Thought Bubble 2014: 9th-16th November!


Minterviews 2013: Emma Rios by thoughtbubblefestival

Holla!

I hope you’re all eggcited for Easter, or an equivalent egg-based non-denominational holiday of your choosing! EGGS! Here at Tho Bubs Central, we’re continuing with our plans, plots, and schemes for this year’s festival, and because of that we have some fresh as the dickens updates for you!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only, and because of this we’ve updated…

The Thought Bubble 2013 guests pages! Including… Geof Darrow, Kelly Sue Deconnick, Matt Fraction, and David Aja!

The Thought Bubble 2013 New Dock Hall exhibitor pages!

The Thought Bubble 2013 Royal Armouries Hall exhibitor pages!

It’s gearing up to be our bestest festival ever, so keep your eyes out for more and more goodness coming at you, thicker and faster as the festival dates near, exponentially increasing in amazingness until it all collapses into a singularity of super cool awesome times.

If you’re exhibiting with us and are yet to send over an icon then please do, you can see all the details of what’s needed on this page, and if you missed out on a table, then you can sign up to our reserves list here.

***

Now. You may have heard that each year we like to have a chat with some of the wonderful creators that we get to meet through the festival, and pop the transcripts up online. We ask the same 5 starting questions to everyone, and then figure out 5 more questions from their answers to those to form a mini-interview, a MINTERVIEW! They’re also called MINTerviews because that’s our favourite flavour ice-cream, and we always eat it when Minterviewing people. Mint ice cream is good for you because it is green. THIS IS SCIENCE.

This week we had a talk with Emma Rios, amazing artist on Dr Strange, Prophet, Pretty Deadly, Captain Marvel, and more besides. Her art is lovely, as can be seen on her blog, flickr, and tumblr. You can see what we talked about below, so get readin’, pilgrim!

TB: Hi Emma! First off, how did you get started in comics? Did you get a big break, or was it more gradual?

ER: I learned how to read by reading comics, so creating them felt quite natural. I started drawing comics quite young, when I was 13 or 14 years old, and I’ve been involved in comics during all that time, but actually never thought I was going to become a professional. 

TB: So, which comics did you start off reading as you were growing up?

ER: Asterix and Obelix, Donald Duck, some old Spanish stuff I inherited like Jabato, anime adaptations like Mazinger and Gatchaman and Superheroer. I didn’t read any manga stuff until starting High School.

TB: And what’s your proudest moment been, in comics or otherwise, to date?

ER: Probably when I took my first self-published work to a professional printers when I was 21. I’d already done several photocopied ‘zines at that moment, but this felt different.

Artwork by Emma Rios

Artwork by Emma Rios

TB: Do you still produce any self-published stories, or does your work on titles for publishers like Marvel and Image mean you no longer have time to do that?

ER: Not really, just short collaborations. I definitively have to find time for that.

TB: Do you enjoy attending conventions and other events like Thought Bubble?

ER: I have a lot of fun, but they always make me feel a bit nervous. I’m not very fond of huge cons but I do like small ones, a lot.

TB: You sketched live on stage for our audience at 2012’s Thought Bubble convention, how was that as an experience?

ER: Less traumatic than I thought it would be, actually. I always freak out regarding these things because of not being an English speaking person, but it went great. I had a lot of fun, thanks to Peter Doherty and all the guys there.

Artwork by Emma Rios

Artwork by Emma Rios

TB: Which comics are you enjoying at the moment, any all-time favourites?

ER: More than anything I’m quite obssessed with anything that comes from Taiyou Matsumoto. I do like Brandon Graham’s stuff, Frederik Peeters, Angie Wang, Hwei Lin Lim, Guy Davis, Frank Quitely, Burns, Pope, Samura…

I’m enjoying Hawkeye, Daredevil, BPRD, Prophet, what Josh Tierney and the gang are doing in Spera, and Brandon´s Multiple Warheads quite a lot… I’ve also had a blast reading the Spanish edition of Prison Pit last week, the Shigeru Mizuki bio… My reading is pretty chaotic, but I enjoy that.

I´m reading Fantagraphics’ Heart of Thomas right now. And some all-time favourites are Wolfman and Colan’s Drácula, Batman: Year One and DD: Born Again by Mazzuchelli and Miller, Ditko´s Doctor Strange, Nocenti´s run on Daredevil, Otomo´s Akira, Lone Wolf and Cub, Sienkievicz and Claremont´s New mutants, Tezuka, specially Ode to Kirihito and Ayako, Moto Hagio, Shigeru Mizuki…

It´s completely impossible to do a full list, honestly.

TB: So, do you think that your varied reading habits have influenced your artistic style? Are there any creators in particular that you see as having had a strong influence on your own work?

ER: Yup, definitively. I think I have quite a lot of different influences because of that.

Bernet, Colan, Samura, Ikeda, Pope, Miller, probably Crepax, some Bilal… The first Ghost In The Shell movie had a huge impact on me, and also Yoji Shinkawa, the guy who does the concept art on the Metal Gear games.

TB: Have you got any big work plans for this year? How’s Pretty Deadly coming along?

ER: I have quite a long schedule planned so far, which is a bit frightening but great. These are exciting times for me, I couldn’t be more grateful. The only thing I can talk about though is Pretty Deadly.

I’m having a blast working on this book. Kelly Sue and me are pretty close, we are a dream team, honestly, having so much trust in each other’s work. Everything feels smooth, the collaboration is organic and perfect. About what I’m doing there – one of the reasons I decided to move to creator owned stuff was because I needed to stop a bit, and think about how to improve the quality of my drawing. I really want to do something a bit different here and moving a step forward.

The western atmosphere, being so suggestive, helps a lot. Everything seems to flow on the page. I know this feeling is not going to last long -I’m always so insecure and a maniac perfectionist – but I’m kind of OK with how my work is looking so far.

TB: Finally, as always, thought bubbles or caption boxes?

ER: I do like both, but the way you use them is a bit different, I think. I normally try to express the character´s thoughts through their acting, before writing their thoughts – I can´t help it.

