Happy Monday to you all, we’re pressing ahead with plans for this year’s Thought Bubble, even more so now that Fearless Leader Lisa Wood has returned from the Emerald City (scroll down to Sunday’s signings). We’re in the process of finalising things with some more guests, so they’ll be revealed soon, and we’re seeing the halls for the convention fill up fast, so act soon if you want a table as over 70% are already booked!
In terms of events coming a bit sooner, as opposed to November (TBF12 only 209 days away!), this Saturday coming sees the return of the Comica Comiket!
Saturday April 21st in the spectacular Great Hall at the Bishopsgate Institute near Liverpool Street station in London, there’ll be a brand new Comica Comiket for the Spring, a one-day comics and art fair – offering the best of British creators, publishers, small presses, graphic artists and suppliers under one roof, and admission is free from 11am to 6pm. Throughout the day, John Allison, Darryl Cunningham, Tom Gauld, Simone Lia, Maarten Vande Wiele, and Andi Watson are among the top artists who will be taking part on stage in the Comica Drawing Parade, with their live artworks and demos projected on a giant screen!
And so onwards to today’s feature attraction…
It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies manage to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armoured space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet. Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy.
But we’re lovers, not fighters! So, instead of getting involved with all that, we decided to chat with a few comics creators and write down the results! Minterviews!
The format’s the same each week – five standard questions are asked to every contributor, and then five special follow-ups are derived from their answers to the initial batch of questions, so ten in total, a mini-interview, a Minterview. Hopefully it’ll make for some nice informal conversations about the funny books we know and love from those who make them.
This week we spoke to Kate Brown, creator of cool comics, whose story The Lost Boy is currently being serialised in The Phoenix and is excellent! See what she had to say after the jump!
TB: Hi Kate, to begin can you give us an idea of how you got started in comics? Did you get a big break, or was it more gradual?
Sort of both, I guess! I’d been cartooning and making comics all my life, but I suppose the first thing I did when I got REALLY SERIOUS about comics, was this web-comic I had (which is no longer online, thank god) around 1999/2000. I learned a lot from doing that, and it helped make up my mind that it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life (if I could!)
I went to uni to study comics – did several mini-comics and things in anthologies – and a few years after that I was in the right place at the right time and landed the job of working on A Midsummer Night’s Dream for SelfMadeHero. That was basically when I became self-employed, anyways.
TB: So, was your university course helpful in terms of preparing your for the practical realities of working in the comics industry?
For the practical side of things – no. I didn’t even know what bleed was when I got out of uni, for instance. We’d not covered lettering or anything like that. Most of my Photoshop knowledge is self-taught, or I’ve learned stuff from online tutorials. The only thing approaching practicality was a few lessons on how to fill in a tax return form. Oh, and we had it instilled in us to FEAR THE DEADLINE more than anything, and if we miss a deadline that’s it – our career’s over and everyone will know and it will be shouted from the rooftops. But yeah… that was all really. We didn’t focus on anything industry-based, to my recollection.
It would have been mightily useful to have had some comic artists in and been able to chat to them… but that didn’t happen. It wasn’t necessarily the fault of the people running the actual course; the course itself was part of the general illustration course, and the person who oversaw that hated the comics course, I think he thought it was useless. So, we were always made to feel like the bastard child and never had any budget. The whole experience was a bit of a battle.
TB: And, once you’d graduated, had you always intended to focus mainly on creating and illustrating your own stories/worlds, or was it something that happened naturally?
I think it was kinda both? I do think that having a firm goal when you’re working in comics is a good idea – to have something definite to work towards.
I’d been writing/drawing my own stories since I had been really quite little, and so I just… kinda wanted to keep on doing that if I could!
TB: What’s your proudest moment, in comics or otherwise, to date?
I think it would have to be experiencing Playbox Theatre’s theatrical version of The Spider Moon. I admit I’d always been very sneery of adaptations before that, but my mind was blown at the collaborative skill.
I’m not terribly sentimental (I think!) but I got super choked up watching it all. It didn’t feel like my story at all – in a good way! It felt more… like, much more than I could ever have made it. (I’m not sure if that counts as something I’m proud of having done? ‘Cause…. well, it wasn’t really me. But it was REALLY COOL).
TB: So, do you think the recent rash of comic adaptations for stage/screen are detracting from the source material?
In terms of actual adaptations of comics stuff, to be honest I’ve not seen that many of them… but things really seem to be being adapted all the time! Seems like every other film is an adaptation. Maybe it’s always been like that and I’ve never noticed properly. But, no, I don’t think they are detracting, really. I think that even a really poor adaptation can have a positive effect on the original source material in terms of who might go and check it out. That said, I don’t know if I’m naive, but I worry about falling into the trap of “If my comic/book doesn’t make it to the cinema screen, then it’s useless.”
TB: Do you enjoy attending conventions and other events like Thought Bubble?
Sure do! I’ve been doing conventions since about 2000, I guess. I like being in a positive, comics-fuelled atmosphere. There’s a big mix of events in the UK now, all of which have their own unique atmospheres to my mind.
TB: Which comics are you enjoying at the moment, any all-time favourites?
Hmmmm… I’ve been working my way through a fat bunch of stuff I’ve picked up from conventions over the past year, so I guess most of my reading at the moment is UK comics.
As for my all-time favourite? I actually decided on that, recently! It’s The Aromatic Bitters, by Erica Sakurazawa. I super love it. And the rest of her work. But… Tokyopop only translated volume one of The Aromatic Bitters! HEARTBREAK!
TB: Of those that you’re reading at the moment are there any UK indie gems you’ve discovered that we should be checking out?
I think The Lengths by Howard Hardiman is really excellent. It’s up to Issue 5 now and I’m really enjoying it. I also love anything by the Burgess sisters, Sarah and Rebecca. I think they are really great comics creators, and I’m always interested in their stuff.
TB: How’s it been working with the DFC team again on The Phoenix? Are you enjoying working on The Lost Boy?
It’s great! I really missed working with the guys. I’m 100% behind the team… I know they care so deeply about what they’re doing and I think that has a knock-on effect on the creators, too. Same as when I was working for The DFC, I don’t even consider my comic as a separate entity… um, like, I think of The DFC/The Phoenix as one big thing that we’re all in together. Hope that makes sense!
TB: Finally, thought bubbles or caption boxes?
I like to think they both have their place!
Many thanks to Kate for taking the time to talk to us, you’ll be able to meet her for yourself at this year’s convention, and be sure to pick up a copy of her excellent book Fish + Chocolate in the meantime!
Another minterview, and more TBF12 updates next Monday!
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