Sumner welcomes incomparable British super-artist, co-creator of Watchmen, Martha Washington, Rogue Trooper & Kingsman – the one and only Dave Gibbons – to Hard Agree, for a freewheeling chat about Dave’s career (from the early days until now) and their mutual love of comics, with plenty of stops/detours along the way, digging into comics history & celebrating the industry titans who inspired (and continue to inspire) Dave!
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Hard Agree – Dave Gibbons Cut Interview
[00:00:00] Dave Gibbons: Andrew asked me anything, basically it’s the best I’m sure. I’m sure. I’m sure I can still bat it away into the long
Sumner: grass. Well, I’ll do a little bit of an intro. Do a preamble intro. You know, we’ll do a little bit of an intro now. So I I’m privileged to be joined by none of them, Dave Gibbons. How are you, mate?
I’m very well. Andrew, how are you? Yeah, very well. We were just talking off camera about the about the whole the whole scenario with the pandemic. And I’m pleased to see that you were forging ahead through that
Dave Gibbons: mate. I am. I am. And I have had my job as I’m a respected elder citizen, and I’m very relieved to have it, to have had it.
And I I urge all your listeners to get their job as soon as they possibly can.
Sumner: Absolutely. I’m looking forward to getting mindset in, rather than later, some of my family I’ve had those already. My folks are still with us about this, and I’m very pleased that you’ve had yours and I’m sure the world of the comics [00:01:00] faithful.
I’m very pleased that you’ve had yours as well. Mate.
Dave Gibbons: I feel like I have super powers now,
but caution is the, is the watch word, but it’s certainly a strange on quite a profound level. It’s funny. It’s like a lot of things that you, you can become anxious about. It’s there, but you don’t see it until it goes. And I actually felt generally relieved and thinking, well, that’s a step in the right direction.
We’re now moving away from that. Or B slowly. I mean, I wouldn’t want to overstate it because in many ways I’ve been very lucky as far as the whole lockdown thing is concerned, you know? As I may have said the last time we spoke and lots of my professional colleagues have said the life of a comic book artist is a fairly locked down thing.
Anyway. So to sit in a room on your own and work from home is something I’ve done for the last 50, 50 years or more so, and you know, we, we live in a reasonable part part of the [00:02:00] country, so we’ve had it fairly good here, but I I’ve just got that feeling of optimism and that if we all just keep study for a bit longer, you know, it’s gonna be okay.
Sumner: Yeah. Amen. Amen to that. I think it’s just a keep on playing the course wrong and you know, get the vaccine when you can. That’s the absolute key. Absolutely. So Dave, I saw some in the day that made me think of you. And it was, it was a piece of yours that I’d never seen before. And it, it was it was from the, it was from the British weekly anthology comic and, and I’m, and I’m putting that description in front frame, but he’s listening.
He is American, you know, because of course, anthology comics is how we all came to comic books in the UK. British comics are weekly and had multiple stories in, in, in black and white printed and mano. But I, I ran into a story. It was, I didn’t even know existed. And it was the spike in the Sputnik from, from the Hotspur.
It’s I didn’t even know you’d done anything for, and like the [00:03:00] mid seventies.
Dave Gibbons: Yeah. Well, when I broke into comics, I mean, if we’ve already covered this before, cause to be honest with your Android to so many of these zoom calls, but I think, Oh my God, am I telling that guy, the anecdote that I told him the last time, but just briefly, the way that I broke into comics was by hanging around fleet by who the major publishers of.
Co comics next to the DC Thompson in the sort of early seventies. And I got to know a few people there and I got to know an agent by the name of Barry Coker, who said that having seen my fanzine work and odd little filler stuff that I’d done, that he thought he could get me regular work. So I threw my lot in with him and he was very well connected to DC Thompson up in.
Dundee. Yeah. And he, and they published a lot of kind of science fiction, adventure kind of stories, which he could see was meat and drink to me. Yeah. [00:04:00] And so I worked on a number of really quiet, obscure titles for DC Thompson. A fan was kind enough to scan in and send me kind of PDF versions of nearly everything I’d done for them.
And there was the spine, the Sputnik, there was the wriggling wrecker, which was about a virus that ate concrete. It was the year of the shark man, which was about an invasion by sharp man from under the sea flying tripe pound, which was about spotter planes in world war two Lysander high wing mano planes that were used as spy planes, into drop people in and out of occupy.
Occupied France. It was the cat and the mouse, which was another world war two thing, spring Hill Jack. It was a kind of an updating of the old Victorians, new Jack character. But in this case, he was a Victorian policeman whose secret identity was the sort of spring Hill Jack. And the great thing about working for Thompson’s was they [00:05:00] didn’t pay very well, but what they would do is give you really good guidance, really good critiques.
I used to take the pencil pages into my agent who would then spend them up to Dundee and they’d come back with notes and scribbles and post-its on them saying how I could improve the storytelling. That was mainly what they were. Focused on. And I got such good practical unpretentious, you know, actual craftsman teaching from them that it was an invaluable experience.
Along the way, I did ghost a series that Ron Smith, who later went on to work 2008 that he drew called Nick jolly the flying highway, man about this reincarnated highway, man who had this robot horse that could fly. They’re just such mad stuff. And if you look at a lot of the stuff that DC Thompson did, it had that real, almost hallucinogenic, you know, impossible nature to it.
And also a lot [00:06:00] of the stories were actually repurposed from texts stories that had run decades earlier. So a staff member would retire a pros story into a, into a comic strip sequence. So they were never in a way great comics, but they were great stories, great oiling stories. And it was really there that I learned how to consistently tell stories in pictures on a weekly basis.
Sumner: Now that that’s really very interesting because I, we, you and I definitely haven’t talked about that before and you’re absolutely right. The, the thing about the DC, all the DC Thompson adventure books compared to the fleet way, IPC ones, they’re really quite pedestrian. But as you say, they have this very off-kilter imagination sort of running through them, like light like marbling.
And also to a point before, as I recall, fleet Wayne IPC had really got into embracing science-fiction and, and the kind of [00:07:00] storytelling that, you know, appeared in battle and then became the storytelling template for 2008 date, which you were very much part of before that they DC Thompson were doing things like.
Creating their own superheroes and whatnot. Yeah. Cause you had a King Cobra is one of those,
Dave Gibbons: think that was also drawn by Ron Saigon. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. There were lots of things that would sort of on the, they weren’t kind of American, but they had a kind of. Slightly British feel to them. You know, they, they, they did focus on things that you didn’t get in Fleetway, which was much more traditional.
That was all school stories in sportsman and world war two. And you might get the odd science fiction thing. But I mean, the strange thing is I haven’t spent most of my life quite successfully joined essentially science fiction. It was always held to be very unpopular, which was why when they came to launch 2008, it was a real uphill struggle [00:08:00] because the kind of common wisdom was science fiction doesn’t sell.
But I think that the 2018 proof there was an appetite for it. And I think there was something about the DC Thompson approach. That was it wasn’t attempting to be worthy or great literature. It was just young. It was just tall trail. That was the kind of thing. And they also. Had great people working for them.
I mean, it was a non-union outfit. It was very much a patriarchy, you know, that if your face fitted and you were prepared to do the work, you had a job for life, but you did what they said at the right state. They paid. But you look at the artist who they had working for them, people like Leo Baxendale and, and Dudley D what can Sue is one of the most amazing artists ever to work in comics?
So versatile, you know, and when you think of his desperate Dan, which was, it’s such a bizarre thing, he was a cowboy and he had a, like a little six year.
Sumner: Yeah. But he lived in a town in the North of India.
[00:09:00] Dave Gibbons: It was just crazy, really crazy. And so this, I think there’s something very endearing about the kind of you know, pop boiling, and sort of really weird stuff, I suppose, because it was low rent, nobody cared, which of course has always been one of the things about comics, you know, that wow. They just can’t make, so you can, you can do do anything just as long as you fill the pages up, you know,
Sumner: Yeah, no, it’s so true because I, I definitely remember when I was first exposed to DC Thompson comics.