***

A huge thank you going out to Emma for taking the time to talk to us, Pretty Deadly is looking like it’s gonna be a whole heap of awesome, so keep an eye out for that dropping at your local comic emporium – and we’ll have the creative team behind it at this year’s festival, so come along and say howdy!

More Minterviews and updates coming sooooooon!



Minterviews 2013: Giannis Milonogiannis by thoughtbubblefestival

Hey you guys!

Did you have a nice vernal equinox? I went to school with someone called Vernon Equinox, but he was no relation, and that’s a whole different story for another time!

The story right now is one of updates! These are not bad dates, these are the best dates, and they lift your spirits, hence being called UP-dates. Or something? I’m no word scientist. Anyways, we have updated…

The Thought Bubble 2013  guests pages!

The Thought Bubble 2013  New Dock Hall exhibitor pages!

The Thought Bubble 2013 Royal Armouries Hall exhibitor pages!

All of which are slowly, but surely, getting crammed to the gills with some absolutely brilliant comics creating talent. It’s gonna be a fun ol’ time in the city of Leeds this November. BOY HOWDY!

If you’re yet to send over an icon then please do, you can see all the details of what’s needed on this page, and if you missed out on a table, then you can sign up to our reserves list here.

***

Now, every year, we like to have a chat with some of the wonderful creators that we get to meet through the festival, and pop the transcripts up online. We ask the same 5 starting questions to everyone, and then figure out 5 more questions from their answers to those to form a mini-interview, a MINTERVIEW! We also call them MINTerviews because reading them is like inhaling a cool blast of mountain air for your mind grapes, and leaves your noggin minty fresh. For any neurobiologists in the house, please don’t email in, we’re just having some fun. WHY YOU GOT TO HATE?

This week we’ve been talking to Giannis Milonogiannis, the excellent creator of cyberpunk webcomic Old City Blues, and whose (awesome) work can currently be found in Prophet and Spera, the collections of which are both worth picking up, as they’re firm favourites here. You can see what we chatted about below, and for more of Giannis’ work you can check out his website, or his art tumblr.

TB:Hey Giannis! So, to open, can you give us an idea of how you got started in comics? Did you get a big break, or was it more gradual?

GM: I sort of gradually scammed my way into comics – I got started doing small things locally in Greece, before putting up Old City Blues online in 2010. I suspect most people have found out about my stuff through Prophet, though.

TB: And how long were you publishing OCB online before Archaia expressed an interest in putting the book out? How did that come about?

GM: The book was online for about 7 months before Archaia found it – I had actually submitted it to them when they found it online themselves around the same time. So it’s like the book worked itself out in that way.

TB: So, do you prefer working on projects like OCB that you have complete control over, or collaborative projects with other writers/artists like Prophet and Spera? 

GM: Both are great for different reasons, I suppose – and doing one helps you better understand the other. Working with a writer is infinitely easier, most of the time, but I like to be able to show readers something like OCB and know it’s all my own, for better or worse – the characters and situations in a solo project are part of the creator in a different way than on collaborative books. It’s a totally different feeling.

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Artwork by Giannis Milonogiannis

TB: What’s your proudest moment, in comics or otherwise, to date?

GM: Finishing anything up is a pretty proud moment. The feeling doesn’t last long, but the high you get from finishing a story is probably when I feel proudest – “wow, we actually finished this?”

TB: And does that feeling of satisfaction become addictive after a while then? Do you think it’s that high that drives you to create, or do you just like telling stories?

GM: I think the cartoonist’s high is addictive even if we don’t realize it at first. I’d like to say it’s solely the stories that push me to make comics, but I’d probably be trying to write novels or something if that were true. The high I get from being in the zone while drawing or from just having finished a book is a big part of the fun in making comics.

TB: Do you enjoy attending conventions and other events like Thought Bubble?

GM: Definitely. I’ve only been to two or three because I live a ways from everything, but it’s been fun the times I’ve been. It’s fun to see people walking around for an entire weekend in a constant state of excitement.

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Artwork by Giannis Milonogiannis

TB: So, did you ever go to any conventions as a fan, when you were still trying to break into the industry? Do you think showing your work at events can help when you’re starting out? 

GM: I did go to a convention in the States in 2010 purely as a fan trying to break in. It was great to finally get to meet people up close, and see their immediate reactions to my work. It’s definitely something that helps you grow more comfortable with being someone who draws to be in such an environment.

TB: And as a comics fan – which titles are you enjoying at the moment, any all-time favourites?

GM: Some favorites: Adam Warren’s Dirty Pair: Sim Hell, Yukinobu Hoshino’s 2001 Nights, Hugo Pratt’s Corto Maltese, obviously anything by Shirow and Otomo. Right now I’m going back and reading a lot of Tezuka, Golgo 13 and 90’s X-Men stuff.

I should really read more current books.

TB: Do you have any characters, that aren’t your own, that are particular favourites to draw? Any that you’d jump at the chance to work on a title featuring? 

GM: I draw too much Metal Gear Solid fan-art probably, but I don’t know if I could draw a decent book of that. It’s definitely the first thing that comes to mind, though.

TB: Finally, thought bubbles or caption boxes?

GM: Both – in my head they’re two entirely different things with their own use. I don’t see how we can ban the use of thought bubbles – it’s like saying we can’t use red in our comics anymore.

***

We’d like to say a massive thank you to Giannis for taking the time to talk to us, and you really should check out the excellent free-to-read cyberpunk awesomeness of Old City Blues. It’s ACE.

We’ll have another Minterview for you next week, as well as more guest and exhibitor updates, so be sure to check back, check in, and check it out.

SO SAY WE ALL.



Minterviews 2013: Pia Guerra by thoughtbubblefestival

Hola amigos!

Hope you’re enjoying the first sprunging of spring sunshine, mixed in with icy death winds, and hyper-condensed snow blizzards. Isn’t global warming wonderful?

We’ve gotten through the avalanche of bookings that arrived last month for this year’s convention, and have started popping up some wonderful exhibitor icons on the website to reflect that – you can see the ones we’ve received so far for New Dock (Octopus) Hall and Royal Armouries (Wars) Hall by clicking on the links!

