The last comic Renouf drew in 1991: "….oh, that’s right…looking at my archive I noticed that this cartoon was the last that I completed in 1991…I stopped drawing ….I think my enthusiasm wained because it didn’t feel like my “art” was going anywhere and it most definitely wasn’t going to feed me…."
I drew a lot as a kid. Mum encouraged us to amuse ourselves with pencils & paper. Country kids can be a little isolated, you can't just nip round the corner to a mates. It's bike ride or a car trip away, it's draw or fight with your kid brother and you can only fight with that little shit for so long before you get separated and sent somewhere to amuse yourself, by yourself.... right?. I was kinda the class illustrator, best with a pencil, it was how I won friends and influenced people. I can't remember ever attempting anything sequential till I moved to Dunedin in '85 but did a lot of school book defacing with word balloons and my school projects were also very well turned out. I wrote tons of stories all thru primary/intermediate (one school for country kids) very active imagination, again I think the isolation helped (or was that solitary confinement, see :- fighting with bro'....)
Emery: Who were the first cartoonists you met in Dunedin? Were you aware of others making comics in New Zealand at the time?
Renouf: I came to Dunedin in late 1984 with the intention of forming a band with a mate who was coming down to Uni' and being a cartoonist. In about 1981/82, after a break from comics of a couple of 3 years (puberty!), I'd started getting 2000ad on a weekly basis again and had also discovered the Bijou book of Funnies compendium of US underground cartoonists at Pauls University book shop on Victoria St. My first inkling that comics didn't have to be all about superheroes or white (?) jungle savages, Crumb, Shelton etc...mmmm...I'd been carrying a note book around for awhile whilst I was still in Hamilhole...largely using it to write "songs", angsty punk rock poetry & doodle in, but nothing particularly sequential was going into it.
The first cartoonist I met was Bruce Mahalski...in fact Bruce was the first cartoonist I'd met ever...(I won't count meeting Ronken, the Waikato Times political cartoonist at a school fair when I was maybe 10...as I was unable to speak to him at all because of AWE... !...) Bruce helped me get my cartoons into Critic, the Otago University Student Newspaper. I was vaguely aware of Bob Scotts "every secret thing" fanzine/comic but didn't really meet anyone else who aspired to draw comics for quite some time after that. I picked up Razor at the Uni book shop (Dunedin)...but I think I was in Chris Knox's Jesus On A Stick first...it's all a bit blurry for me.
I should probably mention that I had no clue whatsoever how to put together comics when I first arrived down here, even at a strip level and got very few pointers from those around me, apart from the dimensions I had to fill!...(which probably led to my publishing catch cry of, "Just fill the space!"). My first "published" cartoon (waiter there's a skinhead in my soup) was actually photocopied and individually taped on poster spots around town like a band poster run. We even got stopped by the cops who asked us what our band was called, "It's not a band officer, its a cartoon" says I, handing a copy through the open window. Hur! Hur! says the cop and hands it over to his driver...Hur! Hur! says the driver, they sent us on our way after explaining that it was illegal to post bills, (but it's not a bill officer...). Years later I was recounting this story at the table of a Uni' Prof' who'd invited my good friend Dee (the long suffering) and her workmates and partners up to his for a feed. The partner who was a cop (and a quiet broody one at that) piped up and said the cartoon in question had graced the station notice board until it was too faded to read!! After a few months of sifting about I secured a position at Budget print...a 3rd generation family run print shop...with the express purpose of furthering my knowledge of how to make comics....what was the question?...