And a lot of them was when I was at primary school. And I guess when I was about, let’s say when I was about 10 years old, that’s when warlord first appeared right there, Wilbert. And definitely at that time, having the, having the choice, age 10, between warlord and between battle now, backlit, is it by any stretch of the imagination?
Actually a much better comic, but for the 10 year old me, I remember clearly pro preferring the more [00:10:00] homogenized adventure that was in warlord backer was too edgy for me, age 10, age 15. I loved it. But back then, those kind of very straightforward wary Northern English tales really appeal to me.
Dave Gibbons: It’s. Very strange.
I mean, this is perhaps a slight diversion, but I was, I was reading something about Carlos Iscara the, the light color, Cara. Unfortunately, you, I knew a bit and who actually worked through the same agent Bard and press features and the, and he was a hugely successful, very, very popular comic book artist.
And I think part of the key to his success was it was you saw what looked like a kid could draw it now. No kids. Yeah. As well as Carlos Carlos was a wonderfully talented, very capable artist, but there was an informality about his work. There was no barrier. There was no kind of, Oh, look at this artwork, you know, this is beautiful.
It was just, I’m not even, I’m looking at the [00:11:00] artwork. And it was, it used to remind me of, yeah. Why in your maths, rough book is school. You know, you draw like a, a Stoker or something and you drove a bullet’s cup coming out of it, a lot brand dotted line of tracer shells. And that was kind of Carlos’s approach.
And I seen Carlos draw and I visited his studio and he used to draw with the kind of tools that you would draw in the back of your maths, Ralph, but with you and I like, yeah, A bit beaten up old fountain pen with it with a bit dingy, old ink in it, and, you know, scribbled out on the page. But of course, when it was shopped for reproduction and printed, it looks absolutely great because he knew exactly what to do.
And I think maybe the DC Thompson thing kind of fell into that camp as well. There was nothing off putting about the surface of it. It was quite welcoming and he was very informed. And also, although to my taste now it was very overwritten. There was a lot to read in it, you know, picture had a capture, each picture had a couple of word balloons and quite [00:12:00] tiny mechanical type.
And, and so, you know, I think, I think it was a great place to work because it was the. The sort of real ground floor of comics, it was nothing pretentious, nothing aspiring to be art. It was good. It was good. Simply told stories with imagination. And obviously because of the, you only have to look at the sales.
I used to get. A huge crowd pleaser.
Sumner: Yeah, no, for sure. What’s I think interesting was I was super worried of this the first time I encountered your work. And now that you’ve laid what I realize now, now that you live through some of those stories that you did for DC, Thomson is some of those are familiar to me.
So I must’ve read them at an early enough stage that I hadn’t really clicked. It was, it was you. And what I mean by that is. When when 2008 D started now, I bought it from the first issues. First this year I was, I was a paper boy back at that point in the, in the Liverpool suburbs. And I, you know, I, I remember it [00:13:00] leaping off the cancer that, you know, when I got paid my wages and I took it back home.
But from the very first moment that I read Harlem heroes which I think started in issue one. Right. What was obvious about your artwork is that you had what felt to me like a very American sensibility compared to, from the moment I saw your stuff. I thought, man, you know, I, you, for the first time, I, I remember thinking I could really see your artwork in a DC comics book, for example, which, which is ultimately where it went.
And I was that within you? Was that something that, that had you been, had you had a lot of access to U S comics in addition to the British ones.
Dave Gibbons: Yeah. I mean, growing up, I read lots of English comics and lots of American comics as well. And I suppose that’s why my style was kind of adaptable to English eyes.
It looked kind of American, but I think to Americanize, it didn’t look American, which of course was one of [00:14:00] the, well, just to step back and take a look at the whole thing. If you were drawing for DC Thompson, what they wanted very much was for you to draw in a kind of house style, a fairly unobtrusive style, a style that was all about storytelling, not about artistic flourishes.
So in a way you were encouraged to be vanilla. You’re encouraged to be. Straight forward in the way you approach things and the way you laid laid work out 2008 D the brief was that everything looked different and exciting. And there wasn’t a house style that everything had new, fresh, exciting artwork, but I got the gig doing Harlem heroes because they got a lot of artists to try out a lot of English artists, artists called Barry Mitchell, who was a wonderful football illustrator.
Great, great artist, wrong Turner. Who’s a science fiction artist. He was one of my favorite artists when I was a kid and they got a lot of Spanish and Italian artists to try, and [00:15:00] nobody could give the Harlem heroes, the look they wanted. So it took me, who’d been schooled in. Superhero comics to draw them flying through the air.
Like superheroes flew, flew through there with very sleek costumes, with no re wrinkly bits or no bunching up or no, kind of to practical looking details. You know, they look like a vision of a flying gold or something like, like that. So that kind of worked to my advantage. And then when DC comics came along, I think what, what they found, what they were after was us British artist who drew, who understood American comics and could draw in a way that wouldn’t be too shocking to the Americans, but still we’re a fresh flavor.
You know, they had a particular flavor and a particular DNA that the indigenous American comic books didn’t have. And I think also just to continue on my thesis for a bit longer, that we were looking at the U S [00:16:00] from outside. So the things that took our imagination and our attention. Well, the things that were every day objects and size to Americans, I’ve said this before, you know, things like the fire hydrants in a New York street with objects is huge fascination to me, although they wouldn’t even be noticed by the average new Yorker walk down the street or the wall street
Sumner: that was on the 10th.
Yeah. Which I,
Dave Gibbons: as far as I knew that COVID made up like right. Yeah. The rest of it. So we were able to look at the the American web silica America and American characters with a slight outside his view. So in a way, this being sort of translated mid Atlantic or able to go either way, I’m sure it was one of the.
Big positive factors, you know, in my career, but also what was a big, positive factor just to stay. Once again was the wonderful grounded training I got from D C Thompson who really were the school of, of basics. Really. You know, [00:17:00] we must see this character’s face. We need to see the action here. We need to see this key, you know, these things that tell, tell the story.
And then if after that, you want to give him a bit of artistic style fine, but that wasn’t the point of the
Sumner: exercise. I think that’s so fascinating to hear you say, because the interesting thing about DC Thompson comics of course, is if anybody’s listening to this and you’re an American fan of Dave’s America comics fan, while you might have some passing knowledge of the IPC and Fleetway comics, because they include 2008 D and because they include the wool books that have so heavily influenced Garth Ennis, for example, I think.
There are very few American comics fans who will have ever been exposed to a DC Thomson book, or even, or even know what they are, you know? And and it, it, it’s so interesting to hear you talk about that period of time.
Dave Gibbons: Well, I mean, it’s, it’s a very interesting thing because not only did I sort of get, I start with my first [00:18:00] rate, regular work from them, but Brian Bolland did quite a bit of work for me.
Not quite as much as me even make McMahon, he went on to draw dread. He did at least one, maybe two of their science fiction, pocket digest books called star blazer. Quite a lot of us. And I think Graham Morrison. Yeah. You used to write for those science-fiction books as well. So they were, they were where you started, if you were starting out and you weren’t completely there, that was a way you could.
Yeah. Kind of like in the States, if you work for something I’d know, like Charlton comics,
Sumner: I think that’s great
Dave Gibbons: analogy, you know? And so it was, it was just great, but it wouldn’t have been without for me without an agent, because obviously they were up in Scotland and my agent had a very good relationship with them and was able to get me right.
Break in the work from, from day one. So yeah, so that is a fairly little known, [00:19:00] but a hugely formative part of my comics career. And I suppose it’s true for many people. My career began with 2008, probably even DC comics, but I mean, I worked for DC Thompson’s for good three years, you know, So it was a considerable chunk of my early time.
Sumner: No, it’s, it’s very interesting to you. You talk about Dave and I think the, the Chelton analogy is a good one because. I, if I remember correctly, the deal with charter Chelton is it was essentially owned by a printing company. Its existence was down to keeping the presses rolling in between commercial jobs.
