Filed under: Interviews | Tags: conan, Criminal, Ed Brubaker, Fatale, Forbidden Planet Glasgow, Incognito, Sean Phillips
An appearance by Sean Phillips in Glasgow’s Forbidden Planet on the 25th January gave the Comics Anonymous crew the chance to speak to a top UK artist from the comic book world – his first appearance in Glasgow in over 10 years. Promoting his new book, Fatale (reviewed here), with regular collaborator Ed Brubaker.
Fatale is making big waves and there’s a good buzz around it, is that taking up a lot of your time?
That’s pretty much taking up all my time. We’re going to try and get it out every month this year, that’s something we always aim for every month but because it’s all self-created stuff, things come up and we might slip a bit over the year. I’ve got to keep drawing it all the time, so to help that, I’ve taken no more work on over the year which I find really hard. I’ve got a couple of other things that I still need to finish off from last year, a sci-fi book that I’m working on.
Are there any other recent projects you’ve worked on?
I’ve got a Conan story coming out in the next issue of Robert E. Howard’s Savage Sword anthology, which I finished towards the end of last year. Originally I was going to paint a six issue mini-series for them and we both realized that would take years and years… so I ended up doing an eight page story. But I still painted it and I thought this was the only chance I was ever going to get to do Conan, I’ve got to make it look as good as I can and it took me absolutely ages to do it.
That was why I didn’t finish the sci-fi book because I spent two months painting eight pages, which is a stupid amount of time but it came out really good. I didn’t write it myself, I got a childhood friend called Pete Doree – who does small-press stuff and bit of illustrations but not that bothered about making a career out of it. I just said, write me a Conan story – eight pages, no horses, a giant snake and a woman in it and either in a dessert or snow as I don’t want to draw any cities or things. So he wrote me a real nice story with a giant snake, a woman, set in the snow. So he’s chuffed at getting to write Conan as a massive Robert E. Howard fan and I’m pleased to get to draw it at last.
You’ve done a lot of work with Ed Brubaker on Criminal, Incognito and now Fatale – but are there any other characters you’d like to do?
Yeah it’s been over 10 years I’ve worked with Ed and I’m quite happy at doing the creator-owned stuff. Conan was the last character on my list that I’d wanted to do since I was a kid – I’ve done Spider-Man, I’ve done Batman, I’ve done Judge Dredd – so I’ve got no desire to aim for any particular corporate character.
So are you more content with doing the creator owned stuff?
I think people are giving it more of a chance – there are a lot of people getting bored with the same old stuff coming out of Marvel/DC. Even though DC relaunched everything, it’s still exactly the same as it was before. I think that the people that write and draw these things also realize that they’re not the important part any more it’s the character. When they ask you to do these titles you think that they must really like what you do but it’s really just to plug a gap and they do what they like with it. If you do creator-owned stuff you can do anything you like. People still have to buy it, but it’s up to you whether you stop or just do it for the fun. I’m lucky because I’m quite quick and can draw 15/16 comics a year so I can do 6 creator owned comics for the fun of it, and then I can make up the money doing the other 10.
As mentioned earlier you’ve worked with Ed Brubaker quite a bit but do you look out for any particular writers?
I can’t think of any off the top of my head as I don’t read too many current releases. Whatever comics I do buy, are only ever for the art. I’d never buy a comic that is well written and had terrible drawings but I’d buy any terribly written comic if it had nice drawings.
So in that sense do you keep track of any other artists or characters?
One I have just caught up on was Northlanders, I’ve had a stack of 40-odd issues waiting for me since they came out – read the first book and really liked it. Brian Wood DID ask me to draw the last few issues of Northlanders but I couldn’t do it, I didn’t have time to do it, so told him to ask me again in a year. When that came round again I’d forgotten about it and had other stuff to do. I really like his stuff. I’d like to something in the Hellboy universe but I like what Ed writes and the way we do it is, he’ll say for something like Fatale that he’s got an idea for this crime story but it’s got lots of different stuff. I’ll say great, fine, I’ll do that and then he’ll send me the script. I’ve got no idea what’s going to happen in the story other than what he’s got to so far.
You did Marvel Zombies, was that a bit more of a break away from what the usual characters look like?
Yeah we could do what we like. All the Marvel Zombies characters all had their 1960’s outfits on and I could draw them off the top of my head. I don’t want to draw modern Iron Man I’d rather draw pointy eared Iron Man that I can draw without thinking about it and it was quite nice doing something that had no impact on the rest of Marvel. Going into it we had no idea it was going to work or be a hit and it was the biggest selling graphic novel that year. We didn’t know that. I did it because I didn’t have any other work on, I wasn’t first on the list, I was down like 20th and Robert was the samw, he wasn’t first choice. I’ve heard from so many people saying “I was offered that, I wish I’d done it” – because the royalties made out of that paid for the 1st year of Criminal, so if I didn’t have the money or the exposure, I couldn’t have afforded to do Criminal.
Fatale has become a firm favourite with the CA-Team after just 1 issue and I hope you take the chance to read it soon. Remember to try and catch some of their other collaborative work – Sleeper, Incognito and Criminal. Also keep checking the Forbidden Planet Store in Glasgow, who seem to have a knack for getting some big name artists/writers north of the border.
Competition time coming soon from Comics Anon with some Sean Phillips signed issues of Fatale and Marvel Zombies. So keep an eye out on our Facebook and Twitter pages.
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