Manawatū illustrator Deanna Gunn had been attending Armageddon as a fan since 2011 – until she started exhibiting last year. Now she’s excited to show off her work when the pop culture convention hits Palmerston North for the first time.
Under her artist name Serapheir
, Gunn creates the webcomic This Is Not The End
. The comic is a sci-fi/fantasy that follows a supernatural team of rebels fighting against their oppressive government - all while trying to work through their troublesome pasts.
Gunn’s comic earnt her nominations for Best Professional Production/Publication and Best New Talent in the 2021 Sir Julius Vogel Awards - which recognise excellence in New Zealand science fiction, fantasy, and horror works.
Gunn came up with the concept for This Is Not The End when she was in Year 10 at Manawatū College and developed it into a webcomic while studying towards a Bachelor of Creative Media
at UCOL from 2017 to 2019.
Promotional art for Deanna Gunn’s webcomic This Is Not The End.
“A lot of my UCOL assignments were based around furthering my webcomic, from character designs to concept art. Then, in my third year I made the first three episodes of the comic. It was very cool to bring it to fruition,” says Gunn.
Gunn showcased these episodes part of UCOL’s end of year exhibition at Te Manawa in 2019 and graduated as the top student in her class.
Another UCOL highlight for Gunn was being named a finalist for Weta Workshops’ Gwangmyeong Concept Design Competition
and having her entry exhibited in South Korea.
This Is Not The End has now spanned 29 episodes with over 40,000 views on platforms Tapas and Webtoons.
Gunn’s art is influenced by her love for video games, cartoons, and anime, with Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, Guild Wars, and Full Metal Alchemist among her favourites. She also takes inspiration from the New Zealand webcomic scene.
“The New Zealand webcomic scene is quite surprising. Kale de Wild is a big inspiration to me. One of the most popular webcomics online at the moment is Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe, who is a New Zealander. It’s getting a TV series, it’s got two books coming out, the popularity of it is just incredible. You go to Armageddon and you see cosplayers dressed as characters from it.”
“Countdown to Countdown, by American creator Xiao Tong Kong, has been my biggest inspiration. Xiao is a year younger than me and started while she was in high school. Her webcomic is stunning and I want to be at that level one day.”
Gunn exhibited at Wellington Armageddon for the first time in August 2020 and followed this up with Auckland in October and Wellington again this April. There she sells prints of her illustrations, zines featuring episodes of her comic and concept art, and specially-designed stickers, acrylic charms, and washi tape.
Deanna Gunn exhibiting at Wellington Armageddon in April 2021
Gunn has become a convention regular in the past year, having also sold her work at the Overload anime and manga convention in Auckland, Great Games With Pals (GGWP) in Wellington, and Palmy Zinefest.
“When I was at UCOL, I made a business plan which included exhibiting at Wellington Armageddon in 2020. I did that and it ended up being much more successful than I expected for a first time. I want to keep going to conventions for as long as I can - it’s so fun meeting other artists and interacting with people who like the stuff I’ve drawn.”
“I’ve been going to Armageddon since 2011 and have always travelled for it, so to see geek culture come to Palmy in such a big way is really exciting.”
Going forward, Gunn wants to release her webcomic as a book and expand her illustration work and product range.
“I’m drawing all of the time – you’ve got to keep momentum and always be working on something.”
See more of Deanna Gunn’s work and follow her on social media here:https://serapheir.com/ https://www.facebook.com/serapheirhttps://www.instagram.com/serapheir/https://twitter.com/serapheir