¦ Features ¦ D'israeli
Interview Part 1
Matt Brooker) has recently been wowing 2000AD readers withthe double-whammy of
Leviathan and Xtnct. Rarely has an artist received such a complete positive reaction
from the notroriously hard-to-please 2000AD readership. Now with a body of work
large enough to be considered a British comic veteran, we caught up with Matt
to find more about Leviathan, Dredd and the hidden secrets of fishpaste...
To begin with,
what made you want to work in comics?
Well, from my teens
I've had a burning ambition to get through life without ever having a proper job.
The reason I picked comics as an alternative to gainful employment is as follows:
My mum had painful
childhood experiences of standing on the sidelines of freezing soccer pitches,
supporting her sporty younger brother, so when I came along, she did all she could
to bend me to the path of bookishness; as part of this, she bought and read me
comics from a very early age.
Both my mum and
dad had been into SF from back in the Fifties. By the early Seventies when I was
a nipper, there was stuff like Dr.Who and Star Trek and all the Gerry Anderson
stuff on TV, and comics like TV21 and Countdown which featured all that stuff,
so they bought me those. Funnily enough, I didn't get into 2000AD right from the
start, but I did get Starlord a bit later, and kept collecting 2000AD after the
two merged in 1979.
I always drew a
lot, but with more enthusiasm than skill. I must have been ten when I decided,
in an uncharacteristic fit of Nietzchian determinism, to devote the six-week summer
holidays of 1977 to teaching myself to draw. So I just sat down with a pencil
and paper and a load of Marvel U.K. comics and started copying every Neal Adams
panel I could find. I went at it pretty hard - I remember having to take a couple
of days off because the middle finger on my right hand had gone numb from my gripping
the pencil too hard. I still have a huge callus (what the Aussies call a "Liar's
Lump") on that finger to this day.
By the time September
came around, I could draw properly (after a fashion) but more importantly, I'd
got the idea of myself as an artist. And that was where the rot set in...
What was your
first professional work in comics, and what was your first work with 2000AD?
My first professional
job was as fill-in artist for Carlos Ezquerra on The Third World War for Crisis,
Fleetway's attempt to do an "adult" companion comic to 2000AD. It was
written by Pat Mills, whose work I'd really loved on Nemesis, Slaine and Marshall
Law, so I really felt I was starting at the top, but because of inexperience and
deadline pressures I did a lousy job, and they sacked me after one episode. Shortly
after that I picked up a job inking Mark Buckingham on Hellblazer, but I lost
that because Rick Veitch kicked Alfredo Alcala off Swamp Thing. Alfredo was on
retainer at DC, which meant they had to pay him whether they had work for him
or not - unfortunately, the work they gave him was mine.
So within three
months I'd been hired and fired by the two biggest clients I'd ever hoped to work
for in comics. It did me good though. Toughened me up, gave me a bit of attitude.
I f*cked off to Deadline magazine and never looked back.
a mere twelve years after the Hellblazer thing, Alfredo Alcala died. Remember
that. It doesn't do to mess with me.)
As far as 2000AD
goes, my first job was colouring Steve Yeowell on a Sinister Dexter Christmas
story in 1998. I did two year's colouring for them, and then my first drawing
job was a Future Shock, The Petition, which I also wrote (Prog 1207, 23-29 August
an average working day, and what tools to you use on the job?
When I'm working,
I usually get up early - sometime between six and seven am, and go straight to
work. I'll go through till about eight-thirty, then stop and have some breakfast.
I then work from ten/ten-thirty till one, and have a long lunch hour (sometimes
till four pm). I'll watch a movie or time-shifted TV program on video and have
a nap. I'll then do another work stint till about seven, have some dinner, then,
if necessary, work again until about ten. Unless I'm on the final day of a deadline
I try not to work any later.
I don't keep weekends
free of work, though Sundays I usually don't start till 10am.
I'm a big one for
night classes, so last year I was doing a photography 'A' level, Beginner's German,
plus Karate lessons for physical exercise. I used to do ballroom dancing to keep
fit, but I find I pick up fewer injuries with the Karate.
I live in Sheffield
and my girlfriend lives in Nottingham, so every other week I'll go over to hers
for the weekend. She's an university lecturer with a very heavy workload, so often
I'll set up my laptop in her office and we'll work side by-side, she on Aesconius'
commentaries on Cicero and me on comics about talking dinosaurs with guns; it's
nice being in proximity and we can take breaks together.
That's under normal
conditions; for the past few months she and I have been sharing a flat in Vienna
(where she's come on research leave), which means my day is about the same pattern
as at home, but it's drifted two hours later so I start at eight-thirty and finish
between midnight and one am. I think it has something to do with Austrian evening
television being crap (one program featured blindfolded children listening to
Lego bricks - I kid you not!)
Tools of the trade:
I do everything
on computer these days, a Mac G4 laptop as I need my kit to be portable. I draw
on a Wacom Intuos A5 graphics tablet with the standard stylus (for those who've
never seen a graphics tablet, it's like small drawing board with a lead that plugs
into your computer. You write or draw on it with the stylus provided, and the
marks you make appear on screen. With a bit of practice, you can use one to draw
directly on computer in very much the same way as with pen and paper). 90% of
what I do is done in two programs, Illustrator 10 and Photoshop 7.
Illustrator I use
for drawing and inking; black & white comics such as Leviathan and XTNCT are
done entirely in Illustrator (even down to the lettering in the case of XTNCT).
I find it so useful because everything you draw, every line or patch of grey or
block of lettering is a separate object which remains "live" and editable
- so, for example, I can change not only the colour of my outlines with one click
after I've drawn them, but also the thickness of the line, and even the quality
of the line - changing "brush" lines into charcoal effect, for example.
I can enlarge or reduce a drawing and decide whether or not I want the thickness
of the outlines to change at the same time.
Photoshop I tend
to use for post-processing (converting Illustrator files to a format and resolution
suitable for print) and for colouring, since it behaves more like paint (though
at the moment I'm experimenting with colouring in Illustrator too!). I'm also
saving up for Painter 8, which looks like being the first version of that program
that's really useful for print work.
I deliver work
either on CD or direct by FTP - Macintosh provide a handy facility called "iDisk"
that helps you make files available for download via web browser from a password-protected