Kendal Calling: An Interview with Hellboy artist Duncan Fegredo

Duncan Fegredo - LICAF 2017 Banner

The countdown has begun to this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October (13th – 15th). We continue our “Kendal Calling” interviews with Duncan Fegredo. Much more than “just” a Hellboy artist, Duncan is described by his peers as “the artists’ artist” – we urge you to find out why!

Duncan Fegredo is best known for his collaborations with Mike Mignola on Mignola’s iconic Hellboy. Books include Darkness Calls, The Wild Hunt, The Storm & The Fury and The Midnight Circus, all published by Dark Horse Comics.

Earlier significant works include Enigma with writer Peter Milligan (Vertigo), Jay & Silent Bob with writer/director Kevin Smith and more recently MPH with writer and iconoclast Mark Millar (Image books).

A step outside comics saw Fegredo work as lead storyboard artist on Darren Aronofsky’s NOAH movie, and more recently he contributed storyboards to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Duncan is currently working on a number of covers and looking forward to the recently announced film Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen. To be directed by Neil Marshall, this will be an adaptation of Hellboy: The Wild Hunt.

downthetubes: What are you working on, comics-wise, right now, and when will it be published?

Duncan Fegredo: It has been a while since I have actually drawn sequential pages, mostly I’ve really only been painting covers for comics. I do have one page on the drawing board though and that is my contribution to The Spirit of Eisner newspaper to be launched at the Lakes Comic Art Festival in October.

It’s a rude awakening, I’d forgotten quite how much work goes into a comics page though I suppose it is a rather larger page!

downthetubes: Which comic project you’ve worked on are you most proud of and where can people see it or buy it?

A panel from Enigma by Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo
A panel from Enigma by Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo

Duncan: That’s a toughie… I’m very proud to have collaborated on Enigma with Peter Milligan for Vertigo comics, it’s a mind-blowing tale but I do have some reservations on my art.

Other than that I’d have to say my work with Mike Mignola on Hellboy, if I had to pick one book then it would be Hellboy: The Midnight Circus, published by Dark Horse Books. It is a wonderful coming of age story that works as a precursor to most of the Hellboy books. You don’t need to have read all the other books, it works in its own right. That said, there is a lot of foreshadowing.

I still like my work on that book, it shows a little more of my range than all the other Hellboy books I drew.

2016 Lakes International Comic Art Festival auction art: Hellboy by Duncan Fegredo
2016 Lakes International Comic Art Festival auction art: Hellboy by Duncan Fegredo

downthetubes: How do you plan your day as a creator? (Do you plan your day?)

Duncan: Currently I’m ashamed to say I don’t, but I dare say that will change shortly. Generally, I try to rise relatively early, cast an eye over the previous day’s work and then leave well alone for an hour. I like to clear my head with a cup of tea and whatever game has taken my fancy for an hour, then return to the desk and deal with as much email I can cope with… that varies wildly.

From there I make fresh lists to override that of the preceding day, what needs fixing, what needs achieving, deadlines etc. They’re generally unrealistic but I do what I can.

After that it’s a war of attrition to just make some kind of headway… can you tell that I don’t really plan my day yet? It’s more about ‘the best laid plans’ and ‘good intentions’.

Hellboy: The Midnight Circus
Hellboy: The Midnight Circus

downthetubes: What’s the best thing about being a comics creator?

Duncan: Well, I’m quite taken with that cup of tea and the hour of gaming… the best part is the initial stages of laying a book out, making the story flow. It is full of possibilities and promise at this stage. That and hearing from a reader how much your work has excited or moved them, that is wonderful.

downthetubes: And the worst?

Duncan: Anything after the final layout really, it starts full of promise and as you ink those promises and possibilities are dashed upon the rocks of compromise and reality! Finishing pages has always been hard for me.

Captain Peter Rabbit of The Lakes International Rescue by Duncan Fegredo
Captain Peter Rabbit of The Lakes International Rescue by Duncan Fegredo, created to mark Beatrix Potter’s 150th anniversary

downthetubes: What most distracts you from getting your work done?

Duncan: Everything!

downthetubes: Do you think it’s easier or harder for young comic creators to get published today?

Duncan: I think it evens out, there are more venues for their work to be seen, both print and online, but equally there is much more competition. It comes down to how much you want it, how far you are prepared to go.

downthetubes: Have you ever been to the Lake District before and if so what did you think of it? If you haven’t, what are you expecting?

Duncan: I have and I enjoy it every time. There is a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere that is very inclusive to families. It’s not all about the Big Two, capes and spandex, but very much about the creative minds that collude to bring all manner of genres of storytelling into being.

downthetubes: Which one comic creator would you most like to meet, and why?

Duncan: I would have loved to have met Alex Toth, although I imagine it would not have gone well, I doubt he would have had much time for the shortcomings of my work. Much as I strive to follow his leaner stripped back style of art and his clarity in storytelling I inevitably allow myself to get bogged down in superfluous details… well, at least I’m aware of it!

downthetubes: How do Festivals and other comics events help creators most, do you think?

Duncan: It’s all to easy to never leave the studio and relate only through social media, but nothing beats talking one on one to other creatives, discussing techniques or comparing war stories. It can be somewhat lonely and de-humanising locked away for long periods in a studio, events remind you that It Isn’t Just You!

downthetubes: What one piece of advice do you offer people looking to work in the comics industry?

Duncan: Learn to draw people and ‘dull stuff’, by which I mean real life, because nobody seems to want to yet you can’t avoid it.

downthetubes: What’s your favourite comic right now and where can people get it?

Duncan: A toss up between Black Hammer by Jeff Lemire & Dean Ormston and Kill or be Killed by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips, both available from comic stores or digitally via Comixology.com.

downthetubes: Duncan, thanks for your time and we look forward to seeing you in Kendal in October!

Book Your Festival Tickets Now!

• Book your tickets for this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival here. This year’s events programme includes live draws, masterclasses, interactive talks and a chance to get up close to the best comic creators in the world! 

Web: www.comicartfestival.com | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube |Podcast

DUNCAN FEGREDO ONLINE

• Web: www.duncanfegredo.co.uk
• Twitter: @duncanfegredo 
• YouTube

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor. He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY. Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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