Tag Archive: inspiration


When I was young (sometimes I claim I still am, so I’ll make that more specific at pre-adolescent) comics meant DC Thomson: the Beano, Dandy, Topper and Beezer, which I read with varying regularity including spin-offs like the summer special, annual, or comic library collection. From Big Brother I heard about other variants like the Eagle which sounded pretty similar but without the jokes. Comics then, in my childhood world, were weekly publications with a mixed bag of stories about different characters, some continued from issue to issue, some were one-offs, but all were told in sequential strips of panels; the comics were either funny and juvenile, or po-faced and heroic, and the latter category didn’t sound at all appealing.

Fast-forward ten years or more; by this time I’d encountered Viz (kind of like the Beano for over-18s, with swearing to make it look grown-up. Not that I’m saying I’ve never found Viz funny, because I have, and if you look beyond the fart gags there’s satire too) and the idea of superhero comics like
Superman – I’d never read one (and still haven’t) but I’d got the impression that there was an air of earnest American patriotism and upright citizenship sprinkled with words like ‘kapow’ in capital letters, and it didn’t sound like my kind of thing. So comics still fell into funny/juvenile and po-faced/heroic, and you can imagine how unexcited I was when OneMonkey arrived home from work one evening 9 years ago, with a box of assorted comics he’d been given. He piled them up around the floor as he sorted out what he’d got, and I idly flicked through a few, hoping to find the funny ones.

On the first pass I found the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers – while I wouldn’t say my life would have been emptier without them, I was glad I hadn’t just ignored the box of comics completely. My view of comics wasn’t really disrupted, I was still in funny/juvenile territory and I was still firmly in a cartoon universe. Almost all the rest of the hoard looked like they weren’t funny, so I mentally filed them under po-faced and let them be. Until we moved house later that year, and for some reason some or all of the comics emerged from a box (I can’t remember whether OneMonkey had got round to reading them all yet, maybe he got distracted too much by Lum). One of the Cerebus covers caught my eye – although the background looked like proper art, here was a cartoon… What? Hippopotamus? Dinosaur? It turned out to be an aardvark (that wouldn’t even have been in my top 100 guesses) but it didn’t matter what it was, it looked like the comic had the potential to be funny.

Cerebus 112/113

The cover that started it all

Dave Sim changed my view of comics, in fact he turned it inside out, shook it about and stood it on its head. With his long-running and independently-produced Cerebus he showed what can be done with vision, dedication and enough self-belief. Although it tailed off (I haven’t read Latter Days or The Last Day and I’m not sure I will. Form and Void finished me off I think, because I had to pay to plough through a biography of Ernest Hemingway to find out incidentally as an aside what happened to Cerebus and Jaka. I have never understood what all the fuss was about, where Hemingway’s
concerned), for at least the first half of its run Cerebus was stunning, epic, brilliantly-drawn, gripping, and quite mad. There is a dry humour through most of it, there are also overtly funny parts, more serious parts, satire, surrealism, nods and references aplenty (both to comics and to more traditional literature as well as films and music) and it’s not all in sequential panels where one action takes place after another. No longer was the comic universe split down the middle into its two categories, and restricted to cartoon representations.

Without Cerebus, I would never have considered collaborating on a graphic novel and thus would have missed a most enjoyable experience. To Dave Sim and Gerhard I raise my mug of tea in earnest appreciation.

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This time I asked Mark who (or which era of which comic) he would have liked to work with if he’d had the chance:
I’m tempted to say I would’ve liked to have worked with Stan Lee in the ’60s then I could have got no credit like all those artists! But seriously, I think 2000 AD of the late ’80s/ early’90s is my favourite period of comics, it would’ve been great to have been part of that. I wouldn’t have been in the same league as those people. I would have also liked a run on Daredevil especially under the under-rated DG Chichester years, Lee Weeks‘ work was great so I couldn’t have done better and I couldn’t have done 30 pages a month but it would’ve been fun to do one issue!
And the same question relating to current possibilities:
Tough one. Writers wise I reckon I’m already working with my favourite šŸ™‚ . But working with John Wagner & Alan Grant on a Judge Dredd would be cool (even though it probably wouldn’t suit my style), or Neil Gaiman on a Sandman story (which I reckon would *hint Mr. Gaiman if you’re reading*), or Clive Barker on a fetish horror comic,Ā  or a run on Daredevil written by me! There are lots of current artists I admire but I wouldn’t want to work with them as they’d show me up: Alex Maleev, Ben Templesmith, Glenn Fabry, Arthur Ranson to name but a few. Also I’d like to work with anyone who will give me..erm what’s it called..ah yes…money.
For the record, though I enjoy working with Mark (there’s the flattery, for one thing) I’d be prepared to stand aside for a Pexton-Gaiman partnership.

A model made my breakfast

Much as I love OneMonkey, he does suffer from the occasional lapse of musical taste, so it didn’t surprise me that much when he started dancing around the kitchen singing Right Said Fred’s I’m Too Sexy (I’m a model, you know what I mean…). Earlier, Mark had used the magic word ‘model’ while talking about the reference photos he took of OneMonkey when he began work on the art for Boys Don’t Cry, and that was that. Story editor, letterer, manager, model – is there no end to OneMonkey’s quest for graphic novel domination?

OneMonkey doing strenuous model type pose

I figured it made sense to interview the star of our show, the artist Mark Pexton. In this first instalment he shares his earliest comic-related memories. Take it away Mark…
I first got introduced to comics by my Dad, at the local corner shop – for some reason in the early ’80s they used to stock some Marvel superhero comics, Spider-man and things – he used to read Marvel comics as a kid and I guess that inspired him to treat me and my brother to them (even though money was tight he was always spoiling us). The first issue that caught my imagination (it may have not been the first I read) was a copy of Daredevil. I loved (even as a 7 year old) the more serious tone to it than most other superhero comics (the issue I first remember reading featured the hero’s heroin addicted prostitute girlfriend and him losing his career and having his home blown up!). The issue in question was part of Frank Miller‘s return run on Daredevil (I didn’t know who Frank Miller was until much later) and featured great art by David Mazzucchelli (I remember clearly the beautiful panels he drew of Daredevil running across snowcovered brownstone rooftops, hisĀ almost photorealistic style still influences me today).
Subsequent to this first introduction I read comics off and on (but not regularly from issue to issue) until I made a friend at middle school (Ben Robinson, who even atĀ 12 had his own jazz band), he was very much into Judge Dredd and 2000 AD, something I had not come across before. After seeing one of his issues (aĀ trade paperback of the Judge Child quest featuring the wonderful art of Ron Smith and Brian Bolland)Ā I was hooked and started collecting them (even though my brother teased me that it was immoral to buy 2000 AD since Fleetway, the publishers, were owned by well-known crook Robert Maxwell!). I loved the dark humour and satire of Dredd (and the scantily clad sci-fi babes didn’t hurt either), and 2000 AD for years was my weekly treat (facilitated by the almost infinite patience of my Dad getting it for me from newsagents far and wide). 2000 AD showed me what was possible in comics: fully painted artwork, adult storylines, irony. The wonderful art of Glenn Fabry and Simon Bisley, and Simon HarrisonĀ inspired me, but most of all the brilliant dark scratchy ink art of David Roach on Judge Anderson. His work really was exceptional. I produced my own comics, (mostly just copies of 2000 AD) based on that.
Ben and I decided to create our own comic, he was a talented artist much more original than me, unfortunately it never came into existence and I lost touch with him.