We’ll be updating the pages throughout the year, and be sure to have a click around on the icons to discover some wonderful creators. We’ve also been updating the guests pages regularly over the last month, so go and have a gander to whet your appetite at some of the awesome talent that’s coming to Leeds this November!

If you’re yet to send over and icon then please do, you can see all the details of what’s needed on this page, and if you missed out on a table, then you can sign up to our reserves list on here.

***

Every year, we like to have a chat with some of the wonderful creators that we get to meet through the festival, and pop the transcripts up online. We ask the same 5 starting questions to everyone, and then figure out 5 more questions from their answers to those to form a mini-interview, a MINTERVIEW! In an ideal world thunder will crash and lightning will flash as you read that mighty word, but if it doesn’t, just use your imagination.

This week we’re speaking to the awesome Pia Guerra whose artwork in Y – The Last Man is a perennial favourite here at Thought Bubble towers, and we were extremely honoured (and grateful) to be able to auction some of her original art earlier in the year as part of our charity sketch event. You can see our chat below, and for more of Pia’s work, check out her website.

TB: Hi Pia! So, to start off, could you tell us how you got started in comics? Did you get a big break, or was it more gradual?

PG: I was always drawing my own comics and friends told me I should do it for a living. I went to some local comic cons and showed my work to other artists and editors and their feedback convinced me I could make a go of comics as a career. It was a very slow creep upwards, I worked on a lot of indy books, and this being the early 90s, just as the whole industry was about to implode many of those projects never saw the light of day or were so limited no one got to really see it. I did work illustrating role playing game manuals, cards and storyboards for television on top of crappy part time jobs to keep a roof over my head. Every year I went to San Diego Comic Con to show my work and it was there I met Heidi MacDonald who made me her pet project. I tried out for many books over about a three year period, got rejected for each but kept going until 2001 when I got a call about Y. The rest you know.

TB: Are you a tabletop gamer yourself as well as a comic fan then, or were the RPG manual & card illustrations just a job to pay the bills?

PG: I did a lot of tabletop gaming in high school and with friends after that, mostly D&D. I came across White Wolf gaming manuals while hanging out in game shops and really liked the artwork, especially Tim Bradstreet’s pieces. We never played those modules, it seemed complex and a bit too gothy for our group but I always kept an eye out for the manuals when they came in.  Later, after trying out and landing some work on the books some Masquerade gamers tried to explain how the system worked but it didn’t really grab me enough to try it. A lot of it involved LARPing and I wasn’t into that. I enjoyed the work though, I approached it from the perspective of a National Geographic photographer roaming the world of Vampires and Werewolves, I was very happy with how it looked.

TB: Did your working style change much over those three years before Y? Do you markedly tailor the art style to a given project / story, or does it develop more organically?

PG: I spent most of that time just trying to get up to working speed and still making it look right. It was a few months before Y that I was finally comfortable with basic technique and that was when I started experimenting with style.  Also, since I was getting a lot of rejections from Vertigo I figured I’d switch focus to superhero books, my portfolio was starting to loosen up and feel more dynamic, enough so to get me on a waiting list for the Buffy comic (which I was pretty excited about) and then Y came along and I had to pull my style back to a more cinematic realism as fitting to the script.

Artwork by Pia Guerra

TB: What do you think is your proudest moment, in comics or otherwise, to date?

PG: Proudest moment in comics? Wow. Safeword is up there. That arc was fun and different and struck some nice notes. I really like how it came out. And then of course the last issue. I was wreck after that but in a “Holy shit it works!” kind of way. I never feel a hundred percent about any book I’ve done, there’s always a part of me that thinks I could have made this better if I’d done this or maybe if I did that in another way it would have popped more… the last issue could have been better in many ways but it was the strongest I’ve ever managed and I’m proud of that. I hit the marks just the way I wanted to hit and every time I hear how it messed someone up reading it I just feel “yeah, nailed it.” It’s a rare and good feeling.

TB: Would you say that that’s the hardest part of making comic for you – sending them out into the “real world” once you’ve finished working on them?

PG: Working on them. Absolutely. Sending them out, or to put it bluntly, getting them out of my hair so I can spend crazy hours on the next batch, that’s the part you live for.

TB: Do you enjoy attending conventions and other events like Thought Bubble?

PG: Working in comics is very isolating, you work in a studio for most of the year, you don’t get out much to socialize, especially if you’re on deadline. Your main form of communication is electronic, whether it’s with colleagues or readers and there are limits to what comes across. Conventions are fantastic because you just get a face full of interaction. You get to really hear what people think of the work you do and there’s a great back and forth exchange that’s immediate and engaging. There’s also the chance to give advice to new artists and see the enthusiasm that’s just bursting out of them, it makes you want to point them in all these new and, hopefully, helpful directions. Not to mention getting to hang out with other creators, many of them long time friends, who are in very much the same boat and eager to catch up and share all the stuff they’ve found in the time since you saw them last… or you’re meeting new creators who you’ve alternately adored for years or never heard of before and you want to hear everything they have to say, look at everything they have to show. It’s a very exciting time for all involved, very electric and I love it.

TB: So, do you think that that human interaction, and face-to-face criticism/appraisal of work, is an essential part of breaking into the industry for a budding artist or writer then?

PG: It is possible to get work through email and internet networking but I believe it’s a tougher slog. Editors don’t just want to see your work, they want to see YOU. It’s the direct interaction that gives them an idea of how you’ll be to work with, whether you’re good at communicating, whether you’re an easy or difficult personality, whether you’re the type who listens to feedback or gets defensive, whether you behave professionally and most important, whether you’re consistent. Artists rarely get a job after one meeting, it usually takes several follow ups with an editor to get a clear picture, and that’s why going to cons, establishing and building relationships is worth the time and effort to go.

Artwork by Pia Guerra

TB: Which comics are you enjoying at the moment, any all-time favourites?

