Filed under: About Thought Bubble, Art by Guests, Film and Sequential Art, Guests 2009, Minterviews, Thought Bubble 2009, What is Sequential Art? | Tags: Comics, Hugh Raine, Leeds comic con, Leeds comic festival, Leeds Thought Bubble comic festival, Sequential Art, Small Press, UK Conventions, Webcomics
Greetings Bubblers! Time to finally exhale the indrawn breath of anticipation that was induced by the news of our upcoming series of interviews with the Friends of Thought Bubble, because it’s finally here!
As a nice lead-up to this year’s festival we’ll be bringing you some mini-interviews (or minterviews) with the contributors to the Friends of Thought Bubble series which has been running on this very blog for the last handful of months. All the folks who’ve, very kindly, taken the time to talk to us will be appearing at the convention on 21st November, along with a whole other bunch of wonderfully talented people.
Kicking us off, in style I might add, is the Pride of Yorkshire – Mr Hugh ‘Shug’ Raine – who also started the Friends of Thought Bubble ball a-rolling all those months ago. His TB profile can be found here, and I heartily recommend checking out his site, but without much further ado – let’s rap…
Hi Hugh, thanks for talking to us, to start off do you think you could give us an idea of how you first got into sequential art?
I thought I’d ‘grown out’ of comics by the time I was a teenager, and was concentrating on being an illustrator, but I still watched a lot of cartoons and was attracted to programs like The Ren & Stimpy Show and The Adventures of Pete & Pete on Nickelodeon. I somehow found my way into reading Marvel, but in comic shops I eventually became exposed to Peter Bagge, Steve Weissman, Robert Crumb, and Tom Hart. I always made my own comics, but became more focussed at university – doing an animation degree – where I honed the storytelling and gag side of comic making.
I got involved making comic-zines in Hull, namely working with a bunch of lads making Lobster Magazine. When that ended, I decided to start my own, as a way to keep drawing, when I had little on creatively. It took a long time for me to tune into the small press scene but once I found it, I liked it! I never realised there was a scene for people like me until a few years ago.
Your comics have a slightly warped sense of humour running through them, juxtaposed with the often ‘cute’ illustrations – was this contrast intentional?
I think I started using that juxtaposition as a quick and easy way to get a laugh, or some reaction. Now I only really use it to upset my wife. The “set ’em up, knock ’em down” technique never really gets old though, does it?
My latest stuff deals with more adult themes and still employs a cute style, but it’s darker than before. Also, working as a greetings card illustrator, I think abusing cute characters helps me keep sane.
Do you view your commercial illustration work simply as a means to fund your comic-making endeavours, or are your small press projects more of a hobby?
I treat them as completely separate entities – it’s like having two jobs. I wouldn’t say I think of my day job as funding my comics financially; the things I learn at work “fund” my comics creatively. I like the things I do for work, or as a freelancer, but with the comics I can do whatever I want, and it’s important to me to have that.
You self-published Reet! for four years, do you think the small press scene has changed since you started?
When I was making and distributing REET! I was frequenting record shops, gigs, retro clothes shops, and only the occasional comic shop. I wasn’t really part of the small press scene – not intentionally, anyway. In fact, I was avoiding the term “comic” altogether, because some people didn’t really understand what comics were; I thought I was making ‘zines – I was actually doing both. My first experiences of the small press scene were some of the things I picked up in OK Comics, like Lee Hardcastle’s self-published comics, and when I went to Thought Bubble 07. And not much has changed since then, as far as I can tell. The main difference is that there are more outlets for comics on the internet, bringing us wider recognition.
Do you think the fact that when one mentions the term “comics” most people’s thoughts turn instantly to superheroes is part of the reason they’re not more widely accepted as a storytelling medium?
Unfortunately, yes! I’d like there to be a time when I don’t have to follow up the word “comics” without qualifying it, and explaining the difference between superhero and everything else. It’s really weird that we have such a rich comic history which a lot of people seem to have forgotten about.
You’ve worked on a number of anthologies, is the creative process different when working on those as opposed to your own solo projects?
I approach anthologies the way I used to approach some of the one-off strips for REET! I draw and write in lots of different styles so I pick one that suits, once I have an idea based on the theme. I just try to make sure it fits into the anthology nicely while still having my personal stamp on it. I always say yes to anthologies. It’s good practice – and I’m a bit of a comic slag, for anyone who’ll have me.
So, have you avoided rigidly defining a set style for your comics’ in order to allow yourself the freedom to go wild, creatively, if the mood takes you?
I don’t even know what my style is any more! I don’t think it was a deliberate decision not to get tied to one style – each comic just sort of suggests its own look. I think it pays to be versatile, too – I’d get bored drawing in one style all the time. Comic artists like Pat Moriarity always impressed me with the way they approach each project differently.
You’re appearing at this year’s Thought Bubble, what will you be bringing to the convention?
I’ll be bringing more copies of all my previous comics, including Barbs, Olive’s Mix Tape, Jenny’s Weird Friend, and the first REET! collection. New stuff includes the second REET! collection, badges and desktop calendars. I’ll also be bringing issue 1 of a four-part mini-series called Find Comet, Hit Comet, Watch Comet, Sleep, which is the story of a scientist who decides to hide the fact that a comet is on course to destroy the world. I’m currently making music to go with the series.
I’ll definitely NOT be bringing Vodka and Coke, disguised in a Dr. Pepper bottle.
Finally – thought bubbles or caption boxes?
Don’t ask me that. I still haven’t made my mind up over Daddy or chips.
Big props to Hugh for taking the time to talk to us, incidentally Thought Bubble chose Daddy over chips, as it was on the Atkins diet at the time. Ha… Hello? Is this thing on? I’ll be here all week…
In other TB news, don’t forget the Adi Granov masterclass running at Travelling Man Leeds next month (sign up now if you don’t want to miss out), and we should be announcing the full festival programme line-up any day now. Exciting times.
I do hope you’ll join us on Thursday for the next Thought Bubble Minterview, in the meanwhile, stay safe and keep watching the skies…
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