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Thought Bubble 2017

Thought Bubble 2017

Oh, Thought Bubble.

Highlight of my social calendar, pinnacle of the annual comic world. It’s gotten bigger each year but managed to maintain its charm. Despite only managing a day of this year’s convention, I had an incredible time and met so many wonderful creators.

This year was the first Thought Bubble not to take place at the Royal Armouries Hall and surrounding areas, and there was some concern that some of the atmosphere might have been diluted by the presence of the “normal” people going about their business in Leeds city centre. But aside from the few weddings trying to take place amidst a swarm of cosplayers (sorry, guys) it didn’t feel diminished.

One of my favourite things about this year were the huge number of LGBT stalls – so many in fact that some enterprising person made their own “rainbow road” map of the convention, the easiest way to take in all of the fantastic LGBT comics, art and merch on display. Falling as it did on Bi Visibility Day, it felt especially poignant to pick up this excellent pin.

My personal mission for the day was to get my Saga Vol 1 signed by Brian K Vaughan, and to get my email address into his hands, and it was certainly worth getting in early to get that accomplished in the first hour. As out of touch as I’ve been with comics this last year, I wasn’t sure who was worth looking out for – except for Gillen and McKelvie, creators of The Wicked and The Divine (among others), whose signatures I’ve sought out for the last few years to no avail. Obviously the first year that I didn’t bring anything for them to sign, their queues were accessible!

There was a divide at the weekend between those excited about Gerard Way’s appearance, and people like me who wondered why anyone cared. Admittedly I’ve never read any of his comics, and I have been told by reputable sources that they’re good, but I find it hard to shake off the anti-emo sentiment of my metalhead teens. Clearly I was in the minority though, as Way’s queue would suggest (Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool got it on video) and tales circulated of fans crying as they came away from his table. I was marginally worried that the grown-up-emo contingency might ruin the vibes, but they were generally occupied in his very long queue all day, so it certainly could have been worse.

Without further ado, this year’s haul!

From top left going anticlockwise:

Time and Space – An H.G. Wells Comic Anthology from Dundee University

The Skillamalink Chuckaboos (illustrated limericks) by Stish

Death Sentence #1 by Montynero and Martin Simmonds

D & Doodles, an artbook anthology by various artists

A drawing of my head on a snake warrior’s body by Awesome Comics

Into The Black by Benji Goldsmith & CJ Reay of Black Lodge Press

Freebies: The Graverobber by Tom Burleigh, Dr Geof‘s Colouring Book of Cats With Their Tanks preview, and The Song Collector preview

Video Games For Good, an anthology curated by Claire Hubbard

Flirting With Death by Rudra Purkayastha, Lyndon White and Paulina Vassileva


I also picked up this beautiful necklace from Birch, Please (whose designs I’ve been painfully resisting for years)

And this amazing Divine patch from Black Lodge Press

So long, my comics family – see you next year at Thought Bubble!


Posted by jenny in Comics, 1 comment
Meeting Darryl DMC McDaniels

Meeting Darryl DMC McDaniels

It’s hard to know where to start when you’re going to interiview Darryl McDaniels. I mean, it’s Darryl DMC McDaniels! The Devastating Mic Controller! One third of the first commercially successful hip-hop band in history. It doesn’t matter that I’m not personally a huge Run DMC; their music is so ingrained within popular culture that it’d be a struggle to find someone unable to name a single song they’re involved in.


The funny thing, though, is that he doesn’t act like he’s a big deal. Despite the stern manager Darryl was a consistently honest, eloquent, humorous human being, one you wouldn’t expect to be famous on such a level as he is. The key to which is, I think, the fact that he’s a comic book lover before a music lover, and in this world he still has some way to go.

He’s ambitious, to say the least. Thought Bubble was the debut for both DMC #2 and #1.5, created with the fantastic Tuta Lotay, but he dreams of the status of DMC comics decades from now, when he hopes their universe will be as well-known as Disney or Marvel. Although he could easily have worked with Marvel, he followed sound advice and went it alone instead, in order to maintain full control (and for the record, Marvel are huge supporters of his work).

