Comics Anonymous

March 26, 2012, 11:40 pm
Filed under: Interviews

Following our review of “Things to do in a Retirement Home Trailer Park…when You’re 29 and Unemployed”, the Comics Anon. crew were fortunate enough to pick the brains of writer Nye Wright and find out his inspirations and approach to storytelling.

What are you working on at the moment?

The creative answer is that I’m working on another long form graphic novel (probably 200 to 300 pages again). The only thing I can say is that is starts with a car crash and might end with a wedding. Not sure just yet. But I’m approaching it in a much different way from the last book; namely, I’m going to try to NOT take 8 years to do it. But we’ll see.

On the personal side, first child is on the way. So balancing day job, comics work, being a good father and being a good husband are the next big challenges. Wish me luck!

You write and draw this title, was that the best way for you since it’s such a personal story?

For me, a comic is just another form of story telling. And you need to tell your story in the most effective, and efficient way possible. If that means teaming up with writer, penciller, inker, colourer, letterer, etc, then go for it, so long as it results in a compelling story. For me, because I kind of see how I want the whole thing to work in my head before I’ve done it, the best way is for me to do the lot. And, the personal nature of “Trailer Park…” just meant that it probably wouldn’t have been very enjoyable or meaningful for anyone else to work on it. And I’m not paying myself so I certainly couldn’t have paid anyone else…

Given it was such a personal story, how did the other characters react to the book?

As it’s mostly about my father and me, and I began drawing the story when he was still alive, he was definitely nervous when I told him I was working on a comic about our life living in his trailer together. He’d been a talented and celebrated architect back in the mountains of Idaho where I grew up. So moving into the antithesis of what an architect is all about — a prefabricated home — really cut him emotionally. So I think he was worried about me documenting something about his ironic circumstances and showing him to be some kind of failure. But when he saw the first page where I’d drawn him as this rhinoceros, he loved it and kept asking to see more pages.

For my mother and sister, I think it was just another one of Nye’s weird projects. They were definitely supportive, even coming and holding down the fort at convention tables when I started selling it as a zine. But I think it really became real for them when they saw the final book. My girlfriend at the time, Liz, was the one who was the most pragmatic. She didn’t mind about being in it; she was just concerned that making a comic about the passing of my father might be less cathartic and more a failure to move on in my life. 

You’ve drawn most of the characters as animals, was there a particular reason for taking that approach?

There were a couple of reasons for that. The human eye is so attuned to other human faces and we’re so astute at recognizing them, that if something is even a tiny bit “off” in the representation of a human face, we are turned off. Using animal heads for some of the characters served two functions: 1) it hid the fact that I’m not a good enough draftsman to keep my characters “on model” if they are human. But 2) they kind of work like Greek drama masks: they are simple to recognize both up close or at a distance and they immediately convey who they are and what they stand for to the reader. There’s no lost time trying to figure out “who is this character.”

The use of colour seems quite important in this and “Lex Talionas” that I’ve read.  Is this a conscience decision to help set the mood or feel of the story?

I used limited colour in some of the same way I use animal heads: my colouring skills are limited so it forces me to work within and exploit those limitations. I used gray tones to build dimensionality to the drawings and give them depth. I used spot colours of blues and reds to draw in one’s eye, to lead you around the page. Hopefully it helps pull the reader into the story and pull him/her along. But you’ll have to be the judge of whether or not that works.

Will you be attending any other Con’s this year with “Trailer Park”?

Definitely. Plans right now are for the Bristol Comic Expo May 14-15, Kapow! the weekend after, and the Thought Bubble Festival in November. I’ll also be going to the Edinburgh Book Festival in August. And, if day job, night job and baby are in agreement, I’ll see if I can go to any others too.

Do you read any particular comics yourself?

Of course. One of my all time favourites is “100 Bullets”. The simplicity Eduardo Risso’s cartooning and yet the sophistication of his layouts are incredible (I have an original page above my desk). I’m currently reading a french edition of “Habibi” to brush up on my high school French. I love “Hellboy” when Mignola draws him. I loved “Daytripper” by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon. I will drool over about anything Paul Pope does. 

I’m just finishing up a 6 month stint in Paris for my day job, and my colleagues gave me a copy of the French edition of 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die, so I’m pretty excited to dive in there and find some treasures.

If you do, do you choose these from an artist or writers point of view?or maybe both?

I generally come for the art and then, if it’s any good, stay for the story. I love the loose yet precise brush and ink work of the Moon and Ba, and Pope. I love the sculptural, granitic intensity of everything Mignola has ever drawn. But if the stories they worked on weren’t compelling, I wouldn’t keep reading. Thankfully, they’ve all proved themselves to be great writers as well.

Do you have a favourite character or even a character you’d like to draw/write for?

I think everyone who loves comics has a first love, the thing that got them interested in comics in the first place. For me it was seeing the first Christopher Reeve Superman movie when I was six. I was broken hearted after seeing it when I realized I could never be Superman for two reasons: 1) I couldn’t fly and 2) I had blond hair. But then, while on a road trip with my father, he bought me a three pack of DC comics at a gas station. There was a Superman comic, a Batman book, and I was done. I realized if I was cursed with Blond hair and couldn’t fly, I could at least draw people who could.

So that’s a roundabout way of answering the question that, if given the chance, I’d love to draw either Clark or Bruce. I’d certainly love to tackle anything in Marvel’s universe too. But until then, I’ll keep trucking on my own characters and my own stories.

What or who inspired you to get into comics?

My dad was an architect. My earliest memories of him are always him pencil in hand, bent over a drawing table, humming whatever classical concerto was playing in the background. So I’d sit under his desk doodling with pencil nibs and scrap paper.

As far as specifically getting into comics, I just really like telling visual stories. I love film and animation and would love to tell stories in those realms too. But there you need thousands of dollars and armies of collaborators. Comics allows me to do the whole thing myself, in my own time under my own terms. And there’s just something really satisfying about picking up a book and saying to yourself “I made that.”

Many thanks to Nye for answering our questions and we urge you to pick up some of his titles.


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