PG: I am so digging Hawkeye right now. It’s a well written, very funny book with amazing artwork from David Aja (the kind of amazing that makes you SO ANGRY BECAUSE IT’S SO GOOD! ARRR!) Also, Wolverine an the X-Men is fun and Saga which is so damn beautiful. I’ve been getting sucked into manga lately, Bakuman and Drops of God are very good. All time favourites… Uncanny X-Men #205 has mind blowing art from Barry Windsor Smith that made me want to make comics, Sean Phillip’s run on Hellblazer was very inspirational.

TB: Have you been enjoying the recent superhero title upheavals from the ‘big two’?

I’ve never been a big follower of “events” in comics. I have my titles that I read every month, creative teams I prefer and if I suddenly have to read a bunch of other books that never grabbed me before just to stay up to date, I get irked. That being said, I have been impressed with what Marvel has been doing with their big arcs. While it’s helpful to read other titles, it’s not as essential, and the tent-pole books, those mini-series that run separately and tell the bulk of the story, I really like that. The fact those books have brilliant eye popping art helps too.

DC is a bit different. I admire the effort to revamp and streamline EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE but the execution felt really rough and rushed. A lot of creative teams got shuffled about, there was inconsistency in places, a lot of changes made and then all these stories seemed interconnected in that way that I personally can’t stand. It kinda lost me.

TB: Finally, thought bubbles or caption boxes?

PG: Oh that’s a tough one. I was raised on thought bubbles and in a way I miss them, but yeah, caption boxes bring a very different feel to it, a more personal approach, like it’s closer to your ear as you read it, conspiratorial.

***

We’d like to say a massive thank you to Pia for taking the time to talk to us, and we hope you enjoyed reading – we’ll be bringing you some more comic chats in the coming weeks, and you can check out the archives of previous years’ Minterviews at this page.

Remember, the force will be with you. ALWAYS.



Minterviews 2012 – Antony Johnston by thoughtbubblefestival
13/05/2012, 12:37 pm
Filed under: About Thought Bubble, Minterviews, News

Greetings, eh!

We are back after a brief hiatus while we travelled to Toronto, Ontario. Thought Bubble towers have been abandoned for a couple of weeks while we checked out the wonderment of the icy north and TCAF. (NB: the weather’s actually really nice there, so our arctic explorer kit was a bit of an over-reaction) To celebrate our return, we’ve got a new minterview for you guys, and some TB news as well!

NEWS: we are delighted to announce that all tables for this year’s Thought Bubble convention (17th & 18th November) have now been booked up! This is the fastest we’ve ever sold-out, and we’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s booked a table with us – you guys make TB what it is! Yay!

MORE NEWS: We’ve also released details of this year’s official hotel for the festival, including exclusive prices (from £89 per night) for attendees staying the weekend. The Leeds Marriott is a lovely hotel, and is sure to fill up fast, so book soon to avoid disappointment!

Now, onwards to minterviews!

Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. We will face our fear. We will permit it to pass over us and through us. And when our fear is gone we will turn and face fear’s path, and 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 Antony Johnston wonderful Wasteland writer, whose latest tale The Coldest City looks set to be a corking cold war comic! Have a butchers at what we talked about after the jump!

***

TB: Hi Antony, to start off, can you give us an idea of how you got started in comics? Did you get a big break, or was it more gradual?

Very gradual! Honestly, I’m not sure I’ve even had a “big break”…

My first works were online, back before web comics were a “thing”, when everyone was just feeling their way around it. At the same time, I met people online who wanted to become indie publishers. My first book for one of those publishers was Frightening Curves, and ironically it’s not a comic, but an illustrated prose piece.

But my next book for the same publisher was a graphic novel, and those books brought me to the attention of Oni and Avatar, two established indie companies, who both asked me to write some stuff for them. Which I did, and that in turn brought me to the attention of larger publishers, and then I started working in games (which, ironically, raised my profile in comics more than any of my comics work had ever done) and so on, and so on.

For me, it’s always been about working hard, doing interesting things, and continuing to push myself. It blows my mind to think I’ve been doing this for over a decade, because I still feel like I’m just starting out.

TB: So, do you think the internet’s made it easier for those just starting out, or has the explosion in online titles made it harder for individuals to stand out from the crowd?

It’s definitely helped. When I started out, webcomics and online fora were still new things. Twitter, facebook, bittorrent… none of them existed, and the number of people online was much smaller than it is now. So if you knew how to take advantage of the venues that were available, you could stamp out your own little patch.

And I think that’s still key, even now. Sure, everyone and their aunt has a webcomic now, so there’s a morass of content (of wildly differing quality and attitude) that readers have to plough through to find what they actually want to read. But those readers are out there, and thanks to the explosion in the online audience you can now reach millions more than you could just five years ago. That can only be a good thing.

TB: What’s your proudest moment, in comics or otherwise, to date?

Launching Wasteland, and then finding there were other people out there who love it as much as I do.

I’m a great believer that you should create for yourself, rather than making what you think other people will want. But even with that in mind, WL is such a personal project; a book where I decided I would simply write something I’d want to read myself, with no consideration or compromise for the audience. And so what you end up with is a long, complicated, downbeat book written almost entirely to a soundtrack of doom metal. “Downtuned comics”, I call it. So to do that, and then discover that thousands of other people are enjoying it too, made me very proud indeed.

TB: So, now that Wasteland’s back as a monthly title, which I’m really pleased about, incidentally, does this mean there’s going to be an uninterrupted run through to its, presumably epic, conclusion?

That’s the plan, although never say never! We’re working well ahead of ourselves, and we’re still planning the odd “skip month” here and there between story arcs. But we’re already up to pre-production on the penultimate arc, which won’t even start until sometime in 2013, so it’s in a good place right now.

TB: Does your writing process differ between your projects – for example those for Marvel Comics, those for video games, and that for writing Wasteland – or do you have a set process that you apply to everything?

It all differs a bit, mostly at the start of projects. And it differs according to both genre and format. A sci-fi book requires a different kind of planning to a videogame, which is different again for a superhero comic, and yet again for an adaptation. But once I get beyond planning and into the meat of a project, I don’t treat the actual writing work very differently.

