With the Kickstarter for The77 Issue Four now live and breaking crowdfunding records for the title, here’s another in our series of “Meet the Creator” interviews conducted by Morgan Spiceman with the writers and artists involved in British comics anthology. This time out, he chats with Robert Wells, artist on the strip “funSShun”, written by Paul Duncan.
Robert has been writing and drawing comics since the 1990s. His debut graphic novel, Back, Sack & Crack (& Brain), was shortlisted for the Myriad Editions First Graphic Novel Prize in 2014 and published by Robinson / Little, Brown in 2017. Since then, he has written and drawn Love Her Madly for Aces Weekly, Malty Heave (with Phil Elliott) and is currently drawing the series Department of the Peculiar, written by Rol Hirst.
Robert lives in Kent with his wife, Lesley, and two dogs.
What is The77 to you?
Robert Wells: The77 is a sci-fi anthology comic inspired by the glory days of 2000AD, Warrior and other British adventure comics. It’s named after the year 2000AD launched, although I don’t think I noticed it launch at the time (I was 8 in 1977) as I was too obsessed with Marvel Comics and Star Wars and don’t think I bought an issue until the early ’80s (I think I missed a lot of good stuff).
How did you get involved?
Robert: I think Ben Cullis approached Phil Elliott about working on a strip with Paul Duncan, as they had worked together before on Second City, but Phil didn’t have time and recommended me.
What is the story you are drawing about?
Robert: It’s a fast paced, violent story – inspired by stories by Moebius and Phillipe Druillet – about someone (or something?) trying to get to the top of a tower.
Who are the characters?
Robert: The main character is called funSShun, which is also the title of the story. He’s the someone or something mentioned above. We don’t know if he’s a man, a machine, or something else entirely yet.
What are your hopes for The77?
Robert: I’d like it to see it grow and become a genuine rival to 2000AD.
What else are you working on?
Robert: I’m currently Kickstarting the second issue of Malty Heave, with Phil Elliott, and as with Malty Heave #1, we’ve each written and drawn a 12-page strip. I’ve also just started working on a much longer funSShun story with Paul Duncan – a 64 page OGN – which I’m excited about.
How long have you been doing art?
Robert: I’ve been drawing on and off since I was a kid. I self-published my first comic in 1991 (when I was 22) but don’t feel like I really got going with it until I was in my early 40s, for some reason. Now, at 51, I’m drawing and enjoying drawing more than ever
Who are your favourite artists?
Robert: Jaime Hernandez (who is probably my favourite artist), Gilbert Hernandez, Bernie Wrightson, Richard Corben, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, Mike Mignola, Robert Crumb, George Perez, Frank Miller, Jim Aparo, Daniel Clowes, Charles Burns, Sean Phillips and the first artist I paid attention to and became a fan of was John Byrne, who was working on his classic X-Men run with Chris Claremont when I first got into comics.
What are your favourite comics?
Robert: Love and Rockets (my all-time favourite comic), Eightball, Neat Stuff, Yummy Fur, the first 100 or so issues of Cerebus, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing run (and Marvelman, V For Vendetta, From Hell, etc.), the Wein / Wrightson Swamp Thing run, EC Segar’s Popeye strips, the Claremont / Byrne X-Men run, Frank Miller’s Daredevil run (the Bendis run was good too), the Lee / Ditko Spider-Man run and the Lee / Kirby Fantastic Four run (particularly the first dozen or so issues of each), Hellboy, Conan, Lone Wolf & Cub (still haven’t read them all), and I love everything Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips do together.
What are your influences?
Robert: All of the things I mentioned above with some cinema, quite a lot of TV and a lot of music thrown in for good measure.
What characters would you love to draw?
Robert: I’ve never had any great ambitions to draw anyone else’s characters but I’ll say Conan, Daredevil and the Fantastic Four. I almost said Swamp Thing but remembered that I’m crap at drawing plants (which, being married to a botanist, is a bit embarrassing).
Who would you like to work with?
Robert: Right now, someone really rich and successful would be handy.
What advice would you give to upcoming artists?
Robert: Be prepared to work hard at it, draw as much as you can, and you should slowly get better. Also, buy a drawing tablet and Manga Studio / Clip Studio Paint (or an iPad Pro and Procreate, which a lot of people also use). You probably won’t regret it.
Robert, thanks very much for your time, and the very best of luck with all your projects.
The77 Issue Three features a stunning cover by Ade Hughes featuring Anat from ‘V’ | Available for priced £6.95 for 64 pages in oversized format.All editions and back issues, posters and other merchandise available from Get My Comics here
Contributors include Dave Bedford, Conan, Conor Boyle, Steve Bull, Joe and Jeremy Dunn, Phil Elliott, Sinclair Elliott, Anna Evert, Filippo, Bambos Georgiou, Morgan Gleave, Dave Heeley, Ade Hughes, Kek-W, Hal Laren, Mac, Leonardo Manco, Sarah Millman, Michael Powell, Jon Roydon, Andrew Sawyers, Neil Sims, Lew Stringer, David Thomas, Dan Whitehead, Brendon Wright
Variant 1 cover by Paul Williams; Variant 2 cover by Neil Sims
The77 is also available from these UK comic stores: Atomic Comics, Bath; Calamity Comics, Harrow & Hatfield Castle Bytham; the Community Village Store, Lincolnshire; Gobsmack Comics, Horsham; Heroes, Isle of Wight; Krackers, Taunton; Mega City Comics, Camden, London; Millennium Comics, Northwich; Not Just A Comic Shop,