Welcome to Mina’s Creator Spotlight: Oliver McTavish-Wisden and Matthew Nielsen

Oliver McTavish-Wisden and Matthew Nielson are two of the creators featured in our latest anthology, Welcome to Mina’s. Oliver Henry McTavish-Wisden is a New Westminster-based writer, artist and community arts programmer for the Vancouver Park Board. He really enjoys scuba diving and playing the Trumpet, but he’s kind of slow at drawing, so he finds himself collaborating well with others! Matthew Nielsen is a Canadian-British comics creator. He frequently works as writer and illustrator, either in a combined role or separately. He is currently working on a 200+ page graphic novel titled ‘Toni & Aberdeen’. I sat down with Oliver and Matthew [virtually] to get some insight into comics, diners, and the creative process.

Kathleen: What was the inspiration behind your story for this anthology?

Oliver: My story is actually based on a personal experience I had at a soup kitchen in the downtown eastside. The story is a reflection on my own preconceptions about insecurities about helping the underprivileged, and how perspectives of a shared event can differ based on one’s own personal experiences. I’m glad my characters were able to exchange their experiences like they did.

K: How did the two of you come to collaborate?

Matthew: Oliver sent out an email asking if anyone was interested in working on the project – I responded and I was fortunately chosen. So I had the honor of working with him on this project. 

O: Matthew and I have known each other for awhile, hanging out at Cloudscape meetings, and working together at some of our public events. Matthew was a huge help on the bee education comic that I helped put together last year, so I was very excited to ask him to be my artist on this book. He’s really talented and reliable.

K: What is your favourite part of the creative process?

M: Oliver was a good person to work with, and gave constructive feedback throughout the project. I quite liked being able to work on this project, taking a break from my graphic novel that I’m working on (but hitting a few walls with now and then). I really enjoy working in a team 😀

O: I loved seeing Matthew bring my story to life. Most of the credit should go to Matthew, he’s such a good artist!

K: What’s your go-to diner order?

M: This one diner I had near where I live has been torn down now, but they had a big all-day breakfast with sausages, eggs, bacon, but also they had the crispiest fried chicken I had ever had, it was fantastic! And when it’s not a diner, I’ll go and order some Chicken Karrage from an all-you-can eat that I know of – it tastes a lot like the British version of KFC, which had different flavours to the Canadian KFC. Nostalgic. Is good 😀 

O: If it’s a diner, it’s gotta be the burger and fries. No way around it, it just feels right.

K: This anthology is set in Vancouver. What’s your connection to the city? How would you describe Vancouver?

M: Vancouver is very pretty, and I find a lot of the city very enjoyable to look at. Some of the streets with a bit more grime and trash are always really nice to look at too. I like the variety of buildings, people, and places there are to choose from. My favourite experience is when you find these very snug, quiet parts in the middle of a city, like just a block or two away from Broadway-City Hall station, there’s this place that’s so secluded that I go there now and then when I pass by and just relax.

O: I’ve always lived outside the city, so I didn’t become well acquainted with it until I became an arts student at SFU. I have a lot of love for the city, it opened my world and connected me with so many new people I didn’t know I needed in my life. I’d say the city gets a bad rap for being unfriendly and dreary, but I’d say that just isn’t true. Maybe we all just look a little grim in the rain. Once we’re inside and the coats come off, you’ll find us pretty friendly.

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If you haven’t already, check out the Welcome to Mina’s KICKSTARTER!