kind of the missing element of comics."
When she's on a roll, Suzy says the words and pictures "all just drop from the sky" but she does occasionally get writing - and drawing - block.
"Some days it just flows but other times it's like pulling teeth," she says.
"[Drawing] feels like work sometimes but I do enjoy it. I'd rather be doing this than working down the pit!"
last updated: 23/04/2008 at 16:01