We’re hugely excited to announce that artist and writer Toby Morris is the latest addition to team Spinoff. Below, the Pencilsword creator (and one half of op-ed duo Toby & Toby, along with Spinoff veteran Toby Manhire) introduces his new project. But first, editor Duncan Greive welcomes him aboard.
Ever since The Spinoff started, I’ve had a list in my head of people we’d love to work with. And ever since we started, Toby Morris has been at or near the top. The Pencilsword, his work for The Wireless, was a cannonball ripping through an issue, over and over again. During its three year run he created what felt – to me at least – like a whole new genre unto himself: a fusion of journalism, commentary and visual storytelling which seared itself into your memory and helped clarify previously scattered thoughts. So when we heard he wanted to do a new project, and do it with us, there was never any question that we would grab the chance with both hands. It debuts later this week, and we couldn’t be more excited. Read on for Toby’s explanation about what he’s got planned.
I love it when people think comics are trash. That they’re low-brow, for kids, for illiterate weirdos. They’re on the side eye list.
And they’re missing out: for years I’ve been banging on about the potential of non-fiction comics as a really effective way of talking about serious things. There’s something special about the combination of words and images that lets you explore rational and emotional messages simultaneously and get to the heart of issue in a clear and personal way. In short, you can talk about what something is and why you should care at the exact same time, in a way anyone can understand. Information about ‘serious things’ is often intimidating, cold and never ending. Comics are approachable, human and succinct. Bam.
For the last three years I was lucky to get do that with The Pencilsword. Over 40 comics I covered everything from domestic violence, inequality, anxiety and house prices to filter bubbles, homelessness, renter’s rights and how I just really love swimming.
But after three years I felt like I needed a change, so I’m really excited about joining The Spinoff. It felt like something that’s been a long time coming – the fresh perspective, the quality of the writing and the mix of serious and ridiculous all made the site feel like home as a reader. I’m a fan, basically.
So here’s my contribution. The Side Eye is about casting a sceptical (but hopefully not cynical) eye on the changing world around us. A way of taking all the little things that make us say ‘eh?’ and looking a little closer. And these days there are plenty of things to question: Climate change, inequality, shifting attitudes about sexuality, health, diversity, the workplace. How we use technology. How we process history. In the end I want it to be about how we treat each other. Where we’re going, and why.
I hope The Side Eye can be a little looser too – both in format and in content. I don’t know all the answers. I possibly don’t know any of them. But I want to try things and ask questions and look closer. Laugh when things deserve to be laughed at and point an angry finger from time to time.
Let’s do the side eye at this!
The first episode of The Side Eye is out later this week.
Join The Spinoff Members for as little as $1 to help us hire more journalists and do more investigations. Or get a free Toby Morris-designed tea towel when you contribute $80 or more over a year.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.