Small (press) oaks – John Freeman

John Freeman has an incredible history within the UK’s comic industry and continues to be a great custodian and supporter of its past, present and future. You only need to look at the end of this interview where he tells us a bit about himself to get an understanding of his involvement. I highly recommend Down The Tubes and it’s articles and reviewers, particularly if you love UK comics history or UK small press titles.

My own experiences with John have always been positive and friendly. He was very supportive when I launched a small Kickstarter for my comics anthology ‘The Seas’ and has always been very approachable any time I’ve contacted him. He is in all ways a professional and a gentleman. 

You can find John here: twitter downthetubes newsletter

Over to you John.

Can you tell us a bit about the first creator whose work you recognised?

The first comic creators I probably recognised were those in the weekly 1960s comic TV Century 21, although few of them had a credit on the page. The main ones would be Frank Bellamy and Ron Embleton.

The Perishers
Jeff Hawke

However, I did know who drew my favourite newspaper strips such as The Perishers and Jeff Hawke. British comic creators rarely got credits in comics in the 1960s, although they had them in titles such as Eagle in the 1950s; rivals IPC and DC Thomson didn’t want them pinched. In the early 1970s, Countdown included credits and for me, Don Harley, Gerry Haylock, Harry Lindfield and Brian Lewis stood out alongside reprints from TV21.

Which creators do you remember first copying?

Bear in mind I’m perhaps better known as an editor and writer here rather than artist, but I drew very much with a nod toward Leo Baxendale and DC Thomson artists on Sparky when I did draw… badly, by the way!

Who was the creator that you first thought ‘I’m going to be as good as you!’?

I’ve never thought like that, a bit of imposter syndrome perhaps, although there have been times when I’ve despaired of a story or second guessed its plot and thought, “well I could definitely write that better!” I’ve gotten more intolerant of bad writing as I’ve gotten older. 

I find writing hard; as it should be, if it’s going to be good. At the same time, I’m constantly aware that you can spend too much time on a script, if you want to make a living you also need to know when to send it off and face the judgement of your editor!

Which creator or creators do you currently find most inspiring?

I don’t think there’s any doubt that the writers on comics such as TV21 and Sparky inspired me to write and draw my own comics from an early age. The editorial team at TV21 created a unified universe from the very different Gerry Anderson shows.

Writing advice from disparate creators such as Tom de Falco, Alan Grant, Paul Gravett, David Lloyd, Alan Moore, Richard Starkings and John Tomlinson guided my early writing, rather than influencing my actual writing; although I’m a believer in keeping panel descriptions succinct and trusting the artist rather than the old IPC format of “stage directing” every character in a panel. I’m happy if artists honour the invisible Z of comic storytelling, action running left to right through panels, first person speaking is drawn on the left and for goodness sake remember there will be word balloons and consider the top third of panels potential balloon space, and corners or dead space too, otherwise it’s your own fault if that beautiful background you decided to include gets covered up!

Which creators do you most often think about?

The ones working in a project I’m working on and making sure they’re happy with how things are going and also that they’re delivering on time.

Finally, can you tell us a bit about your recent work and yourself?

I’m the founder of the comic news site downthetubes.net promoting British comics and the creation of comics, contributions welcome and donations via the site for the work welcomed.

I have worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years as , what I like to describe as a “freelance comics operative”, working as an editor, Creative Consultant and as a comics promoter. 

Initially working at Marvel UK, my editorial credits include titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, Star Trek Magazine, and comics such as Overkill, Death’s Head II, Simpsons Comics UK and STRIP Magazine. I also edited several digital and audio comics for ROK Comics, including “Team M.O.B.I.L.E.” (recently re-published in print by Antarctic Press) and “The Beatles Story”, and several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”. 

Most recently, I edited “Lost Fleet” and two Doctor Who mini-series for Titan Comics, both receiving critical acclaim.

My recent writing credits include re-introducing some classic humour characters to a modern audience in the “Cor and Buster Humour Special”, working with artist Lew Stringer;  and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable. 

Buster Cor 2019 Humour Special

I have also been writing a teaser strip tie-in for a new TV series, and working with Brazilian artists Wamberto Nicomedes and Rodval Matias on a creator-owned SF adventure, “Return to Planet Earth”.

I’m writing a mini series under Non Disclosure for B7 Media, who I worked with on the “The Dan Dare Audio Adventures”, to tie in with a new project. We also just launched an open call for art samples – here.

I’m still trying to continue Crucible with Smuzz – there’s an episode sitting there that needs lettering and it’s my bad that it hasn’t been done; and I’m having a great time working with Dan Dare and Thunderbirds artist Keith Page in bringing his marvellous “Charlotte Corday” stories to his fans, through Tapas, the most recent that’s complete being “Wonderbirds”. We’ve got some other stuff on the boil, too.

Crucible

I also help promote the Lakes International Comic Art Festival which is virtual this year over 9th – 11th October 2020, and I’m working on a new gaming platform, a project that has been in the works for ages that I can’t say more about either!

In terms of myself? I enjoy reading, more walking since the Pandemic hit, our cats, time with my wife, decent telly, though I don’t watch much of it, and reading comics… when I’m not writing about them and their creators, which takes up more time!

Thank you very much for taking the time to fill this out and let us into your mind.

all art copyright and trademark its respective owners.

content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2020

Small (press) oaks – David Robertson

I know the name Fred Egg Comics better than I know the name David Robertson, but only because I’ve seen his comics mentioned by many of the people I follow.

What’s fascinating about David though, is that, as well as making comics, he talks and thinks about them and has a cultural reference more deeply steeped in fandom than mine. In fact, some of his strips drawing on sci-fi and Star Wars fandom are some of my favourite strips of his. You should check out his work as it’s very personal but very personable.

I’ll also add that he collaborates with some very good artists.

Fred Egg Comics logo

You can find David here

website        shop          blog          twitter

you can also find him on Comichaus if you subscribe

Over to David

Can you tell us a bit about the first creator whose work you recognised?

Comics creators have a tradition of being minimised, if not made completely invisible, by the publishers of their work. So, the comics I would enjoy from companies like IPC and D.C. Thomson would pointedly not tell me who had done the work I liked, certainly in the 1970s. I didn’t have a name to attach to the style. So, it may be someone creative in the pop music field. I always loved music and was a big fan of The Police, getting all their albums for birthdays or Christmas as they came out.

The Police
The Police

Which creators do you remember first copying?

I was a big reader of Eagle and Starblazer comics and was fascinated by the extreme colour and shading contrasts, especially in characters’ faces, in the work of Ian Kennedy.

Dan Dare art by Ian Kennedy
Dan Dare art by Ian Kennedy

I also loved the comics of Jack Kirby, including his late 1970s Captain America and early 60s FF and Incredible Hulk, which were being reprinted in the UK.

Jack Kirby

I specifically remember looking at how Kirby drew fingers and copying that. Lastly, I used to watch Bugs Bunny and Danger Mouse cartoons on TV, drawing the characters from what was shown on screen. This was before the days of video and DVD, so you had to try to grab what you needed in a hurry.

Who was the creator that you first thought ‘I’m going to be as good as you!’?

I never thought that about any creator. I liked certain artists but didn’t think I would be as good as them. More the opposite, actually. I was obsessed with Al Williamson’s art for years (still am), and for a while was always trying to reach his style.

Al Willaimson
Al Willaimson

I realised all I could manage was a subpar version of what he did, and really even if I did manage to be “as good” as him – I would just be a Williamson clone. Trying not to be as good as other artists has allowed me to draw in my own style.

Which creator or creators do you currently find most inspiring?

When I see good writing that ties story points or themes together in a good way, I get inspired. Sometimes I’ll be watching a programme on TV or reading about a group of people making something together, working hard on it, and I think I’d love to do something like that. Recently it’s been a documentary of making Blade Runner and reading Steve Howe’s book on playing guitar. Then I remember my field, my area for doing work like that, and giving something to the world, is in my comics. It does inspire me to get to work.

Which creators do you most often think about?

I think about comics creators Peter Bagge, Jack Kirby, James Kochalka, Carol Tyler, TV writer Russell T.Davies, Film director Stanley Kubrick, TV and film maker Chris Morris, actor Leonard Nimoy, musicians Prince, Frank Zappa. I think about their creative work, and how they talk about their creative work.

Can you name the first three creative peers that come into your head and tell a little bit about why?

Zook and Max by Tim Kelly
Zook and Max by Tim Kelly

Tim Kelly is a cartoonist who I first came across in an APA 20 years ago. I love his style, and his humour. Even when I don’t know where he’s coming from, I always enjoy his work.  I’ll mention Tucker Stone of Comic Books are Burning in Hell. I always admire his storytelling, humour, insight and fearlessness. To me, that was the original comics podcast. Lastly, I’ll namecheck Treehouse Comics, launched by the two artists Stuart McAdam and Neil Scott, who I’ve enjoyed working with over the years.

Treehouse issue 5 Cover
Treehouse issue 5 Cover

Finally, can you tell us a bit about your recent work and yourself?

I make comics, read comics and write about comics. My most recent Fred Egg Comic book is Mount a Rescue, which is an anthology written by me, with art from me and guest artists too. My own comics and articles have appeared in various anthologies, journals, magazines and websites. I contribute to workshops and podcasts. I’m a regular on That Comic Smell podcast. Other Fred Egg Comics I publish are the titles Bell Time; Berserkotron; Break the Cake; But a Dream!; Dump; Wow! Retracted; and Zero Sum Bubblegum. I love comics.

Previews of my latest comic book Mount a Rescue can be found here

Process posts for comics I am working on currently can be found here

Podcasts I appear on can be found here 

God Bless the Posties

Thank you very much for taking the time to fill this out and let us into your mind.

Los Angeles November 2019
Los Angeles November 2019

all art copyright and trademark its respective owners.

content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2020

 

 

Small (press) oaks – Gareth A Hopkins

Gareth was given an award by this site, so obviously we think he is great. I actually think his work is fascinating both in it’s evolution and it’s ability to be some of the most human and moving comics I’ve read without anything figurative or linear even being hinted at.

Which, to pick apart that sentence means that I think Gareth produces some amazing, human and meaningful comics. It also means that watching the evolution of his art style and his writing is as much a fascinating story as the work he produces.

His sudden explosion into colour work made me smile and breathless, but none of it surprised me as much as the warmth of Petrichor, possibly one of the truest works of modern poetry and of comics you could hope to encounter. Honestly a masterwork that should be read far and wide.

