Kendal Calling: An Interview with Darryl Cunningham

LICAF 2017 Banner Darryl Cunningham

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 “graphic journalist” Darryl Cunningham, whose new work Graphic Science launches at this year’s weekend-long event…

Darryl Cunningham studied at Leeds College of Art and lives in Yorkshire. He is now a full-time comic creator, but he has also worked as a health care assistant on an acute psychiatric ward which informed, and inspired, his acclaimed first book of factually-based comics, Psychiatric Tales (Blank Slate, 2010).

His second book of graphic journalism, an explanation of climate change, the moon landing, evolution and other subjects,Science Tales, published by Myriad in 2012, was shortlisted in the Best Book category at the British Comics Awards 2012. His latest graphic investigative book,Supercrash: How to Hijack the Global Economy, was published to acclaim by Myriad in October 2014, won the ‘Best Writer – Independent’ category at the Broken Frontier Awards 2014, and was on the New York Times Bestseller list when published in 2015 by Abrams as The Age of Selfishness.

His work is published in The Art of Saving a Life, a global resource by renowned artists to encourage vaccination, sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. His new book Graphic Science, to be published by Myriad in October 2017, is a series of graphic essays on Mary Anning, Fred Hoyle, George Washington Carver and other key figures in scientific discovery who have been overlooked, sidelined, or excluded from the full recognition they are due.

Graphic Science by Darryl Cunningham - Cover

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

Darryl Cunningham: I’ve just finished Graphic Science for Myriad Editions, a book of biographies of seven scientists. I didn’t want to cover any of the big guns, such as Newton, Darwin or Einstein. This is a book about people less well known – Mary Anning (the fossil hunter), Antoine Lavoisier (father of French chemistry), Alfred Wegener (originator of the continental drift theory), George Washington Carver (botanist), Nikola Tesla (master of electricity), Jocelyn Bell Burnell (discoverer of the first pulsar) and Fred Hoyle (Astronomer). We’ll be launching this at this year’s Lakes Festival.

Art from the upcoming Graphic Science by Darryl Cunningham
Art from the upcoming Graphic Science by Darryl Cunningham

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

Darryl: Oh, I don’t have favourites. Seek and you shall find. Supercrash and Science Tales are published by Myriad Editions. Psychiatric Tales by Blank Slate.

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

Darryl: A plan? What’s that? My aim is that if I start a page I must finish it the same day.

Supercrash by Darryl Cunninghamdownthetubes: What’s the best thing about being a comics creator?

Darryl: I get to write and draw. I get to create.

downthetubes: And the worst?

Darryl: It’s really not paid well enough.

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

Darryl: The internet.

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

Darryl: Easier, I would think, because there are so many different ways to publish. Not just print, but online. It’s never been easier to self-publish.

downthetubes: Have you ever been to the Lake District before and if so what did you think of it?

Darryl: I’ve been to every Lakes International Comic Art Festival to date and find it the best of the UK comic conventions. A good mix of both indie and more mainstream comics creators are featured, both British and international. All in a nice Lake District setting.

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

Darryl: I’d like to meet Jack Kirby. This is unlikely to happen as he died in 1994.

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

Psychiatric Tales Expanded Edition CoverDarryl: For me, it’s a chance to meet the public and find out how the books have gone down with people.

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

Darryl: That’s complicated, because it depends on what area of the comics industry you want to work in. The comics industry isn’t just one thing. Do you want to do superheroes, short-form newspaper style strips, political commentary, funny animals, autobiography, or something no one has seen before?

Whatever it is, build up a lot of work and get it out there so people can see it. It costs next to nothing to put artwork online.

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

Darryl: Buy Livestock by Hannah Berry. It’s really good.

downthetubes: Darryl, 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 | View the Festival Programme on Issuu | Download the Programme (PDF)

DARRYL CUNNINGHAM ONLINE

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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