The Lakes International Comic Art Festival starts tomorrow and I’m delighted that, despite a punishing work schedule, Beano and Doctor Who cartoonist and writer Lew Stringer found time to answer my questions about his work and creating comics.
Lew (who I’ve known since Marvel UK days) has been working in British comics for over 30 years, writing and drawing humour strips for a diverse number of titles. His work has appeared in The Beano, Buster, Oink!, Spider-Man, VIZ, Sonic The Comic, TOXIC, Tellytots, and many more. Amongst his creations are Combat Colin, Brickman, Derek The Troll, Tom Thug, Pete And His Pimple, Pedantic Stan, Comics Fan and the Suburban Satanists.
Working with other creators, Lew has supplied scripts for various artists on Sonic The Comic and illustrated Dave Gibbons’ script, ‘The Glut’ for Knockabout’s Seven Deadly Sins book.
His blog, “Blimey! It’s Another Blog About Comics” is an invaluable resource for fans of British comics, noting new happenings and celebrating the very best our industry has crated down the years.
downthetubes: What are you working on, comics-wise, right now, and when will it be published?
Lew Stringer: I’m continuing with my regular work for The Beano, which includes strips such as “Ivy the Terrible” and “Rasher”. I also write and draw two pages of “Team Toxic” in every issue of Egmont’s TOXIC magazine, which I’ve contributed to since issue 1 way back in 2002.
More recently, I was commissioned to create a new humour strip for Doctor Who Magazine, “The Daft Dimension”, – and that’s been running for three issues now. I also have a strip coming up in a comic for Dark Horse in November, but I’ll reveal more about that at a later date.
downthetubes: Which comic project you’ve worked on are you most proud of and where can people see it or buy it?
Lew: Hard to pin it down to one. Combat Colin, that I did for Marvel UK’s Transformers was certainly a favourite. I own the rights and intend to publish a collection one of these days, when I have time.
downthetubes: How do you plan your day as a creator? (Do you plan your day?)
Lew: It’s not always easy to plan a day as there’s often urgent jobs that have to take priority over the one you’d intended to do. I just try and get on with it really and check my emails regularly, and update my blog whenever I can. The working day often carries on into the early hours.
downthetubes: What’s the best thing about being a comics creator?
Lew: The enjoyment of creating characters and stories. Also, meeting people at comic shows who grew up on my strips years ago. It’s rewarding to hear how they enjoyed the strips when they were kids. That’s what it’s all about.
downthetubes: And the worst?
Lew: The uncertainty of being a freelancer. It’s often feast or famine, and can be very stressful when work is thin on the ground. Even moreso the older you get.
downthetubes: What most distracts you from getting your work done?
Lew: Social networking sometimes, but it’s all part of the job. Also, the little things such as admin stuff, bills, banking, etc.
downthetubes: Do you think it’s easier or harder for young comic creators to get published today?
Lew: I’d imagine it must be harder to make a living out of it as there are far less mainstream comics around, but it’s never been easier to self-publish and promote your work online and at shows.
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?
Lew: Never. I’m expecting rain. 🙂 I had a quick cyber-roam around Kendal on Google Maps and it looks like a very nice place.
downthetubes: Which one comic creator would you most like to meet, and why?
Lew: I’ve met most of them. 🙂 I wish I’d met Ken Reid, who passed away nearly 30 years ago. He was truly an outstanding talent in humour comics.
downthetubes: How do Festivals and other comics events help creators most, do you think?
Lew: They’re great to interact with fans and other pros. Cartooning / writing can be a very lonely life and although I have many good friends locally outside of comics it’s nice to have that kindred spirit feeling of attending a comic event.
downthetubes: What one piece of advice do you offer people looking to work in the comics industry?
Lew: Start small and learn the ropes. Too many people think they can hit the ground running with a major graphic novel. Start with short stories, A5 stripzines, that sort of thing. Listen to feedback. Develop your skills. That’s how many of us started out.
downthetubes: What’s your favourite comic right now and where can people get it?
Lew: My favourites change from week to week so it’s hard to pin it down to one. I enjoyed Jessica Martin’s ‘It Girl’ this year, the story of Clara Bow. Looking forward to more of Jessica’s work. I also liked ‘David Leach Conquers the Universe’ by David Leach (from Dead Universe Comics). 2000AD is always worth buying too. I tend to read compilations on 1950s horror comics these days, of the sort that Yoe! Books publish.
downthetubes: Lew, thanks very much for your time and enjoy your first trip to Kendal!
• Check out Lew’s official Blog: lewstringercomics.blogspot.co.uk and his web site is at www.lewstringer.com. And if you’re a fan of British comics you have to bookmark Blimey! It’s Another Blog About Comics