There’s a big piece all about my process in the Articles section of my site, at http://antonyjohnston.com/articles/

TB: Do you enjoy attending conventions and other events like Thought Bubble?

I do, especially when they’re as well-organised as Thought Bubble. I love meeting and chatting with readers, especially as my audience tends to be less mainstream and more on fandom’s fringes, like me. You must understand that writing is solitary. I sit in my study all day, with only my dogs for company, and barely leave the house. So meeting readers, and catching up with friends in the business (who are just as solitary!) is great fun.

TB: Which comics are you enjoying at the moment, any all-time favourites?

Too many to mention, so I’ll use this opportunity to give some highlight recommendations:

Criminal and Fatale, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Actually, pretty much anything by Brubaker/Phillips, but these two works in particular are awesome, just fantastic crime/pulp/noir comics from two of the greatest creators working today. They never disappoint.

Journey Into Mystery, written by Kieron Gillen. Who knew you could take the risible idea of “kid Loki” and turn it into one of the most creative, inspiring and — yes — heartfelt books on the stands? What Kieron’s done with this comic is kind of amazing, and every month it goes straight to the top of my to-read pile.

Queen & Country, written by Greg Rucka. It’s no secret that Q&C is one of my all-time favourites. The best espionage comics bar none, with cracking characters and contemporary, all-too-realistic stories. (Disclaimer: I wrote a short Q&C spinoff miniseries at Greg’s request. But I was already saying all this stuff long before that came up.)

And I’ll finish with a list of perennial favourites from Vertigo, just in case there are people out there who only know it for Sandman (which is excellent, but only a small part of the treasure trove that imprint has been over the years): Transmetropolitan. The Invisibles. Scalped. Lucifer. Y: The Last Man. The Losers. 100 Bullets. Preacher. All highly recommended.

TB: And if you had to choose one comic to get someone who’s never read a single one before hooked on the medium, which would it be?

That’s almost an impossible question, because it depends on what sort of reader they are. For example, we’ve had great success getting teenage boys to start reading comics with the Alex Rider adaptations. But I wouldn’t recommend those to, say, an adult who reads a lot of crime fiction (they’d get Criminal) or someone who loves anthropological sci-fi (they’d get Finder).

That’s the beauty of modern comics; over the last twenty-plus years there’s been a massive explosion of variety. We don’t just have to point everyone at watchmen any more (which was never an ideal choice for first-time readers anyway). We can actually ask people what they like in other media, then give them a comic more in line with their tastes. That’s a really good situation to be in.

TB: Do you read your comics in print form, or have you embraced the digital revolution and moved to an e-reader? Do you think we’re reaching a point where digital sales may eventually overtake hard copies?

I tend to read monthlies digitally, then buy collections in print, and I’m confident that behaviour will become the norm before long. I’ve been banging that drum for years, and we’re finally starting to see it happen.

I have no doubt we’ll reach the point where digital monthlies overtake print sales, but it’s very hard to predict exactly when. That’s already the case with a few low-selling indie books, and digital sales are rising all the time, but it’ll be a while before they overtake print for the big sellers (I’d estimate at least 3-4 years, but it could be much longer).

TB: Finally, thought bubbles or caption boxes?

Depends on the audience. For kids, I use thought balloons, because the visible connection helps guide them through the visual mechanics. For mature readers I tend towards caption boxes, because then you can play with ambiguity, false narrators, misdirection, and all that.

…I may possibly overthink these things.

***

Many thanks to Antony for taking the time to talk to us, we’ll be back soon, and in the meantime check the twitter feed for updates!



Minterviews 2012 – Paul Duffield by thoughtbubblefestival

Hey Gang!

Thought Bubble 2012 is approaching at a constant rate: we’re working on time acceleration technology, but, ironically, it’s slow going, so in the meantime, why not scroll down for a fresh minterview, or check out the website for our updated guest list and exhibitor pages!

We’ve also just released details of this year’s official hotel for the festival, including exclusive prices (from £89 per night) for attendees staying the weekend. The Leeds Marriott is a lovely hotel, and is sure to fill up fast, so book soon to avoid disappointment!

Onwards to minterviews!

Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence. And we’ve got nowhere else to go. The ex-wife took the whole damn planet in the divorce. So to pass the time until interstellar travel is a reality, we’ve been chatting with a few comics creators and writing 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 the excellent Paul Duffield illustrator on epic free-to-air webcomic FreakAngels, whose self-penned work Signal is an excellent read, and whose latest project The Firelight Isle looks set to be a good ‘un. Have a read of our conversation after the jump!

***

TB: Hi, Paul 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?

A bit of both I suppose! I think I got a quick break in that I was able to make a living from comics straight out of University thanks to some prize cash that I got from winning the International Manga & Anime Festival and the Rising Stars of Manga award whilst still at Uni, but I’d also been drawing webcomics for years before that too! After that it still took a good amount of work to raise my profile enough and get to a place where job offers came with the regularity needed to make a proper living from comics.

It’s a hard question to answer properly though, since it’s hard to tell from my perspective what has been due to luck and what has been due to hard work. It’s also a contentious issue when it gets discussed, since it’s inevitable that anyone who has experienced success will be keen to attribute it to their own efforts, and anyone who has experienced failure will be keen to attribute it to external circumstances (unless they’re a bit masochistic).

I think there’s a large proponent of “right-place-right-time” in any successfully started career, but on the other hand I believe strongly that people make their own luck – something that despite being a bit of a trite saying is actually backed up by psychological research (Richard Wiseman has written quite a bit about that. Whatever the flaws in my work, I can say for sure that I’ve never lacked confidence, which has meant that I’ve rarely shied away from a challenge, missed a potential opportunity, let failure preoccupy me for too long, or believed that I was incapable of achieving something.

TB: Do you think this attitude towards your own work is why the projects you’ve been a part of recently are so varied? Everything from an epic webcomic with Warren Ellis, to a crowd-funded creator-owned graphic novel, and through to contributing to The Phoenix, you don’t seem content to plow the same furrow for long.

Possibly! I’ve always been a bit creatively restless, flicking from project to project and discipline to discipline. Freakangels is the longest time I’ve ever spent doing just one thing. It may also be that I’ve got a wide ranging taste when it comes to what sort of work I like to read and watch myself. I don’t think there’s a single subject on earth that wouldn’t be fascinating to read about if it was communicated by a skilled storyteller with a passion for the subject.

There’s a huge amount that interests me, so I suppose that means there’s a huge amount I’d love to be able to do, and very little that turns me off just because of the subject (although ironically, muscle-men with constantly bared teeth and veins in their necks is usually one of those things).

TB: What’s your proudest moment, in comics or otherwise, to date?

I think that probably has to go to winning The Rising Stars of Manga competition. It would be easy to play down how it felt – in hindsight Tokyopop are just one company among many (and one with which I and other people have had some bitter experiences), and I’m used to working with editors and talking to publishers now, but at the time, I’d only ever drawn comics out of personal interest.

The idea of doing it professionally was like a wild dream for me, and at that time the internet wasn’t full of easy ways to get in contact with professionals, so I had no sense of connection to the industry whatsoever. So, when I got the call about winning the competition it was really something special – to know my work had been chosen from hundreds of other entries, to have an editor from America calling me personally and talking with me about my work, to know that a comic I’d drawn would be published! That’s a feeling I hope I don’t lose sight of in the future.

TB: So, what were you considering as a career before that point, if comics had been, say, more of a hobby?

I’ve considered a number of different careers at different times in my life. For a while it was something related to physics and astronomy, then it was graphic design, then illustration, then comics, then animation, then back to comics again. I think depending on how my life had gone I might have ended up in any of those areas, and I’m still deeply interested in all of them.

The thing that continually attracts me to comics though is how many different disciplines it encompasses – there’s concept design, graphic design, illustration, observational drawing, storytelling, typography, elements of animation and storyboarding – it’s all in there, so it keeps me continually interested and throws up new challenges all the time.

Having wanted to do so many different things, and having tried a good number of them, I’m certain that comics is a truly unique medium – the most versatile form of storytelling that it’s possible for one person (or a very small team) to work on, and complete a substantial story in reasonable time.

TB: And do you have any formal artistic training, or did your illustrative ability develop out of a general interest to tell stories?

Both at the same time! I’ve been interested in drawing and storytelling since a tiny age, and consequently I made it a major goal of my education from as early as possible (something that was helped by having supportive and creative parents). I chose art at GCSE, A-Level and Foundation, and then went on to do a BA in animation/illustration at Kingston University. It’s been a hard thing to balance though – there hasn’t always been an easy avenue within my education to pursue the sort of art that I’ve been interested in. Whether at the time that was fantasy art or manga and anime, or comics in general, I tended to encounter resistance from at least some of my teachers/tutors. So whilst I took a more classical “arty” route through education, I always drew and wrote in my spare time too, and applied the lessons I learned in both areas to my work.

TB: Do you enjoy attending conventions and other events like Thought Bubble?

Absolutely! I’ve been a convention addict ever since I attended my first anime convention when I was 16. I’ve never quite been able to recapture the amazing buzz that that first convention gave me though – it was so unlike anything I’d experienced, being surrounded by other fans, getting a chance to watch fan-subbed animation way before it was released on video (video!), being able to buy actual imported merchandise from Japan. From that point I attended every convention I could manage, and quickly found out about comics conventions too.

It’s amazing thinking about the scale that conventions have reached now – from my first (a few hundred people in a couple of rooms of a Novotel), to something like The MCM Expo (tens of thousands in a giant convention hall). In a way, I’ve become numb to everything that once excited me about that type of convention – I’ve seen all the toys and merchandise over and over again, I can legally stream new anime straight to my computer, and there are dozens of stalls selling the same things at every convention every year. I’m sure all the teenagers going to their first Expo feel just as amazed as I did that first time (if not more) and it’s fantastic that they’ve got such a huge scene to get into, but that’s something I can only ever enjoy via nostalgia now.

I get my up-to-date kicks instead from the amazing and welcoming community of artists that you find at British conventions, and the huge amount of incredible self published stuff out there – something that was an exception rather than a rule at my first few conventions. Shows like Thought Bubble, or the Comic Village at MCM have such a lovely crowd of comic artists, and there are so many new self published pieces to check out every convention that it actually gets a bit overwhelming! Especially if you throw in exhibiting to the mix as well – which is its own pleasure!

With new cons like Super Comic Con and Kapow aiming to bring the celebrity-centric American Con experience to England, I hope that the creator-centric cons where publishers and self-publishers share the same space continue to grow and thrive – I personally find picking up a new comic and being surprised by a creator I’ve never heard of much more exciting than waiting for hours in a queue for a celebrity scribble (although I’ve done my fair share of that too)!

TB: Do you think conventions are still an important part of the comics industry then, influencing future generations of comics creators and customers?

Absolutely, they’re a fantastic place to meet other creators and publishers socially, which is a great help when seeking jobs or being mentioned at the right place and the right time. It does however shift the focus onto networking and social skills as a large element of the qualifications needed to find jobs in comics, and means that your manners and levels of exuberance can make just as much of an impact as your actual work – but to a certain extent that’s true of any freelancing job. A lot of organisational skills are required to find jobs and maintain your own business, and getting to know the right people is invaluable. A good convention with a good range of guests turns that from a chore into a pleasure, and my experience from attending conventions is that the current generation of creators and organisers are almost without exception warm and welcoming people.

In terms of customers, I think conventions that invite publishers and self-publishers alike help to blur the line between fans and creators. If you attend a convention like that as a fan, you get to see a range of skills and talk to people with a diverse range of experiences – maybe as a consequence, a fan who has dabbled in art or writing might even come away with the idea that it would be fun to try for themselves.

TB: Which comics are you enjoying at the moment, any all-time favourites?

