¦ Features ¦ Richard
Elson Interview Part 2
on pictures for larger versions
CW: I believe
you worked on "Sonic the Comic" with Mike McMahon and Nigel Dobbyn.
indeed. However, I've detected an innate snobbery in the industry
towards artists who do "kiddies' comics". Have you ever been on the
It's not just kiddie comics. Organised fandom in this country is really only interested
in American comics (with the possible, grudging, exception of 2000AD). We always
had the best attended signings at the UK conventions for Sonic, but were still
shoved in a corner on the last two hours of the final Sunday. I remember the whole
Sonic crew doing a signing on the landing at UKCAC one year where our tables were
literally pinned against the wall by hundreds of kids; meanwhile further down
the landing the likes of Joe Kubert and Alan Davis were signing for orderly queues
of twenty, or so, fans. The organisers always seemed to be slightly embarrassed
by this rather than encouraged. As if they thought the kids were ruining their
'serious' comic convention. I don't think that much has changed.
The truth of the
matter is that the best selling comics in Britain, by a bloody long way, are Viz,
The Beano and The Dandy; followed by a bunch of other 'kiddie' comics; followed
by 2000AD and, some way back, all of the American imports. And yet at any British
convention the indigenous titles are, at best, marginalised or, at worst, ignored.
thought it was hilarious last year when The Beano printed an Eagle Awards voting
form and subsequently cleaned up at the awards ceremony. Some of the embittered
and frustrated comments that I heard reported from 'serious' attendees and creators
made the admission price worthwhile.
was your experience of working on "Sonic"?
Not that I have any particular fondness for the character; but, the friends I
made, the quality of writers and artists that I worked with (and alongside ),
the atmosphere of creativity, the editorial latitude to create and tell stories
of an enduring nature within the constraints of the format; all of these things
contributed to making it a wonderful and inspiring time. Due to the limited number
of creators and the editorial consistency, there was a real team spirit on Sonic
that lead to the production of some terrific comics.
The next time I saw your work in 2000ad was on the Dan Abnett strip "Roadkill."
I presume Andy Diggle brought you over from "Sonic", right?
Andy took over as editor of Sonic for the last six months, or so, before it went
all reprint. Like most British comics people, Andy had little interest in the
title when he arrived. But, I think, under his editorship the writers Lew Stringer,
Nigel Kitching and I, produced some of our best work on the title in our seven
I was getting
four colour pages a week in to Andy on Sonic, so he knew that I could hit a Deadline.
I assume that's why he gave me a call when they needed a quick turn around for
You then had a good stint on "Judge Dredd" in the Megazine. Drawing
a Dredd strip always filled me with... er... dread, mainly because the character
comes with so much visual baggage and partly because I know I can't do him better
than past artists like Bolland, McMahon, Cliff Robinson, Ian Gibson and Cam Kennedy.
Were you similarly daunted? (For the record, I think you did a great job!)
McCarthy's Dredd stuff is still my all time favourite 2000AD art. Judge Dredd
16, the (now deleted) Titan collection of much of Brendan's Dredd work, is pretty
much my comics bible. I totally understand the intimidation that you feel regarding
the weight of history that the character carries. I couldn't hope to compete with
the work of McMahon et al. Luckily the time constraints on the stories I did meant
that I didn't have the luxury to dwell on it. It was a real sink, or swim, job.
For me, it is
a great thrill and an honour to be asked to draw a Judge Dredd strip. Having said
that, other than the one-off Alan Grant strip (Leaves of Grass) I don't think
that I've managed to do myself justice (arf, arf) on the future lawman, to date.
I'd love to have another go at Dredd. I know that I've got a good Dredd strip
in me, itching to burst out: like a hi-ex from the back of a perp's skull. Dredd
is such a great comics character. It amazes me that John Wagner is still able
to write such brilliant satire into these tales; he still has me laughing out
loud on many an occasion.
Was "Dredd" the first time you used a computer to colour your own work?
What were your
initial reactions to using what is, in historical terms, a new medium?
used the computer about five years ago, on Sonic. The day I got a scanner was
the day I started computer colouring my regular strip. I thought it would save
me a lot of time, but after the first couple of rushed attempts, I'm not sure
that that has turned out to be the case. The learning process was, and still is,
great. I do almost all of my colouring in Photoshop and I still learn something
new every time I colour a page. It's a terrific tool and I would be lost if I
had to return to hand colouring.