¦ Features ¦ Steve
Yeowell Interview Part 2
Your work on
Zenith and latterly on the Red Seas is often taken as an example of how black
and white work still has a place in 2000AD, and indeed in comics in general. Do
you have a specific preference for colour over black & white - or does it
depend on the subject?
I have a deeply felt
love of cheaply produced comics, particularly those I read growing up in the seventies.
Although there were obviously things with higher production values around (TV
21, Countdown, Look And Learn), for some reason the comics I preferred were
those printed on newsprint and I would read anything: girl's titles, adventure
titles, anything. Although I occasionally bought American comics, I was much keener
on British weeklies because there'd be a new issue in the newsagents every weekend
when I got my pocket money. These I supplemented with countless IPC pocket war
monthlies which I mostly bought second hand from a stall on the local market.
So, most of the comics I read were black & white on cheap newsprint or indication
coloured in primary hues on cheap newsprint.
I'd sit and draw
on my own in Biro (usually on light blue or yellow paper I remember, rarely white).
Never reached for a coloured pencil or a felt tip or anything like that unless
prompted by a teacher or in a burst of enthusiasm when I'd been given some colours
for Christmas or something. The only extended bouts of painting I ever did were
on Airfix kits and the colours always had the advantage of being "right"
straight from the tin. In fact I still don’t like mixing colours and have
never got the hang of watering down tube colours to a comfortably usable consistency.
What I’m trying to say in a round about kind of way is that I don't actually
have a preference for black and white over colour (or vise versa), but, as I believe
Graham Greene is supposed to have said, your childhood is the pool of inspiration
from which you draw from the rest of your career. Or something like that.
Zenith has arguably
become one of the highest points in 2000AD's history, and is among many people's
favourite 2000AD series. You’ve become heavily associated with the character,
which arguably made your name in comics. As you've not worked on the character
regularly for many years, are you still happy with this association?
I’m happy with the
association with Zenith. And it’s nice that editors remember it fondly...
Do you ever
think you'll go back to Zenith, or another collaboration with Grant Morrison for
a longer run? Can you see Zenith as a crumbly rock star with his own reality TV
show in the future?
I'd like to think
I’ll collaborate with Grant again sometime. And well, John Lydon's on "I’m
a celebrity get me out of here", so...
There have been
a heap of rumours concerning alleged Zenith collections sitting in a warehouse
dues to copyright issues. Can you shed any light on this or is this just Internet
nonsense? And will we ever see a collection of Sebastian O?
There are indeed
copies of a new edition of Zenith Phase One sitting in a warehouse that are waiting
for legalities to be sorted out. A couple of dozen actually sneaked out into the
market place when Titan, under the impression that everything was about to be
resolved, sent some out for a signing. Funnily enough at Dreddcon I signed a copy
someone had bought on Ebay. They are at the moment genuine collector's items and
I myself have two that Titan sent me at the time (as I believe does Grant).
talking to DC about the Sebastian O reprint.
The Red Seas
has hit at a time when pirates have suddenly and unexpectedly become cool. What
do you see as the main appeal of Red Seas? Is Rebellion rush-releasing a collected
version of the first strip?
Actually, Red Seas
predates "Pirate Cool" by a considerable period as Ian pitched an earlier
version to Archie Goodwin at Epic years ago, that Phil Winslade was going to draw.
Anyway, perhaps it's not really for me to say where the main appeal of Red Sea
lies being one of the creative team. Hopefully it's because it's a classically
structured, well written adventure story in a setting people either aren't familiar
with or at least haven't seen for some time and so has that sense of the exotic.
That and the fact that history is the new Rock and Roll.
There are plans,
I believe, for a collected version of the first series to be released sometime
How much research
did you undertake for the Red Seas, and was this different from the research or
preparation you normally do for a new series?
There was much
more library, bookshop and internet trawling than normal. Researching a series
that has already appeared in 2000AD is pretty easy in that it’s just a case
of referring to back issues which the office can provide if you don’t have
them yourself. Ian and I talked over common likes (we're both big adventure movie
fans for example) and came up with list of source material, some of which I had
or could get and some of which he had and, in an absurd act of generosity, gave
to me. The first series was inspired by amongst other things: Tales Of Pirates
And Buccaneers by Howard Pyle; Treasure Island as illustrated by NC
Wyeth; The Sea Hawk; Marilyn Manson; Ray Harryhausen; Night Of The Living
Dead; Moby Dick; Time Bandits; Ron Embleton’s pirate illustrations
for Look And Learn and Angus MacBride’s pirate Illustrations for Osprey.
What can we
expect from Red Seas: Twilight of the Idols?
I’m going to skirt
around this question as by the time anyone reads this Twilight of The Idols will
be more than half way through. However I can tell you that the third series will
probably see our boys back in England and probably down on their luck again.
Ian and I have
come to realise just how many story possibilities the Eighteenth Century has to
offer, a lot of which we can shoehorn in to Red Seas in some way. Mistress Merril,
for example, is descended from a family of English emigres to The Virginias, half
of them rebels during the War Of Independence and the other half loyalists who
left for Canada after the war was over (as did a large percentage of the US population,
for you history buffs)