“I am a lot better at conveying emotions and personality when animal people are involved” B. Mure on the mysterious world of Ismyre

An artist struggling with missing sculptures, flowers exploding out of buildings courtesy of some eco-anarchist and mysterious singing neighbours. These are the stars of the debut graphic novel from B.Mure that was released by Avery Hill at the Bristol Comics and Zine Fair in October. We catch up with B to find out the secrets of the wonderful world of Ismyre.

Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration for Ismyre, was it missing artefacts in your home, exploding plants or mysterious singing neighbours that started it off?

B.Mure: While I am very good at losing things and destroying plants, it was actually based off a weird city I’ve been imagining since I was about 15, the floral paintings of Rachel Ruysch and this story from a workshop at university which you can see here

Was it important for you to use anthrpomorphiosed characters or is that just the kinds of characters you like to draw? (After a few pages I almost forgot that they even were animals, it was so engrossing!)

BM: They are just the kind of characters I draw! I initially thought that there might be peoples and animals in the comic, but honestly it just ended up being easier for me. I am a lot better at conveying emotions and personality when animal people are involved.

The idea of the eco-anarchists and the exploding plants feels like a very powerful one, do you consider this to be a politcal book or are they a means to and end for your story? 

BM: It is only really political in the same sense that everything around us is political in some way (and I think of the back drop of the political atmosphere as much the same that we have our own personal adventures and mysteries, but the politics around us does not cease). I think of the eco-anarchists much more as a bunch of rowdy activists.

As a location, Ismyre has a very European feel and it has quite a bohemian sensibility to it, is there a particular place in time you are setting the story or are you inspired by places and times that you love?

BM: I’m bad at placing things, time wise! But it’s definitely inspired by a mishmash of European architecture. I like the feeling you get when you’re somewhere unfamiliar, with different buildings. I always pay attention to things more.

You do a great job of capturing the frustrations of an artist (and also their ability to get distracted by other endeavours when a deadline approaches) do you find yourself getting caught in those same traps? Or are you quite disciplined? 

BM: Haa! I’m not actually sure, it’s very hard to truthfully know what you’re like. I think I flip flop a lot. I can be super disciplined but the cost of that is I forget to take breaks and then spend a week hiding in a cave, replaying pokemon and eating wotsits.

Can you tell us a bit about your process? I’m assuming it’s all hand drawn and hand coloured and not digital? 

BM: Yes! I sketch a page, shove it on a light box and ink it, then use watercolour on top of lines. I just typed that out and realise I feel so lucky that I never screwed up colouring the lines. Damn.

How important is colour to your work, you have a really distinctive use of colour throughout, is there a pattern or structure to it?

BM: I’ve actually always been hesitant about using much colour. Avery Hill left the choice with me, so I nearly did the whole thing in black and white and then decided to give myself a shove. There’s no structure! Only, “I think this might look okay here so I’ll go for it…”

How did you come to be involved with Avery Hill? Did you pitch them a finished book or did they come to you about collaborating?

BM: Ricky Miller asked me to do a commission based on Metroland about 6 years ago (I think we found each other at a Thought Bubble long ago) and we’ve kept in touch a bit! Then a few years later he asked me to do a back up strip in Metroland #3, illustrated by Julia Scheele, then earlier this year pretty much said, “pitch us a book then” and that is what happened.

Will you be returning to Ismyre for future stories or was this just a one off for you?

BM: I definitely have schemes for a few more books!

You can purchase Ismyre from the Avery Hill Store for £14.99 and find out more about Bethan’s work at bmurecreative.co.uk