 

I’ll let him blather about himself now, rather than run off my mouth anymore.

Gareth Hopkins - portrait

Find Gareth Here

He’s @grthink everywhere

website         twitter          instagram

buy Petrichor (editor’s note — I’m telling you not asking you)

 

Can you tell us a bit about the first creator whose work you recognised?

It’s a genuinely tough one to answer. When I first started reading 2000AD it was just a bunch of stuff by a bunch of people, and slowly it would have dawned on me that it was actually people behind the drawing and the words. The panel I remember having the most impact on me was from Harlem Heroes by Steve Dillon and Kev Walker, with a soldier getting stabbed in the back by a lady in cycling shorts – there was the violence, but it was so stylish, and loads of negative space. I think the first artist I really paid attention to was Chris Weston, especially on Canon Fodder. The first writer I distinctly remember having an influence was John Smith, a lot of my school assignments had stop-start rhythms and mentions of ‘bursts of white noise/static on the spine’ stuff like that, which I was trying to nick directly from Tyranny Rex.

Which creators do you remember first copying?

Timewise, it’s hard to separate them, it was a big glow of influences all at once. Looking at when I was 12/13 or so, I was copying scantily clad women by Liam Sharp, Batman Adventures by Mike Parobeck, non-footed muscle-bound superheroes in the Liefeld age of Marvel House Style and Strontium Dogs by Nigel Dobbyn.

Who was the creator that you first thought ‘I’m going to be as good as you!’?

Haha, I remember looking at Marvel Superhero comics and thinking ‘well, if I can’t work out how feet work, just make them a nondescript arrow shape, or hide them behind a rock or some smoke. So, Liefeld. There was definitely a sense of ‘if they can get away with it, so can I’ which I don’t mean pejoratively.

Rob Liefeld
Rob Liefeld

Which creator or creators do you currently find most inspiring?

Man alive, this is a tough one. Most of my cues for inspiration come from musicians at the moment, I think. A few years ago I was reading a feature about Doseone that had a quote about him being one of the decade’s most important artists, and I don’t know if they meant art-artists, or musician-artists, but it redefined what an artist could be for me, and I spent a lot of time (and still do, really) trying to catch some of that sense when I make visual art. His approach to storytelling when he made the Hour Hero Yes albums with Subtle was probably the biggest single influence when I started making The Intercorstal, and ‘Less Is Orchestra’ which he made with Alias is one of my favourite albums of the last few years. There’s a line in it that goes ‘My zodiac sign’s “Don’t Feed The Animal”‘ which is just incredible. Lately I’ve been really influenced by God’s Wisdom & Lucy and their solo stuff, they share a lot of the elements I find inspirational in other art forms, which is a DIY attitude and distinct, individual voices that aren’t too fussed about whether people understand where they’re coming from.

 

Which creators do you most often think about?

I’ve already mentioned Doseone, so let’s put him in the drawer for a second. Probably the other one is Captain Beefheart? In terms of, if he can shout ‘A squid eating dough in a polyethelyne bag is fast & bulbous, got me?’, then I can make a comic about car parks that’s coloured in highlighter pens. The mainstream comic artist I talk about the most is definitely Sal Buscema, without a doubt. And in the small press world, it’s impossible not to look at the energy Paul Jon Milne puts into his comics and not immediately want to do something with as much… guts? as he puts in.

Sal Buscema

Can you name the first three creative peers that come into your head?

Paul Jon Milne

Grave Horticulture by Paul Jon Milne
Grave Horticulture by Paul Jon Milne

 

Tom Ward

Merrick The Sensational Elephantman by Tom Ward
Merrick The Sensational Elephantman by Tom Ward

Lucy Sullivan

H-8-9

Everything else

Concrete/Field

The 50Hz Hum Of Power - Concrete/Field
The 50Hz Hum Of Power – Concrete/Field

The Leaf Library

The Leaf Library
The Leaf Library

Walter Gross

The Fra Mauro Highlands - Walter Gross
The Fra Mauro Highlands – Walter Gross

Finally, can you tell us a bit about your recent work and yourself?

I’m Gareth A Hopkins, an artist and comics creator. I live in Essex with my wife and two kids, I think about ghosts a lot, drink terrible coffee and really hate gardening. I’ve been making comics for a long time, but only really thought I could do anything with them since 2016. I usually do everything.

I’m working on a short story collection called Explosive Sweet Freezer Razors which will be made up of 15 or 16 different short comics – one of those, Bullwise, will be appearing in the next edition of Emanations, and ‘Thunders’ is currently available to buy.

Bullwise Gareth A Hopkins page 2 RGB
Bullwise Gareth A Hopkins page 2

I’ve got a week’s residency coming up in September as part of Young Blood Initiative’sWake Up And Smell The Tear Gas‘ programme of events – details here:

Young Blood Initiative - Wake Up And Smell The Tear Gas

Young Blood Initiative – Wake Up And Smell The Tear Gas

Thank you very much for taking the time to fill this out and let us into your mind.

 

all art copyright and trademark its respective owners.

content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2020

 

 

Small (press) oaks – Ken Eppstein

Ken Eppstein is a good man to know in comics. He works hard to be fair to all of the creators he’s published. I like his tastes as well, so I think you’ll find very good work, including his own, in the comics he’s published.

I like that he’s interested in quantifying rather than guessing what people need, researching and getting data in to inform his work. It’s an approach I admire. His recent surveys have been supported by Fieldmouse Press’s SOLRAD site.

 

Ken Eppstein

Find Ken here

website          twitter          instagram          facebook

 

 

Can you tell us a bit about the first creator whose work you recognised?

You know, I think it was Curt Swan. One of the first books I ever owned was the hardback “Superman from the 30s to the 70s” collection. Still have it… Two copies actually! A nice one and my original copy with no dustjacket and a shredded spine. Lots of artists in there, but Curt Swan was the guy whose work was still in comic racks.

 

Which creators do you remember first copying?

I started answering this question by saying that it was probably one of the X-Men or Legion of Superheroes guys, but the more I thought about it, I’m pretty sure it was actually Jim Davis. I remember copying Garfield for a handmade birthday or Mother’s Day card or something. I can’t remember any specific copying before that.

Garfield
Garfield

 

Who was the creator that you first thought ‘I’m going to be as good as you!’?

I honestly don’t know that I’ve ever had this thought. At least not phrased that way about a specific artist. I will say that as I worked with artists, writing scripts and seeing their interpretations of my work, I gained confidence in my own ability to do it on my own.

I did for many years think about artists I could never be as good as. Technically adept artists, mostly. I guess I still think that framed as a matter of technical skill, there are many artists that have a more sophisticated skill set than I ever will.  Most who have dedicated themselves to that aspect of the craft, in fact. I don’t, though, conflate that craftsmanship with “good” or “bad” anymore. As a teenager, I realized that some of my favorite musicians are technically limited but are still able to create works of emotional and cultural depth. I now think the same thing is true of comic arts, but for some reason it took me longer to get there.

 

Which creator or creators do you currently find most inspiring?

Lynda Barry.  I took her five day “Writing the Unthinkable Workshop” last summer and all of my friends are tired of me talking about it. I went into that workshop a fan and came out an acolyte. She totally changed the way I create and the way I talk to other people about creating.

Lynda Barry

Which creators do you most often think about?

Other creator you mean, right? Because I’m pretty self-centered.

I don’t think I know. I care about a lot of creators.

Can you name the first three creative peers that come into your head and tell a little bit about why?
Bob Corby (of Back Porch Comics and SPACE): Maybe not so much my peer as my hero in terms of small press life. No one works harder for his community.

Bob Corby
Bob Corby

Timmy Wade, my coffee shop buddy who just recently hung together his first self-published comic after years of fretting about it. (Saphead comics.  Its not just good, its great!)

Saphead comics - Timmy Wade
Saphead comics – Timmy Wade

 

Pat Redding Scanlon who is my favorite current collaborator in a lot of ways. So talented and one of the few artists who live at the same intersection of punk rock and comic fandom as I do.

Pat Redding Scanlon

 

Outside of comics I’d say The New Bomb Turks, the first group of rock ‘n roll weirdos to take me in when I moved to Columbus. Also, almost entirely responsible for my garage punk record obsession.

Steve Anderson, my friend who has run a pirate radio station, written an excellent short story collection titled “1976,” guitarist and singer of the band I’m With Stupid, and filmed truly independent movies budgeted solely on beer and wit.

Bob Calhoun author of “Beer, Blood and Cornmeal”, “Shattering Conventions” and an upcoming collection of San Francisco true crime stories.

 

Bob Calhoun
Bob Calhoun

Finally, can you tell us a bit about your recent work and yourself?

My most recent project, including works in progress are:

What Have I Done For You Lately #1: A zine with my current WIP and sketchbook selections.

How to Collect Comics The Nix Way #1: A zine about the creative side of comic collecting, featuring illustrations and short fictions inspired by comics purchased at a comic-con.

Currently working on an illustrated novel titled “On Tour With Roy Lee Hood” and a graphic memoir about opening my first comic shop “What The Hell Is A Rudy Goose?”

WIP - Ray's Short Childhood
WIP – Ray’s Short Childhood

I’m a writer, cartoonists, and publisher from Columbus, Ohio.  In addition to my own rock music and record store themed imprint Nix Comics, I’ve been a contributor to the Columbus Alive, Red Stylo Media Comics, Rocker Magazine, Roctober Magazine, WFMU Rock and Soul Ichiban, and the satirical comic website, The Outhouse.

Thank you very much for taking the time to fill this out and let us into your mind.

Surfers' Love Call

 

all art copyright and trademark its respective owners.

content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2020

 

 

Small (press) oaks – Micah Liesenfeld

Today we talk to Micah Liesenfeld, creator of the web comic “True Blue Ninja Guy” or just “Ninja Guy” if you’ve seen it in print as a mini comic. He’s one of those creators I’ve seen in a lot of places I frequent on facebook, but didn’t really know their main body of work. I’ve seen some of his Ninja guy in those facebook groups and I’ve seen some contribution to Not My Small Diary in old fanzine sites.

So, when he agreed to do this interview, I thought it only fair to have a nose round what he was up to! Which was good, because he’s got an appealing set of work out there, I particularly liked Snow World and his work on his instagram labelled ‘Trudge’. There’s a nice sense of design to the first and just great colour in the latter.

Trudger day 309 - Micah Liesenfeld
Trudger day 309 – Micah Liesenfeld

Check out his work, especially as he’s just finished his 106-page Ninja Guy epic on Monday.

