Kendal Calling: An interview with comic creator Hannah Berry

LICAF 2017 Banner - Hannah Berry

The countdown has begun to this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October (13th – 15th). The downthetubes “Kendal Calling” interviews continue with a chat with comic creatrix extraordinaire, podcaster and satirist Hannah Berry…

Hannah will have many guises at this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival but, most importantly, her recently-published graphic novel Livestock will be on sale – and hopefully copies of the new Scream and Misty Hallowe’en Special, which includes a new story “Return of the Sentinels” by her, drawn by Ben Willsher, will be on sale somewhere!

Hannah is a comics creator, writer, illustrator and podcaster and author of the horrifyingly-prescient media satire, Livestock, published by Jonathan Cape. This is her third graphic novel after the critically-acclaimed Adamtine and Britten & Brülightly, which was translated into four different languages and chosen as part of the official selection at Angoulême in 2010.

Hannah creates a weekly cartoon strip for the New Statesman and is one half of the podcast No YOU Hang Up with Dan Berry (probably no relation). She has been part of numerous collaborative projects, arts festivals and exhibitions all around the world.

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

Hannah Berry: I’ve got a lot of irons in comic fires at the moment, though nothing I can announce yet (I wouldn’t mention this normally, but I thought it might give me an air of mystery). One upcoming thing that I can announce is that I wrote the “Return to the Sentinels” strip in the new Scream and Misty Hallowe’en Special reboot, which will be coming out in October.

Livestock - Cover by Hannah Berry

Livestock - Page 16

Livestock - Page 21downthetubes: Which comic project you’ve worked on are you most proud of and where can people see it or buy it?

Hannah: My last graphic novel, Livestock, which sits neatly in the gap between The Thick Of It and Zoolander that you never knew you needed filled until now. It’s a bit of a dark satire on the media, and large parts of it seem to have predicted the current climate. It came out this summer from Jonathan Cape and should be available from your favourite comic supplier.

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

Hannah: I’ve decided my brain works best either before lunch or after dinner, so that’s when I try to do as much of the serious scripting, planning and emailing as possible. The afternoon is best for admin, drawing the easy bits and colouring in.

Livestock - Page 33

Livestock - Page 52

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

Hannah: Being part of a vibrant community of other dedicated creators is what keeps me going. Having the creative freedom to play with all of time and space on a page is also nice.

downthetubes: And the worst?

Hannah: Borderline destitution.Hannah Berry - Boxerdownthetubes: What most distracts you from getting your work done?

Hannah: Twitter. It’s Twitter. I get Fear Of Missing Out if I don’t look at it regularly.Livestock - Page 58downthetubes: Do you think it’s easier or harder for young comic creators to get published today?

Hannah: Depends when you’re comparing it to!

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?

Hannah: My understanding of Kendal is that it’s always buzzing, full of people I know and love, and extremely boozy. Then again, I have only ever been there during LICAF so my experience sample is skewed.

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

Hannah: The elusive Bill Watterson, who gave me that first love of comics. I know it’s a cliché and I don’t care. Also, he really doesn’t like to be involved with the comics scene so chances are slim that we will ever meet, which is probably best as I’d only make a tit of myself.

IDP 15 - Art by Hannah Berry

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

Hannah: There is so much to be said for being part of a vast group of people with a shared interest; swapping knowledge and comparing notes. Also, knowing who your competitors are and keeping a watchful eye so they don’t sneak up on you.

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

Hannah: Honestly, I’d say persistence bordering on fanaticism is key. On top of that, you need to be able to get out there and promote yourself, no matter how horrifying a prospect that is. I was pathologically shy as a kid, and look at me now: I’ve evolved into the kind of attention-seeking, horn-tooting monster I’ve always loathed. If you love your work and you want others to love it too it has to be done, sadly, but you can always take some of the unpleasantness out of it by promoting others at the same time.

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

Hannah: I’m still swooning over Gareth Brookes‘ graphic novel A Thousand Coloured Castles. It’s got that twisted poke at suburbia he’s so good at, and the dialogue between the two main characters is just brilliant. It’s published by Myriad Editions and available from all good retailers.

downthetubes: Hannah, thank you very much for your time and see 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

HANNAH BERRY ONLINE

Web: hannahberry.co.uk
Twitter: @streakofpith

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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