Dave Gibbons: Absolutely apps. Absolutely. That, yeah. I mean, they were primarily printers and comics were a good cheap way of keeping things going, but people like John Byrne had his first stuff and he went on to be a massive star in American comics. Where is he now? But anyway, and I, I, [00:20:00] I have to say that because I know John a bit and I love to tease him.
And Donna of course was on up there and Joe state as well, he went on to work.
Sumner: So, and, and it was a big refuge for Ditko each time he was between doing jobs for the majors. Right. So he wasn’t working with diesel model. You always defaulted back to shelter. Yeah.
Dave Gibbons: And it’s, it’s rather interesting because in that case, and again, the thing that happens with low rent staff is that sometimes I don’t care what you do, as long as you fill the pages up my guests, that was the deal with John.
So Dick CO’s able to. Rattle through this stuff, drawing just the kind of thing he wanted. And I think by that time, I mean, he went in and out chart on a few times, but even after he fell out with Stanley, he knew that he had somewhere where to go, where his work could be published and he creates some great stuff for Jami.
Did. Captain atom who loved the artwork. And of course we slightly [00:21:00] rode on that for a doctor Manhattan in a Watchman, particularly the little nod of the hat where they try and put a costume on Dr. Manhattan. And he’s actually got that kind of chain mail, Dick co-captain atom thing, and the little helmet as well.
So yeah, I mean, yeah, it’s, it was strange. I used to think of Charlton comics at the time as being a bit weak and not really worth bothering with, but the more I look at the stuff now, the more intrigued I am by it. And I suppose that is a parallel, even though with the stuff I did for DC
Sumner: Thompson. Yeah, for sure.
I, it, th they are very interesting job and comics. I think that in some respects, they’ve got a kind of a sort of dark energy to them. And because there’s, the, their distribution was so spotty. It was like some of my favorite single issues of comics come from the Chelton era. There was a. There’s actually a brilliant run that they published on the Phantom, it started out and it was Jim , who [00:22:00] I’ve always loved.
And, and then it flipped to Don neuter and and the Don Newton era Phantoms, I’ve got these beautiful airbrush covers, but if you, if you read the comics, they’re actually very dark and they kind of unlike any of the Phantom stories I’ve ever
Dave Gibbons: read. Yeah. Yeah, that’s true. I completely forgot about gym apparel.
And of course he went on to be a mainstay of DC comics and Don Newton who unfortunately passed away when he was quite young. He had a real kind of muscular illustrative quality to it. So, yeah. Yeah. And I find, you know, Andrew, let me finish that shot. I’m going to have to go over to my drawer and pull out some of these challenges because you’re giving me
Sumner: my high school.
No, it’s wonderful. I think you’re, I think both what Newton and pyro had in common, even though they’ve got very different styles, is they both had a kind of hyper-masculinity. So the. Characters that they drew. And if you look at the male, I mean, Gemma Paros like male figures are really super male. [00:23:00] Like he’s Bruce Wayne looks very, very masculine, you know?
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Like somebody from a kind of fifties old day Ray movie or something, you know what I mean? Hey, he’s not a guy. Who’s, who’s his Batman doesn’t facially doesn’t exist in the 1960s or seventies. He’s definitely a kind of, he’s a Sam fuller leading man type, you know, to
Dave Gibbons: me.
Yeah, that’s true. The other thing I still like about Jim powers work. Yeah. I can sort of identify with that. Is he used to do his own lecturing as well. Oh, not to me. He always gave his work a real integrity and it’s always been a great advantage to me to do my own lecturing as well. So apparel again, I mean, he has had a revival along the way, but he was one of these work horse artists who just turned it, great stuff, die off to die.
And I remember reading an interview with him and he would do a page a day. He would get up in the morning, pencil it out, electric by lunchtime, ink it in the afternoon on the pile and other [00:24:00] page done. Ready to go. So I admire. I admire that work ethic, which is like the work ethic I used to have before I became semi retired, but then other auntie come on.
Sumner: Exactly, exactly. Or you’ve got to enjoy your icon status mates. I mean, you’ve got the gaps, but as much as you can out of it, I think I think with the, with gem particularly in later life, right towards the end of his career, I guess the last decade or so he there was a period of time when he no longer ranked himself and he didn’t do his letters, but that very lengthy period, maybe 30 years of work, we did his own inks and letters, all of his run on brave.
And the bold, for example, I think the great thing about him is. He did all of those brave and bolts with Bob Haney, you know, a hundred plus issues or whatever. And there’s no, he there’s no hero. He wouldn’t make look good. Yeah. He never found anybody in the DC Canon that he couldn’t draw, you know, the same way that, you know, you get Kirby, he’s a genius, but he couldn’t draw a Superman.
Right. I couldn’t actually do a Spider-Man either, you know, Jim Porter could literally [00:25:00] do or anybody. And they were always in safe hands with them. I thought,
Dave Gibbons: yeah, he was very much. And I mean, I’ve always aspired to be the kind of artist who just rolls his sleeves up and gets on with it, you know, and. I mean, Alan Moore famously said to me, and I have had it said by other people that once they realized I could draw or anything, they asked me to, they felt they were in safe hands.
I’ve always taken a great pride in adaptability or perhaps having a style, which is sufficiently informed by the general world of comics that you can, I, or you, can you, you understand how different artists work? I would also have to say, I mean, he was an inspired writer at times, but Bob Haney was probably not the easiest writer to work with because some of that stuff was crazy.
I mean, I’m talking about DC Thomson and their stuff was occasionally a bit kind of hallucinogenic, but Bob Amy’s stuff was, you know, but I guess Jim apprentice just rolled his sleeves up. Okay. This I can go that [00:26:00] next page, you know?
Sumner: Well, Haney was like famously dismissive of the like the nascent DC continuity, right?
And so back in that area, and then all that stuff was first fans were first making their imprint felt and continuity was becoming important. He knew he always ignored that in his brave and bold stories. And I think one of the stories you must be referencing on one level, Debra re I was talking to Garth and it’s about this thing in the day.
Do you ever remember reading that crazy Batman and Sergeant rock team up that they did embrace them? The pole? I certainly read that. Yeah. Yeah. W where Haney and the pyro actually appear in it. And what happens is the protagonists, the villains in the piece, like take Jim hostage. Yeah. I’m
Dave Gibbons: trying to his drawing board having to draw
Sumner: that’s right.
Yeah. Or a different outcome for the story. Yeah.
Dave Gibbons: Do do remember, I’ll have to pull that out of the Jewish world, because that was my, but then I always used to love those [00:27:00] stories where when Stan and Jack showed up in fantastic four number, was it nine 11? Something that this is, this is brilliant. And then there was a little run of sea devils where there was Q but, and no, Rick in the story.
I absolutely do love that kind of stuff, you know? Yeah.
Sumner: Oh yeah, me too. Me too. You’re making me think of somebody else actually that often throughout Israel did that quite a lot. Somebody I know you’re a big fan of, is it happened quite a lot with Eisner and his shop producing the spirits, right. It particularly in the heyday, you know, kind of the 1945 to 1951 era.
And and somebody I meant to ask you about, you’re talking about lettering before, are you familiar with a mechanics and the guy who was the, the letter on the spirit. Yeah, I
Dave Gibbons: am. Yeah.
Sumner: And he’s just, just an amazing guy. He, and you know, the thing with him is he kind of, did he read this at all? [00:28:00] They, you know, he disappeared.
He basically left the strip in about 51. Eisenhower never saw him again, nobody ever heard from him ever again. And in recent years, one of those, like tomorrow’s, tomorrow’s publications figured out what had happened to him. And he, he left art and design all together and he became a a line dancing color, you know, in our country dancing color.
So the guy that was his job, he calls out the plays when people do their various dances and whatnot.
Dave Gibbons: Well, I mean, I mean, the thing that I’d heard about him and it may even have been in one of those tomorrow’s magazines, which I used to absolutely love was he never used to rule out guidelines for his lecturing straight on the board of my very first lecturing job for Fleetway.
I did it one lunch hour when w when I was up there and I was ruling out the lecturing lines and a guy called John old, rich. He was a very experienced comic lecture, came up. So I shoved him, said, Dave, what are you doing? I said, I’m [00:29:00] ruling out the, the, the guidelines should, are you measuring them all out?