 

about the author photo

You can find Micah here

true blue ninja guy          webstore         instagram         twitter

 

Over to Micah!

Can you tell us a bit about the first creator whose work you recognised?

The first one? That was Charles Schulz. Peanuts comics jumped off the paper more than any others to me. I started cutting out the strips and trying to assemble them into comics that I could collect.

Peanuts - Charles Schultz

Which creators do you remember first copying?

Again, it was Peanuts. In the summer of 1989, I started making my own comics at 12 years old, and one of the first was called “The Peanut Butter Gang”… Completely unaware, I was making a very obvious rip-off.

Who was the creator that you first thought ‘I’m going to be as good as you!’?

Hmm… I never really felt I was going to be as good as anyone. I know a lot of people who compared themselves, but for some reason, I never tried to storm the tower between “here’s what I love” and “here’s what I’m making.” I just kept trying to make stuff, and meanwhile, I was reading a lot of comics. But I think I finally found my home when I fell into the DIY comix scene that was going strong in the late 90’s and started making things like Space Car Junkie, Snow World, and Feldspar.

The requirement to “be as good” was just not a barrier to collaborate and contribute with other creators, and I loved that. I started contributing to anthologies like “Not My Small Diary” (Here’s the current issue). It was so freeing to be accepted as a real comix artist just because I said I was. Armed with just a couple of pens and a long-arm stapler, I was in!

Not My Small Diary 20 art by Ben Snakepit
Not My Small Diary 20 art by Ben Snakepit

Which creator or creators do you currently find most inspiring?

I’m currently reading “The Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi. Right off the bat, the book just launches you off into the action and tragedy of this created world. It’s inspiring to me for the quality of writing, but also the impact of the message about racism and fighting for a world of love and acceptance.

In comics, I’m currently reading “Berlin” by Jason Lutes. It’s a historical piece about what was happening in Germany right before World War 2. It’s eery how similar this time-frame feels to now.

Which creators do you most often think about?

In the context of my current work, I love the expressive inkers like Paul Pope (THB) and Scott Mills (Big Clay Pot). I revere Stan Sakai’s commitment to his craft (Usagi Yojimbo). I laugh at the comedy of Rumiko Takahashi (Maison Ikkoku), Mike Allred (MadMan) and early Ben Edlund (the Tick). And I can’t get enough of the epicness of Jeff Smith (Bone).

Can you name the first three creative peers that come into your head and tell a little bit about why?

Billy McKay (Instagram: @artbybillytherobot) and I have been trading and contributing to each other’s projects for many years. I absolutely love his style and sense of whimsy.

Billy McKay
Billy McKay

Danny Houk (@dannyhoukart) and I are currently collaborating on a project, and I really love his style and sense of timing on either a joke or a sob (whichever emotion he’s trying to pull out of me!).

Danny Houk
Danny Houk

Dimitri Jackson (@frotoonpress) and I met each other at the Saint Louis Small Press Expo a few years back, and I’m in awe of his commitment to his craft with Blackwax Boulevard.

Dmitri Jackson
Dmitri Jackson

Finally, can you tell us a bit about your recent work and yourself?

I live in Saint Louis, Missouri USA with my wife, Aicha, and two children, Julian and Ornella.

 

[True Blue] Ninja Guy is a comedy in 5 parts. I recently decided to publish it as a web comic due to the pandemic, even though I made it as a mini. I’ll have the 5th chapter up very soon, and then it will be complete. It’s about a guy who responds to an online job post. The job requires him to dress in a ninja costume and break into a building to steal something. The ad he’s responded to is a scam, obviously, and he basically reaps the consequences. The sub-plot, though, is all about the two warring factions of Cincinnati chili fast food chains and how they came to be… just what the world needs right now! Er… wait.

Thank you very much for taking the time to fill this out and let us into your mind.

Space Car Junkie - Micah Liesenfeld

all art copyright and trademark its respective owners.

content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2020

 

 

 

 

Small (press) oaks – Morgan Gleave

I first saw Morgan Gleave’s work on the 1977-2000AD group for a strip in The ’77 magazine that they publish. I immediately loved the character design and graffiti-styled cartooning. I was struck with a memory of Samurai Jam by Andi Watson, not so much in style or layout, but in the life of the line and world design.

I’ve found Morgan to be a very positive person, both in his posts and in the interactions I’ve had with him. I know it shouldn’t matter, but there’s something of that positive and fun attitude that glows out of his work. It’s fun, daft but also deftly giving to the audience.

Morgan Gleave photo

You can find Morgan here

website          ko-fi          twitter          facebook

 

Here’s Morgan

Can you tell us a bit about the first creator whose work you recognised?

Hmmmm… Probably Maurice Sendak, creator of Where the Wild Things Are. That book and In the Night Kitchen were my favourites when I was little. I still have my original copy of In the Night Kitchen, complete with crayon scribbles!

 

Which creators do you remember first copying?

Kevin O’Neill and Carlos Ezquerra. 2000ad was the first comic I bought every week. I did some huge copies of Ezquerra’s take on The Stainless Steel Rat and Angelina, which my stepdad mounted and framed for me. They’re in my old portfolios in the attic…

Stainless Steel Rat drawn by Carlos Ezquerra
Stainless Steel Rat drawn by Carlos Ezquerra

 

Who was the creator that you first thought ‘I’m going to be as good as you!’?

Probably O’Neill. I copied a lot of his Nemesis artwork, and he definitely influenced me for a long time.

Nemesis the Warlock art Kevin O’Neill written by Pat Mills
Nemesis the Warlock art Kevin O’Neill written by Pat Mills

Which creator or creators do you currently find most inspiring?

Mike Mignola is my biggest influence, as a writer and an artist. Although my style has definitely become my own, he is without doubt my favourite storyteller. Mal Earl is amazing too, we’ve struck up an incredible friendship over working on The ’77. I love his style and use of colours.

The Prodigal - Mal Earl
The Prodigal – Mal Earl

Which creators do you most often think about?

Mignola! There’s probably tons more, but I keep going back to him!

Hellboy - Mike Mignola

Can you name the first three creative peers that come into your head and tell a little bit about why?

Pete Fowler

My stepdad… he saw I had talent and encouraged me to draw and be creative. I followed in his footsteps and became a graphic designer. Pete Fowler… another HUGE influence and inspiration, I love the worlds and characters he creates. Great music too! Ed Doyle… we met over The ’77, have become good friends, and I’m working on some great stuff with him. He’s so positive and encouraging. Lovely chap.

Kazana art by Ed Doyle
Kazana art by Ed Doyle

Finally, can you tell us a bit about your recent work and yourself?

This year has been crazy… In the first week of January, I was asked to send art to LA for a skate video premiere, Tic Tac Skate School reached out and asked me to recreate their logo (I’ve done TONS for them since, and am an ambassador for the school), and was contacted by The ’77, which was a dream come true… PUBLISHED COMICS! I’m now working on LOTS of strips for them.

portrait
portrait

Having grown up on comics and skateboarding, this year has seen so many of my dreams come true. I’ve had comics published, designed stickers and clothing for Tic Tac, and my first skateboard deck will be out soon. I’ve also been interviewed for an amazing podcast, The Mouth of Manliness, who I’ve supported since they started last year… it’s about masculinity and mental health, with a huge dose of creativity thrown in.

I had a huge breakdown last year, and nearly gave up on comics completely. But I started skateboarding again, and slowly started writing and drawing again. I’ve done more comics this year than ever before. And I’ve won online skate competitions! I’m in quite a good place now… I can genuinely say I’m happy for the first time in years.

Cat
Happy Cat – work in progress

Thank you very much for taking the time to fill this out and let us into your mind.

Thank you!

Morgan Gleave image 3
Morgan Gleave

all art copyright and trademark it’s respective owners.

content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2020

 

 

Small (press) oaks – Adam Yeater

The first time I saw Adam Yeater’s work I was struck by the blobby. organic shapes and bright colours strewn over the page. It was full of noise and clutter, just incredibly exciting with lively art filling up a page.

His work is clearly a modern take on classic underground comix; full of extreme, gaudy and sometimes savage images . It delivers its punk trash thrills with verve and invention.

He also posts on youtube, showing his collection of smallpress comics, mini comics and zines.

Slit Mouth Woman in a Hoodie - Adam Yeater Header
Slit Mouth Woman in a Hoodie – Adam Yeater Header

 

You can find Adam here

webstore                youtube                facebook

 

Over to Adam

Can you tell us a bit about the first creator whose work you recognised?

 I guess it would be the MAD artist Don Martin. I was really into those big foot businessmen he would draw. They looked so professional and ridiculous at the same time.

Which creators do you remember first copying? 

Prohias the Spy Vs Spy creator. I loved to trace his strips. Joe Kubert’s jungle and war comics too.

Page from Our Army at War #217 art by Joe Kubert
Page from Our Army at War #217 art by Joe Kubert

Who was the creator that you first thought ‘I’m going to be as good as you!’?

Frazetta maybe but we are just in different worlds. Our styles are so different and he did not do a lot of comics really. I have always been in awe of that painterly style.

The Barbarian by Frank Frazetta
The Barbarian by Frank Frazetta

Which creator or creators do you currently find most inspiring?

Sadly not a whole lot in comics right now. The medium is kind of stagnant. American comics are way too english centric. It is a bunch of dopey white dudes who love to grandstand instead of make good comics. Everyone is making comics to be like movies. I wanna make and see comics that can’t be made into film. Comics that do things only comics can do. Instead most modern comic books read like 1980s TV serials. Way too much dialogue with very little action. Comic book writers have bored everyone to death for long enough. It is time for artists to breathe life into the medium again.

 

Which creators do you most often think about?

Lately as I get older I think more and more about the old dudes. I think about the creative freelancer who dedicated their life to working on some shitty superhero comic. Signing away any future prosperity because they wanted to provide for their families. I think of the artist that is now penniless living without health care while some asshole corporation reaps billions off their creations. That is who I think about.

 

Can you name the first three creative peers that come into your head and tell a little bit about why?

Hideshi Hino, Jim Woodring and Tim Vigil.  I want to make comics like theirs. Stuff that pushes boundaries. I wanna make surreal horror comics with style. Shit nobody has seen before. 

Finally, can you tell us a bit about your recent work and yourself?

I am currently working on two ongoing comic books. World of Knonx and Blood Desert. World of Knonx is a more mainstream title about smurf type creatures who fight robotic invaders over a magical resource. Blood Desert is a dark humor comic. It is non-stop action and gore.

