Kendal Calling: An Interview with Australian comics creator and educator Stuart Medley

LICAF 2017 - Stuart Medley Banner

We’re just one day away from this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival and we have another interview with one of many guests from across the globe – with Australian comics creator and educator Stuart Medley.

Stuart’s comics clients have included the Imperial War Museum and Berg’s Publishing. He was a founder of, [sic]BAG Comics, and the winner of Adventures in Comics UK in 2013. He was a comics artist-in-residence at the Maison des Auteurs, Angoulême, France in 2013/14.

Stuart has presented his character design workshops in the UK, Europe and Australia, and has run comics study tours to Japan, France and Belgium.

Stuart is currently researching cartooning to improve public health. He is also art director and illustrator for Hidden Shoal, a critically acclaimed record label in its tenth year with a roster of international artists.

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

Stuart Medley: Two long-form comics. One is a bandes-dessinée style adventure comic where the protagonist’s desire for action and self-fulfilment is continually thwarted by real-world events. The other is a nourish piece set in 1950s Western Australia.

One of Stuart Medley's strips from [sic]BAG Comics - "Cicada", published in 1992
One of Stuart Medley’s strips from [sic]BAG Comics – “Cicada”, published in 1992
downthetubes: Which comic project you’ve worked on are you most proud of and where can people see it or buy it?

Stuart: [sic]BAG comics was a 90s anthology out of Perth, Western Australia. I was a contributor and editor. We only ever made six editions but they gained some small notoriety in Australia. I’ve compiled my own contribution into a 128 page book. People can get in touch with me for a copy: hello@stuartmedley.com

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

Stuart: Weeks ahead! It’s currently pretty hard to set aside a day for comics, so I sneak in an hour or two of an evening when I can.

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

Stuart: Making the art and the joy of inking!

downthetubes: And the worst?

Stuart: The reality that it won’t pay the bills!

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

Stuart: Paying the bills!

A comics commission for Mu Magazine, 2001. Art by Stuart Medley
A comics commission for Mu Magazine, 2001. Art by Stuart Medley

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

Stuart: Not sure about this one. I guess it depends on the level of publishing we’re talking about and the support you get. You could always self-publish if you had access to a photocopier, but distribution and promotion were more difficult. I think. There are more literary publishers interested in comics these days. It’s not just Penguin picking up Lorenzo Mattotti’s Fires, which is the only example that comes easily to mind from when I was starting out.

I think it’s easier to span great distances today – to get behind promoting your own work – than it was when I was starting out. It used to cost me and my cronies a fortune just to get from Perth to Sydney for the comics events back in the 1990s. In that sense, the machinery around getting a comic known seems less exclusive. On the other hand, the competition is stronger now in the sense of sheer numbers and choice.

"Spitfires" - an illustration for the Imperial War Museum  by Stuart Medley
“Spitfires” – an illustration for the Imperial War Museum by Stuart Medley

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?

Stuart: I had a great day trip out to Castle Crag during my first LICAF (2015). I hadn’t been there since I was six, more than 40 years previously. The view hadn’t changed a bit. It’s a beautiful part of the world.

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

Stuart: Yves Chaland, to ask him how he got to do brush work like that.

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

Stuart: There’s the camaraderie, first and foremost. Comics can be a lonesome pursuit and it’s good to get out and catch up with these like-minded folk who you mostly chat to via social media. If it’s in a beautiful part of the world with decent beer, so much the better.

The other thing is it’s great to be at these events and look around the room and to know that some of these people are the Jane Austen of comics, the Van Gogh of comics, the Dorothy Parker of comics, the Jean Arp of comics. The greats are among us today!

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

Stuart: Talk to someone else, because I’m a mere dilettante!

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

Stuart: Tungstène by Marcello Quintanilha from Brazil. I got mine through the wonderful Fred at Librairie Impressions, Enghien-les-Bains, just outside of Paris.

[Editor’s note –Tungstène has yet to be published in English]

downthetubes: Stuart, thank you for your time we look forward to seeing you in Kendal.

STUART MEDLEY ONLINE

• Web: www.stuartmedley.com
• Twitter: @smedley5
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• 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! 

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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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