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IZM Interviews: Cath Garvey (Job Haunting)

Hi Cath, Happy International Zine Month! How is life going at the moment? For people who don’t know you, can you tell me a bit about yourself?

Hi Vicky! I’ve been keeping myself busy, thankfully. I’m a Liverpool Illustrator who makes comics and zines on aliens, ghosts and self-help.

The zine of yours, Job Haunting, that we put out via Pen Fight Press, is a comic about a ghost who’s job hunting. What inspired that zine, and why did you make your main character a ghost?

My circumstances inspired my zine, I lost my job and went on Universal credit after University. I was frustrated and tired by how I was treated so I made short comics to vent. The character is a ghost because it was how I felt at the time and my state of mind. Also, constant movement and shakiness the ghost has  best shows how unstable the whole situation feels.

You recently adapted the zine into a short animation – can you tell me more about the process of creating the animation and the release of it?

I pitched the zine to BBC New Creatives to help me develop and offer funding to animate it. I got it, went up to Newcastle, met the other film makers who also received the funding and then I went on holiday. Because of Brexit.

When I got back from Holiday, I spent a lot of time on the script, which had 8 drafts by the end. I found it pretty hard to keep everyone happy, while also keeping my message honest. New Creatives introduced me to Fettle Animation, who were great to work with and taught me a lot. They animated most of the scenes, while I worked on the office scenes and graveyard.  

a scene from Job Haunting

The best part of making my animation was the voice actresses, I wanted my ghost to be played by a Liverpool actress. And it was really hard to find an actress that was from Liverpool. A lot of talent agencies don’t hire people from Liverpool and when they do, they’re encouraged to lose the accent completely. It took a while to find the right person, to the point I was certain we won’t find anyone. Then Fettle Animation found Katie George, who did an amazing job and was exactly the voice I needed. And I’m so so so glad I insisted on having a Liverpool voice, it really wouldn’t have been the same if I went with any other accent.

a still from the animation of Job Haunting.

After that it was 2 months straight of animating, which I was ill for most of it. Once done we sent it off to the BBC. The animation aired on BBC Four on a show called Get Animated.                   

You also teach comic-making workshops, what kind of responses have people had to being introduced to comic making? Have you been able to adapt to teaching in our current social-distancing time?

I love teaching and I love seeing what people come up with. I grew up with not knowing anything about DIY zine culture or even the suggestion that I could make money from art. So running workshops in my area for kids is really important to me. Often people are impressed by making mini zines, which is fun to see. I’ve been running workshops over Zoom the past few weeks, which I was really nervous about. I’m usually camera shy so running a workshop over video was daunting at first. But the workshops have gone really well and I can confidently say I will be running more Zoom workshops in the future.  I also want to keep them free, so applying for funding is the next step at the moment.

Money is one of the biggest barriers for people wanting to learn something new or even to have fun. I want my workshops to be accessible to everyone and it’s something I want to continue to do.

You’ve created a few stories about working class experiences and characters – do you find comics and animations a good medium for sharing those stories? Have there been any challenges to you as a working-class creative freelancer?

a page from Job Haunting.

 I’d say comics is better than animation- unless you have full control in what you animate. With animation things can be edited and cut, while comics are much rawer and you can go dive deeper into the subject.         

I found it/still find it hard as a working class creative.  After University, I desperately wanted to work in an animation studio. I reached out to numerous studios for work experience and none of them ever got back in touch. It is simply who you know and I didn’t know them. I ended up giving up on that approach and just focused on smaller ways I could make money from my art while also working in hospitality. I also got to the point where I couldn’t work for nothing, I needed income and internships/work experience wasn’t something I was comfortable doing anymore.

But I did finally get my first big art job running workshops over the summer for a gallery and I’ve been gradually receiving more and more work since then.  But don’t get me wrong, I applied for many art opportunities before then and I also moved back to my parents. Thanks to moving back home, I had time to work on my art practice and I didn’t need to be working a job I hated to keep a roof over my head. A lot of successful artists have savings to help them to develop their art and allow time for them to become established.

What inspires your work more broadly? What’s your favourite kind of project to work on?

I love comedy and I’m obsessed with watching Trixie and Katya at the moment, they’re both drag queens who have a show called UHNHhhh on Youtube. They are so so so funny. I find my sense of humour and timing to be pretty good and that’s thanks to the things I watch and the people around me. 

I recently worked on a gardening comic/guide for a local art organisation, Heart of Glass. I made a comic where a Bee basically bullies a person to grow plants. I love working on projects that I can give on odd spin on, whilst making it educational.

from Cath’s comic for Heart of Glass.

Do you have any tips you can share – on making comics or getting into freelancing?

You need to think out the box sometimes and be open to try new things. I’d say if you’re starting off you probably need to be working part time whilst freelancing as freelancing has its dry spells. Ultimately, be true to yourself, your beliefs and channel that into your work.

And finally, don’t beat yourself up for not getting regular work. It doesn’t make you any less of an artist or creator.-

Can you share some of your favourite things from the zine world?

Check out Rooted Zine! It’s a zine supporting Black creatives and they are really passionate. I met the Co-founder Amber Akaunu whilst in Newcastle, and turned out we are both Liverpool girls. They’ve just brought out a new issue so go support them!!!

Do you have any recommendations you want to share?

I’m working on growing food at the moment, I want to grow pumpkins so I can make my own pumpkin pie from scratch in the autumn. I advise people to give gardening a try, it really helps you mentally and it’s really rewarding to eat fresh veg and fruit you’ve grown yourself!

Do you have any projects you’re working on right now that you’d like to tell people about?

I will be posting a comic I’m working on with my sister in August. It’s a story about an alien fanatic and an alien in disguise. It’s a series that’s both funny and a bit sad at times. The comic will be posted on my Instagram, so go give me a follow.

Is there anything else you’d like to promote?

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter with the handle cath_garvey.

I’m available to run workshops, editorial work, animation jobs and comic work. I’m a jack of all trades. If you want to pop me the question here’s my email:

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IZM Interviews: Cath Garvey (Job Haunting)

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