The countdown has begun to this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October (13th – 15th). The downthetubes “Kendal Calling” interviews continue with a chat with comic creator and British comics archivist Lew Stringer, who has worked for all the major publishers. He inspired Alan Moore with his Brickman character, who encouraged him to pitch his work, successfully, to Marvel UK back in the 1980s, and since then has been a major contributor to Beano,The Dandy, VIZ, Sonic the Comic, Doctor Who Magazine and more.
Lew has been working as a freelance artist and writer in British humour comics since 1983, who regularly documents British comics old and new on his Blimey! blog. Along the way he’s created characters such as Combat Colin, Tom Thug, Pete and his Pimple, Robo-Capers, Derek the Troll, Brickman, The Suburban Satanists, The Dark Newt and more.
His work has appeared in The Beano, The Dandy, Buster, VIZ, Oink!, Transformers, the Daily Star, Sonic the Comic, CiTV Tellytots magazine, TOXIC, Spider-Man, Lego Adventures and numerous other publications. Internationally, his work has appeared in Elephantmen and Grindhouse in the US, and Herman Hedning and Nemi in Sweden and Norway.
downthetubes: What are you working on, comics-wise, right now, and when will it be published?
Lew Stringer: At the moment, I’m drawing “Keyhole Kate“ pages for The Dandy Annual 2019 which won’t appear until July 2018. We work well in advance on the annuals! I’m also doing another “Daft Dimension” strip this week for Doctor Who Magazine. That has a shorter turn around time as it’ll be out in four weeks!
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 as I’ve been drawing comics for over 30 years but one of the strips I’m most proud of is Combat Colin that I did for Marvel UK in the 1980s. I’m now reprinting those strips for a new audience (and for those who remember it from back then) and the first issue is available from my online shop or from my table at conventions.
downthetubes: How do you plan your day as a creator? (Do you plan your day?)
Lew: I wish I was more organized! I try to work “normal” hours but invariably a job might take longer, or something might be needed sooner, and I end up working into the night, which of course impacts on the next day and so on. I suppose my “plan” is just to get the work done and in print.
downthetubes: What’s the best thing about being a comics creator?
Lew: The magic of creating something from nothing. The whole process, from the spark of an idea to turning a blank sheet of board into a strip, to seeing it on the stands.
downthetubes: And the worst?
Lew: Publishers who haven’t increased their page rates in years, and some who have even lowered their rates! Considering it’s the strips that sell the publications, the creatives should be better paid.
downthetubes: What most distracts you from getting your work done?
downthetubes: Do you think it’s easier or harder for young comic creators to get published today?
Lew: There are less mainstream opportunities in the UK because there are less mainstream comics, so that makes it harder for newcomers to turn pro. However, it’s never been easier to self-publish (and print prices are so affordable) to get one’s own projects seen at conventions and/or online.
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: Yes, I was a guest in 2015 and really enjoyed it. It’s a very well organized event and I was very pleased by their hospitality and the scope of the event itself which has a broader view of comics than some shows.
downthetubes: How do Festivals and other comics events help creators most, do you think?
Lew: I think they’re fantastic because we wouldn’t have a comics community without such events. They enable us to meet our readers and our friends and colleagues in the industry.
Before comics festivals, very few creators actually knew each other, and some of the greatest comic artists in British comics history must have lived and died without really knowing how much their work meant to people. Such a shame.
As far as I’m concerned, festival organizers are the heroes of the comics world for bringing us all together.
downthetubes: What one piece of advice do you offer people looking to work in the comics industry?
Lew: Start small with self-published comics and develop your style. Don’t start off with the glorious ambition of your first comic being the great graphic novel or multi-part epic. Patience has its rewards.
downthetubes: What’s your favourite comic right now and where can people get it?
Lew: Several favourites but one that comes to mind is Rok of the Reds by John Wagner, Alan Grant, and Dan Cornwell. A really well told story, kind of traditional but with a modern feel. Available from the publisher, BHP Comics.
Book Your Festival Tickets Now!
• 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!