Do you keep a sketchbook? What do you fill it up with?
Yes, I do, I’m a sketchbook devotee. A lot of it is drawings of people and during the week, buildings. Also that’s where I thumbnail everything for my comics. It’s really rough and not the sort of thing that I would usually show anyone.
Do you have a sweet studio setup or do you draw on the kitchen table?
I do not have a studio, I draw in my room. I have a desk in front of a north-facing window. The light is very beautiful.
Tell me about your favourite pen. Or brush. Or pencil.
I’ve tried a bunch of pens but what I find nicest is a light wooden pen (it’s Japanese but I don’t know what the brand name is cos it’s too worn out) with a Nikko G Pen nib. I like a nib which is kind of flexible and bites the paper in a certain decisive way. My favourite inks are Winsor and Newton and Ecoline for colour.
What’s a good comic/book you’ve read recently?
Definitely THE CLAW, the Terrible Beautiful Claw, by Marc Pearson. Also Loud and Smart, by Alex Krokus, and this comic that Meg O’Shea created for The Nib called A Part of Me Is Still Unknown, about the search for her biological mother in Korea. https://thenib.com/a-part-of-me-is-still-unknown
It’s really brave, clever, well-paced.
You teach comics as well sometimes right? Tell me about that
Yes a little bit. I find it confusing actually, but a real honour, that I often get asked to speak to young people about comics and story-telling, because I wouldn’t describe any of my work as child-friendly. Perhaps the reason the young folks like it is because I try to never ever be didactic — I don’t think that’s the job of the author — and I try to be really honest about how little we know about anything. Actually I sort of have an inkling — one a teenage girl told me she liked all my comics “because they all had a lot of titties.”
Kids are totally amazing and inspiring, but I do not believe the myth that every child is creative. Put a bucket of Lego in front of a group of kids and you can tell who is going to grow up to be an architect and who is going to be a quantity surveyor. That’s okay and actually great, and I try to never force anyone to draw or be more “out there” than they feel comfortable with. I guess my approach is to very gently nudge people towards their weirdest self.
Do you have any plans for the comic you’re going to make?
I think I might write a story about a young, repressed, gay, male architect, who goes to a site meeting and ends up having an experience which is both erotic and frustrating. It is not auto-biographical.