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 ( http://neubius.cgsociety.org/gallery). He really helped me out by colouring the last three pages as I was right up against the deadline.
Watch the Grandville trailer!