It was Marvel comics that he loved as a kid. Unlike in the DC Universe with Gotham and Metropolis, the stories of Marvel were set in real places in New York; places the young Darryl couldn’t afford to see for himself. He spent his childhood drawing and writing, and excelled at English, although it was eventually Business Management that he studied at college, at the advice of his friend. “Listen to your friends’ advice,” he told me, “just don’t follow it.”

He thinks that teaching could have been his forte if he hadn’t had his rise to fame with Run DMC. That’s why the hero of DMC #1 is himself as a teacher – it’s a sort of alternate world where Darryl didn’t become a hip hop legend and instead became a junior high teacher (and night-time ADIDAS-class vigilante). Even within the graphic novel you can feel the respect he has for teachers, those rarely thanked everyday heroes of society.


The DMC comics are beautifully diverse, but as Darryl stressed it’s not for marketing reasons: he simply wants everybody to feel that they can relate to at least some aspect of a character. The diversity isn’t limited to skin colour either, and the hero of DMC #2 isn’t only Puerto Rican, but female and adopted. Her femininity is natural, and her fostering home environment is one of warmth and love – no tortured orphans in abusive homes here.

And because of Darryl’s life experiences he’s very keen to make the poor as important as the rich in his comics. One of the major things that he told me he wanted readers to take away from his comics is that no matter how bad your situation, or where you are in life, you are still important. Every life and every story is important, not just the wealthy and well-publicised ones.

He’s got a lot of ideas for the future of DMC comics. By the time his world has been built, the character DMC may be the least interesting of them! He dropped some hints that an aging superhero may be making an appearance, asking me what would happen to someone with super powers as they aged? Wouldn’t they still be comparatively stronger?

12249599_10153804544724040_5555088384689240816_nThere have been talks about turning DMC into a film but Darryl wants to hold off for now. His reason? When it’s done, it has to be done BIG. Settling for anything less than a blockbuster would be a failure. For now, the comic needs to continue, preferably with the current mix of artists doing single issues each – the idea for which, by the way, being that if five people told the story of this event they would all tell it a little differently, which is wonderfully well thought-out.

And if he could have anyone illustrate an issue of DMC, he’s claimed it would be one of the artists on The Walking Dead because, in another great shocker, he’s a massive zombie nut! His prize possession, he told me, is an illustration of himself as a zombie.

So despite the interview not recording, I felt that I got a lot out of it – and I don’t just mean this awkward photo of us together. What was I supposed to do with my arms?!

Keep an eye out for DMC comics. If he can work some of the same magic with them as he did in DMC, we might well see his ambitions come true, and in twenty years we’ll be queuing up for the summer blockbuster release of DMC: The Movie.

Posted by jenny in Comics, Music, 0 comments
Thought Bubble 2014 Review

Thought Bubble 2014 Review

It’s the end of November and, once again, Thought Bubble was a roaring success. Perhaps no bigger than last year, it had some noticeable differences in organisation that went down both positively and negatively, depending on who you’d talk to.

The most obvious change was the introduction of the marquee in the centre of the convention space. Immediately, you’d think that this had increased the size of the convention, although comparatively it was probably about the same size as last year’s extra room. The advantages, however, were that a marquee is a lot easier to keep warm than the hollow bare-brick wall. Also using the central space for the major signings (people you knew would be busy, like Scott Snyder and Jock) meant that the New Dock Hall wasn’t completely full of seemingly endless queues. The downside to that was having to queue outside, in November. Still, you can’t have it all.

Fortunately the weather held and we barely saw a drizzle of rain – I expect there was great thanks from the cosplay crowd, of whom there were an incredible amount this year. I’m not sure how but it seems that every year I think I must have seen all of the costumes, until I see the post-con pictures and wonder how I could possibly have missed the adorable child in the jumpsuit with a Portal gun.

Post-Con Swag

Post-Con Swag

Other than that, it seemed like business as usual at the convention, which was great. There seemed to be a few things that fell through – the Diversity in Comics panel wasn’t racially diverse, for instance, but more on that later – although nothing ground to a halt. When you’ve been to Thought Bubble a few times you begin to see the patterns of exhibitors – you always know Dr Geoff is going to be there, and the Romantically Apocalyptic crew.

