Lakes Festival Focus 2014: Comic Creator Hunt Emerson

Hunt Emerson

Hunt Emerson at work

 

In the run up to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival (17th – 19th October), we’re aiming to run a number of interviews spotlighting at least a few of the huge number of guests and comic creators who will be at the event, continuing today with award-winning cartoonist Hunt Emerson.

Born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1952, Hunt has drawn cartoons and comic strips since the early 1970′s. His work has appeared in countless magazines and comics, and he has regular long-running spots in The Beano, Fiesta and the wonderful journal of unexplained phenomena and weird stuff, Fortean Times. Hunt has published around 30 comic books and albums, mainly with Knockabout Comics.

Titles of Hunt’s books include Calculus Cat – a new collection, the result of a successful crowdfunding campaign earlier this year, will be on sale during the Festival weekend – Jazz Funnies, You are Maggie Thatcher (with Pat Mills) and his hilarious comics adaptations of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Casanova’s Last Stand, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and work based on the ideas of Victorian critic and philosopher John Ruskin, and, more recently, a riotous take on Dante’s Inferno.

Hunt has been given several comics industry awards including Strip Cartoonist of the Year, and has been the guest of comics and cartoon festivals around the world ranging from Rathdrum, Ireland to Murmansk, USSR. In 2000 he was named as one of the 75 Masters of European Comics by the CNBDI, the noted French comics Academy.

 

DH Lawrence - Zombie Hunter

“DH Lawrence – Zombie Hunter” – can be read online here on the brilliant Dawn of the Unread project

 

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

Hunt Emerson: I’m working on a book for New Internationalist Press, written by Sean Michael Wilson. It’s called Goodbye God? and is a treatise on Science versus Religion. It’s text heavy, but it is a comic.

Kevin Jackson and I did an eight-page comic, “DH Lawrence – Zombie Hunter!” for the Nottingham online comic called Dawn of the Unread. Worth looking at!

[It is – Ed!]

I’ve just finished the next Phenomenomix page for Fortean Times. It’s about the 16th century Dutch satanist-painter “Torrentius”. Written by Kevin Jackson, is the latest in our ongoing series of Great Occultists.

Calculus Cat by Hunt EmersonWe’re coming to the climax of the Calculus Cat Kickstarter project. All the Rewards are made – t-shirts, badges, guitar picks, prints, stickers, plates. We’re just finishing the short film of me shouting the names of the £5 Kickstarter Backers in the street. It’s funny. The Calculus Cat book will be delivered from HongKong at the start of October, [Knockabout publisher] Tony Bennett and I will put all the Backers packages together, and they’ll be mailed out. The book will be officially launched at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival.

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

Hunt: I was asked to be a consultant on a new comics project in Kenya [published by Well Told Story], and spent three days in Nairobi in 2009, then five days in 2010, helping a group of cartoonists and writers to start a comic aimed at Kenyan youth, to help them develop their lives. The comic is called Shujaaz which means “Heroes” in Swahili.

It’s too complicated to describe here, involving comics, radio, and, crucially, mobile phone usage in Africa, but, briefly, it helps young people find work, organise themselves socially and politically, make and grow things, start local enterprises – generally to survive in a very difficult world. And it works! It’s a comic that actually makes a positive difference to the lives of its readers.

Shujaaz is produced monthly, and is given free in the national newspaper and by Safaricom, the telecom company. The amount of interaction between the comic and its readers is phenomenal. They distribute one million copies each month, and each copy is probably read by seven people. Shujaaz has been nominated for three years running for an International Emmy Award, and has won the award on two of those occasions.

I can’t read it, as it’s all in Sheng, the Kenyan street language, and I’m not featured in it in any way, but I was an important part of their start-up, and I’m very proud of that.

Where can you see it? Pretty well impossible unless you’re in Kenya, but Google it and see what’s there – they have YouTube and social media of course.

[You can read a strip in English published in Shujaaz here on the Well Told Story web site]

 

Shujaaz.FM Graphic

 

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

Hunt: It’s like standing in a horizontal bat-storm, swatting them away with a tennis racquet.

 

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

 

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

Hunt: Making myself laugh. I do actually think my comics are funny – if I didn’t, why do them?

downthetubes: And the worst?

Hunt: It’s an unsociable job.

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

Hunt: The rest of life. People. “Admin”.

 

Even the best cartoonists have projects that escape them. Here's a sample page for an aborted project adapting The Goon Show into comic form.

Even the best cartoonists have projects that escape them. Here’s a sample page for an aborted project I worked on, adapting The Goon Show into comic form. Sadly, the comic never escaped development stage, because Hunt’s art is brilliant. (As were the samples from other creators).

 

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

Hunt: There is always a paucity of regular, paying gigs, but it’s easy to get published these days – you just pay for it, and don’t expect to make any money from it. There are also many more small publishers able to produce fine quality books than ever before, and a growing market place through festivals, cons, etc. The world of self-published comics has never been so fruitful.

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

Hunt: I love the Lake District, and know it quite well. I have worked on several occasions with The Wordsworth Trust at Dove Cottage, and The Ruskin Foundation on Coniston. I have relatives on the Cumbrian coast, and had the most memorable holiday of my life as a child, camping in Eskdale.

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

Hunt: Sergio Aragones. I met him once some years ago, and, like everyone else, I just love the guy!

The Lakes Festival 2014 poster, with Poblin taking centre stage.

The Lakes Festival 2014 poster, with Poblin taking centre stage.

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

Hunt: They’re the only holidays we get.

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

Hunt: Learn to draw anything you’re asked to. Learn to teach – it will provide income. Don’t rely on comics alone for your living.

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

Hunt: Oh dear… I see so few… I see the Beano every week, of course, but that doesn’t count. It’s good just now, though! What have I seen recently? Er…

{At this point, Hunt wandered off to a comic shop and was totally distracted from doing any more work for the rest of the day – sorry, Hunt!) Thank you very much for your time and we hope you enjoy the Festival!

• Find out more about Hunt Emerson and his latest projects at www.Largecow.com

Read our review of Dante’s Inferno

• Hunt Emerson will appear at Cowboy Henk vs Combat Colin: A Live Draw Shootout during the Festival weekend and is playing a major role in the splendiforous  “Magnificent Knockabout White Elephant Emporium”, taking place in the Elephant Emporium @ Elephant Yard. Among other things, he’s offering a number of Fez Tai Chi Classes – A world exclusive! Bring your own Fez if you have one (or you can use one they will have on hand) and spend 15 or 20 minutes loosening up and relaxing while following Mr Emerson’s motivating moves. Plus: Fez Polo – twice a day – come and demonstrate your skills! With more games to come…

Events in the Emporium are all free but the organisers will gladly accept donations towards next year’s Festival.

• Tickets for all the events at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival (17th – 19th October) are on sale now. For the full guest list, details of events and exhibitions and bookings visit: www.comicartfestival.com

You can now view the full festival programme online here on Issuu

• Sign up for the Festival’s newsletter here for the latest news! Web: www.comicartfestival.com

 

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



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