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Home ¦ Features ¦ Richard Elson Interview Part 3

30th March 03

Interview by Chris Weston Click on pictures for larger versions


CW: I think it was the advent of your colouring which allowed your comic-strip talents to suddenly, and spectacularly, bloom. Were you aware of this improvement at the time, or was it just "business as usual"?

RE: Well, as I'd been computer colouring for a few years before I came back to 2000AD, I'd pretty much developed a working process that involved me doing a lot of correcting and re-drawing at the computer. Looking back, when I began to work with other colourists at 2000AD I couldn't do this any more and I think I lost a degree of confidence in my ability to finish a page to the required standard in pencil and ink.

DreddDrawing ability is the thing that interests me most about comic art. I have no interest whatsoever in fully painted comic art; it leaves me cold. Just like with the inking, the colouring of a page is really an extension of the drawing process, for me. It might not register to the viewer, but I draw a lot when I'm colouring, so it gives me a good deal more confidence in the finished results if I know that I'm in control of everything on show.

Having said that, Nigel Dobbyn and Chris Blythe have done some great colouring over my inks.

I love colouring other artists. It's a real thrill when I get a disk with some great b/w work on it. Especially yours, Chris.

CW: Aw, shucks! Since then, you've worked on two more original stories for 2000AD. You are probably too diplomatic to say it, so I will: your artwork was the best thing about them, by a long shot. Any frustrations over the material you've been given?

RE: Well, only in that there weren't nearly enough monsters to draw in them. Atavar is a strange one. It's a real slow burner. The first series was basically a prelude to Dan's main story. I suspect that it may start to shift gears rapidly as it evolves. This is a real big story. I've had a great time working on Atavar 2.

ScrapI thought Si Spurrier's 'The Scrap' was a really well written mini series. The basic premise of the strip (the contrast between both roboticised (?) and brutalised groups of humans in a confined environment) was, I thought, a powerful metaphorical tale. If it didn't work as well as it could have done, I accept total blame. I don't think I played up the contrasts between the two groups enough, visually. I think I tried for a subtlety that was really inappropriate. The authority figures should have been far more fascistic, Looking back. Sorry, Si.

Having worked in conjunction with Nigel Kitching for seven years on Sonic; I became used to having a very close working relationship with the writer to the point where I was involved in the story from day one, rather than presented with a finished product and asked to interpret it. I much prefer the co-plotting roll. It's something that I'd like to get into at 2000AD. I'm convinced it makes for more creative and ultimately more powerful stories when the writer and artist are working as a team from (virtually) the point of conception of the story.

CW: Would you like to have a go at some of 2000AD's stock characters, (Dante, Rogue or Alpha...?) or do you prefer to originate new concepts like "Atavar"?


RE: Well, Atavar is really Dan's baby; other than character designs I've had very little input into the series, so far. Johnny Alpha, definitely. I'd love to draw a Strontium Dog series, but the great Carlos Ezquerra has left a pretty high water mark on that one. For me comics are about iconic characters; I'm not a big fan of the 'blokes in suits' school of design.The more visually bizarre, the better; Nemesis (absolutely stunning character design) and the ABC Warriors always appealed to me. But, my all time
favourite is Kano from (my all time favourite series) Bad Company. Brett Ewins and Jim McCarthy have razor wire around him, though. I did put out the feelers to Alan Barnes, at the Megazine, about doing a Kano cover when they were reprinting Bad Co. Book 1, but it came to nothing. I may have to fight somebody to get a chance at Kano.

CW: And I'll pile in on your side, Richard; I'd love to see you draw Kano! What are your overall ambitions within the industry?

RE: Get my own characters (believe me, there are a lot of them) into print.

CW:Any plans to make that Trans-atlantic leap to comic super-stardom? I personally think you'd do the best "Fantastic Four" ever! I could see you on "Doctor Strange" too.

AtavarRE: Doc Strange would be great. Much as I loved the Lee/ Kirby FF's I am so in awe of that work that I think it's virtually futile to even try and follow it. Werewolf by Night or the Incredible Hulk would be the two books that I'd love to have a go at. Basically I want to draw monsters and weird stuff, but I also want to work on stories that have the depth to speak about the important things; you know, life, death and all that bollocks. I really do believe that comics are at their strongest when they use iconic characters to metaphorically represent elements of reality, rather than trying to directly imitate reality. Paradoxically, the more bizarre and removed from reality the character is, the more it is able to say things that feel real, to me. Moby Dick and Frankenstein's monster are great examples of this from literature. Although they engage the intellect, archetypal/ iconic characters also have the ability to communicate directly with the imagination. They resonate ancient and idle parts of the brain and make the aesthetic experience so much stronger. These are the types of comic characters I want to create/ work on.

CW: That about wraps it up, Richard. Anything you'd like to add? Maybe start a feud with another creator, (the surest way to guarantee yourself valuable publicity)?

RE: Fuck 'em all. They're a bunch of bastards and deviants :)

CW:Too true! Thanks for your time, Richard!

RE: No problem.

You can currently see Richard Elson's work on Atavar 2 in the latest 2000AD.

For more on Chris Weston, check out his site, his interview, or his work on The Filth, available in any local comic book shop.

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