I’m really enjoying Yotsuba and Twin Spica at the moment – they’re actually the only ongoing comics I’m buying right now, although I’m sure there’s loads I’m missing out on. Yotsuba is hilarious and has this fantastic sense of wonder at even the most mundane things that you experience vicariously through the main character. Twin Spica at first seems to be a simple story aimed at kids about a child who wants to grow up to be an astronaut. As it goes on though, there’s a strong theme of losing the simplicity and intensity of childhood dreams in adulthood, and the sacrifices and compromises that the adult characters have made cut a stark contrast with the simple passions of the younger characters. It’s a much more complex piece that it first appears and it has a habit of moving me close to tears quite often!

My all-time favs include Black Hole and Blankets (which probably need no intro), but there’s also a lovely piece by Jiro Taniguchi called The Walking Man which has always been a favourite comic of mine. To hear it described, it might be the most boring comic on earth – it’s literally just about a man walking from place to place – but the careful observation, wit and depth with which it’s all executed makes it a fantastic read. It’s also a comic which intrigued me long before it was ever available in English. A good decade or so ago there was an exhibition of art from Japanese comics (Manga: Short Comics from Modern Japan) that toured the UK, which I went to when it was in Southampton. Part of the exhibition was a short sequence from The Walking Man, and it so captivated me that I kept on coming back to it again and again. Later I found the same book referred to in Paul Gravette’s Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics, as well as another book called Manga: Masters of the Art, but at that time it hadn’t actually been published in England! I remember despairing that it would never be translated, but when it finally came out it was every bit as captivating as those first pages that I saw in the exhibition. It was also one of the first comics I’d encountered that didn’t have a fantastical plot or setting, and it taught me a lot about how subtle story telling can be, and how a story doesn’t necessarily need narration or dialogue to unfold.

TB: In your own work you appear to take influence from a variety of sources, your comic Signal, for example, referencing Carl Sagan and SETI, what are your key interests when it comes to storytelling?

I think that it’s everything and anything interesting really. I don’t limit my influences to a particular genre or medium – I read books, comics, manga (which I think of as a sort of fluid subsection of comics), listen to audiobooks, play videogames, watch films and animation, listen to music from a range of different genres and time periods. I also don’t just limit my interest to storytelling, but take a lot of influence from non-fiction sources. I’m fascinated by science in general, especially physics and astronomy, I love reading about neurology, the study of consciousness, anthropology, history, sociology – like I mentioned before, nothing’s dull if it’s presented right (provided you don’t dismiss it or underestimate your own ability to understand it).

Unfortunately, if you have the wrong teacher or the wrong class, full time education can have the perverse effect of shutting people down to disciplines which are rich with insight and knowledge about the world around them. I was lucky enough to have a really good range of teachers and parents who encouraged me to learn, so since leaving university, I’ve developed a passion for seeking knowledge on my own time. Because of that I’m drawn to public figures like Carl Sagan, who believed that a good and inspiring education is the key to emancipation – not just from poor circumstance, but also from your own potential for prejudice and ignorance.

So, when I think about what I want to stories I read and create to capture, it’s not just a moment’s drama and excitement, it’s a sense of wonder, of complexity or subtlety. I believe that although we have just one life each, we can all live many extra lives through fiction, the arts and the sciences. The quality and relevance of those extra lives we take on is an extremely important thing that shapes us and our views, so when I’m working on a comic or on any creative narrative, I’ve got all of this in mind!

TB: Finally, thought bubbles or caption boxes?

Depends if your character is narrating the story or not! I’d normally do thought bubbles for incidental thoughts, caption boxes for narration. Or sometimes something else entirely for both – as long as the visual device makes sense and is used consistently!

***

Many thanks to Paul for taking the time to talk to us, you can do the same if you come to this year’s Thought Bubble!

There’ll be another minterview with one of this year’s festival guests up on Monday, check back then to see who we talked to!



Minterviews 2012 – Leah Moore & John Reppion by thoughtbubblefestival
23/04/2012, 8:09 am
Filed under: About Thought Bubble, Minterviews, News, What is Sequential Art?

Howdy Hey! Happy St George’s Day, Shakespeare’s Birthday/Deathday, Cervantes Birthday, and ZX Spectrum’s Birthday! Phew!

In non-birthday news, this year’s Thought Bubble Festival is creeping inexorably closer, waiting to pounce upon you and show you the best that comics has to offer. Kind of like a tiger, if tigers liked to pounce upon you and then show you the best that comics has to offer, instead of eating you.

Convoluted animal metaphors aside, we’re happy to announce that Saviles Hall tables for this year’s convention are now sold out! Royal Armouries Hall is likely to follow closely on its heels, so if you want to exhibit at 2012’s convention then be sure to book soon!

Tables have sold in record time and numbers this year, and we’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s booked one. Check out all the exhibitors who’re confirmed so far on the website, and see why we think this Thought Bubble is going to be our best yet!

Ok, so, it’s only 202 days until this year’s festival, but in the meantime, we have a little something for you…

People do not give it credence that a young girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father’s blood. But it did happen. However, that’s not what we’re here to talk about! Instead we’ve been chatting with a few comic creators and writing down the results! Minterviews! Wheeeeee!

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 chatted to John Reppion and Leah Moore one of our favourite comic writing teams; creators of ripping yarns, whose free-to-air webcomic The Thrill Electric is a great read. You can see what we talked about after the jump!

***

TB: Hi guys, 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?

Leah:    I submitted a little 8 page story called King Solomon Pines anonymously to Scott Dunbier at Wildstorm and he liked it enough to publish it. I did another short story for Terrific Tales and then Scott set me homework of concocting my own series. I kicked ideas round with John, and we gradually came up with Wild Girl, and decided to write it together. We Completed the 6 issue miniseries together, and have been writing together ever since.

I think it does count as a big break, as it was a big gig to land from a standing start, but I think it kind  of left us a bit clueless about how other companies worked, or what to do next really. We just had to try and get on with it, and somehow we managed to build up contacts and projects for different companies. it was slow going though, we’ve been doing this for nearly 10 years now!

TB: So, do you think there is a traditional, formal way of breaking into comics, or would you advise people to forge their own path?