As a socially awkward person, I don’t always revel in being brought into conversations at exhibitor stalls, but I did have a few wonderful chats this year with independent artists. While not independent, my favourite talk was probably with David Hine, whom I queued for patiently to have Storm Dogs signed last year, but whose desk was virtually empty this year. We had a fantastic discussion about his book The Man Who Laughs, the origins of the Joker and the private life of Victor Hugo. These are some of my most treasured moments of Thought Bubble, when I can geek out on something that excites me with someone who’s managed to make something awesome.

The talks seemed hugely popular this year – several that I tried to attend in the Bury Theatre had snaked back to the door and then doubled in length again, and the line for the Gotham talk had been hopelessly long, which was a shame. The ones I did attend were pretty great though; the first of which was one of my favourites, The Best Thing I’ve Read All Year, which was alternatively dubbed “The White Bearded Man Panel” thanks to a few guests falling through. At least they were aware of it!

This is the best place to get recommendations, and I walked away with a whole bunch. Huge thanks go to Tom from Gosh Comics for recommending the Comic Book Slumber Party table, and specifically the Fairytales for Bad Bitches anthology which was read on the Saturday night and gratefully enjoyed. Supreme Blue Rose was another big push, and of course The Wicked and The Divine, which just won the British Comic Awards prestigious Best Comic award.

Other potential highlights – which have either been positioned on my radar or gone onto my Christmas list – included The Salt Lakes by Matt Taylor, a translation of three Japanese history comics for which I can’t remember the name, Beautiful Darkness, a new Stray Bullets, The Wrenchies and the upcoming Ody-C, z gender-swapped sci-fi version of the Odyssey which I cannot wait to get my grubby mitts on. I’m going to be poor for quite some time.

It was a good laugh of a talk though, and the suggestions were great. I was particularly pleased that riot grrrl comics were being actively promoted! The riot grrrl anthology is now sat on my bookshelf, screaming to be read. In time, my beauty!

For the second year of Diversity in Comics, there maybe could have been a bit more diversity – both from last year as well as in general. Howard Hardiman was in attendance again, the self-professed “gay cripple” who penned the excellent The Lengths which I snatched up last year after hearing him talk. I also noticed for the first time this year that he has a fantastic puzzle piece tattoo all over his lower arm – love it. He also showed a segment from one of his new books about a sleepy badger, where the titular badger comes across a black, disabled lesbian, which was a fantastic nod.

Unfortunately the panel was overwhelmingly white this year, largely because Barry Nugent hadn’t been able to come. He was fantastic at the talk last year but I couldn’t help thinking, with the increased amount of non-white exhibitors I’m beginning to see in the halls, they might have been able to get someone else. Donya Todd was charming though, and from my South-West neck of the woods, so I was pleased to find that I had already picked up her work in the riot grrrl anthology.

There were some great recommendations, including a seventies feminist publication called Spare Rib, and great women in comics like Suzy Varty, Trina Robbins and Eileen Crumb. We also discussed the problems when it comes to complaining about events like Thought Bubble and making them more accessible – I’d be curious to see if there are many negative reactions and how they are dealt with.

The Self Made Hero British graphic novelists talk was another great one, with the master of Cthulionic adaptations INJ Culbard joined by the creators of Ricky Rouse Has A Gun, which is another on my ever-growing Christmas list. I had already bought a series of grotesque cyberpunk postcards from John Aggs who describes Ricky Rouse as a “dumb book”, so was quite excited to see them talk about this piece that had been making waves for some time.

Finally, the only other panel I was able to make it to was the Journalism in Comics talk. The biggest topic of conversation was that of criticism, which was very interesting – we heard from Douglas Wolk, who prides himself on critical journalism, and Zainab who, like me, would rather be positive. Like her, I also shy away from giving negative reviews, being too aware that the subject could be reading it, although for someone in Douglas’s position this isn’t a luxury he can afford. I suppose it’s also about where you feel your responsibility lies – with the consumer, or with the creator of the work.