I can be found all over social media. I also have a YouTube channel called Small Press Express that focuses on independent and mini comics.

Thank you very much for taking the time to fill this out and let us into your mind.

 

 

all art copyright and trademark it’s respective owners.

content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2020

 

 

Small (press) oaks – Rachael Ball

Rachael Ball has been making comics for a long time now. Part of the Deadline generation that did impressive work for the magazine whilst it existed then all but disappeared from view afterwards before coming back to the fold with vital, deep and fascinating new graphic novels, starting with The Inflatable Woman, which she first serialised on tumblr. That’s how I reconnected with her work and I’m happy to see that she’s now been busy making comics on a regular basis for a long time since.

Rachael’s art and writing are both gentle and coaxing, they create and delineate a narrative world that is always slightly absurdist but never cruel. It’s no so much a calm world, but it most certainly is never grim, where there is threat, it feels genuine as the characters are real enough for you to care about them and what happens to them.

Rachael Ball

Rachael can be found here

twitter                     instagram                     tumblr

 

So, here is Rachael

Can you tell us a bit about the first creator whose work you recognised?

When I was growing up we had a collection of comic books by Giles and a few by the American satirist Jules Feiffer’s (Sick, Sick, Sick and Passionella.) My favourite graphic novel though was ‘Kontiki and I’ by Erik Hesselberg who after the Second World War was one of Thor Heyerdahl’s team that sailed on a raft from Peru to Easter Island in order to prove that early humans could have made the trip. The drawings are really beautiful. It’s warm and funny and hand drawn with ink cartoons in a daily diary style.

KONTIKI
Kon-Tiki and I by Erik Hesselberg

 

Which creators do you remember first copying?

The first was definitely a copy of Giles’ iconic Grandma character. I think I was about 5 years old. I can picture myself doing it. I’m sitting on the arm of an armchair, drawing by a lamp. We were out of paper so my Mum gave me some tracing paper to use instead. I copied the Granma very carefully onto the tracing paper and was so proud of it. I took it to school the next day and other girls (not surprisingly!), accused me of tracing it. Poor me! I was so sad!

Giles - Grandma

 

Who was the creator that you first thought ‘I’m going to be as good as you!’?

When I was a child my first passion was kid’s books, particularly fairy tales. I always wanted to write and illustrate children’s books. Still chasing that dream! I loved Thackeray’s Rose and the Ring and the illustrations of Robin Jacques. I can see their influence on my characters today and also perhaps how fairy tale tropes often seep into my stories. But yep those two! I wanted to be like them and be as good as them both all wrapped up into one!

 

Which creator or creators do you currently find most inspiring?

Chester Brown’s ‘I Never Liked You Anyway’ is a fabulous book. Brown is a master observer of nuance in characters. Jillian Tamaki, I’m always blown away by her work. She literally makes me gasp! I was having a good study of Clement Ouberie’s work the other day. His work is relaxed, human… beautiful! Superb use of colour and his technique is great. Storywise, ‘Beautiful Darkness’ by Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët can’t be bettered. It really stays with you afterwards and the cuteness of the characters makes the message of the story even more powerful.

 

Which creators do you most often think about?

Same as above.

 

Can you name the first three creative peers that come into your head and tell a little bit about why?

Brecht Evens – I love the way he thinks outside of the box, compositionally. His pages are so well crafted and the compositions are soooo clever. I feel like he uses some kind of perspective device but I can’t fathom what it is! They look like there’s vanishing points all across the page or none at all. They are almost medieval compositionally.

BRECHTEWENS
Brecht Evens

I’ve been following Ottilie Hainsworth’s Corona diary comics recently. They’re lovely. They make me laugh. It’s like she’s opened the window into her life for all to see.

 

Corona Diary by Ottilie Hainsworth
Corona Diary by Ottilie Hainsworth

The Finnish cartoonist Emmi Valve has started doing these lovely personal mailout comics recently. I got my first in the post the other day. Each envelope is filled with zines with her life and thoughts in comic form and extra special objects. She’s doing another in August.

I recommend them. They cost 12 Euro

EMMIVALVE
Emmi Valve

@dreamhouseartletter on Facebook

Emmi Valve - Dreamhouse Art Letter facebook header

Finally, can you tell us a bit about your recent work and yourself?

My most recent published graphic novel was Wolf (2018 Selfmadehero based on the loss of my father as a child), Two very different but fun jobs I had last year – Lizzie Boyle invited me to create a script for a ‘Bella at the Bar’ strip for Rebellion’s remake of Tammy and Jinty. It was Illustrated by the fabulous Vanessa Cardinali with text by Jim Campbell. Bella was one of my favourite childhood comic characters so that was a real gift! I was also asked to illustrate a script for Tony ‘Ez’ Esmond’sThe Whore Chronicles’ based on transcriptions of interviews with prostitutes. It was a fascinating job. I felt that I had a real responsibility towards the woman behind my script.

I really enjoyed not having to do the writing as well! It was so relaxing illustrating somebody else’s words. I’d love to do more of that.

What I’m up to now – I’m about to actually get down to scripting AND DRAWING my next graphic novel, ‘The Patsy Paper’s which I’ve been planning for ages. It’s a satirical tale of my experiences teaching in a state school that was gradually falling apart under austerity.

THEPATSYPAPERS CHARACTER SKETCHES copy
The Patsy Paper character sketches

I’ve also been working on a kid’s picture book sample and I’m planning on doing more light, short kid’s stories whilst making The Patsy Papers. The GN is proving complex so it will be nice to have something light hearted to balance things out.

 

Thank you very much for taking the time to fill this out and let us into your mind.

all art copyright and trademark it’s respective owners.

content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2020

 

 

Small (press) oaks – Robin Barnard

Robin Barnard is one of those creators driven to make for the sake of making. I came across his work via Martin Hand who regularly works with him on the Star Jaws title. I was very pleased when I realized I could read his contributions online and then more pleased when I got to read the zines as they’re fun. There’s a sense of community around them and I’ve found some other great creators by following out from his comics. There’s something ESSENTIALLY fanzine about the whole thing, from the appropriation of style, the mashup of content to the intent to dig into what you enjoy by both celebrating and critiquing it.

I was interested to find out what Robin had to say about his inspirations and influences.

current facebook avatar taken from Robin's hand drawn reproduction of the original Marvel UK Star Wars Weekly corner box
current facebook avatar taken from Robin’s hand drawn reproduction of the original Marvel UK Star Wars Weekly corner box

Find him here

website                   facebook                      twitter

or click the image links for Robin’s comics

A reproduction of a panel from Claremont, Byrne and Austin's Star-lord drawn by Robin
A reproduction of a panel from Claremont, Byrne and Austin’s Star-lord drawn by Robin

Can you tell us a bit about the first creator whose work you recognised?

That would be John Byrne. The very first comic I got brought, Marvel UK Star Wars Weekly in 1978 reprinted “Star-Lord” the first story by Claremont, Byrne and Austin as a team just before they went over to Uncanny X-Men. And then Byrne seemed to turn up in almost any comic I was reading for the next decade or so. It wasn’t for a while after that until I started appreciating films and then music.

img_7179
Carmine Infantino

 

Which creators do you remember first copying?

I traced a Carmine Infantino cover of The Flash when I was about 9. I don’t remember which issue it was, but I remember it was very fluid.

 

Who was the creator that you first thought ‘I’m going to be as good as you!’?

I have never thought I was as good or going to be as good as anyone (laughs). I never compare anything I have done to anyone else. I have plenty of inspirations, but I never hold my own work in much esteem. I don’t have much of an ego in that area. I have also never consciously been that competitive. I tend to create for the enjoyment of creating as I find that makes it worthwhile. Sometimes I look at a page I have done and think that might be okay, but that’s it really

Which creator or creators do you currently find most inspiring?

At the moment I am enjoying the creative madness of Terry Gilliam. I actually saw “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” in the cinema, which was not easy (it had very few screenings), but it was so worth it. Sometimes a movie comes along, and it just takes me to place I have never seen before, and I just have to experience again and again. It doesn’t happen very often, but Terry’s movies have done that for me at least 3 times (Brazil, and 12 Monkeys are the other two).

WHAT ROMANCE 20-20 (with Wallis Eates)
WHAT ROMANCE: 20/20 (with Wallis Eates)

Which creators do you most often think about?

It depends on what I am doing. I tend to go through a cycle where I will discover a creator and then want to experience all of their work. If I was just, for example, working on recreating the 1st issue of “The Human Fly’ then I would read all the issues of that series and read about Bill Manto and the real life Human Fly and all of that would all feed into the end result.

Outside of creative works, I tend to think about Ridley Scott, Stanley Kubrick and Terry Gilliam when it comes to movies and music can be anything from R.E.M. all the way to Kylie Minogue and everything in-between.

I always have an eye open to see if I can find something new and tend to be open to try anything and make up my own mind if I like it or not, having said that I have not yet watched “Xanadu” (laughs)

STAR JAWS 35
STAR JAWS 35

Can you name the first three creative peers that come into your head and tell a little bit about why?

I guess the first one should be Martin Hand. He has been drawing covers for my comics for quite a few years now, he is really great at what he does and he’s much better at it than me. He has also made some great comics.

Next would be David Robertson, who other than myself or Martin has had more material in STAR JAWS than anyone else. David has he is own unique sensibility you always know its David’s work just by looking at it

Last but not least would be Paul Rainey, whose line work is brilliant and his story telling sensibilities again has a great unique voice.

What Men - Robin Barnard
What Men – Robin Barnard

Finally, can you tell us a bit about your recent work and yourself?

For what seems the last umpety ump million years I have been slaving away on STAR JAWS. Which I suppose is basically a spoof comic.

Star Jaws 36 - cover
Star Jaws 36 – cover

The Superheroes Special - cover
The Superheroes Special – cover

As for myself I prefer my material to speak for me, I don’t consider myself as a person or my actual real opinions any part of my creative process.

What I tend to do is observe a situation and try and put that into a story and try and include all valid points of view and if possible, let the audience make up their own minds as to what to think. But sometimes the material has something very specific to say to me in which case that’s exactly where it goes.

I have recreated and rewritten quite a lot of existing comic material and I work in an entirely different industry to comics.

Almost everything I have ever created is on my website.

Thank you very much for taking the time to fill this out and let us into your mind.

