Meet Ally Russell

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Ally moved to London from Perth, Western Australia in 2011 to study History at UCL. Since graduating, she has been working in TV journalism and PR, and drawing a 200-page comic adaptation of an ‘80s cult horror film.
ally russell passerbuys
ally russell passerbuys

On her morning routine

My morning ‘routine’ is completely disorganised. I’m typically very fuzzy-headed when I wake up, so I wander about from room to room trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing until I get a 15 minute warning from my boyfriend and hurriedly down a banana and cashew milk smoothie / cup of Aeropress coffee while applying a little BB cream to my face, a dusting of gold eyeshadow to my cheekbones (quite weird, I don’t know why I do this), and an outline of kohl eye pencil to my upper lid (or perhaps a flick of liquid liner if I know I’m going out in the evening.) Then it’s out the door where it will inevitably all melt off on the rush hour tube.

On personal style

Most of my favourite clothing items have been rehomed from family, friends, and charity shops (as high street shopping can be tricky for people of my size..), but I really like: Zara’s Trafaluc range for interesting basics; Lazy Oaf for cute and quirky pieces; Cos and Max Mara for smarter workwear; Brandy Melville for guilty pleasures; and Bad Denim in Clapton, which is owned by my friend Erin and curates the most amazing jeans, shirts, overalls, bags and accessories from the world over.

ON AFTER GRADUATION

After graduation I went straight into working at TV Guide, where I stayed for two years in the role of Deputy Editor. There I was writing features and reviews, conducting interviews with talent, reporting from awards shows and events… things like that. It was an amazing opportunity as my first job out of university, and really didn’t feel like work most of the time. I’ve now been working at AMC Networks for about six months, and am providing the sorts of services I’d previously been receiving as a journalist; so instead of attending an event I’m organising it, instead of being sent press materials I’m overseeing their strategy, production and distribution, and instead of interviewing the talent I’m arranging their schedules and making sure they’re well taken care of. It’s also an international company, which comes with the added bonus of traveling to places I’d never have otherwise dreamed of.

I’m a bit of a completist when it comes to creators, so I started out by reading everything (or at least everything that’s readily available) by Daniel Clowes, Peter Bagge, Charles Burns, Adrian Tomine, Chester Brown, Chris Ware and the Hernandez Brothers, and then moved into reading the work of younger creators like Michael DeForge, Anya Davidson, Tillie Walden, and Emily Carroll, whose careers have in many ways been facilitated by independent online publishing. I can’t say I got into making comics because I wanted to become the next Tumblr sensation or anything, but I’ve certainly been inspired by the democratic nature of small press and webcomic culture.
— on getting into comics

on her favorite comics

Perhaps my all-time favourite comic is the totally underrated series Concrete by Paul Chadwick. Published by Dark Horse throughout the ’80s and ’90s, it somehow manages to be beautifully understated, considering it follows the exploits of a man whose brain has been forcibly transplanted by mysterious alien beings into a large stone body. Whether helping out with the manual tasks on a struggling farm, or giving teams of explorers piggybacks up Mount Everest, our complex hero is always selfless, stoic and sensitive, in spite of the physical and emotional frustrations of his circumstances. My boyfriend bought me one of Chadwick’s original artworks for Christmas, as well as the most incredible, limited edition cold cast porcelain statuette, which takes pride of place in our living room. I also keep a framed portrait of Concrete on my office desk for inspiration. My friend Melanie recently alerted me to the fact that Chadwick and his wife Elizabeth (who did some of the colouring on Concrete) run a bed and breakfast in their home town of Friday Harbor, WA - it’s high on my list to go and pay a visit!

ON finding balance in work

I get very anxious when I’m not working on something creative, which became difficult when I first moved into a full time job. Then I realised I could work on making a comic by doing a panel or two in my lunch hour every day, which has become a great form of release. I decided to adapt a feature film for my first project as this would provide me with a long-term focus, and the intention was for it to be a regular drawing exercise rather than something that other people would ever see, as I’ve never really done any visual art before. To be honest I’m amazed I’ve stuck with it for this long. After two years I find myself working on page 79, which is about five sixths of the way through the movie...

Ally's favorite record

ally russell passerbuys

on working at a bigger company

TV Guide was a relatively small company where all of my colleagues sat together in the same office, whereas in my role at AMC I’m looking after a whole portfolio of channels and agencies across Europe, the Middle East and Africa - so it’s been a huge change in scope and pace! It’s been fascinating getting to know the industry from both sides, and it’s also really made me appreciate the amount of work and organisation that goes into an international entertainment company. As my colleague told me when I first joined, when you’re connecting an actor in LA with a journalist in Peru and you’re based in London, you’ve got to have your wits about you!

on her favorite musical artists

One of my favourite musical artists has always been Will Oldham, AKA Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy. I first came across him while watching the all-night alternative music programme Rage as an isolated, insomniac thirteen-year-old in Western Australia. The video for “Cursed Sleep” came on, where he plays the part of a lost human bird who gets taken in by a family out in the country. I was blown away by it. I’ve since learned Oldham is a trained actor with a number of feature films under his belt, so it makes sense that I was so moved by the performance. I saw him play with regular collaborators Matt Sweeney and the Cairo Gang last year at the beautiful Church of St John-at-Hackney, which was one of the best things I’ve ever witnessed.

on her beauty routine

In terms of beauty products, I tend to pick things purely based on how attractive I find their packaging. My current favourite skincare is from Korean brand Tony Moly, whose products look and smell like desserts. The strawberry sugar scrub has the taste and consistency of homemade jam, while the choco pore pack is like buttercream frosting. I’ve also treated myself to a handful of their animal shaped lip glosses and hand creams. They’re just adorable.

ally russell passerbuys
ally russell passerbuys

Ally's Favorite books

Eightball by Daniel Clowes

Beverly by Nick Drnaso

Alias Cat by Kim Deitch

Exit Wounds by Rutu Modan

Concrete Fragile Creature by Paul Chadwick

Ally's Favorite Places

Best Brunch: Fat Cat

Best Park: Clissold Park.

Best Coffee: TAP

Best Place to Enjoy Cocktails: Bonfire

Best Comics: Orbital and Gosh

                                      

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Photography by Alida Bea