Again, the panel might have been a little better chosen. With only four panelists (including the moderator) it seemed out of place for one of them to barely do any comics journalism. Unfortunately music journalism doesn’t really translate as easily, and her comments – while insightful – felt out of context.

All in all, Thought Bubble still reigns supreme in the comic book festival circuit, especially as more and more conventions are going toward more mainstream media forms. Yes, Jason Momoa is very attractive, but comic book icon he is not – give me Tim Sale any day!

Finally, my weekend was made by meeting one of my personal heroes, Danielle Corsetto, and having her doodle in the copies of Adventure Time that I reviewed here and here.

So thank you once again Thought Bubble for the laughs, the inspiration, and the severely depleted bank account funds. I’m looking forward to next year already!


Posted by jenny in Comics, 0 comments
A Thought Bubble Convention Review

A Thought Bubble Convention Review

Thought Bubble’s comic convention just keeps getting bigger and better every year. Not that I haven’t enjoyed every year I’ve been to the convention, which is four now, but this year’s convention was well-run, easy to navigate and seemed to grow and adapt to the needs of its visitors.

On the Saturday, I was lucky enough to get a few signatures from some of my favourite artists and writers. First of all, Cameron Stewart signed my copy of Sin Titulo (which I reviewed a while ago for Travelling Man) which was lovely; then a half hour queue lead me to Matt Fraction who signed my Hawkeye graphic novel (review) and first issue of Sex Criminals (just you wait until my review of this!). When I told Matt that I thought Sex Criminals was important, and would go down in history he sniggered at “go down”. Wonderful. I also had The Wake issue 1 signed by Sean Gordon Murphy who was kind enough to talk to me for a while on the Sunday: that interview will be up soon.

Then came the panels. First up was Image Comic’s Independence in the UK panel, which actually only had one third British panelists, but ah well. I always like the independence talk, it’s exciting to hear creators talking about being given the freedom to do their own work, which invariably ends up criticising Marvel and DC’s attitude toward the artists and writers. This made it much more strange when the next panel came out – the Marvel talk, which was obviously designed to big up the publishing house. It was absolutely hilarious though – the constant abuse of Jamie McKelvie from Kieron Gillen, David Aja finding it near impossible not to swear, and the dynamic married duo of Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue Deconnick. If comic conventions had Kings and Queens like proms, it would definitely have been them this year.

For Sunday, I kicked off the convention with the Diversity in Comics panel which was incredibly inspiring. One of my favourite speakers was Howard Hardiman, a self-proclaimed “queer cripple” with a fantastic sense of humour; after the panel I went to find his table, had a really interesting conversation with him about gender in Greek and Roman times and he signed a copy of The Lengths for me. I read the book on the train home and absolutely loved it; really brutal but touching. A review may come. I also really enjoyed hearing from Fiona Stephenson who has a very unique perspective, being a feminist comic veteran who now deals in stereotypical aesthetics of female beauty. Everyone else was fantastic too, of course.

The biggest change for me going into the weekend was the conversion of Women in Comics to Diversity in Comics. Traditionally, Women in Comics was my highlight of the weekend – a group of intelligent and inspirational women discussing one of my favourite topics – so I wasn’t sure how this change would go. But I have to say that it was a massive improvement. While I loved the old panel, after three visits it was beginning to feel like it maybe wasn’t making any forward progress; and to be perfectly honest, it’s become so much more even in terms of gender at cons. That’s why it was great to open the debate to other issues like sexuality, disabilities and race, because these are the areas which are truly still minorities in the mainstream comics fan world. When an issue is personal to you as feminism is to me, it’s easy to care about it but it’s important to care about other people who have problems you don’t know and don’t understand, and I walked out of the Diversity in Comics panel feeling hopeful for the future.

The other significant improvement that I appreciated was the streamlining of the buildings. The addition of the Allied London Hall meant that a proper exploration of the festival took two days, and it was nice to have an unfamiliar spot to wander around in. Although I didn’t go into Bub’s Lounge, I heard it was lovely and chilled out in there, and the temporary Cafe solved delicious pastries and coffee! Which was good because Tesco had run out of sandwiches by 2pm on the Saturday. And while the extra panel area was a little cold, it was nicer than having to go to the top floor of the casino (however lovely those rooms were) and helped the whole event feel much more seamless.

