Sonique; the life and art of Dr Sonique (the Graphic Novel)

Sonique; the Life and Art of Dr.Sonique, is the authorised biography of Dr. Nigel Helyer in the form of a speculative fiction Graphic Novel. The work is a collaboration between Sydney-based comic writer Mark Hobby, the Taiwan-based graphic designer The Milkman, and Dr. Sonique himself who provided copious amounts of factual, anecdotal, and totally fictional biographical information in the form of notes, audio files, and images. Production, logistics, and communication in Taiwan were handled by Hsiao-Chi Yang and Winnie Lin.

Making Plans for Nigel…

An afterword by Mark Hobby:

It started out simple enough. Australia Day, 2009. A little gathering. Some small talk. Me, having written some comics. Nigel, with a thought. A graphic novel telling of his life. Was I interested?

Sure. The usual rookie pluck. No idea what I was getting myself into. Eleven years later, I have a notion. Re-writes, research, and interviews. Not everyone made it, of course. Two graphic artists came and went. Lost to illness or scheduling conflicts. I kept writing, researching, and interviewing. Just in case. Third time lucky the art came, in deceptively simple but beautiful lines.

Won’t lie. Felt sometimes like chucking it in. No doubt Nigel felt the same, though his enthusiasm would drag me along. That, and my own bloody-minded stubbornness. Get it done. Finish it.

The tricky thing though, chronicling a life. Particularly one as full and varied as Nigel’s. Erasure is there by design. Things inevitably get left out. Or favoured at the expense of other things. And not everyone will agree with the narrative. Biography is, after all, interpretive. For those familiar with Nigel’s work this will perhaps seem fitting; for those who are not, after reading, perhaps you’ll find yourself persuaded. Naturally, any errors sit with me.

Comics are a low-rung medium. Almost Outsider Art, except for the money. Born first from gangsters, kicked along now by Hollywood. Always a commercial enterprise. But strictly art-adjacent. Fodder for other mediums. Glorified story-boards. Its language is lost to mostly superhero-power fantasies. Or sentiment posing as high-brow. But the language is there. With its own unique slant on time and space. And the dealing of erasure.

I trust though the irony is not lost: the life of a sound artist expressed by a silent medium, sound articulated by its most clumsy – and ridiculed – tool, the sound effect. But you work with what you got.

And besides, all this was Nigel’s idea!


We wish to thank the following people who took the time for interviews and gave ideas: Denise Mackenzie, Libby Tulip, Michael Buckley, Cecelia Cmielewski, Nelia Justo, Agnes Charlesworth, Anthony Bond, Gaye Hughes-Riley, and Paul DeMarinis. A big thanks must also go to Winnie Lin and Hsiao-Chi Yang for their excellent assistance and endless patience. To Milkman, who, with great skill, translated wonderfully a sometimes convoluted script: it was a pleasure working with you. And of course to Nigel Helyer who, with great aplomb, opened his life up to scrutiny, letting the chips fall where they may. It was fun and challenging, but we’re breaking up now, comrade. At least we’ll always have the office!


Well, gentle reader, the cat is out of the bag, the truth has been massaged, diverted but not diluted. No animals (with the exception of the subject) have been hurt in the creative process and the work is published in 100% virgin digital format, which you are urged to acquire on the Apple books site for a very modest fee.