Illustrator Anna Haifisch has taken a break from her cartoonist persona The Artist after getting “a bit bored by my own way of drawings comics,” she tells It’s Nice That. “The repetition, the panels, the word bubbles…I felt a bit tired of the medium.”
As a result Anna created Drifter a comic book of an entirely alternative medium, reverting back to the process that led to her drawing comics, printmaking. “I really started missing those days. Making Drifter felt a bit like coming home,” she explains. “Matt Davis, the mastermind behind Chicago’s Perfectly Acceptable Press contacted me to ask if I wanted to make another Riso book with him. We worked together before on a book called Don’t Worry, I was immediately down with that, because Matt is the best.” The publisher’s suggestions for Anna’s next print adventure provided the outlet she was looking for: “He fantasised about making the book big. Not a crazy amount of pages, but tall! I loved that idea and we shook hands via e-mail.”
The inspiration behind Drifter developed from a residency Anna was on during February and March in Linz, Austria. “Linz is a strange place, the residency was right next to crushing nazi architecture,” she says. “My studio was facing the Danube river and I got quite melancholic.” Consequently, Anna decided to illustrate a comic with a romantic narrative. “I always wanted to draw a love story. The book didn’t quite end up being one eventually, but that doesn’t really matter.” The illustrator imagined Holden Caulfield, J.D Salinger’s protagonist from Catcher in the Rye “returning to New York City as a young adult, I also looked at Peter Doig’s work a lot and read British love poems”. Poetry became a structure in which to develop the narrative. “I came up with this poem like text about a drifting person. Drifting seems to be a thing in the 21st century. Making decisions isn’t my generations strongest point. I am a bit of a drifter myself.”
The process in drawing Drifter took “longer than I thought,” quite apt for a publication about meandering. “I was used to drawing up to four pages a day for comic books, with Drifter I barely got one colour layer done per day. I spent a lot of time watching the ink dry.”
After two months, which is actually an impressive time to complete a whole comic within, Drifter came together. Bound with a coloured coil binding, a suggestion from Matt, Anna reflects that one of her favourite elements of the publication is “how the book turned out to be as an object,” she says. “Floppy and oversized – a shelf nightmare!”
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.