Graphic Novelists at TCAF: An Interview with Veronica Post
May 8, 2021
During the week of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival we're spotlighting a different graphic novelist every day. Today we chat with Halifax-based artist Veronica Post whose semi-autobiographical debut
Langosh and Peppi, Fugitive Days (Conundrum Press) tells the story of the 2015 European "migrant crisis" in Budapest, Hungary through the perspective of Langosh and Peppi, a vagabond and his faithful dog. Readers follow the down-on-their-luck pair through streets, alleys, tunnels, train stations, abandoned buildings, and the countryside and witness the effects of various social, political, and interpersonal situations.
Below, Veronica tells us more about her book, her every-changing influences, and how she pushes herself to be "more vulnerable without being overwhelming or self-indulgent."
All Lit Up: Can you tell us about your most recent book?
Veronica Post: My book is called Langosh and Peppi, Fugitive Days. it’s a travel and adventure story based on my experiences "travelling rough" through Hungary, Slovenia and Bosnia with someone without legal status, fleeing criminal charges. It's autobiographical fiction. The whole story hinges on uncovering the history of the settings, and the history of the characters simultaneously. The characters coming to a new understanding of themselves as they explore and meet people. It's about history, personal and political. It explores how we can't look on history as "that happened in the past." What happened in the past is influencing what is happening now, and we are constantly in touch with it, whether we are talking about social history or personal history. We need to reckon with our past, and recognize how the choices we make now will become the history we grapple with tomorrow.
ALU: What do you love about the graphic novel form?
VP: Well. I love drawing, and graphic novels allow me to create entire worlds with that; It is all encompassing. I love the feel of the pen on paper. I love the emotion of it. I think it’s a fantastic vehicle for expression, especially autobiographical storytelling. It’s got a humour to it. Often graphic novelists are perfectionists who are quite self-deprecating, sensitive types. I love that. There is a strong element of the alternative history, alternative storytelling that I am drawn to as well. Graphic novels are incredibly hard to make, so I respect the effort it takes and the mastery of style balanced with substance.
ALU: How do you approach a project/process?
VP: I do a lot of thinking and go through many variations. I relate it to shedding layers of skin. Each time I go over my storylines and my dialogue, I grow, and I get closer to what I want to say. I always push myself to be more vulnerable without being overwhelming or self-indulgent. I try to create humour where possible. What I want is for people to understand and relate, and I want it to feel realistic. Writing the story is tricky, and takes a lot of time. I have so far to go and so much to learn! Editing out what is not necessary and adding in more here and there. It's hard to know where to stop, and where to start sometimes. Dialogue that sounds real is the hardest part. The drawing is much more pleasurable. I do it and keep doing it until it’s right, until the pen is moving on its own and creating lines that I know are right, and that I find pleasure Looking at.
ALU: What are some of your influences/inspirations?
VP: I read and love so many graphic novels that my influences are constantly changing as I discover more. I like narrative fiction, auto bio or history stories. I want to connect with a character and follow a narrative arc. No matter how good the art is, I really need the story and characters to feel realistic. I want to see the characters face problems and make decisions and live real lives, even if they are in fantastical settings. My favourite re-reads are Disappearance Diary, Persepolis, Maus, Love and Rockets, the Hobtown Mysteries series, Calvin and Hobbes, Moomin, to name a few. My inspiration for my own work comes from my life experiences, travels, and relationships, and how I am affected by life events.
ALU: Did you learn anything unexpected from your recent book?
VP: I learned how to be braver. I didn't want to show much vulnerability at first, I was worried and stressed. I learned that I need to write as if it was just for me, not to worry about what others might think, and I am still working on that. But I realize now how important that is.
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Veronica Post grew up in Halifax during the 80s and 90s. She attended one year of NSCAD University before moving to Montreal, where she self-published comics, played drums in punk bands and completed her cabinetmaking diploma before following love to Europe. She is currently teaching furniture-making and drawing comics in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
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