The last two conventions I exhibited at were SDCC in July, and SPX which was last weekend as you may have heard if you’re on social media in the vicinity of anybody currently involved in the independent comics world. I came out of each of those shows feeling weirdly enlightened about Where…
You're one of the most prolific and skilled webcomic artists I've seen. I'm just wondering, is it your ambition to keep working in the Scary Go Round universe forever?
Forever is an awfully long time! I want to keep doing stories in the Scary Go Round universe for as long as it’s fun. The nice thing is that it can grow and change as I seek to do different things. It’s changed a lot in 16 years. I enjoy going back to the old characters, and applying new theories and techniques to telling stories with them.
Bad Machinery (well, all of your comics actually) is probably my favorite webcomic. I absolutely love and admire your art and especially how you write all those lovable, authentic characters. Thanks so much for that! Will you have any of your books at Thought Bubble? :)
I’ll have books of all kinds at Thought Bubble! Newies, oldies, mouldies. At the very least:
Bad Machinery 2 soft & hardcover Giant Days 1-3 Murder She Writes & THAT
and probably an Expecting To Fly 1 & 2 set (if I can get them done in time).
Case Of The Modern Men is over, Expecting To Fly begins
The Case Of The Modern Men is over! If you want to read it from the start, you can do that here. Bad Machinery is now on a break, probably until the new year. Thanks to everyone who wrote emails or sent tweets to say they enjoyed it.
A few people wrote and asked, “what was the supernatural element of that story”? When I started the the last case, I wanted to downplay that aspect a bit. Maybe King Gary’s scooter was evil and cursed, but maybe it wasn’t. It didn’t really matter to me either way. I’m always more interested in other parts of the story.
After six months of mods v rockers, I’m ready to do other things for a while. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last year or so going back into the histories of long-running characters, and Expecting To Fly is the last part of that. It’s a different kind of story, with a slightly different tone. It runs for ten weeks, up to the start of November. (As always, no prior knowledge of my troublesome back catalogue should be required to enjoy these events.)
Then, according to my lightly pencilled comics itinerary, there’s a new Murder She Writes story in the run-up to Christmas. The only thing I can currently tell you is that it is about space.
After that, Bad Machinery should return. I’ll do my best to keep you busy until then.
When you first got into comics, did you feel like you were better at, or more interested in, the drawing or the writing? I want to make my own comics, but I feel like my art straggles behind my writing. How can I cause these two aspects of comic-making to come together within myself, and make the works I want to make?
Oh hey, this is something I think a lot about, actually! So when I started making comics (15 years ago this month, haha), I was really terrible at drawing. And I wanted to do, y’know, GRAPHIC NOVELS, with fairly realistically drawn characters and backgrounds and things that are hard to draw. Things that I didn’t really have the skills to draw at the time. So I’d draw my comics and the art was generally pretty terrible. But I was comfortable with writing, and that helped me keep going with making comics, because I enjoyed the storytelling aspect of them so much.
It’s hard when you feel pretty okay about your writing but your art doesn’t measure up. I kind of feel like my art still doesn’t measure up to what I want it to be (mostly right now I want it to be Hiromu Arakawa, which will never happen, no matter how much I practice), but I’m very comfortable with the writing part of comics, so I look at that as my great strength in my work. It makes up for where my art is lacking, and I work hard at writing to make the sum total of my work better than if I was just writing or just drawing.
I mean, the absolute best thing about comics (to me) is that you don’t need to be a spectacular artist to make really great, involving comics. I’m not an amazing technical artist. During my down times, I don’t draw gorgeous illustrations or do amazing paintings (I kind of dislike doing that kind of thing, to be honest). I will never be Gillian Tamaki. But I’m good at storytelling, and I’m good at interpreting emotion and drawing that on the comic page. So I work to my strengths, which is making stories about engaging characters, and laying out scenes where there is a lot of emotion running through them, and people who like my comics don’t seem to mind that my art is not as great as Gillian Tamaki or Hiromu Arakawa.
Comics aren’t just art or just writing, they’re the two combined to make something new and wonderful. They are more than the sum of their parts. So work hard to because a decent artist with a good grasp of storytelling basics (this is super important!), and work harder to become a truly excellent writer and storyteller, and you can quite possibly make great comics! It worked for me. :)
As a comic reader and a comic librarian the closed mouth talkers give me the impression that the character spoke and then had nothing more to say. It could be used sparingly to give conversations finality. Like, we'll say no more about this.
I don’t know, it feels like the tentpoles are falling down in the big closed-mouth marquee. TO ME.
Is the current storyline based on the 50th anniversary of the mods & rockers wars (see bbc4 tonight)?
