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Home ¦ Features ¦ Nigel Kitching Interview Part 1

Nigel Kithing - A 2000 AD Review Interview
24 May 04

AHAB
An AHAB character sketch by Richard Elson
(View larger version)
Interview by Edward Berridge

Nigel Kitching first began working in the comics field, after leaving a steady job in advertising, with work for Harrier and Trident comic companies. He worked as both a writer and an artist, alongside the likes of Neil Gaiman and Mark Millar. He then found better paying work at London Editions producing strips based around a variety of licensed characters, before finding his niche writing (and occasionally drawing) for Sonic The Comic, alongside the likes of Lew Stringer, Richard Elson and Nigel Dobbyn. More recently he has produced work for Bulletproof comics, as well as the recent Terror Tale Krypt in 2000AD, followed shortly by A.H.A.B, both with Richard Elson.

2000AD Review caught up with Nigel, to ask him about a spiky blue hedgehog, Richard Elson, the lack of real bastards in comics and the sharp cat claws of Billy The Cat.

2000AD Review: To begin with, what would you say is a normal working day’s routine for you?

Nigel Kitching: Well, at around 7:40 I am awoken by my dear wife, just before she leaves for work, who seems to imagine that this is the perfect time to issue me with a stream of instructions for the day. By the time I reach full consciousness I have forgotten about 25% of what I have been told. Then it’s my turn to get the children up in time for them to catch the school bus. My son has got this down to a fine art – he can be up and out of the house in just under five minutes. In the meantime I check my emails. Then I walk the dog. Get back home and it’s time for a coffee – think about starting work.

Bug Eyed Monsters
Panel from Bug Eyed Monsters
Check my emails again. Think very seriously about starting work. Ring Richard Elson on some flimsy pretence and chat/argue for a while – sometimes quite a long while. Think very seriously indeed about doing some work but just in time discover some piles of paper that really need to be shifted about a bit. By now it’s getting on for dinnertime and I figure I’ve earned a break so I stop and watch a bit of TV while I eat. I now realise that I’ve pissed away the morning once again and I’d really, really better do some work now. At this point I my well get on and accomplish something. But then again I may find something else that really needs doing – those piles of paper won’t shift themselves. By mid-afternoon I’m getting quite cross with myself; if I’d got a good start this morning I’d have been well on the way to finishing the day’s work by now.

So after a break at tea-time I get back to work around maybe seven and, if I have a deadline, I may work until 2 in the morning – I try not to go past 2:30 as this does tend to make getting up the next day a little difficult. When I’m busy I’ve discovered I can do three late nights like this in a row before I start to feel it too badly. I try to work a sensible day, I really do, but it never quite seems to happen somehow. Of course there are times when you really have got to get on with the work otherwise you’re doomed and this does make a difference. But a lot of the time I hate myself for not organising my time more efficiently. Annoyingly I’ve never been a morning person but at night I feel really sharp. At 2 in the morning I feel like I could go on all night but know that would be foolish.

2ADR: What would you say led you to want to work in comics?

N K: Somebody gave me a pile of American comics when I was maybe four or five years old. These included two Kirby Fantastic Fours. Basically, I was immediately hooked. My parents spent the rest of my childhood trying to get me off the things. I think I knew that I wanted to work in comics even before I knew what a job was. And besides people like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby had the same status as movie stars to me, I never thought I could work for such a glamorous business. Well, that’s how it looked to me when I was a child.

2ADR: Who are your favourite comic book artists and writers, and which do you think had the greatest influence on you? I’d assume that the likes of Mick McMahon, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko were influential on the younger Kitching? Also, were you a fan of 2000 AD when you were younger?

Swiftsure
Swiftsure cover (coloured by Rob Sharp)
N K: Kirby and Ditko have always been at the top of my list. It’s still these two that have the real magic for me – I can still look at certain drawings by either and still be astonished by their genius. I don’t expect a younger person to share my passion for Kirby and Ditko; in fact I think I’d be disappointed if they did. I don’t think this is just nostalgia, I think that these two, in particular, has a special and rare talent. Later I was very taken by Mick McMahon’s work and on more than one occasion made a fool of myself trying the engage him in light-hearted conversation at comic conventions. He had quite an influence on my drawing, unfortunately that influence amounted to making my style less commercial. I fancy that I was well on the way to a nice slick superhero style before Mick got his claws into me. Years later he and I worked together on a humour strip for Sonic The Comic. How often do you get to work with your heroes? And why did you pluck these three names out to mention in your question? Are you the wisest of interviewers or did you discover them from some old interview of mine hoping that it would make you look clever?
[10% wisdom/90% attempt to look clever -EB]

Now, I actually bought the first issue of 2000AD. I’d seen the ads on TV and got very excited at the prospect of a new science fiction comic. Thing was when I bought it, it read like a typical British boys comic – or at least more like that than the sort of thing I was looking for. My curiosity was aroused by the picture of Judge Dredd, who was due to appear in the next issue but not enough to actually buy it, I’m afraid. It was months later when I came across it again and was intrigued by the cover which featured a picture of the Jolly Green Giant. It was at this point when I became hooked. I remember very fondly the first Robo-Hunter series. This story had a great effect on me and contrasted strongly with the rather serious and earnest American books I was reading at the time. Dredd too was great and I really got into this series when the Judge Cal stuff started. I managed to buy all the progs that I’d missed at quite a reasonable price.

Looney Tunes
Cover for Looney Tunes Annual
2ADR: Following on from the last question, I’m told that you actually discovered a Steve Ditko strip published in Tiny Toon Adventures #4, published by Marvel UK in April 1994. Is this true, and if so could you fill in a few more details for us?

N K: ‘Discovered’ might be a little grand – actually, I think his name was in the credits. It must have been, I think, as the drawing was virtually unrecognisable as being Ditko. If you know you can see it but it’s subtle. I have a feeling that this story never actually got published in the States now that I think about it. At the time I was trying to sell (with absolutely no success) a story to the Tiny Toons comic (this may be how I came to buy a copy in the first place) so I was in touch with the editor of the line. During one phone conversation I asked about this Ditko strip and she told me how it came to be commissioned. Apparently she returned from lunch one day and noticed somebody hanging around the office. Workmen of some description were due to do something that day so she assumed he was one of them. Later another editor brought the man in saying he was Steve Ditko and did she have any work she could put his way. So Ditko was given a story. When the pencils came in they were no good, I assume his characters were ‘off model’ a cardinal sin in the world of licensed comics. This editor was aware of Ditko’s fearsome reputation and was worried what the reaction might be when she asked him to correct the work. I now get to this point and really wish this story had a stronger finish but, as it turned out, Ditko took the criticism and redid the work “like a lamb”. Like I say the end to that anecdote needs a little work…

Go to part 2


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