Sci-Fi Art Now Creator Interview: Chris Askham

Space Ape by Chris Askham

For as long as he can remember, British artist Chris Askham has had an obsessive desire to draw comic strips, beginning at an early age by copying characters out of The Dandy and then progressing to tracing panels of Judge Anderson from issues of 2000AD. As he began to gain an understanding of how comics work, he started self-publishing his own work in the early 1990’s. “The small press seems to come a long way since those days of photocopied flimsy a5 booklets, with today’s publications being indistinguishable from their professional counterparts,” he notes.

Chris has produced work for indie titles such as Dogbreath, Zarjaz, FutureQuake, Bulldog Adventure magazine and PJANG, as well as co-creating Doctor Sponge and Sin. He’s also a regular contributor to the ongoing web comic, Fractal Friction.

Sci-Fi Art Now: What tools do you mainly use to create your art?

Chris Askham: I still do 99 per cent of my drawing in the traditional way, using pencils, dip pens, Indian ink, brushes. But this is then scanned into Photoshop to be cleaned up, tweaked and coloured and generally played about with.

Sci-Fi Art Now: Why?

Chris: I still enjoy the process of drawing with pens and brushes, rather than the Wacom tablet. No doubt if I put enough time into practicing, then I’d grow accustomed to using the graphics tablet, but at the minute I’m far too clumsy with it other than for colouring purposes (and I still struggle even then). Also I don’t trust anything I produce on the screen – I need to physically see it on a piece of paper in front of me.

Having said that, Photoshop is a godsend for colouring and tidying up. I’ve always had trouble working in colour, but in PS it’s just so easy to re-do things and change whole colour schemes at the touch of a button. Not that I’m any master of Photoshop. I’m still very much a neanderthal.

Fractal Friction page
by Chris Askham

Sci-Fi Art Now: What inspired you to become an artist?

Chris: Like many others I was inspired by British sci-fi anthology 2000AD, which I read from the age of 11 back in about 1984. I am also of that lucky generation to have seen the original Star Wars trilogy in the cinema, which was also a major influence. I was also a big fan of the Fighting Fantasy adventure game books of the 1980’s, which were always full of some of the best black and white fantasy illustrations of the time.

Sci-Fi Art Now: What was the most useful piece of advice you were given when you began learning your craft?

Chris: I don’t remember the exact advice, but I do remember sending some samples to the editor of an indie comics publisher (maybe Trident Comics, based in Leicester at the time). It was a rejection letter, but it was about two pages long and it went into great detail about how I could go about improving my work, which was admittedly bad at the time by anyone’s standards. But it was good that this editor had gone to the trouble of filling two whole pages. Even though my work was pretty bad, it made me feel that it was worth carrying on.

Sci-Fi Art Now: Which artists most inspire you?

Teenage Zombies
by Chris Askham

Chris: The legendary roster of 2000AD artists from the golden years – Brian Bolland, Ian Gibson, Mike McMahon, Kevin O’Neill to name just a few. Their art from those days looks just as fresh today as it did when it was originally published.

Aubrey Beardsley‘s penmanship is just mindblowing, the amount of time he must have spent (in not the best of health) knocking out such intricate detail and fantastic depravity. Jason Brooks draws some of the most gorgeous women in fashion illustration – in some alternate universe he’s surely putting out some beautiful comics work!

Sci-Fi Art Now: Do you have a favourite piece of work or project you have worked on?

Johnny Alpha – one of Chris Askham’s
artworks forthe Carlos Ezquerra
‘Get Well Soon’ card

It was really good to work on the ‘Get Well Soon’ project for Carlos Ezquerra, the Judge Dredd co-creator who was seriously ill last year. It was concocted by The Legendary Shark on the 2000AD message boards, and was a complete secret. Lots of fans and professionals alike got together to produce pages of art or words, in tribute to the great man. It was a fantastic moment in fandom!

Sci-Fi Art Now: What most frustrates you about being an artist?

Chris: Not having enough hours in the day to produce half of what I’d like to. Or maybe just my inability to organise my working hours better.

Sci-Fi Art Now: What keeps you going despite the hopefully occasional frustrations?

Chris: Probably the thought that there’s nothing else I can or want to do with my time (other than play computer games…). Also there’s a great community of other artists out there, working in similar conditions.

When I get any feedback at all about my work, whether good or bad, it’s always nice to know that someone out there is taking the time to look at it and comment on it.

Rise of the Robots by Chris Askham

Sci-Fi Art Now: What advice would you offer to anyone starting out as an artist?

Chris: Draw, draw, draw. Always. From life and from your imagination. And make sure you draw what you want to draw. I’ve spent, and still do spend, far too much time drawing things that I think people want to see, when I should just be drawing what I want to see. And get your work out there.

• For more of Chris work, check out his blog at http://chris-askham.blogspot.com. To contact Chris, email him at c.askhamATntlworld.com

Avatar

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.



Categories: 2000AD, Comic Creator Interviews

%d bloggers like this: