Monday, September 27, 2010

A recent interview with David Lloyd.

You are very active in and supportive of the comic medium in  general. How did you get involved with projects like the cartoon  classroom?

Cartoon Classroom - - was kind of  unfinished business related to my involvement with The London  Cartoon Centre, which, at it's height, was the only full-time evening  school of cartooning and sequential art that Britain's ever had.  The  LCC grew from a series of creative workshops - including one I ran -  that a charity called The Portobello Project started in the mid-80's to  help inner city unemployed folks get some useful training in arts- oriented occupations. 
Despite various valiant fund-raising efforts the LCC ran out of cash  after some years and had to wrap up it's operations, but a small  amount of raised funds came in late from Oxford's Caption group.   This could have been used to pay for one last short-run class, almost  in tribute to the memory of the LCC.  But one of the LCC's ex-tutors,  Steve Marchant, had the great idea that it could be used to set up  something which would be of more lasting value than a short-run  class, and which would still, in a real sense, be a kind of continuance  of the LCC's work.  The idea was a website that aimed to centralise all  the information available on the study of cartoon and comic art in the  UK and Ireland : a site that would direct anyone interested in those  arts to places that were - unlike the LCC - still offering training  through books, associations, art college courses, and other means.   The site would also direct libraries and schools to tutors who  specialised in teaching these specialised skills.  So, it was created  and launched last October.  I helped put material into it and I add more when it's needed.
The biggest problem we have with it is simply getting the word out  about it - because simple time-saving comprehensive lists of email  addresses of schools, art colleges, libraries, etc, are just not readily  available unless via marketing organisations at a high price.  And  we're a non-profit resource.  But we keep trying and sometimes  succeeding, and hopefully we'll reach all those areas we need to  reach before very long.
Why do I get involved in such things?  Because I think that what we  do in the area of cartooning and sequential arts is undervalued, and  it's an art form that is under-represented by those with it's best  interests at heart, and badly represented by those who don't really  care about it's place in the cultural landscape.  I want to help change  that situation if I can, by becoming involved with any organisation  which professes to have the same views as I do in that regard.
The Society of Strip Illustration, Cartoon County, and the re-jigged  Comic Book Alliance are other examples of such organisations I have  tried to help with, or am trying to help with now.  For my sins.  

2 I really enjoyed your novel Kickback and personally feel it would  make a great ongoing series, do you have any plans for a follow up?

Well, if enquiries had been followed up, and overtures been  capitalised on in attempts to initiate a movie of Kickback, then it  would have been clearly in my best interests to follow up Kickback  with a sequel, because there's at least a book's worth more to be said  about our vulnerability to corruption, and I'm sure I would have  enjoyed finding a way to portray it.  But without the guarantee of the  wide readership a movie incarnation would elicit, it would be too  much of a gamble to spend another 18 months to two years on a  sequel that might struggle in the constricted retail and distribution  market that non-superhero stories have to tolerate.  Of course, a well -publicized sequel would direct folks to the first under-publicized  original, and fix the problem you're aware I've been having for years  of trying to make people aware of it - so there is that to take into  consideration.  But I really can't say I'm enthused to do a sequel right  now.  I'm really glad you liked it so much, though : )

3 Would you be interested in seeing Kickback turned into a movie or  TV show considering it seems perfect for that type of interpretation?

A movie, of course.  An episodic tv show, I'm not sure of.  A serial  drama, sure.  Dark Horse have the options on all that until August of  next year.  I hope they make the most of the time they have left on  their contract to get something going.   

4 Kickback is quite obviously not a super hero book, do you feel the  market as a whole needs to look beyond capes and tights if it is to  survive in the long term?

I don't know if the market feels it needs to, which is the important  thing.  I hate the way the superhero has become the dominant genre  in the industry, but the major publishers are happy to keep them in  that position, and the concept alone of the ' superheroic ' figure is still  a popular one - look at the movie adaptations.  And Heroes and  Smallville.  Kick-Ass and Scott Pilgrim.  Not conventional spandex,  but still ' super ' power.  In a different wrapping is all.  Are  superheroes a serious liability for the major publishers of comics?  I  don't see any signs of that.  And they won't shift their course until  there are such signs.
There is a widening of the character base in comics, though.  There is  a wider range of stories and subjects for stories, which is good, and  it's good to see that things like Losers and Walking Dead have  benefited their creators through movie adaptations, etc.  So you don't  have to be a licenced lycra type to be adapted for the screen.  That  fact by itself will mean that new creators of sequential art will feel  freed of the need to jump on a superhero bandwagon.  More  Cowboys and Aliens rather than more masked musclemen. 
But what I'd like to see happen in the publishing of strips as a whole  is a determined attempt to widen the readership of ' comics 'as a wide  entertainment medium ( by that I don't mean getting more people to  accept and read superhero comics, which is the only move industry  execs seem to have considered ).  But this can only be done by a  major investment in market development, and this can only be  financed by a big company.  And as no big company I know of in the  business looks like it has the desire to invest in such a thing, I doubt it  will ever be done. 

