Sci-Fi Art Now Creator Interview: John Ridgway

John Ridgway.
Photo: Jeremy Briggs

Acclaimed comics artist John Ridgway, whose credits include work for Commando, Doctor Who Magazine, Warrior, Torchwood Magazine and Age of Heroes (which will be re-published in STRIP Magazine next year), was originally trained as an engineer and that strongly influences his approach to machines and such in science fiction.

“I like things to be practical and thought out,” he says. “I like working with CGI. I dislike cities and love the countyside. I love Austria – beautiful forests, great mountains, good food and clean air.”

Sci-Fi Art Now: What tools do you mainly use to create your art?

John Ridgway: Most of my work is black and white linework, or coloured linework. I draw on 2 or 3 ply Bristol card (I used to use Oram and Robinson Academy Line board, but that company went out of business).

The linework is scanned into the computer and coloured in Photoshop. To draw, I use HB leads – very sketchy at first just to get the idea down. Then I tighten up bits where accuracy is essential prior to inking those parts – so I’m pencilling and inking as a go along.

For inking I use Rotring ink with a dip pen with crow quil nibs (mapping pen nibs). For areas, or where a thicker line is required, I use a Pentel brush-pen. For large areas I use a cotton-bud.

Sci-Fi Art Now: Why?

John: Those are the tools I am comfortable with.

A sample Doctor Who page featuring
Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor

Sci-Fi Art Now: What inspired you to become an artist?

I always wanted to draw and create my own stories. It always seemed a natural development.

Sci-Fi Art Now: What was the most useful piece of advice you were given when you began learning your craft?

John: I didn’t have any advice.

Sci-Fi Art Now: Which artists most inspire you?

John: Hal Foster, Frank Hampson, Burne Hogarth, Frank Bellamy, Frank Frazetta, Sydney Jordan

Sci-Fi Art Now: What is the appeal to you of science fiction as an inspiration for some of your work?

John: The sheer variety, wonder and immensity of space – the exploration of what is possible. The list of exo-planets is constantly growing. It’s only a few decades ago people thought there were no other worlds out beyond our solar system.

Sci-Fi Art Now: Do you have a favourite piece of work or project you have worked on?

John: It is yet to be done.

No Place to Land by John Ridgway

Sci-Fi Art Now: In your career, have you had any bizarre experiences while creating your art?

John: No.

Proving Ground – a cover for
DC Thomson’s Commando.

Sci-Fi Art Now: What most frustrates you about being an artist?

John: Getting stuck in a rut drawing stuff that requires no imagination – often written by writers who have no idea how their scripts restrict what can be done with a page.

Sci-Fi Art Now: What keeps you going despite the hopefully occasional frustrations?

John: Deadlines.

Sci-Fi Art Now: What advice would you offer to anyone starting out as an artist?

John: Get another job to give you an income you can rely on. Then practice, practice, practice, until your work is good enough to sell. Then decide whether you want to work for America or Europe – and push. Never give up.

• John Ridgway is on Facebook and the downthetubes British Comics Forum. To get in touch, email him via

Categories: British Comics