And finally, some of the best goodies I picked up over the weekend (on my severely limited budget).

  1. The Lengths. As I said, it’s a great book and meeting Howard was lovely
  2. Briar, a free comic being handed out from the same team as Porcelain: A Gothic Fairytale (my review here)
  3. A beautiful sterling silver clockwork earring with its own origin story in comic form!
  4. A lovely brown card A3 print, I believe the artist is Kate Mia White although I may be wrong. Incredibly intricate pen work.

And more…I’m sure! I haven’t made it through all of my finds from the weekend yet.

Posted by jenny in Comics, 0 comments
Sin Titulo

Sin Titulo

Sin Titulo is a rare kind of graphic novel, a mad combination of noir thriller, Lovecraftian myth and Matrix-style philosophy. Released over a period of five years before finishing in 2012, the graphic novel brings the entire story together in 166 good quality pages of mood-infusing content. Cameron Stewart has worked on Batman & Robin, The Other Side and Assassin’s Creed as a very talented artist, but used Sin Titulo (which literally translates to “no title”) to become more comfortable with the process of writing – and to satisfy the creative urge to make a story of one’s own.

An under-appreciated but complacent proof reader is shocked out of monotony by finding that his grandfather had passed away a month ago and he hadn’t been told – it makes him sickeningly aware that he had neglected visiting his grandfather. When he finds a photograph of his grandfather smiling with a young and beautiful woman, he becomes obsessed with figuring out this mystery, at the expense of his safety and sanity.

The initial set-up of the grandfather passing is something that happened to Cameron Stewart, and the graphic novel’s central image of the figure sat underneath a tree is something Stewart dreamt one night, and hastily drew the next day. When he started writing Sin Titulo, he had no idea where it would go, relying on instinct only as a kind of improvisation exercise – it was his unbridled creative outlet, with no plan but ideas for for future scenes until the last twenty or so pages that aimed to wrap the story up.

When you first open the cover of Sin Titulo, you find yourself being glared at by a sequence of disappointed and angry faces – it gets the reader into a great mindset and I think helps to understand the kind of guilt Alex is feeling. It begins with “I’ve been having a dream…” and Alex walking along the dreamworld of the beach and tree – I love the detail he remembers, his bare feet sinking into the coarse sand, just as dreams can still feel real when you have woken up.

The residential care home where his grandfather lived is like a paranoid dream – no one is giving him any answers, the receptionist talks like Alex isn’t even there, and a sexually aggressive orderly seems to haunt every corner. Seeing the image of his grandfather and the young woman, he realises that never saw his grandfather happy, only ever crying and wishing he was dead, and the realisation makes him feel even worse about not visiting. He dreams the night of that same beach with the dead tree, but now the figure under the tree is the woman from the photo, and when she lowers her sunglasses there are maggots rotting where her eyes should be – it’s such a visceral image and the “plep”, “chlop” and “slup” noises only add to the horror.

Everything’s starting to fall apart for Alex. As his obsession grows and centres around the violent orderly, Wesley, he follows the man at the end of his night shift, ignoring the pleading of his girlfriend. The radio is talking about the end of the world and callers are making discriminatory remarks, a homeless man propositions Alex and rapidly becomes violent, and the receptionist in the building he has found appears to be discussing having an abortion on the phone while dealing with him. It’s all just ever so slightly unnerving.

Remembering the inscription on the back of the photo, Alex thinks quickly and acquires the key to a room containing only a television, phone and chair. The phone rings and he picks it up only to see himself, sat in that room, on the TV and looking up sees there is no security camera – at least none that he can see. When the woman from the photo appears on the screen, she asks him to recall a memory. This is the first of the flashbacks which add up to this person Alex has become, and the first time we see the hideous creature which scared him as a child, leading to an argument between his father and grandfather. I would assume that this was a vital part in the separation of Alex from his grandfather. When Wesley finds him in the room, he beats him mercilessly, takes his keys and pulls out a syringe; next thing Alex is waking up at the side of the road with blood streaming from his nostrils.