Thank you

THE COSMETICALLY POWERED HULK
THE COSMETICALLY POWERED HULK

all art copyright and trademark it’s respective owners.

content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2020

 

 

Small (press) oaks – Ben Nunn

Ben is the artist of the small press comic The Secret Protectors (we reviewed issues 1&2 here and read our interview with them here) and does his own comedy strip on Webtoons called Guff Canyon.

Yesterday we posted an interview with Adam Wheeler, his collaborator and the writer on The Secret Protectors.

Like many creators of his generation he mixes US superhero and manga comic influences

They’re currently Kickstarting a collected edition of the first 4 issues of the series (you can sign up for the first two issues for free here and you can see art from the series throughout the article!!) You can back it here.

You can find The Secret Protectors here

facebook               instagram                twitter

Ben is on  instagram

It’s over to Ben now

Can you tell us a bit about the first creator whose work you recognised?

John Romita Jr
John Romita Jr

As a kid I remember seeing issues of Spider-man illustrated by John Romita Jr. Before that I’d devoured every Superman and Batman/Superman comic I’d been able to get my hands on, so I was fairly familiar with the John Byrne influenced style of the time but Romita Jr stood out and made me think about comics in a whole new way. They didn’t have to be in the typical comic book style, there was a lot more room for experimentation than I thought possible.

 

Which creators do you remember first copying?

When Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball GT were airing on Toonami in the early 2000s I would record them on VHS. Then, after watching a new episode a couple of times I’d pinpoint some cool frames and pause the tape on those moments so I could copy them. This was not a good system. Anyone who’s ever paused a VHS knows the screen becomes a distorted mess of static, discolouration and incomprehensible blurs. Somehow, I did manage to eke out some good frames and had a lot of fun doing so.

VHS scroll
VHS scroll

 

Who was the creator that you first thought ‘I’m going to be as good as you!’?

I’m not sure this is a thought I’ve ever exactly had for a well-known creator. Growing up it was more about imitating people’s styles because I liked them, not necessarily to get better. That said, I do distinctly remember when I was about six years old, I saw an awesome piece of Batman fanart in a Batman/Superman comic. The kid who’d drawn it was ten and I remember being blown away and not being able to imagine being that good at ten years old. If I saw the drawing today, I’d probably think differently but I do sometimes wonder if I caught up with that kid in the next few years.

 

Which creator or creators do you currently find most inspiring?

At the moment I’m really loving the work of Bilquis Evely of The Dreaming and Soroush Barazesh (AKA Koteri Ink) of Kings of Nowhere. They both have very strong, distinctive styles that create a great sense of tone and atmosphere. They’re also both just incredibly technically proficient.

Soroush Barazesh (AKA Koteri Ink) - Kings of Nowhere
Soroush Barazesh (AKA Koteri Ink) – Kings of Nowhere

 

Which creators do you most often think about?

Frankie Boyle

I don’t listen to as much stand-up comedy as I used to, and I think that’s partly due to Frankie Boyle. Frankie Boyle is incredible at summoning up an incredibly precise image with as few words as possible. In his BBC Three show New World Order he calls upon imagery that’s mad, grotesque or surreal but it’s always to serve a greater point. In his Mock the Week days he’d take cheap shots for the sake of shock but these days he always has something valuable to say and always says it in a brutal but uniquely valuable way. If brevity is the soul of wit then he’s really got that nailed, and the ability to be concise is a huge element in both illustration and writing.

 

Can you name the first three creative peers that come into your head and tell a little bit about why?

Die Hard of the Dead - Written by Matthew M Stapleton Art by Mark Hooley
Die Hard of the Dead – Written by Matthew M Stapleton Art by Mark Hooley

We’re relatively new to the con circuit as we’ve only been at it for a few years, but we’ve met some great people doing some really fantastic work. The first that comes to mind is Matt Stapleton (@what_if_stories), writer of the What If Stories. He takes pop culture icons and adds a horror twist. Die Hard of the Dead for instance is Die Hard plus zombies. His ideas have a lot of potential on their own but it’s the execution that really makes them stand out. His writing is great, and he’s teamed up with some fantastic artists too.

 

 

 

Sam Dempsey
Sam Dempsey

A few years ago I did a bit of a business course where I met comic book artist Sam Dempsey (@dempseyillustrates), we’ve kept in touch on and off over the years and whenever I see him pop up on my Instagram feed I know I’m in for something special. Every now and again I’ll check back on his feed just to get another look at all the awesome work he’s done.

Rhys Wootton
Rhys Wootton

Rhys Wootton (@rhyswootton) is another artist we’ve come across in our con experiences. He’s worked with Matt on What If Stories and has some really awesome comic art for sale. Definitely another one worth checking out.

 

 Finally, can you tell us a bit about your recent work and yourself?

Ben Image
Ben from The Secret Protectors (not to be mistaken for Ben Nunn the artist!!)

My recent work has been a bit eclectic as far as comics go. I’ve been working on the superhero series The Secret Protectors with Adam for a few years now but since the beginning of 2020 I’ve also been doing a series called Guff Canyon which might best be described as gag strips on Webtoon. They’re mostly little four panel skits about whatever pops into my head. The Secret Protectors is definitely way more towards the mainstream end of the spectrum and heavily influenced by classic X-Men so it’s fun to have a different kind of creative outlet in a totally different style. I think it’s important to have different kinds of projects on the go so you don’t get creatively burnt out. Standalone jokes are also a fun way to stretch my uh…nonsense muscles…

Thank you very much for taking the time to fill this out and let us into your mind.

Guff Canyon
Guff Canyon

all art copyright and trademark it’s respective owners.

content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2020

 

 

Small (press) oaks – Adam Wheeler

Adam is the writer of the small press comic The Secret Protectors (we reviewed issues 1&2 here and read our interview with them here)

Like many of us, Adam balances a job and writing, looking to grow creatively and get his story out into the world. What appealed to me about The Secret Protectors particularly is that it’s a raw work, finding its voice and style and watching Adam and Ben Nunn (the artist on the series) grow is as much a part of the story as the actual comic.

They’re currently Kickstarting a collected edition of the first 4 issues of the series (you can sign up for the first two issues for free here and you can see art from the series throughout the article!!) You can back it here.

http://kck.st/2CKH9pP

You can find The Secret Protectors here

facebook               instagram                twitter

Over to Adam

small press superhero comic the secret protectors in this image one of the heroes with flame powers is running and set fire to something
Secret Protectors

Can you tell us a bit about the first creator whose work you recognised?

Yeah of course, you know, I don’t think I realised it till I got a lot older, but the first creators who really left a lasting effect on me were Filmation (responsible for He-Man), Eastman & Laird who somehow thought up TMNT, along with Toei animation who created the Transformers cartoon. Perhaps even more important are husband and wife Eric & Julia Lewald, the two main creatives behind the X-Men animated series. That show, I can genuinely say, really taught me a lot and instilled in me morals I hold to this day. It was an absolutely great show! Crazy to credit that to a kids Saturday morning cartoon I know but I don’t think you can overestimate how important our younger years are in defining the adults we’ll grow in to.

 

Which creators do you remember first copying?

I remember as a kid playing with my action figures and it was never enough to just have the good guys facing off against the bad guys for the sake of a cool battle. I can vividly remember trying to create the Secret Wars storyline with my figures. Instead of just Marvel characters though I’d have Turtles there as well, along with a bunch of other figures. I remember I couldn’t include Transformers or Thundercats though! They didn’t scale well! It would have been ludicrous to include them too! As for my adult years, I’ve tried to not outright copy anyone of course but at this point I’ve so many influences that play into my storytelling approach.

 

Who was the creator that you first thought ‘I’m going to be as good as you!’?

Woah, tough one that! Creatively I’ve always wanted to try and have my own way. As a small press indie guy, I’m not sure its about trying to be better than someone else. I think it’s more about improving your craft, learning from your mistakes and growing as a person to improve your work!

 

Which creator or creators do you currently find most inspiring?

There’s so many! If I had to narrow it down, I guess I’d have go with a top 5 format, so:

David Chase – The creator of, in my opinion, the best TV series ever – The Sopranos. It’s been labelled all kinds of superlatives, I’m not sure I can really add anything to the list. I’ve heard it described as an 86hr film, which is probably about right. It just never misses a beat and the storytelling is just so deep and rich. It’s the only series I’ve ever watched over from start to finish more than once. I’ll definitely been watching it a third time at some point in my life!

Spawn 300 by Todd McFarlane
Spawn 300 by Todd McFarlane

David Simon – The man is responsible for a bunch of incredible TV series, such as The Wire, Show Me a Hero & The Deuce. I’m a pretty unemotional guy but Simon is phenomenal at drawing you in emotionally before then absolutely crushing you. Show Me a Hero in particular left me completely exhausted.

Christopher Nolan – He’s just never made a bad film, in fact, I’d argue literally all his work is top drawer stuff. Not only does he tell original, amazing stories, he does it in a way that is normally a way you’ve never been shown a story before.

Todd McFarlane – When Todd left Marvel and started up Image, he, along with the other founders of Image changed the industry forever. In Spawn, he has the longest running independent comic of all time and on a personal note, anytime I see an interview with him he just seems so humble and grounded. He worked his absolute arse off to get where he is and to improve himself. He’s gone from aspiring, struggling artist to a one-man empire! He makes comics, films and toys! The man must never sleep!

Chris Claremont – The man wrote X-Men for 25 years! The longevity and quality of his work is pretty much unparalleled. To quote the great late Stan Lee ‘Nuff said’.

There’s plenty more but this is a pretty good representation.

 

Which creators do you most often think about?

I actually try not to really! I’d end up depressing myself by comparing myself to someone on top of the, figurative, mountain that I’d love to ascend! I kid, of course! That’s a tough one. I try to focus on being better personally. Just keeping my head down and doing ‘me’.

 

Can you name the first three creative peers that come into your head and tell a little bit about why?

Sure, first up! Matt Stapleton – The mind behind What If? Stories. He’s such a great guy! He’s one of those people whose enthusiasm is just unrelenting! Some might find that jarring but it’s honestly infectious! In a good way! He’s so positive when taking on a challenge, like his recent Kickstarter for instance, he smashes it! If you’ve got a dream and want to make it happen, surround yourself with individuals like Matt. People who dream and believe!

InstaSave
Ben Nunn – 2000AD submission from sample script

Ben Nunn – The second half of The Secret Protectors duo. Ben’s great! We’ve been working together now on The Secret Protectors since 2017. We’ve both developed a lot since then but Ben’s improvement is remarkable. He’s never happy with his work and he’s constantly looking to do better. If I let him, he’d probably completely redo issue 1! Hahaha!