I went. Yeah, you went to not just do it free hand, sorry. Free hand ruled out all these guidelines and it was awful. Cause all the letters ended up the editor of the Comac blew a fuse. They skin who was the assistant editor and it was a comical cor
Sumner: cor to guess. Right?
Dave Gibbons: Exactly. Well, this was something in interior strip and those got real bollocking in about it, but I did get paid for it.
And I actually, I did come across Xerox as the, of the check that I go for my very first professional checks for two pound 50 for a page of lecturing. So I really admire the skill it takes to let her. With, without a safety net. Yeah. I
Sumner: mean, it’s an amazing, it’s an amazing thing to do for sure. I mean something that you, so you and I had [00:30:00] quite a long conversation with Brian Bolland over the summer for the forbidden planet TV channel.
And within that, within that interview, which I’ll probably post the link to, we actually talked quite a lot in a linear sense about yours and Brian’s career. And we covered off, you know, with some of your major high points, including including watch men. So I’m not going to ask you in any detail about that today.
I thought you’d appreciate that. May I’d just like to, I’d just like to ask you the one question is what you thought of the Linda
Dave Gibbons: off show. Oh, yeah. I thought that I felt that was great. I mean, I think you know, w when I first heard about it, when they first met up with me and told me about it, I thought, Hmm, I’m not so sure about this.
I don’t know, but they were very respectful. I’m out with Damon Lindelof and a guy called Jeff Jensen. Who’s done all sorts of things. He’s a journalist was what he was doing when I first met him. And they were very [00:31:00] reverential to me and they kind of laid out invite terms and I was kind of, well, it sounds good.
I appreciate you guys taking the time. Talk to me. I, you know, I’d be interested in hearing more and anyway, they started to send me screenplays and I thought this is just brilliant. I mean, even before I seen the whole thing working, I thought that now this is taking a really strange and unexpected angle on it.
And I think what became apparent to me, there were several things that I read where my feeling was. Why didn’t we think of that? So obvious, you know, it’s like the best fiction is always so unexpected, but so obvious at the same time, you know? And then I actually, it was when I was over in Los Angeles and I went to the studio where they were making, making, and I’m out with the writers and I got shown under conditions of strict secrecy in a locked room with a guy watching me [00:32:00] I was showing the first episode and even then with, you know, not the final music track and with the special effects with.
Placeholders. I thought this is just amazing. It starts in a way that I never could have imagined. It’s told me something about America that I didn’t ever know. It’s so far away from what Alan and I did yet. So faithfully linked to it that it feels really fresh and new. And as a thing, I said a couple of times it felt not like a, a sequel, which I’m generally not in favor of, but it felt like an extrapolation.
It was like, okay, I’ve dropped this, this stone in the, in the I’m like over here, what’s the pattern going to be like, by the time it’s bounced off the shore a few times. Yeah. And so I absolutely loved it. And I think my experience was very like, you know, fans and. And people who’ve seen it on the TV.
They came into it, not really expecting very much expecting to be disappointed, [00:33:00] but actually finding that it was one of the best TV things they’d seen. And I certainly felt that there was one episode I’d done it for this episode, five or six. And I had got completely lost in it. You know, how a good film or a good TV, just forget everything.
I would have to say that it really is one of the best hours of television that I’d ever see. I thought that the whole thing was fantastic. I also admired the way that it was nine episodes and that was enough to tell the story. Once diamond had told the story. He finished. And as far as I’m aware, he’s re resisted overtures to do a sequel.
So again, that was like watch when we, we did the 12 issues and it was done in that, and we never felt any desire to add anything to it. So, you know, it had the spirit of Watchman as well, and I got to meet the cars too brilliant. And again was so nice to me and so respectful and was [00:34:00] just such talented people and nominated for 24 Emmys or something like that.
Very well deserved. So yeah, it was, it was a great experience, much better than I ever would have imagined.
Sumner: Yeah. I mean, I think, I think you’re speaking for everybody watched it particularly everybody’s a comics fan. You had that sense of ODI, you know, can this be, and it’s, it’s one of those beautiful experiences where they pull off everything against all the odds against the weight of negative expectation, but for that’s one thing, me watching it and thinking that, and being blown away by it, but for you to genuinely have that experience and it’s your baby, that must feel incredible.
Dave Gibbons: Oh, yeah. I mean, I I’m sure by this time these ones see it has seen it, so I don’t think I’m going to particularly spoil it, but there were things like, well, the first one making her to justice black, that was so obvious. It was because he wears a mask.
Sumner: Yeah. And the news.
Dave Gibbons: Yeah. [00:35:00] It’s just, it’s just so resonant and what they did with nostalgia as well, where we had it as a kind of a perfume.
It was a, it was a kind of mind altering drug in this. So it, it, it, it literally took you back to the days of yesteryear, you know? And that was an inspired thing thing to do. Yeah, I mean, I th I, it added, it added everything they did added to watch, rather than what can be risk with a sequel or a prequel is you actually dilute and subtract from it.
Yeah. So, yeah, so I was, yeah, I, I was, what is, you can tell I’m really enthusiastic on most times anyway, but I was completely and genuinely swept away by it. I think,
Sumner: I think that’s great. I mean, speaking speaking event, , I’d just like to when we touched upon clearly at some comic creators that you admire, but for you personally who would the, who were your personal favorite writers and artists or the, [00:36:00] the ones who inspired you?
The most of the ones whose work you simply enjoy the most?
Dave Gibbons: Well, I’m tempted to say the usual suspect, cause you obviously have to go in England. Hamsun Bellamy people like Brian Lewis, people like Ron Turner in the States, obviously Kirby deco, Eisner, Cain infancy, you know, you know, Those those people, but there are a couple of little favorite things.
And again, I think I talked a bit about this before, and I’m sure I have talked about it elsewhere line was I used to love a comic called race for the moon, which was drawn by Jack Kirby, ink by Al Williamson loudly, which was just the most mindblowing artwork I’d seen when I was a kid, because I had all of Kirby’s dynamism and white, but all of.
Williamson’s finesse and subtlety to it. So that was a real favorite. Also just kind of freewheeling, such things pop into my mind, British newspaper strip called Jeff Hawk, [00:37:00] which was in the daily express, which was a kind of right-leaning newspaper, the very left leaning woman, but she still used to get the daily express every day, just cause I love Jeff or I would cut it out and stick it in my exercise books.
And that had a magical quality to his drawn by an answer school, Sydney Jordan, but written by a guy called Willy Patterson who came up with the most incredible mixtures of adventure in science fiction and humor and a real eerie feeling and a real sense of the bizarreness of existence. And he also wrote things in other companies.
I mean, I didn’t discover this two years later. He used to write a thing called Roth of the gods, which the wonderful British artist, Ron Ableton drew, which was in a boy’s world. And again, these stories based on great meth had a real magical feeling to them in American comics. As I say, there was the Jack Kirby at Williamson [00:38:00] race for the moon, but there was another short series called the man in black fight man in black coupe fight, which was drawn by Bob Powell, who was a real jet journeyman American artists, but a wonderful draftsman.
And again, those stories had this kind of worlds beyond you know, weird workings of fate kind of failings. And I always like those kind of stories when I come to think about it. So they gave me particular pleasure and of course I’m lucky enough to have most of this stuff in reprint now. So I’m still able to, to enjoy it.
But yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s weird. Cause although you haven’t asked me directly about watching, you know, when Alan and I were doing watch, a lot of the long conversations we would have were just about such things as what were your favorite comics and what was that flavor that these things used to have that you found?
So Morrish as a kid that was so magical to you and actually made you want to tell stories or made you want to [00:39:00] explore the weirdness a bit. So, I mean probably if I wasn’t doing this Adelaide, I could think of many more examples, but they’re quite often the things that are just off the main street, the most fascinating, you know, and of course, things that used to mystify me as, as a kid, like with Jack Kirby, cause Jack, you couldn’t mistake Kirby’s artwork, but sometimes he’d being buyer Williamson, in which case it looked very artistic and textual and you know, quality other times it would being by Dick Ayers, who was a very prolific anchor, but he had a kind of squidgy sort of slightly flabbier kind of line.
