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Home ¦ Features ¦ Steve Yeowell Interview Part 1

Steve Yeowell - A 2000 AD Review InterviewPART 1
3rd February 04

Steve Yeowell - Batman
Batman from Legends of the Dark Knight
Since his work on Zenith, Steve Yeowell has been a consistent fan favourite and one of the most unique artists to appear in 2000 AD. His work has an unmistakable feel to it that harkens back to classic comic book storytelling with its fluid linework. One of the few artists to easily carry off both colour and black & white artwork, he's recently come back to the comic in style with The Red Seas, co created with Ian Edginton.

We start with the usual question for artists...

What tools do you use on the job, and have you had any training?

For most freehand line work I use a dip pen (Gillot 404 nib) and a Windsor & Newton Series 7 No.3 sable brush. For filling in I use a largish Nylon brush - I can’t tell you the exact make and size because I've been using it so long most of the paint and markings have worn off the handle. The sable brush, by contrast, gets replaced every couple of months on average. I use Rotring pens of various sizes for any mechanical looking ruled lines and things like panel borders, occasionally using them for drawing freehand too. I've started using marker pens again for various bits and pieces - Faber Castell Pitt Artist's pens (recommended by Duncan Fegredo and Sean Phillips) which use Indian rather than a spirit based ink. I think I ought to stress at this point that it's important for aspiring artists to try out as many different tools as possible to find what they feel comfortable with, rather than stick to anyone else's list of favourites.

Steve Yeowell - Judge Dredd
Judge Dredd

Paper - For 2000AD I'm currently using Daler Rowney Heavyweight Cartridge Paper (hot press surface, 220gm weight). DC and Marvel supply their own board. DC can supply two types: a coarse surface which is slightly too coarse and a smooth surface which is slightly too smooth!

When I was painting covers I worked on either Oram And Robinson Watercolour board or the same company's Fine Pen Board. Both had a strippable surface so the image could be wrapped around a Laser separator drum. It's been so long since I've done any painting that I gave away what I had left of those boards to my Mum when she started her art evening classes a couple of years back, and I’m not sure if O & R exist any more so I've no idea what I'd work on now.

My art education background was in 3D design (silversmithing and jewellery) which I studied at Sheffield City Polytechnic. I kind of drifted into it at the time as I had no real idea what I wanted to do. While in Sheffield I started reading comics again for the first time in years, first Epic Illustrated, then 2000AD, then mainstream American titles, Warrior etc etc. As if by magic I started drawing again in my spare time for my own pleasure, something I'd completely stopped doing (when I was younger I'd drawn constantly). Seduced by the idea of working in a spare bedroom rather than going to the expense of setting up a metal working shop I decided comics would be a great way to make a living.

Steve Yeowell - Zenith
How did you get your first job in comics, and how did you start in 2000AD?

My first meeting with a proper comics pro was with Bryan Talbot at Media Scene in Sheffield. There also to meet him with portfolio under arm was Matt Brooker (D'Israeli). Bryan told us both about The Society Of Strip Illustration (now The Comic Creator's Guild) and suggested we join. At their regular meetings at The London Sketch Club you had the opportunity to rub shoulders with the then Great and Good of Comics Creatordom. By this time I'd moved back to my Parent's in Harlow, Wessex, had a temporary job at Harlow Technical College as a Workshop Technician and in my spare time was writing and drawing a science fiction strip (Hawker) for semi-pro (in other words no money) small press mag Totally Alien.

In the way that one thing leads to another, I took over from Mike Collins and Mark Farmer on Lieutenant Fl'ff in Swiftsure, worked on a strip for a dummy comic David Lloyd was putting together for IPC - the writer of which was one Grant Morrison, helped out John Higgins on a half page strip he was producing for music magazine The Street, filled in for Kev Hopgood on Zoids - again written by Morrison, and got offered the regular Zoids gig when Kev moved on to Action Force. Meanwhile Grant had been putting Zenith together with Brendan McCarthy for 2000AD. When Brendan decided he wasn't able to commit to the series I was second choice. Fortunately for me, Zoids weekly had been wrapped up and the proposed American monthly had come to nothing so I was filling in on other strips (Action Force, Thundercats) and was in a position to take it.
Steve Yeowell - Devlin Waugh
Devlin Waugh
Your work in 2000AD and elsewhere has been both extremely prolific and varied, taking in a large number of genres. What do you look for to interest you in a strip?

The work's been varied because I’ve been lucky enough to be asked to draw a lot of different things and I've only ever turned work down on the grounds that I couldn't meet the deadline. All I'm looking for in a strip now is a certain indefinable something that piques my interest. When I started out I only really wanted to draw the kind of fan favourite material that was appearing then, but with what I suppose you could call professional experience I’ve become far more interested in the craft of the thing and I’m happy working in any genre. That said I do enjoy costume dramas particularly, and I'd love to draw an, er, love comic.

Go to part 2

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