Things just keep getting worse for Alex: the harder he tries to get out of his situation the worse he makes it, and it’s not long before he’s lost his girlfriend, his job, and an angry outburst against Wesley with a fire extinguisher escalates rapidly into the murder of two police offers who have been “torn apart”. There’s something seriously wrong about Wesley, and Alex seems sure that he is the key to this mystery which is really all he has left in his life.

Things get progressively more surreal at the story goes on; one of the particularly horrible pages features a dream in which a freakish lobster-type creature sprays burning ink into his face. The “skltch” sound effect really drives it home. In the real world (is it?) he meets a man who knows the image of the dream, who dreams it too and obsessively paints it.


The flashbacks are probably my favourite part of Sin Titulo because of their detail. Together they add up to this dysfunctional person – his aggressive father drunkenly punishing him for nothing, for being a child, his sexual and emotional inadequacies, his own selfishness. A dreamlike summer in Paris in which he falls in love with a beautiful young woman is spoiled when she visits him in America and they end up sleeping as far apart as they can, barely talking – it was only a simulation of happiness. He remembers his boss drunkenly seducing him at a party, and he turns her down for all the right reasons but she’s hurt, and he feels emasculated and guilty. When he finds out that Carrie hadn’t been happy for a while in the relationship it’s just one more blow to deal with.

The downward spiral that Alex falls into, the paranoid delusions and terrifying are dreams are pure Lynch; or Daniel Clowes if you’d prefer a literary reference. It deals with masculinity in a similar way to Fight Club, where expectations of “what a man should be”, instilled by an abusive and emotionally absent father lead to an advanced state of adolescence. His admission that he began looking into the photo and following Wesley because it would make a good story is a hard moment – he’s not a bad person, but maybe he’s not as good as he thought either. This is all reinforced by those images of the disappointed and angry faces in the front and back of the book.


It becomes a lot more philosophical toward the end of the book with questions about the nature of reality. The dream space of that beach with the figure under the tree changes and evolves and becomes more real – it lives in the space between the number, where “clarity breaks through the noise”. Alex becomes the monster in his own dream, the bad influence of his childhood, a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s sad, and scary.

There are so many parts of the book that I could talk about, from tiny details in the lettering and gruesome “sound effects” to the textures of the dream which, like the Black Lodge of Twin Peaks, is there and not there. Reflections of Alex are used several times, in television screens and sunglasses, suggesting self-examination on his part. We see this man pushed to the limits of sanity and over, and it’s thrilling. A fantastic piece of work collected into a beautiful hardback book.

Cameron Stewart will be appearing at this year’s Thought Bubble, so grab your copy and get it signed. That’s what I’ll be doing!

Posted by jenny in Comics, 0 comments
Charlie Adlard Interview

Charlie Adlard Interview

At my Thought Bubble weekend, I was lucky enough to meet the charming Charlie Adlard, Eisner award nominated artist most popular for his work on The Walking Dead series. We talked about his inspiration and past, the future of The Walking Dead and the European comic book industry. Here is that talk!

You started work on 2000AD, a lot of British writes and artists have. Do you think it’s a good platform?

Well, you know, it does act as a good training ground for artists. When I started working, I actually started on the Judge Dredd magazine first, on Armitage and when I first started it was amazing – looking back at my artwork, I’m amazed I actually got employed and if I was an editor I don’t think I would have employed me! So I was really lucky and obviously somebody saw a spark somewhere in what I was doing. I don’t think I’ve been particularly good until a couple of years ago, so it’s taken a while to get to being okay. But it sounds like you’re always dissing 2000AD, saying it’s a gateway through to other “bigger” publishers, but I’ve got to admit I kind of saw it as that and as much as I loved 2000AD I think it’s pretty positive that I came back to it. I was kind of proving to myself that I didn’t just see it as using it to go work for Marvel or DC.

You have a lot of freedom with the Walking Dead – how much artistic freedom do you get with it, are you told what to draw with the script?

