¦ Features ¦ Boo Cook
Interview Part 1
Interview by James
Starting with Future Shocks and moving
straight to the ABC Warriors, Boo Cook has consistently been one of the funkiest
creatives in the 2000AD stable. 2000AD Review met up with the artist of “Asylum”
and “Dead Men Walking” at Dreddcon V to discuss technique, influences,
and why his art always seems to outclass the script.
What follows involves porcelain dogs, yellow Spandex, “method
drawing” and pooing librarians. You have been warned…
Boo Cook, have you always been a 2000AD fan?
Errrrrmmm, since I’ve been able to read it… yessss… fresh from
the womb – the pages were a bit clumsy, but, ah… no, I think age 10
was when I arrived to it… Yeah. 1982 – Christmas annual – changed
So what was
in that one you liked?
Hm, what was in
that? Erm, nice Tharg strips, a Steve Kyte Strontium Dog that I particularly liked…
Blackhawk, lot of blood and violent stuff… being 10 years old… what
do you need?
Did you read
other comics as well?
Yeah, I started
off with Toby. Toby was a comic about a little anthropomorphic dog with dungarees,
and, yeah, I used to get that when I was four. My grandpa used to send me comics
amongst the other stuff he’d be sending me… bit of Beano action, bit
of Dandy… went down my mate’s when I was 10 and he introduced me to
2000AD… Judge Dredd… Judge Child Quest… so no turning back,
What are your
favourite comics now?
The single best
ever run of any comic, ever, that everyone should own, if they’re any kind
of valid human being, is Jack Kirby’s 2001 Tales. It only ever had a run
of about 10 issues, and by the end The Man had obviously gone “Erm, Jack.
You’ve definitely taken a bit too much of whatever you’ve been taking
and we need to turn this into a superhero strip right now.” And so he introduced
Machine Man at the end. But in the first load he basically takes the Monolith
from 2001 and puts it through the Kirby machine. It’s the best. Look no
But apart from
that, The Invisibles, all good, Alan Moore, all good, Grant Morrison, usually
all good…if you can work out what the plot is…
Just remember the
Kirby thing. 2001 Tales. Everybody should get it. Right now.
What were you
doing before you became an art droid?
I was built purely
for 2000AD! I'm only 4 years old.... Truth be told I haven't done a hell of a
lot of work outside AD. Erm… some beautiful jobs… I think the most
memorable of which was spray-painting ceramic model dogs in Fraser Creations up
in Scotland there (your gran’s got one, I guarantee). And I even sculpted
a few… I did a nice little Rottweiler pup. I’ve got one sitting on
my desk at home, next to my Akira bike, and they actually go quite nicely together.
It wasn’t really what I was cut out for, though… twee dogs…
I just always liked drawing space stuff. Pretty much when I was two I was drawing
Batman and stuff. So it’s always been in there. But I’d never really
sort of considered it as a career option until I’d had so many shitty jobs
that I wasn’t basically prepared to settle for anything less.
Have you had
any formal training?
Yeah, I went to
college, and got trained that Comics Were Evil. But did pick up a lot of handy
painting tips off - There were one or two tutors that, regardless of the fact
that I wanted to do comics, they wanted to make me a better artist, which is why
you go to college and so, yeah, they were good… got some good tips…
I have these, like, Ben Kenobi voices in my head whilst I’m working away
from various art teachers and friends who are artists…it all sort of swirls
around up there… It all enthused me so much that I didn't paint a thing
for about 4 years after - choosing instead to plow my efforts into being a cheesy
rockstar , drumming for Pssyche/The Infinite Mantra Band and Hoffman (now “The
Broken Family Band”).....
How did you
first come to 2000AD?
My dear old grampa
(no longer with us) had been sending me 2000AD every week since I was tiny, and
I decided that I was gonna get into AD for him - cheesy I know, but he was a nice
old dude... I started submitting stuff… I mean, I got a few of the old trial
scripts, I think a Sinister/Dexter – which I did a particularly bad job
of! Sent it in and, erm… yeah. David Bishop said I wasn’t right for
2000AD. And we all know what the outcome of that was: I did a strip with him!
It was Diggle
that gave me my break. In fact, I was dealing with Diggle when Bishop was Tharg,
and it was Andy who was really keen on my stuff. But then it came to the Bishop
Crunch and there followed several years of weeping and forgetting about the whole
thing. But then I tried again and got lucky when Diggle gave me my break.
Was your style
then very much as it is now?
Boo's first ABC Warriors work
Not really. Pretty
far removed in fact. I think the stuff I’m doing now is more like the painterish
stuff I was doing at college. I thought that to be in comics you had to do things
the way that comics artists do them, which is, you know… Black line! Nice
computer airbrushy shading... But then I think that the Brendan McCarthy experimental
thing rubbed off – the idea that you should never do two strips in the same
style. It’s just totally refreshing every time you see him. So I thought,
why not give it a go… a total overhaul… see what happens.
Is that something
you’re still doing now? You’re current stuff is quite different from
your earlier work…
what I’m attempting to do!
I said to Matt
Smith at the start of the project “I’ve been tinkering with a new
style for, ooh, a couple of days. Should I start Asylum II in this new style?”
And he said yes, which he always does, because he gives you a lot of freedom in
So what do you
think you’ve left behind, what are the bad habits?
But things really do evolve, you know, it’s sort of Darwinian drawing: the
good marks survive, and anything that doesn’t work gets left behind. And
nine episodes down the line, hey, you’ve got a completely different style
of art! Which hopefully sort of vaguely gels together.
Well, a few of me mates did say that my figure drawing was a bit clunky. It’s
difficult to criticise yourself when you’re the one doing it. You get someone
else’s art and you can see straight away what’s wrong with it, cos
you didn’t do it, but it’s different when it comes to your own stuff.
Looking back on
my earliest work, some of it’s pretty horrendous. Some of the figures are
awfully drawn. That’s not to say that they’re better now, but I have
just made them a bit thinner and that seems to have worked. Smaller hands.
Future Shock artwork has been compared with Philip Bond’s style. Is that
an influence you’re aware of?
Not really. Not
a sort of direct influence. Obviously, I was aware of his stuff from Deadline
and I am a big fan, so I guessed maybe some of that just rubbed off.