Lakes Festival Focus 2017: It’s the Etherington Brothers! (Well, one of ’em!)

LICAF 2017 Kendal Calling The Etherington Brothers

This year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival starts today, and we’re delighted to bring you one final interview with two of the guests from across the globe – with Robin Etherington, representing the amazing Etherington Brothers!

You won’t find a more energetic and inspiring duo than Lorenzo and Robin, aka The Etherington Brothers, dedicated to encouraging young people to follow their comic art dreams through their comics and unique interactive shows and, at the same time, being premier league artists and writers. This includes posting an enormous amount of art tips on their web pages (links below!)

The Etherington Brothers – Lorenzo and Robin – have been making all-ages comic adventures for over a decade, and are the creators of Long Gone Don, Monkey Nuts, Freaky and Fearless, Baggage and Von Doogan.

They have also created comics, stories and art for Star Wars, How to Train Your Dragon, Transformers, Kung Fu Panda, Wallace & Gromit and James Bond.

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

Robin Etherington: We’re currently knee-deep in juggling quite a few projects. We’re preparing the Monkey Nuts 2 Kickstarter, putting the final art together for Long Gone Don 5 (to be serialised in The Phoenix at the end of the year) and writing Long Gone Don 6. We’ve just started working on the book design for Long Gone Don 3 (to be published 2018), a very special Art book from Lorenzo (also 2018) and we’re producing the regular series Paper Planes for Scoop Magazine.

downthetubes: Which comic project you’ve worked on are you most proud of?

Robin: It has to be Long Gone Don. As a creative team Lorenzo and I have spent the past 13 years searching for a canvas on which to paint our greatest adventures. In the expansive Broilerdoom underworld we’ve finally found our very own Discworld or Middle Earth – my, what bold comparisons!

Long Gone Don Book One - Cover

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

Robin: Plan is a strong word. Lorenzo is incredibly disciplined, and can probably break his day down into five minute chunks but my approach is more chaotic. I can hold projects in my head but not on a spreadsheet, so I tend to roll into the office and spend each morning bouncing around between half-finished work. I look after my little boy every afternoon so my working day is pretty short, but he’s a great listener and I use him to critique my efforts. Kid can be brutal.

Art for Long Gone Don by the Etherington Brothers

Art for Long Gone Don by the Etherington Brothers

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

Robin: Flexibility and control. You are the Director, DP, costume designer, best boy and cast. You can bring it all to life on your own terms.

downthetubes: And the worst?

Robin: It’s a long way from being a solvent career choice! Ha! Seriously though, time. Making beautiful books takes an AGE. If you’re not a patient person, this is not the job for you.

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

Robin: My PS4. No question. Destiny in particular, but other games exist (I think).

The Etherington Brothers travel around a lot of book festivals giving workshops on how to make your comics awesome. Here they are at Hay-on-Wyre, back in 2013. It was loud! That's Robin on the left, Lorenzo on the right.

The Etherington Brothers travel around a lot of book festivals giving workshops on how to make your comics awesome. Here they are at Hay-on-Wyre, back in 2013. It was loud! That’s Robin on the left, Lorenzo on the right.

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

Robin: I don’t believe the current and rising generation (in the UK at least) are even chasing that goal in the same way anymore. There seems to be a stunning tier of Independent creators who are happy to hobby their work to a phenomenal standard, enjoying the social side of the biz more than any overt need to land a publishing deal. That said it’s been ridiculously hard to find comic work in the UK for a long time, and remains so.

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?

Robin: We attended last year for the Festival (our first time) and absolutely loved it. I’ve been to the Lake District before and it’s a truly stunning corner of the world.

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

Robin: Uderzo. No question. I’ve met most of the folks I admire (Stan Sakai, Jeff Smith, Bryan Lee O’Malley) but the co-creator of Asterix is an elusive soul. My poor French wouldn’t help but I’d just like to shake his hand and say thanks. I’m pretty pleased to finally get the chance to finally see Sergio Aragonés, thanks to the Lakes Festival.

One of the Etherington Brothers many, many tutorial guides they post online. This one looks at How to THINK When you DRAW in 3D, in which Lorenzo explains how to think in three dimensions, and give more depth to everything you draw.

One of the Etherington Brothers many, many tutorial guides they post online. This one looks at How to THINK When you DRAW in 3D, in which Lorenzo explains how to think in three dimensions, and give more depth to everything you draw.

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

Robin: Exposure, obviously. There’s no greater way for the aspiring artist or writer to playtest their work than by handing it to someone in person. If they like it they’ll come back and ask for more – just make sure you’ve got more to give them!

Learning to sell yourself and your craft is vital in any business but the best part of attending these shows is you are meeting readers that might stay with you and your work for life. We’ve been on the road touring the comic and book festivals, school events and library events for a long time and the sense of shared community that we’ve built up is invaluable.

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

Robin: Two actually.

Firstly, learning to FINISH, is everything. You will hone your craft most effectively by wrapping a project and moving to the next. The difference between the amazing creators you’ve heard of and the myriad talented souls waiting in the wings is simply the ability to stick to the page until the book is done.

Secondly, make something for love, never for the popular vote. Choose a subject/style/genre that truly resonates and you will pour your passion into it. Trends change but readers can recognise genuine enthusiasm a mile off.

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

Robin: Recently I’ve been reading my little boy Herobear and the Kid by Mike Kunkel. It’s a bedtime story, a fairytale and a feelgood adventure all rolled into one. Any good online retailer will have a copy. It’s a gem.

downthetubes, Lorenzo, Robin – the very best of luck with all your amazing projects and thank you very much for talking to us and see you in Kendal!

Read Jeremy Briggs review of Monkey Nuts Volume One


• Web: | DeviantART
• Twitter: @EtheringtonBros

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! 

Web: | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Podcast | View the Festival Programme on Issuu | Download the Programme (PDF)

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. Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Explorer (previously known as Star Trek 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.

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