 

Lastly. My wife! Kate Wheeler. Now, she’s not a typical creative. She is an actress but she’s not currently working. She had to get a real job to pay the bills unfortunately. But she is my muse. She’s the only reason I developed the belief needed to go out there and get my comic made in the first place! She is my number one confidant, partner, friend and consigliere! The Silvio to my Tony Soprano so to speak.

 

Finally, can you tell us a bit about your recent work and yourself?

I’d love to shamelessly plug my Kickstarter which is Live right now! It’s for my comic book series The Secret Protectors! It’s Ben and mine’s take on the superhero genre. There’s sci-fi and fantasy aplenty but it’s more about the drama and tension between the characters themselves! It’s the story I feel I’m here to tell, essentially. There’s not a day that passes that I don’t think about it in some way, shape or form! It’s definitely my burden to carry! My curse!

(editor’s note — It’s here – remember!)

I also recently wrote the short story ‘The Ville’ – download The ‘Ville – By Adam Wheeler. Completely different to anything comic related. To be honest, I just wanted to challenge myself to make something up new. Something that was a complete departure. Just to prove that I could, more than anything.

As for me, I’m Adam Wheeler a 35-year-old male. I’ve been creating & crafting stories since I can remember, not that anyone ever asked me too. I’m not so interesting. I’m just a working-class guy with aspirations. Cliché I know but it’s the best backstory I could come up with for myself.

 

Thank you very much for taking the time to fill this out and let us into your mind.

Praise Image

all art copyright and trademark it’s respective owners.

content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2020

 

 

Small (press) oaks – Daniel Bristow-Bailey

AC3_p04
Anxious Comics – issue 3 page 4

I first saw Daniel Bristow-Bailey’s work when he offered up free copies of his prose zine Dog. I ordered it on the strength of the cover, Dog handwritten above a very detailed drawing of a frog. It made me laugh, there was something oddly significant in that juxtaposition, couldn’t tell you why, but there was.
Shortly after that he started his Anxious Comics series, which is a fast paced, underground influenced mash series that has a lot of nonsense and yet some very powerful moments. It’s daft, but also on point and so, exactly what I enjoy.

He’s an eclectic creator and has a set of skills that make his work pop.

 

You can find him here

shop

Use the discount code ZINELOVE10 for a 10% discount on anything you buy. Valid until the end of 2020.

instagram                      twitter                      facebook

 

Screaming_p02
Screaming page 2

Can you tell us a bit about the first creator whose work you recognised?

It would have been someone from 2000AD. I remember being very excited by Kevin O’Neill’s run on Nemesis and Simon Bisley’s painted artwork for Sláine. If I look at Bisley’s stuff now I find it hard to get past the grotesque anatomy, but as with people like Todd MacFarlane in the US he pushed past his technical limitations with a raw energy that appealed to adolescent boys. I don’t mean that as snootily as it sounds! Adolescent boys can be fierce critics.

 

Which creators do you remember first copying?

My mum, who should get most of the credit for teaching me to draw, always strongly discouraged me from copying directly, but I came pretty close to it with Moebius! He always makes it look so (deceptively) easy that it’s hard not to have a go oneself.

moebius_edena
Moebius – Edena

Who was the creator that you first thought ‘I’m going to be as good as you!’?

That’s an interesting question. Probably Gilbert Shelton. I started reading the Freak Brothers when I was far too young (got to thank my mum again for that) and that “underground” style with lots of fine linework and cross-hatching seemed to be achievable with the materials I had at home. I think the Shelton influence still shows in my black-and-white stuff.

Shelton_freakbros
Gilbert Shelton – Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers

Which creator or creators do you currently find most inspiring?

In terms of comics, I’ve recently discovered Al Columbia. I can’t remember the last time I found an artist who really disturbed me like his stuff does. Even the more restrained stuff has an evil, haunted quality. The book I’ve got (Pim and Francie, Fantagraphics, 2009) feels like a cursed object, like the Necronomicon in Lovecraft’s stories, or the video cassette in the Ring. It’s a great example of text, illustration and book design all working together.

I’ve been reading a lot of Nabokov. He’s one of those writers I keep coming back to. Sometimes I like to think about how you could do a graphic novel of “Pale Fire”. The first half of the book is a very long poem, written by one fictitious character, and the second half is a collection of footnotes to the poem, written by a second fictitious character, who has stolen the manuscript and is preparing an unauthorised edition of the poem. As the notes digress further and further from the text of the poem, another narrative emerges, that may or may not be “true”, so it would probably be impossible to do a graphic novel adaptation, but thinking about how one might do impossible things is often creatively rewarding.

 

Which creators do you most often think about?

Lynch_TwinPeaks
David Lynch – Twin Peaks

Aside from the people I’ve mentioned already, I think a lot about David Lynch. I’ve always liked his stuff but Twin Peaks: The Return (2017) absolutely blew me away. There were points I was watching that when I thought “I didn’t know you could do that with television”. I think whenever a work expands your ideas about what’s possible within a particular medium you know you’re in the presence of real Art with a capital A. I love the sense of mystery in Lynch’s stuff, which I think comes from his letting the subconscious take the lead in the creative process – he talks a lot about using ideas or imagery from dreams, or meditation. It’s a process I’ve consciously been emulating with “Anxious Comics”.

Can you name the first three creative peers that come into your head and tell a little bit about why?

Gareth Hopkins - NO NEW IDEAS

 

 

 

Gareth Hopkins, because I’ve just finished doing a page for his “no new ideas” project. It was great fun getting to paint over a copy of one of his pages. Gareth posts a lot of his process online and I’ve found it inspiring how he reworks and recycles stuff. His work has definitely encouraged me to veer more towards abstraction, and not to be afraid, in comics, of decoupling the text from the image – I think he was a big influence on my one-shot “the Screaming”.

Gareth Brookes. I’ve not talked to Gareth much about process but he seems drawn to ridiculously labour-intensive media, like embroidery or linocuts. As if making comics wasn’t hard enough already! But as I said before, there’s nothing like setting yourself an impossible challenge to get the creative juices flowing. Also, when I look at the spread of stuff he’s got for sale at conventions – a mix of self-published zines and two or three big hardback books published more traditionally, I think it’s where I’d like to be myself in a few years’ time, so I guess he’s kind of a role model for me right now.

 

Hannah Lee Miller
Hannah Lee Miller

Hannah Lee Miller is producing some lovely stuff. I picked up a copy of her zine about condiments at Catford Zine Fair and it’s one of those things that initially seems rather slight and inconsequential but is actually really, really good, it just doesn’t shout about it. Also, Hannah is, in my limited experience, infallibly enthusiastic about other comic / zine people and always ready to help out or lend support where it’s needed. An asset to the scene.

 

Finally, can you tell us a bit about your recent work and yourself?

For a long time I tried to be self-disciplined and only work on one thing at once, but recently I’ve come to accept that I’m happier when I have several projects, preferably in different media, on the go at once.

The last thing I self-published was “The Screaming”, an experimental one-shot comic about dreams and mental health. I wrote about it in some detail for Broken Frontier.

Screaming_p08
Screaming page 8

I’ve got five pages in the upcoming anthology by Obsolete Comics. I’m really excited about this one as it looks like it’s going to be great, and hopefully represents the start of another small comics press. We can never have enough small comics presses.

I’ve also got Anxious Comics, my ongoing series – four issues out to date and the fifth long overdue! My long-term plan with that, if you can call it that, is to keep it going between other projects for as long as it needs to, or until I get bored. At some point it would be nice to do a collected edition.

I’m currently drawing a comic written by Steve Thompson, which he’ll be pitching to publishers soon I think. I like drawing other people’s scripts because it forces me to draw stuff I otherwise wouldn’t think of.

Looking to the longer term, I’m working on a script for a longer-form comic. It’s kind of a superhero thing. But not quite. I’ve got this character who’s kind of my own take on the super-violent costumed vigilantes like the Punisher and Deadpool that were popular when I was a kid, but transplanted to the “real world” of early-noughties London.  It’s pretty bleak. I think it’s funny myself but as with some other stuff I’ve self-published in the past it will probably cause people to express concern for my mental health.

Gareth Huntbegins
Gareth – Hunt Begins – work in progess

Bio: Daniel Bristow-Bailey was born in London in 1978. Growing up during the “dark age” of mainstream comics, he quickly became attracted to the alternative / indie scene and, encouraged by his mum and the bloke in the local comic shop, started drawing his own from an early age. Like many others, he drifted away from comics in his late teens, put off by their uncool image and lack of seriousness compared to grown-up art and literature, but came back to them in recent years as he realised that no-one was going to think he was cool or take him seriously anyway. As well as making his own comics, he draws other people’s scripts and sometimes writes prose fiction. He has a day job working as a mental health person in schools. He lives in Richmond with his wife and two children.

Thank you very much for taking the time to fill this out and let us into your mind.

Gerald
Gerald – work in progress

all art copyright and trademark it’s respective owners.

content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2020

 

 

Small (press) oaks – Ken Meyer Jr

Ken Meyer is probably best known for things that I don’t know him for at all. For me, his work will always be vampires (a friend of mine at uni was absolutely OBSESSED with Vampire the Masquerade and insisted on showing me his work every time I went to her house – it stands up well to tens and tens of views, in case you were wondering!) and Caliber comics mystery come horror series Kilroy Is Here a series I realise I enjoyed a lot having spent a number of hours going back through those issues.
When I started looking for creators whose work I remembered, I was pleased to find out that Ken is a huge fanzine collector/ appreciator and I’ve found many new artists whose work I like because of him.

I know none of that mentions his recent art, but I feel like people are probably already aware of his art – if you’re not you should definitely check him out.

 

Ken Meyer - Head shot

website         store envy        fine art america        pixels

facebook         instagram       twitter 

 

Over to Ken

Can you tell us a bit about the first creator whose work you recognised?

Well, I don’t think I really recognized who I was looking at until long after I started reading comic books (the thing that really started me as an artist). While reading comics in the early seventies I was also reading and contributing to many comic/fantasy fanzines of that time period (and in fact, I write an online monthly column called Ink Stains on this subject, which you can access from my website). Some of the very first comics I remember reading were things like Sea Devils (with those amazing Russ Heath covers). I was made somewhat aware of what came before through things like Steranko’s History of the Comics but didn’t really delve into that with any intelligence until later.

 

Which creators do you remember first copying?

I remember copying (with carbon paper) many things before I started drawing FROM the comics and then drawing on my own. One was an issue of Thor by Neal Adams. I am sure there were many others, but for some reason I remember that.