Yeah. And then sometimes he’d be inked by wooly word, who at that really sharp, hard, hard age star. And I thought that, that he maybe was depending on what sort of mood the analysis was in how well he drew or something like that. It took me years to fathom out that, ah, you have a separate incur within these flavors of things.
You [00:40:00] like, there are odd little tweaks to the recipe that fascinate you because they slightly changed the experience. So.
Sumner: I think, I think that’s very interesting. Somebody you and I have talked about quite a bit in the past is deco. And I’m a huge Ditko fan. And my belief most of the time is that Dick CO’s one of those guys that he confounded most inkers on.
Most people inking, Dick CO’s work and which sounded great money because he did a lot of his own stuff. But most it’s, it’s not very successful. I think personally, one of the exceptions to that is somebody just name, check. Per person with a star, you wouldn’t think with mesh mesh with Ditko, but when you see it, I think it delivers beautiful results.
And that’s why he would, I think while he would on Ditko weirdly works, even though he’s almost the antithesis of what that code does, but yeah. Well
Dave Gibbons: you say, I think it comes back to the whole thing about inkers, you know, there’s that slur about? Inkers it just traces. Yeah. There’s that, there’s that whole riff about [00:41:00] that?
The thing about it is I’m going to go a bit intellectual now. I’m sh I’m sure you can handle it, Andrew, but there are two schools of thought, which is either the Cami cup is this pencil learning is either. The inking is just making the pencil work, clean and legible. So in other words is essentially a kind of tracing, which, which is very faithful to the pencils and doesn’t add much personality, or you can view it as the pencils are merely the scaffolding, they’re the sketch and the actual drawing or the inks.
Now, the way I tend to draw is I nearly always ink my own stuff, and I’ve always been slightly dissatisfied when my stuff has been inked by other people, even wonderfully talented. Inkers it’s I, I find it difficult to finish the work to the degree that. No, I’m not putting that, that quite right. [00:42:00] I never finished the pencils to the degree that you could just trace them.
There’s always drawing work left to be done because as I’m mainly in my own stuff, I would get bored if I just drew the line in pencil and then draw again in ink and looking at what Pence was, I’ve seen a Dick coast, he didn’t do a lot of drawing in the pencils each he get the proportions, right. And the general attitude, but a lot of what makes a Dick co drawing is done with a brush in the process of inking it.
So probably the fact that his work looks a bit uninspiring running by the people is because they miss the deck code. It’s got nothing to do with the pencils. They even with this powerful an artist as, as, as Kirby. You know, he’s work can be weakened by some inkers and strengthened by others. And so I, you know, I’ve never liked just penciling because I actually find to get it to the degree that I can be sure that the inks will please me.
I [00:43:00] have to actually do as much as if I just drew it in. Anyway, it’s a, it’s a, it’s just a strange thing. I’d much rather do the complete job, or I would like to ink other people. It’s quite relaxing to ink other people because, well, for star, if, if it, if it turns out crap, well, it wasn’t my fault. I just finished it off.
But if you’re working with a, with a good penciler, you can learn so much. I mean, I did a couple of books with Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, who is my favorite draftsman in the hammer. And it was an education. So in case stuff, and what he gave me was not the final line, but such a well-drawn line, but it’s just like, Oh, I can relax.
I can ink. I can flourish. I can, I can bring my personality to this because really all the hard work has been done. So yeah, so there’s a whole thesis there as to the, kind of the, the, [00:44:00] the intellectual process of penciling for others or inking other people’s work.
Sumner: I think that it’s, it makes total sense.
It’s fascinating. Dave, the books that you inked for Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, what were they?
Dave Gibbons: It was a series called legacies, which was published by DC. And it was a history that they see the, the overall history of the DC universe. And he did an eyeing the silver age, which was brilliant because I got to anchor his version of some of my favorite images in DC comics.
You know, like the two flashes with the wall in between both running down the side or star over the conqueror with all the JLA coming in or recreations of some of the JLA covers, like where they’re all pins in a bowling alley and the atom is in a little bowl. And when we divvied the artwork up, it’s done completely.
And partially, I think they just go on for you. One for you, one for you, one for you. [00:45:00] I ended up with a lot of those best pages, so it was a wonderful experience. And I also ended up with some great original artwork by one of my favorite artists of my favorite moments in DC comics history. So that was good.
And it was weird because sometimes you do so much drawing. You can remember what you were listening to. While you were drawing it. And because it was inking when you’re inking, the verbal part of your mind is isn’t really used at all. When you’re writing, you can’t listen to anything very much that even singing because you’ve got burden, but when you’re drinking, you can listen to dramas, plays, anything you like.
And what sustained me through thinking all that was the girl with the dragon tattoo. I listened to them while I drew these however many pages of comics. It was, I listened to that the whole way through. So there’s this weird juxta juxtaposition of looking at the artwork and remembering what I was listening to on the day that the image.
So, yeah, that, that
Sumner: is [00:46:00] fascinating. And Jose Luis Garcia Lopez was famously. He was DC style guide guy for a long time. Right? So if you ever see particularly up until about 10, 15 years ago, and he licensed images of, of Batman, Superman wonder woman that flashed at out, it it’s always his draftsmanship
Dave Gibbons: right.
It is. And actually I was, I was up at DC one day. It must’ve been in the eighties and I actually picked up that style guide. I know they’re quite sought after now, but they are, they are the definitive. DC characters. That’s how, that’s how they look, which I think is why they called on him to do this silver age episode, because he’s bang on model anyway.
And he does draw the best version of all the DC characters. There is absolutely no, no doubt about it. And I did get to work with him another time I wrote a thing called cowl, which was an L swirls story. That’s Superman coming to earth in medieval times in England. Yes. And
Sumner: I’ve [00:47:00] read that book. I own it.
Dave Gibbons: Good. And he drew that and Mike Carlin, the editor was kind enough to send me art size Xeroxes of everything. And he’s drawing even when he’s just doing his first lap of the pages, his draftsmanship is so on the money and so expressive and so well proportioned. And he does the thing that all the best artists can do is just to make.
You know, it’s okay to draw action scenes and battles and aliens and things exploding, but to draw people just walking down the street or just sitting down talking, and he can make that stuff exciting as well. And that’s the real Mark Mark of an artist that he can transform the mundane into the special.
Sumner: Yeah. Who else have you collaborated with? Who was the artist on run San Diego?
Dave Gibbons: That was Ivan rice. I mean, some of the jobs from, in comics nowadays, I [00:48:00] just amazing. I Ivan rice, it’s got such a grasp of action and anatomy and such an appetite for complexity and detail and everything like that. And it was a really complicated story that, and that there was a whole big cast of characters and the two planets at war with battle fleets and soldiers.
And and one of the first things that I. Right in my second go round at DC. And he really made me look so good because, you know, he took the almost impossible things I was asking him to draw, which I suppose made me appreciate, as I was saying earlier writers said to me that, Oh, that when I realized you could draw anything, I wanted that, that felt great.
And certainly he went above and beyond to draw what I’d ask for. And I also worked with Steve rude on
Sumner: well, you are, you are beating me to my questions, right? Because that that’s that. So I’m not saying this just because we’re chatting, but that is my all time. [00:49:00] Favorite iteration of world’s finest, I think and you know, I, I mean, I I’ve, I’ve read a lot of comics and, and I love the way you portray their relationship and you and Steve put it together.
And I would particularly look, I think you’ve got Clark and Bruce. Exactly right in that book. Anybody listening to this absolutely needs to check this out. It’s collected in some lovely additions. World’s finest by Dave Gibbons and Steve rude. But what was your, what were your thoughts going into that project?
Dave Gibbons: Well, I mean, I, I got the job because my Carlin had seen the thing that I’d done for a sort of small press magazine in England called Awan. And I I’d written this story called survivor. And it was obviously was Superman. It didn’t anywhere in it say that it was Superman because it was all seen through his eyes.
