A question of taste: Fiona Boniwell

Fiona Boniwell is an illustrator from London, but is now living in Kinsale where she will be one of the participants in the Co Cork town’s Words By Water literary festival over the weekend. Fiona originally studied fine art, but got into comic illustration when she first collaborated with writer Brendan O’Connell on the graphic novel Death’s New Lease on Life. The duo are currently working on the follow-up, Cerberus’ New Trick.

Fiona Boniwell
Fiona Boniwell

Best recent book you’ve read: Homo Deus and Wonder.

Best recent film you’ve seen: Dumbo (Tim Burton’s).

Best recent show or gig you’ve seen: A few years back but… The Selector at the Pavilion in Cork. Pauline Black’s performance was amazing.

Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately (new or old): ‘Long Live the Chief’ by Jidenna.

First ever comic book or graphic novel that really moved you: Bella at the Bar annual about an impoverished girl overcoming the odds to achieve her ambition to become a gymnast. Loved that. It was published in the 1970s so it was pretty dark; however, the character of Bella was very inspiring.

The best gig or show you’ve ever seen (if you had to pick one!): Tricky at Shepherd’s Bush c1997. He did an encore and we were among the few that stayed long enough to see it — no-one thought he would.

Tell us about your TV viewing: The Boys, Sinner, Marvel Netflix originals, Seven Seconds, When They See Us (deeply affected by that), Game of Thrones, Family Guy. So boxsets, I guess, plus movies and documentaries. I don’t have much time for TV, but Come Dine With Me and Ninja Warrior, and Sin City Motors for mindless but fun distraction.

Radio listening and/or podcasts: Paul McLoone Today FM, 6FM on Sundays.

Your best celebrity encounter: When I was a student working at the Chelsea Conrad Hotel as a waitress, Howard Keel aka Wild Bill Hickok from Calamity Jane, aka Clayton Farlow in Dallas, aka Hollywood royalty was a guest. I served him the ‘Texan’ breakfast (steak and eggs) and he told me to, “Just lay it down on the table, ma’am.” That was funny! I’m still starstruck.

You can portal back to any period of human cultural history or music event — where, when, and why?

At the moment, am fascinated by lunar landings of the 1960s and the excitement that created. But I also would love to visit Ireland when the Celts were in charge of things.

What are your three favourite pieces of book/comic illustration?

Fiona Staples work on Saga. Jim Lee on everything I’ve seen him do, most notably Hush; Bernie Wrightson’s work on Frankenstein.

Unsung hero — individual or group you think don’t get the praise they deserve: Animal welfare shelters would be one

You are queen for a day — what’s your first decree?

Be kind; read widely and often. Reading can help a lot with the first thing.

On Sunday, Fiona Boniwell will be in attendance at the Graphic Book Fair at the Philip Gray Studio with a host of other comic creators as part of Words by Water, Kinsale’s Literary Festival. For other events over the weekend, see www.wordsbywater.ie

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