The77 – The Summer Special, available now, features a great range of strips from a wide range of comic creators, and we’re thrilled to present, a series of tie-in “Meet the Creator” interviews conducted by Morgan Spiceman with the writers and artists involved in the project.
This time out, it’s a quick chat with artist Paul Williams, who won 2000AD‘s portfolio competition in 2017 and has since drawn a “Future Shock” for the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic, “DeMarco PI“, a series in Judge Dredd Megazine written by Laura Bailey, and created covers for both 2000AD and the Megazine.
This year will also see his first work in the US see publication, edited by Alex De Campi.
How did you get involved in The77?
Paul Williams: BenKsy approached me at Thought Bubble last year and inquired on my availability. I was already familiar with The77, as a fairly active member of the Facebook group it sprung from, so I was quite eager to be involved.
What’s the story you’re drawing about?
Paul: The story “Gutcrawlers” by Dan Whitehead is about the crew of a 22nd century ship called the MSV Melantho and their attempts to procure the Helium-3 crystals required for the fusion drives that have made space travel a reality.
I won’t reveal the particularly gruesome particulars of their extraction methods, but the name of the strip should give you a clue!
Who are the characters?
Paul: The MSV Melantho has a crew of five who fulfil various roles from navigation and captaining to the more hands-on work of extraction.
What are your hopes for The77?
Paul: I join The77 at a time when it has already proven itself in terms of the quality of its creators and reader interest so I imagine it will continue to go from strength to strength.
I can’t imagine there’s much else like it out there – a quality title that arose from a community of fans of a specific comic – so it’s certainly something that I think will set the pace for future indy publishers.
How long have you been doing art?
Paul: Professionally, for about 10 years. I worked in educational illustration for the first seven until I found myself desiring a little more room for creative freedom and so decided to have a proper crack at comics.
Before then, I was stealing chalk at school to draw on the blackboards and adding characters to all of my sister’s picture books, much to her annoyance.
Who are your favourite artists?
Paul: Henry Flint, Arthur Ranson, Simon Davis, JH Williams 3, Gerald Scarfe, Ronald Searle and Cliff Robinson.
What are your favourite comics?
Paul: To be honest, I don’t read much beyond 2000AD, these days, but I couldn’t get enough when I was younger. Regular titles found strewn around my bedroom were 2000AD, The Red Dwarf Smegazine and Sonic The Comic.
What are your influences?
Paul: My favourite artists!
Which characters would you love to draw?
Paul: Armoured Gideon has reappeared in 2000AD of late and he was one of the first characters that attracted me to the comic as a kid, so I’d get a kick out of drawing him for a cover or something like that.
Who would you like to work with?
Paul: I enjoy working with Laura Bailey, as we’ve both been on a similar journey, so I secretly hope that any jobs I get sent through have her name on them.
There are certain writers I grew up reading in 2000AD who I would undoubtedly do an excited jump over if I got offered a job with but, to be honest, my biggest “want” when it comes to being offered work is always that it’s a good story that I’ll have fun with.
If I don’t “click” with something, I’m guaranteed to have a miserable time drawing it!
What advice do you have for upcoming artists?
Paul: Work on your visual storytelling skills. For the longest time, I was an artist who could make a decent looking page but didn’t have a clue what good sequential storytelling actually looked like and when I began to learn, my work came on leaps and bounds.
You can do that by studying comic pages, reading books (Dave Gibbons and Tim Pilcher’s How Comics Work is a good one) and being more aware of things like how you’re directing the eye across the page.
And also, if real-world conventions are ever a thing again, enter the 2000AD portfolio competition that takes place at Thought Bubble. Even if you don’t get through, you’ll get a good minute or two of feedback from an editor.
Paul, thanks very much for your time and the best of luck with all your projects!
Paul guides you through the process of creating a comic cover
Article published in October 2019
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