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Home ¦ Features ¦ Simon Fraser Interview Part 1

Simon Fraser is best known for his work on Nikolai Dante, the Russian rogue, who's "too cool to kill". A co-creator of the series, together with writer Robbie Morrison, Fraser's easily recognisable style fits the series like a glove, with some of the most instantly recognisable characters to hit the magazine in years. Dante has become one of the the highpoints of the 2000AD's recent history, and looks set to remain one for a good while yet.

We caught up with Fraser to put a few questions to him about his background, drawing style and plans for the future.

What was your inspiration for getting into comics, and did you have any training?

My inspiration for getting into comics was...comics! I read a lot as a kid and it slowly dawned on me that some people out there made a living drawing this stuff....what a great job! Also Roger Kettle who is the writer of 'Beau Peep' and 'a Man Called Horace' is a family friend so he showed me it was possible.

What tools do you use on the job?

A number of automatic pencils, I have a large collection of them now and use the one that best suits my mood. Steel Pen nibs, dipped into Indian Ink, they may be old fashioned but nobody has come up with a more expressive and capable tool for drawing black and white lines. The best new ones are Japanese, but a number of antique nibs are very good, it can be tricky to find good ones as most modern nibs are nasty. A sable brush for filling in spaces, Windsor & Newton series 7 Sables are the best but they are often kept very badly in shops and the point is broken , so be careful when buying one that it still comes to a good point.

I'm using Photoshop 7 more and more to finish off my artwork. All colour is done with PS and sometimes I ink with it too, it depends on the result I'm looking for.

You first started working with 2000AD drawing Shimura in the Megazine. How did you get your first assignment?

I was working on another Fleetway publication 'Roy of the Rovers' which was actually a very difficult job for me to get as the Editor knew that I wasn't that interested in Football, so he was reluctant to hire me. From there I did a couple of full colour Dredd samples for Dave Bishop and he gave me the Shimura job.

In Nikolai Dante, there is an extreme level of detail in the futuristic Russian Architecture. What kind of research (if any) did you use to achieve this?

I got a couple of books on Imperial Russia, then I asked all my Russian friends to send me postcards when they went back to Moscow. After a while I'd drawn so many onion domes that I could pretty much make it all up in a kind of Russian style.

You've moved away from colouring your own work. Is there a particular reason for this?

I haven't coloured my own stuff much since episode 3 of Dante, there just wasn't time for me to draw and colour. Alison Kirkpatrick is an old friend and she stepped in and did a great job on all the early Dante then I got another friend, Gary Caldwell, to take over. I don't mind not colouring if I trust the person doing it and both Gary and Ally are very good.

I'll be doing more of my own colouring in the future as I am working on a book which will be in a kind of full painted style....which I'm writing too.

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Original content (c) 2002 Gavin Hanly (contact 2000AD Review).