Every year, in the countdown to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October, this year running as the virtual LICAF LIVE, we bring you a series of interviews with both guests and participants in the Comics Clock Tower (This year, also virtual).
Today we’re talking to Chris Askham, one of the comic creators who has a space on the LICAF Virtual Comics Clock Tower. Chris has illustrated children’s fiction for Ransom and Bloomsbury. His self-published comics work includes U’Grot, Switchblade Stories and the recently-released The Management Programme.
In 2016, he provided the artwork for the full length graphic novel Abominable Glory, from Markosia. He sells a variety of comics, zines and original artwork on his Big Cartel and Etsy stores and is currently running a Kickstarter for his Bananas Art Book, which includes illustrations created over the last two years.
What are you working on, comics-wise, right now, and when will it be published?
Chris Askham: I’ve just started work on the second issue of Switchblade Stories, which is a solo project I started last year. It’s a love letter to the romance comics of the 1950s, but with a very contemporary twist. I’ve written the script and I’m currently working on the layouts, so it’s still early days. It’ll be completed sometime later in the year, and then I’ll run a Kickstarter to hopefully fund it.
Which comic project you’ve worked on are you most proud of and where can people see it or buy it?
Chris: When I’m asked this question, the answer is generally the last thing I worked on, and this is certainly the case this time around. I completed the majority of The Management Programme while in lockdown, and had a solid two months to concentrate on it.
Again, it was a solo project which I scripted, drew and lettered myself. It was also my most successful Kickstarter campaign to date, both in terms of funding and backers. The comic itself is a one-shot, black and white horror tale and is available from my Big Cartel and Etsy stores.
How do you plan your day as a creator? (Do you plan your day?)
Chris: I have a full-time non-creative job, so there’s really no such thing as planning. I draw when I can and as often as possible.
What most distracts you from getting your work done?
Chris: Generally, it’s the parts of everyday life that are inescapable, such as family life and other work priorities. I know lots of people get caught up in social media and can escape to it throughout the day, but I’m not very good at it so for me it’s pretty easy not to get distracted by the evils of Facebook, Twitter, etc!
Do you think it’s easier or harder for young comic creators to get published today?
Chris: I think it’s much easier to find an audience these days with crowd-funding, the convention circuit and the internet. As a small press creator in the 1990s, it seemed almost impossible to get your photocopied comic seen by more than five people, so in that sense it’s much easier these days.
Also, there are a lot more people creating their own comics today, with a much larger range of genres and interests.
Chris, thanks very much for your time and the very best of luck with all your projects!
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• The Virtual Comics Clock Tower is online at licafclocktower.com
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.