We pretty much get total artistic freedom. I mean, I respect Robert for what he does, which is the writing; I very rarely comment on the writing and likewise with the artwork, it’s very rare that he’ll comment on the artwork. Any time he does comment on it is if I’ve made an obvious mistake, like giving Rick two hands or something like that [laughs]. The only time we might have a difference of opinion is in covers, just because I suppose it’s more important in a lot of ways as the front image and we’ve occasionally had, shall we say, differences of opinions on things like that. But generally it’s a very smooth run.

Since Walking Dead has gotten so famous, and with the TV series coming out, have you had to change anything in the creation of it?

No, not at all. They’re totally different beasts anyway, so I’ve never ever looked at the TV show and thought I should perhaps draw such-and-such a character a bit more like that. All the characters remain as I originally conceived them and that’s how it’ll always be. You’ve always got to remember that the TV show grew out of the comic, it’s not the other way around; we are the originators, where the TV show gets its inspiration.

Did you have any direct input on the series or did they just draw inspiration from your work? Did they talk to you?

No, they never asked me but I never asked to be involved, so it’s kind of a two-way thing. I never said to Robert or any of the production staff, can I do some design work? Primarily because…it would have taken me off the comic, and it’s hard enough getting a monthly issue out let alone having a TV show to design for and, for me, it would feel like I was going over old ground. And if I had spare time, to be honest, as much as I love drawing The Walking Dead the last thing I want to be doing in my spare time is more zombies and more Walking Dead, I’d actually rather do something completely different.

How would you describe your style? Is it different on The Walking Dead to your other work?

The Walking Dead I suppose it’s my default style but with other projects I’ll tend to change around the equipment more than the style, and of course the equipment will dictate how the style is. The Walking Dead is very pen-orientated, primarily because I draw it quite small; it’s almost the same size as the comic, just a tiny bit bigger. So pens work better when you’re drawing that kind of size, whereas the normal comic size is that A3, so if I change up and I’m doing another project – which nowadays is a rarity – I’ll tend to use brushes and things which changes the style somewhat. The meat and potatoes of what I do is still the heavy blacks, there’s still that look of a lot of line work that I use in those sort of things, but the underlying style stays the same.

Do you have any favourite artists, any that inspired you?

There’s plenty. The first artist I ever got into when I was young was Michael Golden – he was the first guy I remember noticing and thinking to pick up more stuff by and that was when he was drawing the Micronauts and he was just appearing as a back-up strip in one of the Marvel UK titles at the time, cause that’s what I used to buy when I was ten, eleven, twelve; black and white reprints and that sort of stuff. So I’ve always been a big fan of his. Nowadays I tend to buy a lot of artists that, for arguments sake, are more illustrative than kind of comic-booky (it’s awkward phrasing). So I really like Sean Phillip’s work for instance, I love people like Tommy Lee Edwards and John Paul Leon and I adore Sean Murphy’s work, he’s one of the best artists to emerge in the last five or six years, I think he’s an absolute genius. But I like a lot of classic American illustrators from the sixties and seventies, I really get off on the design of it – and a lot of European stuff as well, which I’m big on. I’ve been lucky to go to Angoulême quite a few times, and with the French publisher that publishes The Walking Dead, they’re probably my favourite publisher of all time in terms of working with them. They drag me out to Paris and various other festivals often, so a lot of opportunities to get a lot of French books. The industry over there is eye-wateringly good – it puts our industry to shame. Their average artwork is like the best artwork in the UK or American industry, it’s on another level.

Is there anything you’re working on now, or would like to work on?

People ask who I’d like to draw, but you know I just want to draw my own stuff now. Like I said in the panel, all I want to do now is my own stuff, I’m not interested in somebody else’s character. Everyone expects an answer like, ‘I’d really like to draw Daredevil’ or something, and yeah it’d kinda be fun, and certain other peoples’ characters, but you know if I never draw another superhero again it isn’t going to upset me. There’s a couple of things I am talking to publishers about – Robert and I are actually working on a European-styled book at the moment called “The Passenger”. He announced it last San Diego but this year has been so crazy with the Walking Dead, especially with issue one hundred and then my own hundredth issue and things like that that I’ve just done one page of it and that’s it. And it is the sort of book that I need to set aside a week or so to work on to get into the feel of it, cause it’s a lot more detailed it takes a lot longer to do the pages. There’s that, and I’m talking to a couple of European publishers about books after that, but we are literally talking years away it’s so hard to get this stuff done outside of The Walking Dead, which obviously has to take priority.