So you never saw yourself apart from your hands, stretched out in front of you as you flew. And obviously originally going to write and draw it, but [00:50:00] in the end I didn’t have time. And an artist called Ted McKeever. Who’s a wonderful artist, but diametrically opposite to the way I died. Who’s, who’s a good friend of mine, him, and I’ve known him for many, many years.
He, he drew it and it was basically what it would be like to be super that you would. You’d be kind of, it would be a bit of a prison really, because you’d never grow old. It’s a bit like being immoral. You never grow old or die, but everybody around you would, and you could read every book in the world in an evening and you, you know, you didn’t particularly fail anything.
Nothing could harm you. Nothing could particularly please you. And it was about the own way. And I’m going to sound of being the world’s nicest man. And basically the story is he engineer’s away for his arch enemy to apparently kill him and kill himself. So that ties the. So as the whole thing. Oh, and Mike Carlin had seen that and he rather liked the kind of voice that it was done in all those completely opposite [00:51:00] from world’s finest, but he thought I could do something with Superman anyway.
So he phoned me up and said, I’ll, you know, we understand you’re looking to write things. Would you be interested in doing world’s finest? And despite the fact that for your initial story to be called world’s finest, you know, it’s like, this is the best thing ever, ever, ever written. It’s the first thing I’ve ever done.
Same seemed a bit strange, but I always loved it as a kid because when I was a kid, the only team up you would get would be Superman and Batman. And and they appeared in most funniest comics. And I said, yeah, I’d love to do that. Who’s the artist. And he said, Steve rude. And I said, absolutely because Steve is a.
Brilliant brilliant draftsman and really gets into projects. He really lives in Brisbane. Very passionate man. Like a lot of really passionate, I would say he’s he’s perhaps lives in a slightly different world. But in a, in a wonderful and amazing world, and I’ve had many, many enjoyable [00:52:00] interactions with him over the years.
And he took what I wrote just absolutely made it kind of classic. He did the classic Superman, the classic Batman. He got all the nuances of their body language and, and it’s, it’s amazing with things like playing Clark can offer back against Bruce Wayne. Obviously it’s in what they say, but a lot of it is in the body language and the way they physically relate to each other.
And Steve did all that stuff and made it absolutely live and added touches to that. I had never imagined. And I think it does hold up quite well. It’s basically playing you and against yang, you know, it’s the sort of dark, mysterious yin of Batman against the bright, positive yang. Of Superman and how those two things contrast and enhance each other and then using their environments in a similar way, you know, the, the sort of Gothic, crowdedness of Gotham and the sort of bright futuristic [00:53:00] spaciousness of metropolis, and, you know, the joker, who’s a clown against Luther.
Who’s a hard age scientists, you know, and it just. I just managed to weave all these things together and then take Batman and put him in metropolis with the joker and take Luther and put him in Gotham with Sue and it all just, you know, so it was an enjoyable thing to do. I wouldn’t want to go back and do it again because actually to put Superman and Batman in the same story is a little bit problematical thing.
It’s hard to see them existing in exactly the same work world. I think that much has been my limitation as a writer, but I suppose like lots of things that I’ve done in my career, it’s been my fanboy dream come true. Like, Oh, I’d love to write Superman and Batman, but not forever, but just enough to say, ah, I’ve done it and express what thoughts I’ve got.
And I think that was so with You know, many things I’ve done, like the chance that we got [00:54:00] to meet Alan Moore and I to work on the spirit for well eyes and, you know, so, and then I did Batman vs predator, which was very well liked, but I didn’t want to do another one because, you know, you’ve seen that fight, but yeah, but, well Well’s finest.
Yeah. It was a was a, was a great thing to do. And I know a lot of it’s a Steve Rouge talent of making people very, very real.
Sumner: I think, I think it’s a beautiful book. And you just touched upon something that that I think you, you guys pulled off and so many people didn’t, and that was a that was a, a new iteration of the spirit or a take on the spirit that was, was very was very Respectful to Eisner and you, your, your book of course, was produced while he was still alive.
And we’re very respectful that twice a while, while sort of grabbing the heart of what he produced, which is what I think a lot of people miss, because I guess Eisner is essentially a [00:55:00] no Henry figure. You know, spirit, the spirit himself is often a cipher for a brilliant short story, which he only plays an incidental part in.
And I think there’s been a move to, with a lot Spirit’s adaptations to put him at the center of the narrative, which is not, I think it seems to me as a big fan is not how he’s best deployed. But no,
Dave Gibbons: I mean, no, he’s quite often a walk on in his own stories. Certainly the three stories, Alan, I didn’t that first issue that was essentially it.
I mean the labor kind of his origin, or they were the events of the night that he, he became the spirit told in three different ways, because Eisner had done three different persons of it. But certainly in a couple of the stories, you only briefly see the spirit or he’s the investigating detective. Who’s observing the action, but that is the nature of the spirit.
But as I say, I think a lot of that is to do with like I was saying that there’s stuff that I like that I would discuss at length with Alan, [00:56:00] or he would discuss his favorite should me. And I think Alan, in particular, if you look at a lot of the things he’s written, he’s really good at getting to the essence of something.
And the three stories that he wrote for the spirit to me were. Classic spirits stories exactly identified the mood and the feeling and the weight of them and the degree of humor, because the spirit was not totally serious. Character. There’s always a bit of humor in there. And a lot of the supporting characters withdrawn in a somewhat cartoony way.
And it gave me an interesting chance to kind of do, although it is the same artwork, three slightly different types, using the sort with decorative borders, all those kinds of graphic effects that ice never Jews. And then doing a thing that was a slightly moodier story. And then one that was quite rigid.
Ridiculous and constantly. So yeah, I mean, it was great to have done that with a writer like Alan, who absolutely got it. And it was good to do something that I know eyes in the light, [00:57:00] because he sent me a note to say that he did really like it. And he, and he did when I had to meet up with him before we started on it, say really interested to see what you and Alan do, but there’s just one thing.
Please don’t make the spirit a drug addict. I mean, I don’t know if he was influenced by Alan’s haircut or something that, but we’ve been never, ever going to do something like that with the spirit. But, yeah, so, but again, as I say the real key to my car, I’m a, I’m a fan boy who always says yes to the thing that I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid.
And certainly the spirit would fall under that. And it was also great as well, because I’ve got the DC archives of disparate. Yeah. And there’s 20, they’re all matching volumes. There’s 27 of them. But then dark horse did the 28. But which was the stuff from the new adventures of the spirit. So my work is there on the bookshelf at the end of Eisner’s.
So, yeah, that was a great experience.
Sumner: Well, yeah, I’m the proud possessor of [00:58:00] that set and that volume as well. And it’s got to feel great. I’m thinking, you know, in addition, I think what, it’s always great to talk to you about comics David’s, in addition to being, you know, I, I much respected artist and creator.
I’m being a fanboy yourself. You always strike me as a very articulate comics, evangelist, which not all creators are, you know? I mean, I think you’re always, you know, you’re, you’re always very studied in your, in your analysis of, you know, your peers and the people who influence you. And it’s just such a lot of fun to get into that and listen to what you’ve got
Dave Gibbons: to say.
Okay. Well, yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s such a large part part of my life. I think it’s really possible. And you know, isn’t the Liverpudlian expression of . I mean, I do, I can’t and, and, and so, I mean, I do love to talk and talk about and discuss things with, with people. And as I say, I spent many happy hours just talking about comics, nothing to do with the work that [00:59:00] Alan and I were doing.
And, and you know, there are things, there are things about comics, which work on re on an obvious level, but there’s lots of stuff that is on a subtle level and a lot of things. I, I think just the I’ve always been fascinated as well by the mental processes of creating comics and seeing how people work and seeing what their processes and realizing that, although we draw in different ways, we all have the same pressures.
We all have the same miss misgivings, most of the really good artists and creative people I know have great self doubt are all beset by imposter syndrome, you know? And so it’s, it’s, I find it really interesting to explore that kind of inner world of doing comics as well. And you mentioned that.