John:     Writers need to write stuff and artists need to draw stuff. That’s the minimum requirement. Write and draw and get your work out there; be it self-published, or small press anthologies, or whatever. Have a finished product to put in someone’s hand (or inbox) to show how you can work with others and how your skills translate into a completed comic. It’s up to you who you want to show that work to, what direction you want to go in, etc, but that’s the very best starting point, I think.

TB: What’s your proudest moment, in comics or otherwise, to date?

John:     As parents we’re bound to say the birth of our son, Eddie. As clichéd as it might seem, he makes us both immensely, immensely proud every single day.

Professionally, The Trial of Sherlock Holmes is still probably the series I’m proudest of, just because we set our selves a goal of writing something that we’d never done before (and something that wasn’t easy) and it worked out really well; people really liked it. Saying that, I’m very, very proud of The Thrill Electric too (which is still free to read online at www.thethrillelectric.com).

TB: Do you find it intimidating working with revered characters like Sherlock Holmes and Dracula, as opposed to creating characters/worlds, such as in The Thrill Electric?

Leah:   Adapting Dracula felt less intimidating, because there are so many versions out there already and lots of them are kind of known for being a bit crap, so we felt we were already doing more by keeping to the original story, staying with the original plot etc. We had that angle to give us confidence.

When we did our first Sherlock Holmes book, we absolutely felt terrified that we’d do it, and all the Holmes fans in the world would just blow a collective raspberry at us, and stamp it “FAILED”. Amazingly, it has been incredibly well received by Holmes fans, and new readers alike, so we must have got away with that one.

Writing Doctor Who too, the pressure was enormous, but again people seemed to enjoy it. I think the fear keeps you very careful with the feel of the story. You don’t want to “give it a new twist” so much as “not horribly balls it up”, so I think it’s a good thing!

TB: And are there any characters you’d relish the chance to write for, any literary classics you think are ripe for adapting?

John:     Well, let me preface this by saying I do not read monthlies at all (sorry) and am completely out of touch with all the new re-launched revamped rebooted continuity, but some part of me does still dream of writing Batman. I actually only just read Gotham by Gaslight properly very recently and it gave me the same excitement that reading The Dark Knight and The Killing Joke did when I was ten years old.

As for literary classics, there are so many great stories that could be adapted really well for comics and brought to a whole new audience. I’m not naming any otherwise someone else will do them and we’ll be out of a job! Well actually, a book we wanted to adapt and that didn’t work out was Day of the Triffids, and I still think that could be really, really good.

TB: Do you enjoy attending conventions and other events like Thought Bubble?

Leah:    I love going to conventions, especially as we don’t get to so much anymore since Eddie was born. It’s a great chance to meet the readers, see our friends and catch up on the industry gossip. It’s a weird job socially, because we all sit in our spare rooms on our own, talking on the internet or the phone, but don’t meet up much except for the cons.

They end up torn between work and fun, with everyone trying not to end up too hungover to function by the end of the weekend. (I say that mainly from memory as I was pregnant at the last Thought Bubble I attended!)

Thought Bubble is a really amazing convention. It’s really well organised, the guests are looked after, the communication is great, the location is really easy to get to, and the vibe is always really relaxed and fun. I’ve never heard a bad word said about it, which for saying how much comics professionals like to moan and gripe to one another about ANYTHING, is nothing short of supernatural! We were there at the first one, and we’ll keep coming back as long as you’ll have us. Long may it continue!

John:     Thought Bubble is the one! Best UK by far in my opinion.

TB: Thanks guys! We’ll keep putting it on as long as everyone lets us! So, have you noticed any changes in terms of the people attending conventions over the years you’ve been attending them as guests?

Leah:     I think there are more young people, more teenagers, more kids, and a lot more girls. The whole cosplay thing has done masses to drag in teens to conventions, but it’s also brought together comic fans, gaming fans, anime fans, steampunk fans.

A convention now is so much more than old guys and one woman dressed as Electra; it’s a much more lively vibe now. More family friendly, less cliquey. You don’t have to be hunting through long boxes for a back issue to enjoy the con.

TB: Which comics are you enjoying at the moment, any all-time favourites?

John:     Neither of us is keeping up with the monthlies at all these days, sadly. The most recent books I read are probably Neonomicon and Captain Swing, which are both quite mental in their own way. We both read the Owly book most days as our son is pretty obsessed with them. Comics I’m most likely to pick up from the shelf and read again are the Hellboy Library volumes. I love them!

edit – since we conducted the interview John’s read some more comics, and recommends one of them here.

Leah:    I read Erica Moen’s Bucko, and Danielle Corsetto’s GirlsWithSlingshots online too, but, as John says, we haven’t bought actual paper comics in ages. I got Adam Cadwell’s Blood Blokes as the MCM Expo, and I’m looking forward to more of those, but we are rubbish at buying things! The only thing I actively go out of my way to get is anything by the Hernandez Bros. You can never have too much of those guys. I’m happily addicted.

TB: So, if you both had one book to recommend to someone who’d never looked at a comic before to convert them into a lifelong fan, which would you pick?

John:     My God, that’s a tough question. Not either of the books I just mentioned! It really depends on the person and what they’re into. Whatever it is, there’s bound to be a comic that’s perfect for them. That’s a bit of a cop-out, isn’t it? But I do think it’s true.

Leah:  I would go for something like Bryan Talbot’s Tale of One Bad Rat, just because it’s so clean and expertly done, and heart wrenching and beautiful all at once. Anyone who wasn’t impressed by that would need their head read really.

TB: Finally, thought bubbles or caption boxes?

John:     I think we’ve only ever used thought bubbles once and that was in our Alice in Wonderland adaptation. No, wait, we might have used them in some of the DC Thompson pastiche bits in Albion. But, 99.9% of the time its caption boxes for us.

***

Many thanks to Leah and John for talking to us, we’ll have another Minterview for you next Monday!



Minterviews 2012 – Kate Brown by thoughtbubblefestival
16/04/2012, 8:07 am
Filed under: About Thought Bubble, Minterviews, News, Thought Bubble 2012

Greetings blogtronauts!

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!

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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!

HUZZAH!




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