Do you see an end point for the Walking Dead?

We’re keeping it going as long as it feels natural. There is an ending that we could implement twenty issues in or in two hundred issues; we can take the characters on to this point and then do the ending. There’s no plan obviously but it’s handy to have, shall we say, a get-out clause, just in case. The last thing any of us would like for The Walking Dead is for it to just peter out, for people to lose interest in it and then we do issue 156 or something and the characters are just doing stuff and then we never do issue 157, and no one notices. That would be the worst ending to it possible. But I think if we ever got a sniff of that, or we got disillusioned and just wanted to finish it, or the readers got disinterested in it, that’s when you implement the ending and still go out with a bit of a bang rather than a whimper.

You talked in the Independence in the UK panel about not having to worry about killing off characters – could you ever see The Walking Dead without Rick?

You know, I actually could see The Walking Dead without Rick – and that’s no plot spoiler saying that we’re gonna kill him, but I think the strength of The Walking Dead as a book is that we actually could kill off the main character and it could still keep going. I think there are plenty of as-strong characters in The Walking Dead that it could quite easily survive without Rick to be honest, as much as he’s a great character and he certainly is the heart and soul of the book…but they did it in Blake Seven, why can’t we do it in The Walking Dead? It’s not even called Rick’s Twelve or something [laughs].

You could even have the kid growing up to replace his father.

Yeah, well a lot of people think that’s what we might do, but we actually have no plans yet because The Walking Dead is set in real time. So the idea of Carl being twenty or something like that is not very realistic, it would mean I’d be something like eighty years old when I’ll be drawing Carl at twenty. So, who knows? The plan is to keep it as this real-time book, we’ve done it so far for a hundred plus issues so there’s no need to do something so drastic – at the moment anyway.

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Thought Bubble Anthology 2012

Thought Bubble Anthology 2012

In preparation for Thought Bubble this weekend, I’ve been reading the Comic Art Anthology for 2012 with some of the best short pieces I’ve seen in a long time. This edition features six winners from the 2011 Northern Sequential Art Competition as well as industry legends such as Kate Beaton (Hark! A Vagrant) and Tony Harris (Ex Machina). The winners of this year’s competition will be announced on Sunday in Savilles Hall and will be featured in the 2013 edition of the Anthology.

A lot of these comics deal with love of the medium. “A Significant Portraiture” is an adorable Victorian-style comic by Gail Simone showing a charming young girl falling in love with comics like “Lady Wonder” and “X-Chaps” – personally I would love to read the adventures of “Bat Gentleman”! Although it isn’t said explicitly, the heavy hint is that a normal little girl shouldn’t like comic books. Tula Lotay’s artwork is beautiful and Bove’s colouring is exquisite on the ladies dresses, not to mention the final line which left me giggling – “And that little girl grew up to be Queen of Finland!”

Kristina Baczynski’s “Due Returns” is a sweet web-comic style story which follows a young woman’s love of learning and eagerness to read. “I’m Through” by Ivan Brandon tells the tale of a boy who receives a comic for Christmas, flips through the book disinterestedly but finds himself sucked in to this new, magical world that captivates and holds him. “The Clicking Machine”, while focussed on film instead of comics, shows an obsession with the medium that drives a man to madness

Soon” is a beautiful, abstract piece of work showing the beauty in technology and hope, down to the details in every atom. The subdued colours work wonderfully and give the feel that this is a philosophical, humanity-loving tale. “Dad’s Ear” is a funny tale of the psychological warfare parents are able to commit upon their children to make them behave. But my favourite of the collection is Kate Beaton’s “Dude Watching’ With the Brontës”, a brilliant satire of Charlotte and Emily’s habits of writing romantic leads as alcoholic brutes while the significantly less popular Anne chides them.


There are many more stories, but it would be a shame to ruin them. Most of the contributors will be at the convention, so bring along your copy (or get one there!) and get it signed by your favourite artists and writers from the collection. See you there!


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