 

Who was the creator that you first thought ‘I’m going to be as good as you!’?

I doubt I ever really thought like that. Of course, there were many that I WANTED to be as good as, or even be like. Early on it was people like Kirby, John Buscema, Neal Adams, Frank Frazetta (I was consuming a lot of Edgar Rice Burroughs and similar books), etc. The ones that really sparked my interest came a bit later, people like Bernie Wrightson, Barry Smith, Craig Russell, Roger Dean (who illustrated a lot of my favorite music of the time) and then later, with the coming of the independents of the 80’s and some reinvention in the big two, by people such as Frank Miller, Steve Rude, Dave Sim, Howard Chaykin, etc. Some artists became painters and became very important to me, like Jeff Jones, George Pratt, Dave McKean and above all, Bill Sienkiewicz. About that time, I was becoming interested in mainstream illustration, so others played a big part, such as Bernie Fuchs, Bob Peak, Jim Sharpe, Kazuhiko Sano, Mark English, Bart Forbes and many more.

A recent piece commenting on the murder of George Floyd

 

Which creator or creators do you currently find most inspiring?

Bill Sienkiewicz always amazes me. I cannot keep up with comics now, so I am probably missing out on a lot in that field. Fantasy illustrators that might be seen in the pages of the Spectrum annual frequently like Paul Bonner, Rick Berry, and so many more.

 

Which creators do you most often think about?

Part of that answer is just simple exposure…I see Bill’s work very frequently on Facebook, since he posts so often (thank the art godz), for example. Sometimes seeing his work, I am reminded of some of his influences again, who were also mine, such as Peak, mentioned above. Bill has the ability (and experience) to combine lots of media, capture likenesses seemingly effortlessly, be loose and incredibly creative, and also just be very personable and open, which I try to be.

 

Can you name the first three creative peers that come into your head and tell a little bit about why?

Peer is a hard term to truly qualify. I suppose mine might be a combination of independent comic artists, magic artists, and a few commercial illustrators. But, like many, I am harder on myself than anyone else, so I hesitate to put myself on the same level of a lot of people. David Mack comes to mind, since we both started, to some degree, at Caliber Comics in the mid-nineties. However, David has gone on to a whole other level, initially through his creator owned Kabuki series (and all the leaps and bounds his art took while working on it), and then working with Marvel and other huge properties. He is also a really good ambassador for the visual medium, traveling the world and introducing art to communities in far flung locations in a very intelligent and caring manner.

I hate to keep harping on Sienkiewicz, but I would be lying if I did not say he comes to mind for this question as well. Steve Rude does also, for some of the same reasons. Even though I marvelled at his work on Nexus, meeting him later was as easy as anyone. Though he struggles with his own personal demons, he remains giving and accessible…and his work ethic is far beyond question. His love of comics in general always shows in his work and his words.

a new playmat with a Dark Ritual-Big Lebowski mashup
A new playmat with a Dark Ritual/Big Lebowski mashup

There are many fellow Magic artists that could fill this bill, and I have been lucky to have met many of them at the various events in the past. They all possess talent, drive, and skill. Some have an incredible amount of creativity, like Anthony Waters. Some are just beautiful human beings, like Chuck Lukacs. Some are inventive pranksters, like Pete Venters. Some have forged very individual styles, like Drew Tucker and Richard Kane Ferguson. I am just lucky to know many of them.

 

Finally, can you tell us a bit about your recent work and yourself?

I have been a commercial artist since about 1976 (starting as a work study student in college). I have worked in many industries and for many companies, including comics (Marvel, Dark Horse, Image, Caliber, Revolutionary, etc), online games (Everquest), paper games; (Magic, VTES, Imajica, Dragonstorm, Rage, Vampire the Masquerade and many other White Wolf/Onyx Path properties, Redemption, Legend of the Five Rings, Shadowfist, more), various ad agencies and companies (Bell Helmets, RAINN, American Cancer Society, etc), and many private commissions and freelance work. My personal interests include film, tv, reading (favorite authors include Stephen King, Chuck Palahniuk, Christopher Moore), music (I have waaay too many cds), and tennis.

I started working exclusively on a freelance basis about 18 years ago (having worked full time art related jobs while doing freelance at the same time for many years before that). Most of the work I do tends to be continuing work for White Wolf/Onyx Path and a few other companies, as well as varied commissions from all sorts of people doing all sorts of subjects. A fair amount of it tends to be Magic based, such as the work I would sell and show at events, or work like altered cards, playmat sketches, artist proof card paintings, etc. But, like most freelance illustrators, I need to be able to do pretty much anything if I want to make a living! As for recent or current work, I have a few Onyx Path illustrations due by the end of this month (June), a private commission for a returning client I am working on now, and some altered cards after that. I can never tell what is coming next!

 Thank you very much for taking the time and letting us into your mind.

empress_orig
Private commision – Empress

 

all art copyright and trademark it’s respective owners.

content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2020

 

 

Small (press) oaks – Simon Moreton

Today we talk to Simon Moreton.

Simon is a mainstay of UK small press zines and comics, having been making for 13 years. I first saw his work championed by the late Tom Spurgeon on his much-missed site Comics Reporter. It was when he started posting images from his recently finished ‘Where?’ series that I started paying greater attention. The sudden shift in style really making his art pop for my eyes.

Simon’s DIY and community led attitude really impressed me as well as his incredible approach in Where? So much so that I feel quite deeply attached to following what he does and why he does it. He was, in fact, the first person I approached about discussing influences as he seems to have a wide sense of taste and be sure about what interests him.

 

You can find him here

Website      Shop      Twitter     Instagram 

where4parts
All four parts of Where?

So, over to Simon!

 

Can you tell us a bit about the first creator whose work you recognised?

I’m going to say either Charles Schulz or Gary Larson in terms of comics. That was because when I was little, we had all these little Peanuts books that I would read again and again, and I loved the Far Side, too. Every year for a long time I’d buy my Dad one of those calendars where you tore off the page each new day for his desk at work. Each page had a cartoon on it, and at the end of the year, Dad would bring them home for me.

In non-comics world, for as long as I can remember I was excited by the visual art that was associated with sci-fi and fantasy games and literature, from 1960s paperbacks to the 70s and 80s album covers. Roger Dean and Rodney Matthews were early faves, but it was probably the Games Workshop artists that I first learned to identify. This was back in the late 1980s.

Games Workshop made – and still make – various tabletop and roleplaying games set in fantasy or futuristic settings, and paintable miniatures to go with them. They publish a monthly magazine called White Dwarf, which back then at least was full of illustrations, mostly black and white, by artists like John Blanche, Ian Miller, John Sibbick, Paul Bonner, and many more. Those were the first artists whose names I knew (and have now forgotten)

 

Which creators do you remember first copying?

Probably one of those Games Workshop ones, I would think.

 

Simon Moreton Ley Lines cover
Simon Moreton Ley Lines due out shortly

Who was the creator that you first thought ‘I’m going to be as good as you!’?

I’ve never thought like this, even as a kid. I’m not competitive at all. There have been artists I admired, but I don’t think I’ve ever thought I’d be ‘as good as’ anyone. Who’d want to be as good as someone else? Not saying it’s easy to see the strength in your own work (and gosh knows I’ve struggled with that) but other people? Nah – I’d rather just make work that’s mine and keep at it.

 

Which creator or creators do you currently find most inspiring?

I can’t provide one, but…. lately I’ve really enjoyed reading Max Porter (‘Lanny’ is A++) there’s a crackle in his prose that really is exciting. In terms of comics, it’s my pals and peers – Warren Craghead, Peony Gent, Maxim Peter Griffin, Brigid Elva and so on – that keep me on my toes.

 

I also saw a painting called Milltown Exit by Fay Jones recently that really kicked me into a different sort of brain loop with my figures and compositional stuff (one of the pages in my forthcoming book for the Ley Lines series is a homage to that painting).

 

Ooo and Bill Traylor, an amazing American painter, and also Rose Wylie. Both of their work is really stunning. Oh and Lynda Barry. ALWAYS Lynda Barry.

 

Which creators do you most often think about?

When I started making comics, John Porcellino was a big influence on me. As time has gone by, I feel my own work has taken its own path and that influence might not be so clear if you were new to my work. But what I do retain is a strong sense of the value of self-publishing, of following your own artistic instinct, of making community through what you do. So even if my influences have been expanding and my own art has drifted to new places, the way I do what I do is thoroughly indebted to John’s early influence on me.

 

Can you name the first three creative peers that come into your head and tell a little bit about why?

I’ve already mentioned a few, so I’ll add Molly Fairhurst, Stan Miller, and Carrie McNinch to that list.

 

 

Finally, can you tell us a bit about your recent work and yourself?

img_6365
Lettuce Bee

I’m a zine maker based in Bristol (b. 1983). I make comics, drawings, and also write prose. My work is largely autobiographical. I make a regular zine called ‘Minor Leagues’ which comprises prose, photos, drawings and comics. I have just finished a memoir about grief, childhood, and the landscape and history of a hill in Shropshire called ‘Where?’. I’ve has been making zines for 13 years.

Forthcoming: ‘The Lie of the Land’ part of the Ley Lines series, published by Kevin Czap and L. Nichols (May/June 2020, COVID-crisis-permitting)

Minor Leagues 10 (self-published May 2020) Out now!!

Where? (Serialised in Minor Leagues 6 – 9)

Lettuce Bee – an anthology of amazing work by amazing people

 

Thank you very much for taking the time to fill this out and let us into your mind.

 

all art copyright and trademark it’s respective owners.

content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2020

Small (press) oaks – Robert Wells

As promised, we’ve got part two of our two-fer from the team bringing Department of the Peculiar – Goes Pop to Kickstarter RIGHT NOW. This time artist Robert Wells. Part one of the two-fer featured Rol Hirst, writer of DotP.

Rob’s been on zine love before, so this makes him our first returning interviewee for the site (stealing the position at the last moment from someone else that I was slow to respond to!!).

 

He seems to be constantly busy drawing something and collaborating with creators whose work I enjoy, which is how I came across his work in the first place. He has really strong chops when it comes to drawing and designing characters and a lovely turn in understated snipe, so that’s been a bonus – as well as being lovely to chat to.

You can buy from him here, check out some free downloads of DotP here and back it here, and socially follow him on    twitter     instagram     or facebook

DotP 2 heroes insert
DotP 2 Heroes? stretch goal!!

