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Home ¦ Features ¦ Steve Parkhouse Part 3

Steve Parkhouse - A 2000 AD Review Interview

21st November 04

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What was it like working for Warrior from the beginning? Did anyone initially have a clue how influential a comic this would become?

It was tougher than anything else I've done, because there was no editorial restriction - no real guidelines. I realised how much I'd become trammelled by editorial restraint. I really wanted to throw caution to the winds and do something personalised and weird. I can't help thinking that everything was eclipsed by Marvelman and V for Vendetta - and rightly so. It's no secret that I was blown away by the power of Alan Moore's writing. It was a revelation to me at the time. I think we all knew after Issue #1 that something special was in the pipeline. It was a first in so many respects - something that we had only dreamed of. We were all too young to really appreciate it.

The Spiral Path
For Warrior you wrote and drew 'The Spiral Path' (later reprinted by Eclipse), a story of magic and shamanism. How did you conceive the tale, and did you enjoy being both writer and artist?

Enjoy? No. I can truthfully say it was a painful, lonely and psychologically damaging experience. It reflected my state of mind at the time. It was a completely improvised storyline. No fucking script. I just drew the frames as they occurred to me. I hoped that some spirit would show through the agony - that I would be rescued by my guardians. It was a long, dark night of the soul that lasted over a year. I came out of that cave a totally changed person. So I suppose it was some kind of shamanistic experience in itself. I make no apologies for appearing pretentious. The principle death sorcerer, Artuk, Lord of the Slain, had appeared to me in a dream and nearly claimed my life. I tried to exorcise him by capturing him on paper - but I didn't really get a handle on it. Part of me still shudders at the memory of The Spiral Path. I've never worked that way again.

You've worked with some of the top writers in the field, including Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. How does the collaborative process change between writers?

Not so very much. There's a lot of mutual respect between collaborators who've been around the block a few times. We recognise each other's strengths. There's very little ego. Alan was a dream to work with. A total professional and a deeply committed and interesting human being. I was determined to learn as much as I could from him, and I also had a lot of laughs. Alan is not just a comics writer. He does a whole range of stuff, which is probably common knowledge. Grant is the same, but different. He's an awesomely gifted writer and a unique individual. These guys have a take on life that nobody else has. They are storytellers in the ancient mode.
Repositories of tribal wisdom. We ignore these people at our peril. They challenge us constantly to move off-centre and stop being hide-bound by cultural conventions. The fact that they work in a dumb medium like comics (I say that with the greatest affection) is a cosmic joke in itself.

2000 AD - Steve Parkhouse interview
The Bojeffries Saga by Alan Moore and Steve Parkhouse

Was the work of Charles Adams an influence on the creation of 'The Bojeffries Saga'? Alan Moore has cited it as his most autobiographical strip was there an element of your own experiences growing up in South London in the strip too?

No, I wasn't influenced by Charles Addams. I wanted people to recognise the places where the Bojeffries lived. It was a time warp as well as a dimensional nightmare for the rentman. I wanted it to be uniquely British and reflect life as I saw it. Alan made it very easy by delivering scripts of stunning innovation. We both knew exactly what was needed and almost by unspoken agreement we didn't interfere with each others' processes. I actually grew up in North London - but part of my childhood was spent in South London with my mother's family. I found South London much more poignant and evocative than North London.

Would you like to return to the Bojeffries at some point in the future?

It could only be done with Alan's blessing - and I don't think he would agree to it. Even though we never realised its full potential, it seems to be rooted in the past. I don't think either of us need to dig it up again.

You just have to let some things lie.

You also provided a number of one-off strips for Warrior, most notably 'Home Is the Sailor' (#17). How did you come to produce these?

I read a book of journalism, mostly featuring reports from frontline Vietnam. I got angry about war and all its absurdity. John Ridgway had learnt his trade doing war comics so I wrote an angry story about war. It seemed a nice irony. John said the story made him very sad, which pleased me because a reaction is always pleasing. The Shroud, the Spire and the Stars was written using a completely random technique. I asked John to send me an arbitrary drawing - and I would write a story about it. He sent me what was ostensibly the splash page of the story: a cathedral in space. The story just happened around that single idea. It's a technique that can very effective.

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