|In June 2008 Matthew Badham interviewed me for an article he was about to write on the apparent resurgeance of the British comics scene. You can see the completed article here, and below is the text of the full, unedited interview.
Do you think the Brit's comics scene is looking brighter for creators than it has for the last few years?
It's definitely brighter than it has been for quite a few years thanks to the increased opportunities to get your work into print. More UK publishers are now seeing comics as a viable addition to their catalogue and are actively seeking new work to put out. I reckon about half the creators I know, who were once only self-publishing, are now doing work for The DFC, the new weekly comic from David Fickling Books, a comic that has given adventure story writers such as myself a rare outlet - one not seen in British mainstream comics for a very long time. Self-publishing opportunities are also far better than they have ever been - full colour printing, professional binding and even hardbacks are all now affordable. And the internet has opened up a global audience that would have been virtually impossible 10 years ago. All this has combined to seed a very healthy creative situation for British comic creators.
You've spent a long time self-publishing. Was that by choice or by necessity? About learning your craft, getting your work out there or a mixture of both?
It was always about getting my work out there, and partly about being in control of almost every aspect of production. I never got round to submitting my comics work to anyone because I kept wanting to do my own thing. I did attend a portfolio showing once - a demoralising experience, despite being offered work by DC, because of the inevitable loss of creative control. I like to write and draw my own stuff, it's the complete package for me, and those opportunities were just not available at the time. So I kept doing my own thing and putting it out there, and eventually the tide turned and the comic art form grew in popularity again, and I found publishers coming to me, which is something I never thought would happen. Of course, this does mean I'm one of the slightly older 'new-comers' to the scene (I started self-publishing in 1985), especially compared to most manga artists who are a major force in the resurgence.
Do you see a bright future for Brit' comics? Is the establishment of the likes of the DFC, Classical Comics and indie publisher Blank Slate the start of a renaissance or just a tiny boom preceding another Brit' comics bust?
I'm hoping it's a bright future, and I'm cautiously optimistic. I'm cautious because I still feel let down by all the bad comics that came out of the last boom [late 80s/early 90s] and it's left a nasty taste. Another thing that keeps me feeling wary is wondering how many publishers and companies are investing in comics purely in the hope they hit a movie franchise. But I'm mostly optimistic because the creative values are different this time - there's more variety in story and there's a lot more talent around. I keep meeting young people in 'normal every-day' situations who do their own manga! The chances of me meeting someone who did their own comics even just a few years ago was nil. One reflection of the increase in quality comics is the number I have bought myself as a reader. Three or four years ago I was probably buying two or three comics a year, if that. Now I'm buying that many every month or two - all books, not floppies, as they're sometimes called (I gave up on those years ago). So overall I'm very optimistic - if the boom in the medium survives the slightly tougher economic times we're currently going through, then it could be here to stay and hopefully grow.
Please tell me the specifics, as far as you can, of your upcoming projects.
For The DFC I'm doing a story called 'Charlie Jefferson and the Tomb of Nazaleod'. It's a classic adventure story about a boy who's dad gets released from jail, and he ends up having to follow clues to an ancient lost artefact to save his family from a mysterious old man known as the Professor.
Oh, and please tell me what's happening with the Rainbow Orchid.
As soon as I finish 'Nazaleod' I'll be working on the Rainbow Orchid which is going to be published in three parts by Egmont UK, the British publishers of Tintin, with the first book out next summer.
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