¦ Features ¦ Steve
Parkhouse Part 3
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.
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.
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
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.