Season of the Witch — Check Out Megg & Mogg (and Anything Else Simon Hanselmann Does)

Halloween season is a great excuse to check out a witch-centric comic, Megg, Mogg & Owl. Not that Megg’s witchiness has much to do with the events of the comics, which creator Simon Hanselmann describes as “usually straight auto-bio” (and adds “I am usually dressed as a witch when I am around the house”).

Gorgeous, often unsettling cartooning, rife with stoner/lush humor, it stands with the best of alternative comix in challenging sensibilities in ways that can make you laugh or disturb you. It’s largely an unsentimental and sometimes torturous look at life through the lens of Megg, a witch (complete with long nose, green skin, and pointy hat), Mogg, a cat, and a doormat of an anthropomorphic owl called Owl, among others.

“The early strips are about youth and insular, selfish worlds; escapism through drugs and suburban adventure,” Hanselmann said. “The newer strips are about the realization of finite time, the horror of being trapped in a human body, and how hard change is. Also it is supposed to be funny.”

And it is. Amidst the supernatural window dressing, there’s an abundance of genuineness in Hanselmann’s work — from the way Megg carries herself or dresses, the way the characters just lounge around, to how Megg and Mogg mercilessly pick on Owl, to the ways they interact with the environment at large.

“The characters are just actors,” Hanselmann adds. “Anybody could play these roles. but those guys got the job.”

Hanselmann, who was born and raised in Tasmania, shares he’s a “proud high school dropout,” and that his “formal training” as an artist was “hanging out and smoking pot with dudes who were older than me and being shown cool stuff and trying to rip it off.”

His influences (“in order from 5-30 years old”) are: “Garfield, Spiderman, early 90’s Nickelodeon, Hate, Eightball, pot, Twin peaks, Small Press, pot, Fort Thunder, pot, Tumblr, Garfield.”

Hanselmann currently resides “on the ‘mainland’ in Melbourne,” Australia, which he says is “much less inbred and depressing” than where he grew up.

“I really, really hate Tasmania,” says Hanselmann. “I actually just spent almost a month down there having to detox my mother, who’d gotten into a bit of ‘trouble’… it was horrible. My hometown is full of people who look like they were designed by Charles Burns.”

Hanselmann, who says that he’s been drawing comics since the age of five and self-publishing since he was eight, attributes his artistic endeavors to growing up in this environment.

“I had a choice growing up in Tasmania: Become a ‘queer art-nerd’ and not leave the house OR get into petty fights, work at a petrol station and have a litter of ugly children,” he says. “I chose housebound nerd. Am still happy with that decision.”

Megg, Mogg & Owl, as well as examples and links to Hanselmann’s other work, can be seen online at his Tumblr, Girl Mountain. He also contributes to Comics Workbook, among other outlets.

In terms of physical books, Hanselmann says that he’s stopped making zines for now, but is “in the middle of negotiating book deals and stuff.”

“Hopefully a substantial collection should be out next year sometime,” he says. “Right now aside from the Tumblr stuff, I’ve got some shit on Vice and a new mini-comic from Space Face Books, I’m in the new issue of Gang Bang Bong, hopefully in the next Smoke Signal (all that stuff is coming out at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Fest on November 10th). There’s other stuff too, weird sounding European newspapers, French Megg and Mogg, erotic posters. Right now I’m working on a lot of stuff with my BFF, HTML Flowers. Promo booklets for festivals, animation pitches, art shows. The windows are wide open and the curtains are billowing in the breeze.”

Check out Megg & Mogg and Hanselmann’s other projects at girlmountain.tumblr.com — highly recommended.

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