5 How do you think the industry has changed over the last 20 years  and  do you feel its for the better?

Well, freedom from the Comics Code should have freed the industry  to explore it's power to expand and mature, but this has not  happened.  What Vertigo did has been great but hampered by it's  place in an industry which has limited retailing and distribution  capabilities, and limited aspirations in terms of it's market and it's  artistic values.  So, too much time has been invested in making  fantastic characters ' real ' and not enough time has been spent in  making ' real ' characters fantastic.
Good things have happened - especially in the quality of reproduction  - but in general, in the main, we can say that it's much the same as  before except different.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bryan Talbot interview

Over the last 17 years of selling comics and the last five years of writing and publishing them I have been lucky enough to meet lots of wonderful people in this amazing industry of pictorial story telling, so the idea hit me recently to make good on the relationships I have built up and interview these fine people and help show the world why they are so important especially in these times of mainstream conformity. Over the following months I will be talking to creative people who question the confines of our society on a multitude of levels who bring us on journeys of the mind and heart. Starting with the  very English and very lovely Bryan Talbot.

Bryan you are well known for your unique story telling and original ideas. Do you feel the industry as a whole needs more creators who are willing to step outside the comforts of the mainstream and experiment with their own ideas?

BT: The area of the comic industry that’s growing and reaching into the REAL mainstream, not the comic book mainstream is graphic novels. There’s now a large body of quality work that is sustaining this growth. There are more and better comics being produced within the graphic novel form than ever before but there’s still a need for a  range of individualistic material in all genres. I’d encourage any superhero artists and writers to move out of the confines of their relatively small niche market and produce books that could appeal to the general public, an increasing number of whom are reading GNs.

Correct me if I'm wrong but most of your work seems to be centered around a romantic vision of Britain, how do you feel the real Britain lives up to your expectations?

BT: I see what you mean but I wouldn’t exactly agree. In Arkwright, the UK is under a totalitarian fascist dictatorship, produced at the time of the rise of the far right, with Thatcher in power and the National Front marching on the streets. The Tale of One Bad Rat is partly about  homelessness in London. Even Alice in Sunderland deals with things like the Peterloo massacre, Victorian poverty and disease, the BNP and asylum seekers. I admit that I do produce a lot of work that is UK orientated. I think it makes it different from the vast majority of Anglo-American comics.

You have often been referred to as the godfather of modern British underground comics. In an industry dominated by mainstream American books what would you say was the defining difference between British and American comics.

BT: Ha! I’ve also heard “The Godfather of British Graphic Novels”. I don’t think there’s a great deal of difference between them, depending upon what comics you’re talking about. There’s a world of difference between UK kids’ weeklies  comics from US kids’ comics, the British sense of humour and the stylistic tradition are different, but if you compare material such as in 2000AD and the strips in Clint, there’re of a pretty similar ethos. Of course, there aren’t really that many UK comics.

Your latest book Grandville Mon Amour is due this December can you tells what to expect from Inspector LeBrock in his second outing?

BT: Although it contains the sleuthing, humour and action elements of the first book, I think it has quite a different atmosphere. It’s set a month later and sees LeBrock hunting down an old adversary and urban terrorist, literally a mad dog serial killer. Grandville Mon Amour has a certain poignancy as LeBrock tries to redeem himself for the death of Sarah. The first book had definite Tarantinoesque moments. This one is decidedly Hitchcockian.

How did you find it working with your son Alwyn on Grandville Mon Amour and can we expect to see future collaborations?

BT: I hope so. It was nice to work with him for the first time. Alwyn is a brilliant illustrator and computer game concept designer ( He really helped me out by colouring the last three pages as I was right up against the deadline.

Watch the Grandville trailer!
This blog is intended as a place where I can talk about both the Sub-City comic book store and the comics industry in general, Atomic Diner publishing and my own interests IE comics,movies and books, maybe even politics if the mood takes, bigger than Twitter more direct than Facebook. I also intent to publish my interviews with industry professionals each week as well as keeping a record of the progress of various comic projects I'm working on like the league of volunteers, Roisin Dubh, Jennifer Wilde, Freak Show and a few others. OK introduction done, thanks for listing.