Every year, in the countdown to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, we bring you a series of interviews with guests at the event. Over 70 are attending in 2018 in October (and that’s not including creators you’ll find in the Comics Clock Tower).
This Festival Focus for 2018 is John Ferguson is the creator and author of Scotland’s best selling independent graphic novel series Saltire.
The critically acclaimed series first emerged in 2014 and publisher Diamondsteel Comics has since received award nominations for Arts and Culture, Best British Comic and What’s On Book Of The Year among others.
The series centres around Scotland’s first comic book superhero while the dark and gritty world of the main character is a pseudo-history of the country and its mythology.
Set entirely in the landscape of Scotland during pivotal moments from the past the graphic novels are familiar to those who enjoy the legends of Scotland and modern superhero dynamics.
Selling out across Scotland and gaining international recognition, Saltire has received wide spread critical acclaim and is frequently compared to the icons of comic book superheroes.
John, what are you working on, comics-wise, right now, and when will it be published?
John Ferguson: The new Saltire graphic novel, Legend Eternal, which comes out at the end of September, launching at MCM Glasgow Comic Con which is always a lot of fun.
In terms of writing, i’m currently working on a couple of new series for next year with a gritty action book called Roamer looking pretty good at the moment.
Which comic project you’ve worked on are you most proud of and where can people see it or buy it?
John: I’ll always be very proud of the reaction to the Saltire books and how well received they’ve been in Scotland. You can buy them in all major book shops and comic book stores.
How do you plan your day as a creator? (Do you plan your day?)
John: Funnily enough, i’m a night person when it comes to ideas and creativity. Days are spent with meetings, emails and picking my kids up from school!
I used to try to open the laptop and regiment the number of pages written but I actually work better in a looser way with a pen and a pad, writing loads of notes with various hieroglyphs sprinkled in. I find it a great way to cut the wheat from the chaff once I try to structure and edit a narrative.
What’s the best thing about being a comics creator?
John: Definitely the scope it gives you as a writer. Working as part of a team is great but the diversity in style is the real appeal to me. You can be lyrical, poetic, clever, daft, funny or pretentious and they’re all applicable within the medium. I love that.
And the worst?
John: Not much. Maybe the lack of diversity in the industry. It’s changing a little but it’s still very much an industry of middle aged white men.
What most distracts you from getting your work done?
John: Funnily enough, reading comic books.
Do you think it’s easier or harder for young comic creators to get published today?
John: Definitely easier to self publish but harder to break into the top publishers, particularly with unique IP.
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?
John: I have! Beautiful part of the world. Very fond memories of holidaying in Kendal.
Which one comic creator would you most like to meet, and why?
John: I really enjoy Pat Mills company. A very engaging personality.
How do Festivals and other comics events help creators most, do you think?
John: I think it’s twofold. It gives you direct access to your audience for feedback and interaction while also allowing creators to engage and build relationships with their peers.
What one piece of advice do you offer people looking to work in the comics industry?
John: Make comic books with commercial appeal and use an editor (I know that’s two!).
What’s your favourite comic right now and where can people get it?
John: I love Saga, just a perfect science fiction epic, perfectly paced and a beautiful book.
John, thank you very much for your time and we look forward to seeing you in Kendal!
• The Lakes International Comic Art Festival will be back in Kendal 12th – 14th October 2018. Tickets for the Festival are on sale now from: www.comicartfestival.com
JOHN FERGUSON ONLINE
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.