We hope you’ve all had a great weekend, and that your adventures were fruitful. Personally, I managed to facilitate the escape of a shoggoth from a mansion in Arkham, MA, but it only had a few HP left, so who knows how far the cheeky tentacled Eldritch horror got.
In TB news, and importantly if you’re hoping to exhibit at this year’s convention, the tables are selling like extremely hot cakes. If it continues at this pace we’ll be fully booked before spring has even had a chance to be sprung, so book quickly to avoid disappointment!
But to today’s first order of business: Minterviews are back! It’s been a long time, been a long time, been a long lonely, lonely, lonely time since we chatted to some of comics’ excellent talent, so we figured we’d dust off our vocal cords and get a-talking.
The format’s the same each week – five 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 Duncan Fegredo – illustrator extraordinaire, whose work can be seen gracing the pages of Hellboy, as well as the inaugural issue of our very own TB Anthology! Words to read after the jump.
TB: Hi Duncan, 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?
It was kind of grindingly inevitable really. I’d finished my second year at Leeds Poly and had just gotten back into reading comics in a big way. I packed samples of art and attended my first ever UKCAC – this was ’86.
It was great, never enjoyed a con as much since, I was purely a fan! I showed my samples to anybody I could, got feedback, made a few connections that, in time, paid off. It all comes down to putting yourself out there, listening, understanding criticism, doing the work.
TB: So, do you think that the convention circuit is still as important for budding artists and writers looking to get their first break?
It can be, if there are editors present who are willing to take the time, but you have to be prepared. I’ve seen so many subpar folios of work: badly presented and with attitude to match. I’ve also seen very promising work, but it’s very competitive – pin ups won’t get you anywhere unless they are astounding!
Evidence of an understanding of anatomy, mood, environments and storytelling are your weapons, use them. If you don’t have them, get them. You have to show that you can do the quiet stuff as well as violence and unconvincing breasts!
TB: Did studying in Leeds, or exposure to the Northern sensibility more generally, have much of an influence on the development of your artistic/storytelling style do you think?
I don’t know about that, it was just a nice place to be! I was very aware of a difference in attitude to those who lived and worked in London though, I felt literally outside of comics, outside the loop. I don’t think that’s an issue anymore, with the web you can be that much more connected at any distance.
TB: What’s your proudest moment, in comics or otherwise, to date?
It’d be easy to say the first time I saw my work in print, but that’s always a double edged sword. I can say without a doubt I was more disappointed by my efforts – that would have overridden any sense of achievement. Still does if I’m honest. I’m proud of all my work with Peter Milligan, with the same caveat, naturally.
Ultimately: being invited to work with Mike Mignola on Hellboy. I was and am a huge fan, but I knew I was letting myself in for a hard time… I stayed the course and changed many people’s expectations, I can be proud of that.
TB: So, is it difficult first starting out working on a character/title as iconic as Hellboy, as opposed to, say, Enigma where you’re effectively world-building?
With Enigma I just didn’t have a clue, at first anyway, but I wasn’t struggling against anything other than my own shortcomings. Oddly enough that is also true of Hellboy – I was in awe of Mike’s work and so was constantly trying to live up to that. I knew going in that was all too unlikely but that wasn’t going to stop me making the attempt!
TB: Do you enjoy attending conventions and other events like Thought Bubble?
Thought Bubble is great, it somehow seems to be a more positive experience. My point of view is very limited, I tend to be nailed down at my booth the entire weekend – not complaining, I appreciate the effort people make and the time they spend waiting to chat and get stuff signed – but I would say that the general mood seems that much more pleasant. I’m less likely to leave the con feeling tired, bitter and twisted. Just tired.
TB: Have you noticed any changes in terms of the people you get coming to your table at cons over the years?
Yes, they age more slowly than I do! There seems to less of a gender split, it used to be a predominantly male crowd. A few more kids too, that’s encouraging.
TB: Which comics are you enjoying at the moment, any all-time favourites?
I enjoy all the BPRD books, all those books that spin off from the Mignolaverse. Locke and Key – I came late to the series, but as I write this I’m checking online for the latest digital issue: it’s superb.
What else? I really enjoyed Rob Davis’s adaptation of Don Quixote, very funny stuff. I’m intrigued to see where Brubaker and Phillips go with Fatale. Loved Joe the Barbarian, Sean Murphy is terrifyingly good for such a young artist. Who is Jake Ellis? Great story and again, I loved Tonci Zonjic’s art. I’m sure theres more, brain tired…
TB: Joe the Barbarian and Who Is Jake Ellis made our end of year list too in 2011. Excellent books. So, are there any writers you’re yet to work with that you’d relish the chance to? Any favourite characters you’d like to illustrate?
If JK Rowling fancies doing some untold tales of Harry Potter, I’m there! Similarly I’d love to work with Joss Whedon on early Buffy stories, or anything else for that matter. See what I mean about aiming high? Other characters…? Not really, it was always Hellboy… That worked out quite well.
TB: Finally, thought bubbles or caption boxes?
Both are fine if appropriate to the story, what I really dislike is all the colouring in captions these days, or sound effects that smother the art, rendering it unreadable, ugh!
Thanks to Duncan for chatting to us, and check back same time same place next week for another Minterview!
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