Tomorrow’s books and magazines earlier. I really love the looks that they’ve given and that unfortunately, they came along while still quite a lot of the golden age creators. And certainly the silver [01:00:00] age creators were alive and, and did really good in-depth interviews with, with them. And I learned a lot from that about the artists that I admired, and I’m always really happy to talk about comics to people.
And I, I quite often find all those. You very kindly say, I’m a, I forget what the complimentary term was. You can learn so much by talking to other people, not just you in passing your wisdom, but their fresh take on comics and, and Their, their views of what makes con make comics exciting
Sumner: fish. And that’s a great thing about these conversations.
You know, comic books is a living, breathing art form and perspective is always fascinating, right? Whoever that perspective, you know, cause it re it requires you to invest to enjoy it. Comics are things you have to absorb, you know, funnily enough, that the very reputation they had when people were growing up in the fifties that were disposable, [01:01:00] actually, I believe it takes quite a lot of investment to really savor a comic book because it’s existing in a number of different dimensions, right?
You’re reading the words, you’re reading the art. It’s a glorious symbolism of both of those things. And so every, a lot of comics, fans like comics, craters, who are comics, fans of course have just fascinating opinions.
Dave Gibbons: Yeah. And I mean, there is also also the thing, I mean, what’s what, what’s that famous question.
When, when was the golden age of science fiction and the answer is 12. So, so many of us come across these things when our brains and our thought processes and our tastes are still being formed. And again, isn’t there a UN Noel coward or something who said about the power of sheet music, you know, there’s even quite bad, badly done.
Things can have a tremendous emotional power music, images, movies, comics. And I think they get to a stage like [01:02:00] the Jesuits, you know, if they got you at nine years old, they probably got you forever. So yeah, it’s it’s and of course, I mean, I think it’s always been a thing that slightly offended me.
Probably moving that should have the comics is sort of looked upon as low culture and are kind of, you know, this disregarded or felt to be margin. I mean, in fact, for a lot of people, cool, it is their first exposure to hand-drawn images and story and, you know, adventure and interest in magic and all the things that, that you go from a literary experience and an artistic experience at the same time.
So I think I’ve always been a great proponent for discussing them in the depth that any other art form would warrant. And I think there is plenty to be said, and I think there are some very. Original talent. I mean, the other thing [01:03:00] about doing comics is that it’s the relentless amount of creativity. I used to know a guy who was a visualizer at an advertising agency and I’d showed him, he came around my house and he looks at a page, a comic art that said, so.
How did the months work? Is that? I said, no, that was the day. He said day. You true that in a day? He said, God, it would take me a month to draw anything near that. I mean, he was ready to get us. I’m really good at being a visualizer, but even being that he didn’t spend anything like the amount of concentrated time that a comic book artist spends.
And also just because of the amount of time you spend in the intensity, you, it actually accesses your subconscious because you’re having to pull this stuff up from somewhere. And we talked about Caribbean debt code. A lot of their stuff is unfiltered from their subconscious. And so it’s got a tremendous interest in charm just because it’s somebody.
With their pants down almost, you know? So [01:04:00] there’s, there’s that whole aspect of it as well. And, and I mean, I wouldn’t want comics to be completely respectable because I think there’s something about this adversity, which is part of the charm, but I’m really pleased to see that they are, and indeed have, for some time approached the level of regard that most of the other popular art forms seem to have like movies, like music like dance, you know?
And I think that French call it the ninth hour. I actually don’t know what the other eight arts are, but even if we’re ninth I’m very happy that comics are seen in that way nowadays. Yeah. W
Sumner: well said, mate, that is, that is a hard degree from me. And the thing about the ninth art is I have not heard that expression before, and I don’t know what one to eight are either, but the nighttime sounds very cool.
Dave Gibbons: It does. It does. It almost sounds like a Mobius, but doesn’t it
or something like that. [01:05:00] Yeah. Yeah. So, yeah, so it’s good to, and of course in my later years, it’s possible for me to have these discussions, which, which is great. I mean, When I wanted to draw comics, I thought it would just be, you’d sit in a room and draw pictures. But the fact that you get to travel the world, you get to meet interesting people from all over the place that your work is seen all over the world, that you’re able to have discussions like this with other people who are passionate and informed about comics and that it’s available to anybody, it can be bothered to logo on.
It is a wonderful thing. So I don’t draw so many comics nowadays, but I’m always very, very happy to talk about them.
Sumner: Yeah. And I’m very happy that you chose to join me today. And thanks very much for your time, mate. I really enjoyed it. You’ll be pleased to hear that. I think I asked maybe three of the questions I had in my mind.
None of the others, which is I knew that’s the way I knew it would go. But if you can find the time in the future, I would love to have you back on to get [01:06:00] into other stuff I wanted to talk to you
Dave Gibbons: sure. I’ve got at least another episodes worth of stuff. Launceston was always a pleasure to talk to you, Andrew.
And we, we are with the profiling circumstances. I think we said before, a bit overdue for one of your nice lunches, but yeah. Yeah. Let’s, let’s talk like this again and hopefully talk in person with the drinking hand before too
Sumner: long. Sure. Yeah. When I’ve been jabbed as well as you and when things open up, we’re doing that for sure.
And I’ll look, I’ll look forward to seeing you again soon, mate.
Dave Gibbons: Yeah, or actually last accident. Thanks. Thanks very much for the interesting questions. So
Sumner: much take care of that. Yeah. I’ll see you soon. Cheers. Bye-bye thanks, Dave. Our rappers out there. Thank you. That was brilliant. That was just the job.
Yeah. Yeah. Great to see you, mate on. Thanks. Thanks very much for making the time for me. I do appreciate it.
Dave Gibbons: Yeah. I mean, I hope I didn’t ramble on too long cause I can ramble on and on and on and on,
Sumner: but Oh no, I, I I was hoping that you’d I knew you [01:07:00] could fill an hour quite easy, easily. I was hoping that you would.
And and I, and I know with you, I’m in safe hands in terms of, I can queue up the questions. We’ll go somewhere interesting. And we’ll keep on going somewhere. Interesting. You could
Dave Gibbons: piss off for watch the football,
Sumner: right? Yeah, exactly. Pull the data at the moment. You know, it might start me, might meet a few tears,
Dave Gibbons: so where’s this going to
Sumner: appear, Andrew?
Okay. So, so basically there’s a bunch of guys who run a kind of a. A podcast hub in Seattle, it’s called spoiler averse and they do a bunch of things. The main the main one is called spoiler country. And I’ve like been a guest talking about comics and movies on that for about two or three years that I pop in every couple, every couple of episodes and every, or every time I’m in town for work, I record three or four and they run them throughout the year.
And they were like, do you want to do your own podcast where you just get to interview the people, you know, and talk about the things you’re interested in and passionate about. I was like, yeah, shit, I’ll do that. And then I [01:08:00] thought, well, since I’m recording all this stuff, we’ve been planning these days, you know, it’s very easy for now.
I’ve got the setup. It’s very easy for Anna not recording video. I’ll just, you know, the people I really liked chatting to whenever the free I’ll record one. So, so yeah, I, I that’s, so it’s called hard degree and and the podcast launches at the end of this month. Yeah. So it will probably go live the last week of February and then it will just roll out on a weekly basis.
So when it, when it, when it goes out there, I’ll send you the link. So you can put it out on your social media and whatnot
Dave Gibbons: explains why your emails were titled hard to agree. I thought you were saying, Dave, you got to agree to this, by the way, you did slip it in into the, into the interview. But I would like to see the podcast called heart disagree.
Sumner: Oh yeah. That’d be awesome. The thing is I might run this bit of extra footage by the way, because the thing is, I’m a. I’m essentially a [01:09:00] positivist, you know, I’m not, I’m a lover, not a fighter, you know, but but but I do like that concept of a fisticuffs dorm ticking over who your favorite artist is.
Dave Gibbons: well, yeah, because, you know, I thought I might like to do a podcast as well. And who knows? I may, and I might’ve mentioned it before, but I’d like to do one that was along the lines of that wonderful eyes, the book. And Colin used to have, which was called shop tool.
