I’ve always had ambitions to create comic art. Over the years, this seemed to drift like a forgotten dream: one that I would have to give up on.
I’d studied animation at university, though I never did anything with my art afterwards. I’d always been a little shy of committing to my true ambition – that was to draw comics.
I’d thought it a silly idea and I should concentrate on multimedia, I.T. or a host of other careers, never really listening to the one little voice in my head, like an itch, always there, telling me to draw comics. I’d never dreamed I could, so I didn’t. The inner itch to do something was there – I just refused to scratch.
Then one day about 6 or 7 years ago, I just decided to go for it. I had literally run out of excuses to myself on why not, so I made a commitment to myself – I would scratch the itch. I’d develop a portfolio and see where it took me. If within 12 months nothing had come of it. At least i’d tried.
Having decided to scratch, the problem was where to start? I found a forum called Penciljack. It’s a great website for anyone looking to get involved with comics – whether you’re looking to build a network, put work out for critique or just to make some friends. There’s a great section called sample scripts for artists (which sort of speaks for itself). I used these scripts to help develop a portfolio.
May 2013 Bristol Comic Convention. Armed with a portfolio I’d spent months drawing, I tentatively took this to the convention. This was the first time I had taken a portfolio of comic work anywhere near comic professionals. This comic con had a whole host of them including Gary Erskine, Dylan Teague, Mike Collins, John Higgins and David Lloyd.
Like any U.K. Comic fan who had grown up in the ’80s, I was a huge fan of 2000AD. I’d spent hours as a teenager looking at the work of these artists, studying the form and line the way an art historian would research a Renaissance artist. To say I was nervous would be a vast understatement, however, I had made that commitment to myself. I had to do this.
I took the portfolio up to them.
Something interesting happened. Something that I wasn’t expecting.
No one laughed at me. Not one of them said to “stop wasting my time”.
In fact, I received some great feedback on what was good, what was bad, what I should stop doing and what I needed to start doing.
I also got introduced to Jim Alexander. Jim had worked for 2000AD, Dc and Marvel. He was looking for an artist for a mini-series to be published under his own publishing house “Planet Jimbot”. Jim liked what he saw in my portfolio so we exchanged numbers and said we’d keep in touch.
I’d gone to the Comic Convention nervous not knowing anyone and convinced I’d be laughed out of the building. Upon leaving I had made some contacts, made some friends and I had my first series to work on.
Encouraged by the great feedback from the comic con, I reached out to the publishers of Zarjaz, a 2000AD fanzine that had won numerous awards. I submitted the same portfolio I had taken with me to the Bristol Comic-Con and the editor of Zarjaz contacted me back and wanted me to draw a strip.
The self-doubt I had always had was going. Things were on the up.
In February 2014 Food Chain #1 was published.
I was so happy. After all those years of self-doubt and not allowing myself to believe. Here I was, 18 months (ish) after scratching the itch, holding in my hands a comic I had produced all the art for, written by an industry veteran, lettered by an amazing letterer (Jim Campbell). I had dared to chase the dream and things had worked out.
I have since continued to work with Futurequake publishing. I have also continued to attend Comic Conventions as often as I can. Going to conventions helps to build friendships, make new connections and are also great fun to attend (especially with the after-party drinks).
That itch is still there. Nagging at me to create comics. Though now I listen to it. And it’s such a relief to scratch.