Q&A with author and illustrator Ellie Crewes
When did you first start illustrating? I know it’s a big cliché, but I’ve illustrated stories for as long as I can remember. As early as when I was 5 years old I would draw pictures from the books that my parents were reading to me, like My Naughty Little Sister. As I started reading books myself such as A Series Of Unfortunate Events and Coraline, I continued to make my own pictures for them. I was a voracious reader as a child and loved the worlds that storytelling took me to, and always wanted to get those stories down on paper in drawings.
When did you realise you wanted to make comics? I came out as gay when I was 21, in my last year of university studying illustration. It was a really happy time for me and I felt really good! But it was also a bit weird because being suddenly so happy made me seriously question why I hadn’t come out sooner. That’s where the idea came from for my first comic The Times I Knew I Was Gay – that was initially a series of handmade and self-published zines. And because I’d been reading comic books since I was about 8, comics felt like a very natural medium for me to tell my story.
Ellie as drawn by Ellie
What did you want to create with Summer With You? Although my initial interest started in fantasy and the supernatural, I’ve come to love writing about my own life and the relationships within it. Autobiographical comic writing is exciting because I can share an experience which is often underrepresented or told by someone else. With this comic I tell a very real story about my experiences of summer, both through my memories of being a child in Italy and also very recent recollections of spending time with my girlfriend in London. In Summer With You these two narratives happen at the same time, and text and image contrast to give you past and present at once.
What does summer mean to you? Summer is a mixture of what’s in my comic and also a big plate of pasta in the garden with my family. Buon appetito!
If Ellie's comic has inspired you to jump on a bike and illustrate your own summer adventures, cycle through our collection of personalised sketchbooks.