 

Over to you Rob – tell us a bit about yourself and your tastes

Can you tell us a bit about the first creator whose work you recognised?

The first comic creator was John Byrne. I remember thinking that the art in X-Men, which he was still drawing at the time, looked similar to the art in a Marvel Premiere two-parter featuring Ant-Man (#47 and #48), then I noticed the credits in a comic for the first time and realised that people actually drew these things.

marvel-premiere-47-48
Marvel Premiere-47-48

Outside of comics, I was about to give the same answer as Rol (Hirst – writer of Department of the Peculiar – see interview here) and say Stephen King, as I’ve read quite a lot of his books (probably less than half of them but that’s still a lot). Then I remembered that when I was a kid, I really liked James Bond films and that I read a lot of Ian Fleming’s James Bond books (and some written by other people) when I was at secondary school. That was probably the first time I ever saw a film or TV series and then went and on to discover the source material, which was often quite different. (I have no interest in James Bond at all now.)

James Bond covers
James Bond covers

Which creators do you remember first copying?

Maybe John Byrne but I probably copied things out of comics before that not knowing the names of the artists I was copying.

 

More generally I’d say Charles Bukowski, whose work I probably wouldn’t enjoy much at all now and may even find quite offensive, but I liked it a lot when I was in my early-20s. ‘Copied’ may be an exaggeration but around the time I was reading a lot of his stuff I started going to a writers’ workshop to improve my writing and in the couple of years I was going there I wrote a lot of semi-autobiographical short stories that often involved a lot of drinking.

Charles Bukowski covers
Charles Bukowski covers

Who was the creator that you first thought ‘I’m going to be as good as you!’?

I don’t know how to answer that really. I’ve hoped to be as good as a lot of creators, but I don’t know that I’ve ever thought that I would be as good as someone, not even artists whose work I dislike. I’ve certainly seen a lot of art that’s made me think ‘I could do better than that’ but that’s generally the work of amateurs who I wouldn’t be able to name. Art I tend to dislike in professional comics I usually dislike because it’s bland or conforms to some dull house style (I’m thinking of a lot of DC comics from a decade or more ago) but even then the artists involved probably have a better grasp of anatomy and better basic drawing skills than me, they are just working to tough deadlines and drawing characters who have to be drawn in a certain way.

 

Which creator or creators do you currently find most inspiring?

Cult_of_Luna_-_Mariner
Cult of Luna – Mariner with Julie Christmas

Sean Phillips, who I still can’t believe I was cheeky enough to ask to do a pin-up for DOTP Goes POP! #1 after he told me he liked my book. Not only did he agree, he even posted me the original art.

Other than that, I can’t think of one particular example right now but like Rol I love Better Call Saul and watch a lot of TV in general, particularly US TV, and I’m sure that influences my storytelling. I also listen to a lot of music – particularly metal – while I’m drawing and that really helps me to switch off and lose myself in my work.

 

Which creators do you most often think about?

Jaime Hernandez = Love and Rockets
Jaime Hernandez = Love and Rockets

For comics it’s Jaime Hernandez. He was already great when I discovered Love and Rockets in 1986/1987 but he has somehow kept getting better. I often go for long periods without engaging with his work at all (I haven’t bought any issues of the current Love and Rockets series yet and because I rarely get to visit good comic shops, I haven’t even seen them) but I always pick up the collections and come back to it eventually.

More generally? Now I will say Stephen King, even if what I’m usually thinking is just: ‘Bloody hell, he’s somehow written three more huge books since the last one I read, and I still haven’t read at least 20 of the ones I picked up in charity shops a decade or more ago!’

 

Can you name the first three creative peers that come into your head and tell a little bit about why?

Rol, Paul Rainey (who encouraged me to start drawing comics again at a time when I had almost given up on it), and Martin Eden (who I exchange long emails with very regularly).

Paul Rainey - Thunder Brother Special -cover Paul Rainey – Thunder Brother Special -cover
Martin Eden - Zeros Martin Eden – Zeros

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, can you tell us a bit about your recent work and yourself?

I’m 51, married, no kids, two dogs. I live in Kent. I self-published my first comic in 1991, when I was 22, published a handful of other comics in the ‘90s, didn’t do much at all in the 2000s, but got back into it big-time in the 2010s, when I was in my early-40s. It’s only since I did my graphic novel (which even I didn’t think I’d actually finish when I started it) that I feel like I’ve developed any confidence and really got going. I’d be happy for everything I did before that point, along with the years I wasted doing things other than drawing, to be stricken from the record. I write and draw but now I seem to be mostly drawing and I’m quite enjoying collaborating with other people on comics for a change.

 

I’m currently working on Department of the Peculiar Goes POP! #2 (just finishing off a 3-page back-up strip but the rest is done)

 

About to start drawing a 6-page sci-fi strip, written by Paul Duncan, for The ’77 #3

 

Malty Heave #2 (with Phil Elliott). I have written most of my story for this horror-themed issue, which will probably be out for Halloween now, but Phil and I have both been distracted by other things and haven’t really got going with drawing it yet (although Phil has drawn at least two pages of his strip).

 

Thank you very much for taking the time to fill this out and let us into your mind.

 

all art copyright and trademark it’s respective owners.

content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2020

 

 

Small (press) oaks – Rol Hirst

cover for the The Jock by Nigel Lowrey

zine love is all about talking to people about their art to encourage others to see how easy it is to create.

We love digging into the personal histories of those that inspire us, especially when those histories can open a wider world out to us to delve into and discover new things to excite and inspire us. So, we thought we could start up a feature where we asked creators what their earliest inspirations were, both in their chosen fields and in art in general and what continues to inspire them. I think of it as a bit like Mass Observation, but for the small press, an oral record of personal histories outside of the accepted norms of history.

We may even, if we get enough responses, start doing silly charts about the biggest influences, who knows!

 

With that in mind we thought it would be fun to reach out to some creators we know and admire and get the ball rolling – we’re going to start with a two-fer from the team bringing Department of the Peculiar – Goes Pop to Kickstarter RIGHT NOW

DOTP Goes Pop 2 - cover - Robert Wells
art by Robert Wells

First up – we’re going to talk to Rol Hirst, tomorrow will be Robert Wells. If you’re my age and from the UK comic collecting scene, you’re likely to remember Rol Hirst as a reviewer in the truly excellent Comics International. A reviewer who ended his run by taking up writing comics! Rol along with a reviewer called Francis Barbieri (which I desperately hope I’ve spelled correctly) were the two that most aligned with my tastes in comics and had a nice pithy touch to their work.

 

It’s good to know that Rol Is still working and making – and particularly nice to see that dry humour continues in the comics he creates – check out some free downloads of the comic here and back it here.

Buy some of Rol (and collaborators) comics here in digital or physical form

Rol also regularly posts about music on his site My Top Ten

Over to you Rol – tell us a bit about yourself and your tastes

 

Can you tell us a bit about the first creator whose work you recognised?

In comics it was probably John Byrne. I started reading comics around the time he took over the Fantastic Four and I was a huge fan of his art and back-to-basics storytelling for years. Back in my letter-hacking days, he even started to recognise me as a fan, one time sending me a signed copy of a novel he’d written. I felt like I stabbed him in the back a bit years later when he took over the writing and art on Amazing Spider-Man and I was reviewing in Comics International at the time… but I stand by those reviews, his work on Spider-Man was atrocious. Shames, because most of his work up to (and even after) that point still stands up well today.

Sorry, John.

Fantastic Four - Art by John Byrne

 

In general, it would be Stephen King. Even though he often struggles with an ending (don’t we all?) and lately is far too comfortable falling back on familiar tropes, his narrative voice always fascinates and entertains. He has been a constant companion.

 

Which creators do you remember first copying?

Mr Men by Roger Hargreaves

That’d probably be Byrne as well. The first comic strip I created was called Sharpshift, and I ripped off quite a bit of his Alpha Flight run in that… and because I couldn’t draw for toffee (and hasn’t yet started conning gullible artist folk into drawing my mad ramblings for free), I pretty much traced all my figures from old Byrne comics.

That’s for comics at least, outside of that it would be Roger Hargreaves. I spent ages drawing my own Mr. Men books when I was a kid.

 

Who was the creator that you first thought ‘I’m going to be as good as you!’?

I’m not going to answer that question, but I hope I can explain why. Throughout my time reading comics – particularly once I started writing them myself – I could pretty much divide professional writers into two camps: those I knew I’d never be as good as (probably most of them, to be honest) and those I knew I was better than (and if you knew me, you’d know self-confidence is not my forte) and I couldn’t ever explain how they’d got where they were. There are a couple of particularly high-profile creators who have made millions from comics that I know I can write a better story than any day of the week… but I’m not going to name them, because they might be a favourite of somebody reading this, and everyone’s entitled to their opinion.

That’s the same for everything, really.

TMSAV 2cover
Too Much Sex & Voilence issue 2 cover by Nigel Lowrey

 

Which creator or creators do you currently find most inspiring?

In comics, it’s probably Rob (Wells). If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t even be writing comics anymore, since I’d pretty much left them behind 6 or 7 years ago. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have him drawing Department of the Peculiar. That has inspired me to start writing again.

I admire Vince Gilligan as a writer. The character, pacing and detail in Breaking Bad & Better Call Saul puts everything else in its shadow.

 

 

 

Which creators do you most often think about?

What, in some kind of pervy way? I always thought Walt Simonson had a very fine beard.

Seriously though, there’s only one answer to this question: Stan Lee. Without him, my life would be lacking in so many ways.

Bruce Springsteen would be my answer outside of comics. A different kind of storytelling, but always there for me.

 

Can you name the first three creative peers that come into your head and tell a little bit about why?

Rob, obviously. Nige Lowrey, who was the main artist on my first long-running comic, The Jock, and really should have become a superstar but missed the boat like so many of us. And then probably Davey Metcalfe, who I’ve known as long as Nige, and who has been a constant collaborator on various projects over the years, and always goes above and beyond to help out. After that, I could go on and on…

Pjang 1 cover
Pjang 1 cover

 

Finally, can you tell us a bit about your recent work and yourself?

I’m Rol Hirst, a writer and English teacher whose previous comics include The Jock (which ran for more than 30 issues in the ’90s), PJANG and Too Much Sex and Violence. I live in Huddersfield with my partner, Louise, and son, Sam. I like music, scones and too much coffee.

 

Thank you very much for taking the time to fill this out and let us into your mind.

 

all art copyright and trademark it’s respective owners.

content copyright iestyn pettigrew 2020