At the moment my focus is on wrapping up "Dadtown," the sf webcomic I do with artist Raben White and
colorist Jess Parry. The aim is to have a published version of around 100 pages in time for a comic convention in Nottingham - where we are based - in late October. So far we have half of that done, and we're making great progress. I learned how to pitch
"Dadtown" at EmCon, when I lured people by saying with
"Toddlers with shotguns, and dancing robots, on a planet that hates
humans." Most people were all over us as soon as they heard
"toddlers with shotguns." The more refined reader may wish to know that it's also a story about an epically dysfunctional family - we're part Greek tragedy, part
geekfest, with a big 2000AD influence. Our motto is
"the right kind of wrong," which is how a lot of the ideas come about - there's a particular kind of twisted that works in
2) Whom in your field do you admire most and why?
Oh, so many people, from Warren Ellis and Walt Simonson to Carla Speed McNeil and Dwayne McDuffie. At the moment, I'm noticing the influence of Steve Gerber. For me, he's the starting point for the idea that genre comics can be personal and political and still communicate with an audience.
"Howard the Duck" was an amazing accomplishment, an underground comic with a Marvel cover, years ahead of its time, more Woody Allen than Stan Lee. Gerber was also at the forefront of the call for creators to have rights over their work, and campaigned on that issue way before it became popular. What we see with Image, and the fantastic range of comics they're putting out which their creators own, is the
realization of that vision.
3) How did you get into the comic book field?
Well, a long time back I was a student at London Cartoon Centre. And I was approached by Marvel on the basis of a
"Dr. Who" script of mine they'd seen. I was asked to do a superhero-flavored version of the same concept, wrote 20 pages in the next week, and never heard back from them. Which in retrospect was fine: I was clueless at the time, though had some inspired moments. I started to look at screenwriting, and the first treatment I wrote ended up with me sat in a room with Tim Bevan, who has produced some big movies like
"Four Weddings and A Funeral." That led to other adventures, like writing for the BBC, but I decided I wasn't cut out for writing medical drama on a show that had something like 300 approved writers. Which in a roundabout way brought me back to comics when I
realized - first - how much I love the medium and - second - the power that genre stories can have. Then it was just a question of meeting the right people, which is how
"Dadtown" came about.
4) On which title would you most like to work and why?
I'm primarily interested in putting my own titles out into the world. But there are some comics I'd love to have a go at if the opportunity appeared.
"Hellblazer" is a comic I believe I could bring something to, not least because of the number of people I've met over the years who are involved with or intrigued by paganism, magic, and other
"X-Files" stuff. Last year I got to speak about all of that at an amazing festival in Liverpool called Find The Others, celebrating writer Robert Anton Wilson. I did a talk about my experiences of mental health, goblins, and meeting the tree William Burroughs married, which apparently none of his biographers know about. I got to do an online version of the talk, which a guy called Will Price did some brilliant video editing for:
5) On what project will you be working next?
I'm working on a number of things. Last week I pitched an animation concept to some people in the
states who really liked it, and I'm working with a director who made a well-received horror movie on a couple of ideas. Tomorrow I meet someone who has an interesting idea for a feature and will be negotiating some details about that project. On the comics front, I am waiting on art for a pitch to Titan for one of their titles, and hoping to find the right artist for a story that's got superhero trappings, done in the manner of an adult HBO story. Oh, and I am an editor on
"Dawn of the Unread," an online comics anthology where established and new creators collaborate on stories that are partly about encouraging people to visit libraries more, which we should all do. My role is to pair up writers with artists and see them through to the completion of a story. I also contributed a piece of my own, with artist Francis Lowe, which takes in Batman and Lovecraft and Eastenders in a piece about the Gotham Fool, which is part of Nottingham history and folklore: