In the run up to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival (17th – 19th October), we’re aiming to run a number of interviews spotlighting at least a few of the huge number of guests and comic creators who will be at the event, continuing today with internationally-renowned cartoonist, writer and graphic novelist Nick Abadzis, who has been honoured with various awards including the prestigious Eisner in 2008 for his graphic novel Laika. To date, there have been ten foreign editions. He also works as a visual facilitator, corporate scribe and editorial consultant. He’s devised various magazines and properties that have helped create lasting equity and sales for the many publishing entities and websites that he has been involved with.
As a highly experienced author of stories for both adults and children, Nick has been published in the US by Condé Nast, Macmillan, Marvel Comics, DC/Vertigo Comics and Tor.com, in Japan by Kodansha and Korea by Marubol Publications. His comics and illustrations have appeared in various national UK newspapers including The Times, The Guardian and The Independent on Sunday and he has been published in Europe by BBC Worldwide, Dargaud, Glénat, Doctor Who Magazine, 2000AD, Punch, Titan, David Fickling Comics and Atrium Verlag among others.
Based in Brooklyn, while most people reading this will know he’s writing Titan Comics Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor series, his latest book is The Cigar That Fell in Love With a Pipe from Self-Made Hero/Abrams, released earlier this year, co-authored with David Camus.
downthetubes: What are you working on, comics-wise, right now, and when will it be published?
Nick Abadzis: I’m working on issues 11 to 15 of Doctor Who: the Tenth Doctor adventures for Titan Comics. It’s going to be an epic climax to the first year – you’ll see these episodes in 2015. I’m also working on refining the script to my next book for First Second, with artist Jerel Dye, which is called Pigs Might Fly. That should see publication so stile in late 2015 or maybe 2016.
downthetubes: Which comic project you’ve worked on are you most proud of and where can people see it or buy it?
Nick: That’s a difficult one – I’m proud of them all. It’s like asking me to choose which children are my favourites – I can’t really do it. I’m probably best-known in the US for Laika, and in the UK for Hugo Tate, although maybe these are both now superseded by Doctor Who. I’m proud of the comics and Graphic Novels I’ve done for children, too. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve done all sorts of very varied comics works for different kinds.
downthetubes: How do you plan your day as a creator? (Do you plan your day?)
Nick: If I’m writing, I get up early and write in the mornings and save admin and answering emails for the afternoon, as I tend to get a bit torpid after lunch. I get a second wind around 5.30pm and usually keep working until around 8.00pm, although I like to take a break too to spend some time with my daughter. If I’m on a deadline, I’ll work on into the night. If I’m drawing, I’ll just work all day with a break for dinner.
downthetubes: What’s the best thing about being a comics creator?
Nick: Getting your vision out there.
downthetubes: And the worst?
Nick: Long, labour-intensive hours, not much of a social life.
downthetubes: What most distracts you from getting your work done?
Nick: Family. But that’s a nice distraction.
downthetubes: Do you think it’s easier or harder for young comic creators to get published today?
Nick: From my perspective, it looks much easier, what with the instant access of the Internet – anyone can do their own web strip. Self-publishing is also a huge cultural phenomenon and one I applaud. One of my favourite comic shows is SPX, the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland, where hundreds of self-publishers and small press imprints come together every year to present their wares and it’s a wonderful thing to experience – so much good work, so much talent. There’s similar in the UK, with all sorts of large and small comics festivals, from Thought Bubble, The Lakes to smaller, newer shows like Safari.
But if you’re talking about getting into print the old-fashioned way, well, that can still be tough. Building up a reputation is easier, but getting something into print via a large publishing house can still be akin to scaling the Eiger upside-down in freezing fog.
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?
Nick: I’ve never been. I’m expecting verdant landscapes and I’m hoping for some nice pubs.
downthetubes: Which one comic creator would you most like to meet, and why?
Nick: Ever? Herge, creator of Tintin, maybe Charles Schulz. I almost met Moebius once in Angouleme – I was about to be introduced to him and he was rushed off elsewhere and sadly he died before I ever got another chance. Living? Probably Frederik Peeters.
downthetubes: How do Festivals and other comics events help creators most, do you think?
Nick: Putting storytellers and comic creators in touch with their readership is always a nice thing. It can be daunting for cartoonists, meeting those who read their work, but rewarding too. It’s quite a solitary profession, so getting feedback and meeting those who happen to enjoy your stories and art can be lovely.
downthetubes: What one piece of advice do you offer people looking to work in the comics industry?
Nick: Persevere. Never give up.
downthetubes: What’s your favourite comic right now and where can people get it?
Nick: I really like the Studygroup 12 website (studygroupcomics.com), which is full of experimental, arty, wacko stuff. There’s always some thing new going up there that’s interesting and offbeat, weird and/or funny. It’s consistent in its tendency to find and give some limelight to the marginal. I love it.
Nick, thank you very much for your time and we look forward to seeing you at the Lakes.
• Nick will appear at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival for “Doctor Who: Fifty Years in Fifty Minutes” and “Love and Comics” – follow the links for more information and to buy tickets. The Main festival web site is at: www.comicartfestival.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.