Mandy Ord on Writing...

"So here is a go at talking about my methods of going about doing a comic.

In terms of auto-bio of course I watch closely life events that particularly resonate as a good story to me. Usually it is something a bit quirky or poignant that I find myself telling repetitively to my friends/family/acquaintances. I will tell the story so much that I will get it down to a fine art form in that way (though not ALL stories are told, but I will go over it myself in my head).

Once I am hooked on the story I will attempt to put it down in writing.
Usually in a point form, free form writing/very messy .. I will throw in appropriate dialogue on the side. I usually don't take this part too seriously as I know it will be reworked...this allows a space to not feel pressured to have to write anything perfect first attempt. I am doing this I will get mental pictures and if some are particularly interesting I will do a quick doodle of them to capture expression and background...

I get a lot of mental images of what I want to see on the paper and the trick is to transfer that through the hand as close to possible what I imagined. So once I have a rough story I then re-write a few times, editing intuitively...You know it when something sounds crap, it's like you get a discomfort in your entire body.

Also as I am drawing, panel by panel I can always tell an image that I am going to scrap by the way i feel when i am drawing it.
If I have re-drawn a panel a number of times and still find myself frustrated I am content with the fact that it wasn't meant to be. I get a huge amount of pleasure from drawing comics and if I find myself sitting at my desk frustrated and distracted then I
figure I should maybe try something else to give that feeling the boot. A bit of frustration is normal but I don't think artists should sit and feel continuously tormented for their art, I see it as something that is meant to feel good to do and if it doesn't feel good then something must be wrong. So this plays a huge role in my editing and story writing process. I guess I don't intellectualise things much or over analyse or get too technical, I pretty much go on intuition and feeling.

I struggle a lot with ways of using words as a storytelling technique in comics. I think my strength is the visual storytelling, so I am always trying to decide if I have commentary or if I just use dialogue to move the story forward.

I like Julie Doucet's comics where she uses just the tiniest bits of commentary ( I am mainly thinking of her graphic novel 'MY New York Diary when I say this).. and then there is Chester Brown and Joe Matt who use mainly dialogue...I worry that i don't give readers enough info about the character and situation. That means a lot of pressure is put on the dialogue and facial expression to show the depth of the inner workings of the individual. But I have to say I like a bit of mystery in storytelling, I like a balance of having something given to me at the same time as something kept hidden Hidden for me to work out the situation in contrast to my own experience of the world.

I found that as I was drawing 'Rooftops' that the story became quite organic as I went along. Over the 6 months I did it I found that how I felt each day somehow steered the direction of the story ever so slightly. The original idea took on new meaning with the constant changing circumstance whirling around me on the outer life. So it was kinda weird as the story is set over a few days/week..but the creation of that was over a period of 1/2 a year…so in some ways the story has to reflect a whole day as a microcosm of something much bigger.."

you can see more of Mandy's brilliant work here and also keep an eye out for her just published book 'Rooftops'


  1. OMG I just read Rooftops and I must say I was impressed, esp as Im not a comic type reading person at all, I came across it in the library and read it like in 20 mins.......I liked that it was Australia based and also thought provoking and I must say quite random......but def worth a read....if only to ponder over the drawings and the greater meaning of life etc....must congratulate the writer.......its really good!!~ *your now Brisbane fan*


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