Sumner: Oh man. Yes. You’d be perfect at that.
Dave Gibbons: be great writers artists just about the process, not, not about their wider career, but just, you know, literally what sort of pencil do you use? What sort of pain you use? What music do you listen to? What, what inspires you? What do you do if you, if you get stuck, blah, blah, blah. You know, that, that kind of level of stuff.
And of course, I mean like you, I’m rather lucky and I’ve got quite a good address book. You know, I could get some really interesting people on there. I already asked Frank Miller and he’s absolutely up for it because [01:10:00] he loves all that process crap as well, you know,
Sumner: that is crying out to exist and you should get it done.
Now. It just a thought, have you ever needed any work? To, to host it. So all the hard work of editing gets and like hosting it is done. These guys that I’m doing my podcast, well, they’ll just do it all for you if you wanted to. And if you wanted to control that part of the process yourself, that’s also, that’s also fun, but hang it’s given me the bandwidth to do this is they’re gonna, they gonna host it on their platform and it’s going to be one of the strands on the, on the, on, on the, but it will all be like copyright me and, you know, credits it to me, but it’ll sit within that strand, but that led you to it and host it.
And that just so don’t have to worry about doing that. So these guys are, I’ve worked with these guys for a couple of years now, and they’re honest and they’re massive comics funds. So if you ever carry on there,
Dave Gibbons: Not to keep you too long. Andrew not, not in the technicalities, but you’ve got a pretty straightforward, simple set
Have [01:11:00] you, I mean, yeah, I really have, so what a goal right is, so I’ve got, I’ve got my, if, if we, if he, if it was recapturing the video like you do for forbidden planet, I’ll show you me. Some boys kind of do this. I have no, I have, I have a ring light that’s here. Right? And I have like a I have this, I have a microphone and I have a, a pop-up photo and that’s it.
And it runs off my Mac. It’s dead easy. And we’ve got it. I’ve got a ring light here. The ring light has these things cost about 15 quid from Amazon and they run different settings. So. So I use the warm setting and the different levels of brightness when I’m doing forbidden planet. Cause we’ve got the backdrop, I dial it all up to 11 or whatever,
Dave Gibbons: and he’s also a very kind light as well.
I like coming full on it, using it. And it was weird because to do with the publicity on the game that I last worked on, do some audio for that. And they [01:12:00] actually bought me like one of these baffles, one of these sort of semicircular things, which is really interesting because of course it deadens the sound.
You don’t get the bounce. Right. Cause otherwise, I mean, where you are is in a pretty normal. Sort of ,
Sumner: but you’re, you’re in a studio
Dave Gibbons: furnishing, so get a little bit bouncy, you know, but, but yeah, it’s, it’s interesting. I, it’s a thing I really should have done during LA lockdown because obviously we’ve all got loads of spare time, but I’ll, I’ll have some thoughts about that.
And, you know, I, I may well get back to you and see if you could you could place me in a, in a spot to.
Sumner: Yeah, 100%. I’d be my pleasure to help on these guys, these guys who simply D these guys I’ve done it for me simply because they like me and they’re like chatting to me and they were like, Hey, if you want to do this, we’ll, we’ll, we’ll give you all the infrastructure and we’ll just do it for you.
They’re like tech guys who love comics, you know, to me. And [01:13:00] they would do the same for you.
Dave Gibbons: Just give them like an MP3 or something of the sound and they just work it all out. Do they? Absolutely.
Sumner: Right. So there’s, there’s two things. So zoom, if you set the zoom, what zoom will do is as we’re talking, it will create three audio channels.
It will create a joint audio channel. Then one is, that’s just you. And one that’s just me and it dumps them down as MP3s. And it’s in it’s in whatever, the level of clarity of input you’ve got at your end. Right. It’s brilliant. But then also. What I also do doing gay during gay using an app called audacity is when I, not now, but when I do my intros and whatnot, I record those using the audacity app as a wave file, which is about five times larger.
So say if I’ve talked on MP3 and it’s 60 megs worth, the wildfire will be about 250 max, but it’s in a much greater degree of crystal clarity for if you’re doing solo [01:14:00] stuff on a ration. So something I don’t know over sent to you, but it will do you just seek and listen to a bit of it. You don’t have to listen.
The whole thing is I, I recorded for charity flat, give comics hope organization. I recorded a, a, a, a narration of reading of Dickens’ touring version of a Christmas Carol. When we release that over Christmas time, just to, you know, get raised some visibility for that cause right. And it’s me narrating and performing the different characters, doing Bob Cratchit as a scouter, by the way.
Yeah. And and these guys, all of us produced it. But if you listen to that, that all of that audio is recorded on as wildfire rather than MP3. So it’s much Iris, so I’ll eat it. So it’s up everywhere, all the podcasts up and I’ll send you the link. Well,
Dave Gibbons: it’s, it’s really interesting because my son has done a podcast from many, many years to think of red barrel UK, which is a gaming podcast.
And I haven’t spoken to him about his podcast, but what I used to have to do [01:15:00] was to recruit their own video and synchronize it, him and his mates would that they’d have to clap someone to clap. And that would be like, you should like your clapperboard and then they’d have to record their own audio and then put it together.
And I didn’t realize that zoom did it as a joint channel. And it’s two separate channels, which is great because it means if anything goes wrong, you can.
Sumner: Cut it out. That’s exactly why it’s so good. And you’ve hit the nail on the head. When I first used to record with these guys, that’s exactly how we did it.
We recorded locally and then what, then I downloaded the file and we transferred it over to them nowadays. You can just record it in zoom and it does all the work that’s great. And you,
Dave Gibbons: and you don’t have to mess around having headphones or anything
Sumner: I’ve got is I’ve got air pieces. What I personally find people were in the cans, very distracting, you know, like, like, yeah, I don’t know.
You go around the track in top gear or something. So, so, so what I worked out was that actually, if I had just [01:16:00] you know, a black pair, I had airboats you actually unlike say the white ones, or you could get our black clothes anyway, you can’t see them. So I just use these and they were undead. So, this is jacked into my map book, which I’m looking at you on now that the, the the microphone is jacked into the, into the map book.
And so as the light it’s, it’s so low fight some believers.
Dave Gibbons: And so that keeps me out of your audio as well. Doesn’t it? By wearing those, it
Sumner: means that you’re always just, there’s no echo. Yeah. I mean, generally speaking, because I’ve got quite a loud, booming voice, I have this experience when I’m in meetings.
Cause all my meetings are via zoom these days where I can hear my own voice echoing back through somebody else’s all day audio, which is why most people in zoom calls now nearly always wear a ear buds and all of them work hands. But I think that looks ridiculous. You know, it’s like a DJ or something.
Dave Gibbons: Yeah. Yeah. Oh, that’s good. Well, that’s all interesting stuff out. I’ll I’ll think on about that. Yeah.
Sumner: It’s so easy to do. It’s so easy to do, but anything I can do [01:17:00] to help you. I think it’s a brilliant idea. I mean, I think you’re the right person to do it and you’re the natural successor to will for talking about that stuff.
And it’s crying out for podcast mate, particularly with the superstar artists. That’d be amazing.
Dave Gibbons: And it will be a good chance for me to work on my listening abilities rather than my talking, because I actually quite like asking other people questions. So I think I would enjoy doing it even though it would be about them and not all about me.
Sumner: Well, that, that’s the, that’s the that’s the downside to a commercial success, particularly commercial creative success is everybody wants to talk to you about what you create and everybody wants to talk to you about you. And for, of course, for 30 years, All the 20 years, I was a journalist. I was the guy asking those questions over time.
You know what I mean? So, so, so I, I get it, but but you’re a good listener as well, mate, you know, to me, it’s a fact. Yeah.
Dave Gibbons: W well, that’s good. All right, Angela. I’ll just, yeah, so I think we should, but it’s been been great. I’m [01:18:00] pleased to see you looking well, K-12 get the job and we’ll have a pint in the sunshine.
Sumner: forward to it, mate. You take care of yourself and I’ll see you soon. Thanks, Dave. That was great. Thanks mate. Bye bye-bye.