If only I was this smart. Just before Christmas I was waiting for a friend in a pub. He was an hour late. I was jotting down ideas in my sketchbook, and for some reason, I wrote down the phrase, “not mad, but mod”, which I used in this comic and then formed the basis of the current Bad Machinery story. Which just goes to show, you should always see a long wait as a creative opportunity and not spend it playing with your phone. THE END.
Please tell me 'Expecting to Fly' is a reference to the album by popular beat combo the Bluetones, light of my teenage years and object of some unlikely cowboy fanfic composed for the amusement of myself and my favourite friends??!
Yes. Of course, it’s a Neil Young (as part of Buffalo Springfield?) song too, but I was thinking of the deeply middling Britpop release. Great singles, shame about the rest.
“Back in the day, Walter would, every once in a while, forget how to draw. Remember?" Louise said.
“Oh yeah,” Walter agreed. “That still happens occasionally. It’s like, ‘Oh my god, nothing I’m drawing looks any good anymore. My life is over as an artist.’ And what I realized, because I was an editor at the time, and had seen a lot of work go past me, was that when you hit this phase where suddenly your stuff, which looks just like it did yesterday, doesn’t look good to you anymore, it’s because your mind has made a leap. Your brain has gotten farther than your hand has learned to do it yet. But eventually, give it a few weeks, keep it up and you’ve made a leap in your own craft. That was a big help because it was so depressing when you realize you couldn’t draw anymore.”—From an interview with Walt and Louise Simonson. (via twiststreet)
I will be taking a week off Bad Machinery next week (July 7th-11th) to go on holiday. I’m sorry. But filling in (from July 4th, and including a big Saturday strip), I’ll have a week of Bobbins featuring the return of a much loved/loathed character. Loved and loathed in equal measure. So get ready for a week of comics that you’ll either enjoy, or hate. I can’t do anything about it now. I’m in France and I’m not looking at the Internet.
“I know you fellow .01%ers tend to dismiss this kind of argument; I’ve had many of you tell me to my face I’m completely bonkers. And yes, I know there are many of you who are convinced that because you saw a poor kid with an iPhone that one time, inequality is a fiction. Here’s what I say to you: You’re living in a dream world. What everyone wants to believe is that when things reach a tipping point and go from being merely crappy for the masses to dangerous and socially destabilizing, that we’re somehow going to know about that shift ahead of time. Any student of history knows that’s not the way it happens. Revolutions, like bankruptcies, come gradually, and then suddenly. One day, somebody sets himself on fire, then thousands of people are in the streets, and before you know it, the country is burning. And then there’s no time for us to get to the airport and jump on our Gulfstream Vs and fly to New Zealand. That’s the way it always happens. If inequality keeps rising as it has been, eventually it will happen. We will not be able to predict when, and it will be terrible—for everybody. But especially for us.”—Nick Hanauer’s “The Pitchforks are Coming… For Us Plutocrats." (via twiststreet)
I’m very limited (by non-unpleasant “circumstances”) as to the items I can sell out of my UK shop at the moment, but I do have a new teatowel design for you! IN PIE WE CRUST!
Sorry that it’s not possible to get my signed prints, custom postcards, small commissions etc from me at the moment, but there’s a huge range of Scary Go Round merchandise available from Topatoco at the moment, and the exchange rate should make it all pretty agreeable to UK pockets right now.
“Regarding single issue sales: they are incredibly important to a lot of Image creators. On Rocket Girl, it’s by far the biggest chunk (of course, we don’t have a tpb yet). And every reader counts. A few thousand copies can make or break a series. If Rocket Girl dips into the 8000s, we’ll start thinking about when to wrap it up. If it stays above 12,000 we can do it forever. At 12,000 copies I can make as much writing Rocket Girl as Hulk; Amy Reeder can make as much penciling/inking/coloring as she would on Batwoman. 8000 vs 12,000 is a significant difference in percentage, but it’s not a huge amount of readers. A lot of Image creators are in the same boat, albeit their individual line might be a bit higher or lower. Certainly collected editions and digital and ancillary media/merchandise contribute as well. But a lot of making creator-owned work is down to financing: and single issues have the biggest impact on cash flow–and the only impact on cash flow for almost a full year when you take into account early production to ‘get ahead’ as well as solicitation. Also: your comment forgets artists, who are forgotten way to much nowadays. A writer can maybe juggle 4 simultaneous projects, but an artist can do just one book at a time. It is much harder for an artist to make the plunge into creator-owned–so consider that when choosing what to support.”—
Reblogging because the economics of creator-owned comics are of interest to me, and because this is the kind of thing I should probably take into account when it comes to who gets their comic pre-ordered, who gets shelf picked, and who gets trade-waited.