The77 – The Summer Special, available now, features a great range of strips from a wide range of comic creators, and we’re thrilled to present, a series of tie-in “Meet the Creator” interviews conducted by Morgan Spiceman with the writers and artists involved in the project.
This time out, it’s a quick chat with 24-year-old comic creator Joe Dunn, the writer for “Undertow”, who’s currently at University, studying writing for Games Development; and his 54-year-old father, Jeremy Dunn, who drew the strip, a learning design studio manager at the RNLI.
What is The77 to you?
Joe Dunn: The77 is an awesome anthology of comic strips from a whole range of different creators, with a massive array of stories and styles for readers to enjoy.
Jeremy Dunn: I guess it also pays homage to the comics of my youth – Action, 2000AD, Look-In, Monster Fun and all the rest.
How did you get involved?
Jeremy: I’d been a member of the 1977 to 2000AD Facebook group for a while and contributed artwork for fun. Following the sad demise of Carlos Ezquerra, I contributed an portrait image in homage which went down well and started the conversations with Ben Cullis.
Joe: My dad, the artist for “Undertow”, was actually contacted about contributing to it and asked me if I could write a script for him to use – and it all kind of developed from there.
What is your story about?
Joe: “Undertow” is about a world not too far in the future, flooded decades earlier by a mysterious event that raised the sea levels around the world. The story follows a middle aged Jack of all trades, who does odd jobs for people, for the right price. By the time we join him, he’s already started making something of a name for himself, and a fair few people have heard of him.
Who are the characters?
Joe: For now, the only characters are our Jack of all Trades and his client, but keep an eye out for more characters in the future!
Where did you get the idea for the story?
Joe: I actually had the idea for the the setting while talking to my brother about global warming, and once I’d developed how the world came to be the way it is, it was just a case of working out what kind of people would inhabit a world like this.
What are your hopes for The77?
Joe: I’d love to see The77 go on for a long time and for more and more creators to be able to contribute. It’s a very cool project and I love seeing what people come up with for it!
Jeremy: It would be great to see the title develop and see increased regularity. The response has been phenomenal. Like 2000AD now, and Deadline in the past, it would be wonderful to have an ongoing showcase for the amazing break-through new talent.
How long have you been writing and drawing?
Jeremy: I guess I’ve been drawing since being able to hold a pencil. I was brought up on Spider-Man Comics Weekly and would draw him on anything I could find, but mostly the old fashioned computer paper with perforations down the side that my Dad brought back from work. I attended Cumbria College of Art and Design back in the 1980’s, with a view to illustration and comics in particular. However on leaving with a qualification in graphic design, I headed in that direction.
I’d drifted away from art to an extent until 2014, when I started daily drawing which got me back in the groove and boosted my confidence to want to produce comics again.
Joe: I’ve been writing personal projects here and there for most of my life really and trying to develop my style, but this will be my first published work!
Who are your favourite writers and artists?
Joe: I love Brian Michael Bendis and Hiromu Arakawa, their work has been influential in helping me discover what I enjoy writing and the stories I want to tell. I think Bendis’s work on Ultimate Spider-Man was fantastic and shaped my childhood, and Arakawa wrote my favourite story of all time, Fullmetal Alchemist.
Jeremy: So many to choose from, the obvious ones being McMahon, Bolland, Gibson, Ron Smith… 2000AD was a game changer for me, really the first comic where I noticed the artist’s styles and wanted to know their names and more about them.
If pushed, I’d probably go for Mick, for the amazing evolution of his styles throughout the years. From across the water Neal Adams, Mike Mignola, Adam Hughes.
What are your favourite comics?
Joe: The previously mentioned Fullmetal Alchemist, I think the writing, the characters, the world, they’re all just incredibly well done and fascinating to read.
I also enjoy classic superhero comics like Spider-Man and The Flash. Those have also been quite influential in my life and continue to be excellent character stories.
Jeremy: I have a very eclectic collection, and currently I’m reading Barking by Lucy Sullivan, and Rob Davis’ Motherless Oven trilogy. I grew up on Spider-Man Comics Weekly, and 2000AD, and still have most of them.
What or who are your influences?
Joe: So the previously mentioned writers and comics have influenced my writing style and the stories I like to tell, but for “Undertow” specifically, I’ve been influenced quite a lot by Mad Max and other similar post apocalyptic tales, where the world is ruined and life goes on.
Jeremy: 2000AD was probably the thing that influenced me most, the mix of stories and the diversity of art styles. Can you imagine Marvel swapping between styles like Bolland and McMahon’s on a weekly basis in an ongoing story like the Cursed Earth storyline?
I think the changes that came in the 1980s with superhero storytelling by the likes of Alan Moore, Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz rekindled my interest in how comics should impart their stories.
What characters would you love to write or draw?
Joe: I would absolutely love to write a Spider-Man story. I adore writing characters who hide their emotional vulnerability with humour but who have so much heart and desire to do good that they’ll push through any hardship to do so. Spider-Man has been so important to me for such a long time while also fitting that profile, it would be a dream come true honestly!
Jeremy: Like so many others, Dredd or Batman (or Dredd vs Batman) would be the ultimate goal, but just happy to be drawing comics.
Who would you like to work with ?
Joe: This industry is filled with so many amazing artists and writers and creatives in general that it’s hard to name just a few! I think as long as we can work together and do each other’s medium justice, then I’d happily work with anyone.
Jeremy: I’d love to be able to do justice to a Pat Mills or Alan Moore script.
What advice would you have for upcoming writers and artists?
Joe: Honestly, I feel like I’m still upcoming too, so I’ll just say what seems to have worked for me, and that’s write as much as you can!! It doesn’t have to be something that gets published or even something you want to put out into the world, writing can be very personal if you want it to be.
Just keep writing, write down any ideas you have so that even if you’re not sure what to do with it yet, you can come back when inspiration strikes. The more you write, the more you develop your own unique style and confidence in your writing. Then, when an opportunity arrives, clutch it with both hands!
Jeremy: Like Joe, I’m not sure I feel qualified to give advice. I wrote to Alan Davis many years ago, and his advice to me still holds true, I think. Draw everything, not just superheroes and robots. Spend time on backgrounds and everyday things like cars, telephones and computers.
Funnily enough, I spent most of the last 40-odd years thinking I should be able to draw everything from my head. My biggest revelation was to find that it’s not against the rules to use reference images, and the internet has made the process very much easier than the days of trips to the library.
Joe, Jeremy, thanks very much for your time and the very best of luck in all your projects!
• The77 – The Summer Special is available to order here from GetMyComics
• Follow the Kickstarter for The77 #3, which ends 6th September 2020, by using this link to receive a notification. #4 will be released mid October
Categories: British Comics, Comic Creator Interviews, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Features