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Home ¦ Features ¦ Siku Interview Part 1

Siku - A 2000 AD Review Interview
11th July 04

2000 AD - Siku interview
Siku's exclusive Dredd art for 2000AD Review
(click to enlarge)
Interview by James Mackay

2000AD has always had a reputation for innovation and bold gestures by its artists. One only needs to contrast Mike McMahon's enormous boots with Ian Gibson's cartoony style with Clint Langley's photoshop realism to see that this is a uniquely broad church. But of all the creators who have worked on 2000AD's pages over the years, few have the ability to split fan opinion right down the middle like Siku's lushly painted and heavily stylized interpretation of Judge Dredd. With that in mind, we thought it was high time 2000AD Review spoke to the man himself…

James Mackay: We'll start with the obvious question, which is how you got into comics in the first place, and have you always been a fan of the medium?

Siku: Well, yes, since I was three years old. I remember as a child, when I was coming home from nursery school, I used to ask my Dad for a comic every single day. We had a corner shop at that time, right at the end of our street, and as we turned round on the corner onto our street, "Daddy Daddy Daddy", I'd tell him, "Can you buy me a comic?" And he got me a comic book every single day. I guess it must have been a bit expensive, buying comics five days a week: I was collecting over 25 brand new comic books a month, which is a heck of a lot of money, and one day he finally he put his foot down.

I was always fascinated with this fantasy world. Much of the time growing up, I was actually caught up in my own fantasy world. To some extent it even affected my studies - while I was meant to be studying mathematics, I'd be drawing Spiderman or Superman. I was just perpetually caught up in this.

2000 AD - Siku interview
A cityscape
(click to enlarge)

I always knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to do anything that had something to do with the fantastic, whether it be film, TV or comic books, I knew that I wanted to draw fantastic things. Superheroes, sword and sorcery, science fiction, I knew that that was it. By the time I was eighteen, I went to college of art. I got to study every aspect of art: sculpture, textile design, ceramics. So I have some discipline in all these forms of art, but I specialised in graphics.

I got a job in advertising, got a mortgage, got a family, and forgot about my dreams for a while. I tell you, then I realised I was unhappy. [Laughs] Yeah, I realised I was unhappy and I said "I have got to stop this rot." Four years into my profession, I resigned and was jobless, and I began hunting for something in comics. Now, in that field, there's not too many opportunities around. You've got 2000AD and you've got, what, um, let me see, Viz. [Brief pause while interviewer and interviewee attempt to visualise a Siku Viz strip. Prolonged laughter.] What do you think I would choose?

2000 AD - Siku interview
So at that point you just started bombarding them?

Yes, I'd say I was bombarding them for several months with the help of my ex-wife. And I bombarded them hard as I was quite over-confident of my abilities as an artist at that time. However, one of the things I never quite comprehended was how different the discipline was on these tight schedules. You've got to work to those deadlines, and you need the flair to meet them but still maintain your standards. The mistake many artists make is that they think comic-book artists do illustration. It is not. It is sequential story-telling. It's a very, very, very different discipline. And I didn't understand that. Although I had the flair, the innate ability for comic-book storytelling, I had not developed discipline.

And so, I went round to 2000AD and I was boasting! I mean, usually they do not take unsolicited calls but due to my persistence they accepted to see me. I was so boastful! "I am so good, I am hot, I think I am -" well, you know… [Laughs] By that time Simon Bisley was kind of like bubbling under, he wasn't so massive as he turned out to be a year later. And I got in to 2000AD, and saw Alan McKenzie. He was very… how can I put it? Forthright. Honest, forthright and fair also. And when I showed him what I had he said it… was… RUBBISH!

I was shocked. Because no-one ever said my stuff was rubbish. I was always top of my class, always, from secondary school right through to college of art. I was shocked that someone could actually say that. I mean, it's not just that I was top of my class: I was top of classes several years ahead of me. So I was, like, "Rubbish? What do you mean, rubbish?" So he took me around the corner and he showed me some artwork, painted stuff, similar to my style.

Do you remember whose it was?

Sadly, I do not remember any more, unfortunately. But there are very few artists who actually paint, maybe only 5 or 6 of us, so there's only a handful of people it could have been. And when I saw it, I realised, "oh, that is the standard!" And he said, "Come back in 6 months' time."

2000 AD - Siku interview
Siku's movie work
(click to enlarge)

I went away, perfected my art, and in 6 months' time I came back. This time it was David Bishop who was the editor. He'd been the assistant editor before, and luckily he remembered my work. I showed him my stuff and he said "Very good. You have actually made a great improvement, a massive, massive improvement. Unfortunately, we work a year ahead of schedule, so we don't have anything for you right now. However, we will definitely call you." So I thought, "Hmm, well, all right, a positive response, but I'm not quite sure." I mean, when a guy says he will remember you, you never quite know whether he will remember you or not.

And then, while I was on my way home, before I even got home, they had called ahead and left a message that they had got a script! You just can't believe how happy I was. Punching the air, screaming, elated. Four years of, um, how can I put it, unachieved potential. I'd been working in advertising, I'd been unfulfilled. Four years of that, gone in a second. And at last I was there, I was doing what I'd always wanted to do since I was three. Real life had almost snuffed out that dream, like it's done for many, many thousands of people where, you know, the responsibilities of having a wife, children, mortgage, it just sweeps that dream aside. I'm so fortunate that I remembered it, though it took a near depression for me to realise that.

So that's a very long answer to your first question.

Well, it's a great answer! I think you're going to have 2000AD swamped with telephone calls from boastful artists, though! [Both laugh] So what was that first script that they sent you?

I don't remember, because I'm ashamed of that work! It was about first love, there was some kind of first love special or series, and I did a teenage love-type story. I can't believe now that I did that and someone actually gave me money for it! It's painful to actually look at it right now!

Especially with 2000AD's, what can you say, slightly dodgy record on romance…

Oh my gosh, yes!

Go to part 2

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