Last year, in partnership with the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, downthetubes brought you a number of interviews with creators attending the event – and we’re delighted to be able to run a series in the run up to their eagerly anticipated 2015 event in October, continuing the series with an interview with talented teen comic creator Zoom Rockman.
Zoom Rockman has been writing, drawing and publishing his own comic, The Zoom! since he was eight. When he was 12, he started working for The Beano and has a monthly strip featuring his character, Skanky Pigeon.
In 2014, Zoom’s work was exhibited in The British Library’s ‘Comics Unmasked Exhibition’ where he was described as having “Wit and genuine cultural awareness well beyond his years”.
downthetubes: What are you working on, comics-wise, right now, and when will it be published?
Zoom Rockman: I’m currently working on The Zoom! No umber 11 and hoping that it’ll be out in time for LICAF.
downthetubes: Which comic project you’ve worked on are you most proud of and where can people see it or buy it?
Zoom: I’m always most proud of the thing I’m currently working on. I try to draw and write everything better than anything I’ve done previously. In The Beano it’s always the Skanky Pigeon that I just handed in.
downthetubes: How do you plan your day as a creator? (Do you plan your day?)
Zoom: Well, I go to school every day so there’s only certain times I can work. I’ve got a drawing board set up there and I’ve been allowed space in my timetable. At school I do either pencil roughs or ink in stuff and at home I either write new stuff or add colour digitally to what i’ve been working on at school.
downthetubes: What’s the best thing about being a comics creator?
Zoom: Being able to create cool scenes without having to use expensive special effects
downthetubes: And the worst?
Zoom: Running out of ink!
downthetubes: What most distracts you from getting your work done?
Zoom: I have a keyboard right next to where I work at home and I’m always learning something new to play – usually a TV theme from whatever box set I’ve been watching so I often stop and play music.
downthetubes: Do you think it’s easier or harder for young comic creators to get published today?
Zoom: I’ve only ever published my own work and haven’t approached other publishers so I can’t really answer that.
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?
Zoom: No. I’ve never been that far north. I heard from other comic creators that it’s the best UK Comics festival so I’m really looking forward to it!
downthetubes: Which one comic creator would you most like to meet, and why?
Zoom: I’d really like to meet Art Spiegelman. I’ve watched a few documentaries about him and he seems like a really cool person and I like his work a lot.
downthetubes: How do Festivals and other comics events help creators most, do you think?
Zoom: It’s good to be able to sell direct to people instead of through shops and online and it’s also a great place to find out about other people’s work. I like to use events as deadlines for getting new stuff done. When I first started out I’d always make sure I had a new comic ready for Comica Comiket etc. Since i’ve been working for The Beano I get a lot of kids showing up who like Skanky Pigeon and want to come and talk to me about him and it’s cool to get positive feedback like that.
downthetubes: What one piece of advice do you offer people looking to work in the comics industry?
Zoom: I wouldn’t want to give advice to anyone older than me, but when other kids ask me about making comics I always tell them to just go ahead and make their own. If they can sit down and get 1 page done even if it’s just a pencil rough that they can ink in later that’s a real boost because once you’ve finished 10 – 20pages that’s a whole comic ready to print.
downthetubes: What’s your favourite comic right now and where can people get it?
Zoom: I subscribe to VIZ, so I suppose that’s my favourite comic you can get at newsagents. I just read Paul Rainey’s There’s No Time Like the Present published by Escape books and that’s my favourite comic story/graphic novel that’s come out recently.
Zoom, thanks for your time and I hope you enjoy the Festival.
Zoom Rockman’s events at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2015
Zoom will be DJing at a special event – find out more by grabbing a copy of the Festival programme from the event’s web site – and he will be appearing in The Family Zone
Zoom’s Skanky Pigeon Workshops
Saturday 1.00-1.30pm and 3.00-3.30pm and Sunday 1.00-1.30pm and 3.00-3.30pm
Zoom Rockman shows you how to create a comic strip starring Skanky Pigeon from The Beano!
Suitable for ages 8!
Venue: Westmorland Shopping Centre. FREE
Zoom’s Muckburgers Burger Bar
Saturday 10.30-5.00 pm and Sunday 11.30-4.00pm
Fire Skanky Burgers using Zoom’s Skanky Burger Catapult and have a go at winning yourself an Unhappy meal! Then take a seat at the Takeaway Table to think up and draw your own funny comic characters.
All ages welcome at the Burger Bar.
Venue: Westmorland Shopping Centre FREE
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. 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 “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.