Simon Fraser of 2000AD and Nikolai Dante fame is currently working on Dark Horse’s Grindhouse: Doors Open At Midnight and his creator-owned webcomic Lilly Mackenzie. Here he takes on the Mighty Q&A — brought to you by contributor Hannah Means-Shannon — with all his Scottish tenacity (cue bagpipe music)!
What was your first comic purchase?
Probably a Scottish action comic called “Bullet” which starred a Caucasian Shaft-style character who fought crime while wearing a big Fireball medallion. It was the 70s, I was 7 years old, it was awesome (it probably wasn’t).
What’s your best childhood comics memory or overall?
When 2000AD came out in 1977 it threw a Molotov cocktail into my developing imagination. I’ve been a science-fiction fan ever since and the largest part of my career to date has been working for 2000AD, trying to put some of that excitement back into other people’s heads.
What was the first attempt you made to write or draw a comic?
I drew a lot of monster comics as a kid. Short and fairly forgettable stuff. The really ambitious comic I tried to write and draw was using the Marvel character Spider-Woman. Carmine Infantino’s art really made me want to draw and to learn to draw women better, which frankly, in my early teens, might as well have been another species entirely from me.
What was your first published work in comics?
A small press comics anthology called “The Heaving Cube” that I published while at Art School. It was mostly horror stuff. Some Burroughsian sci-fi dystopianism and a touch of grotesque social satire. It’s not too good, but I was 19 so that’s to be expected.
What was a particularly difficult career decision that you’ve faced?
I was commissioned to draw a book for a French publisher, a sci-fi yarn about a plucky space adventurer. I drew about 12 pages of it before I just hit a wall. I was living in Kenya at the time and I think I just ran out of inspiration/motivation/whatever. I hated what I was doing (though the script was fine). I had to pull out of the job. I felt awful about it at the time. I just lost the will to draw. A pretty scary thing when you know how important drawing was to me up to that point.
As a reader, do you read digital as well as print comics? Are they different experiences for you?
There are a few structural differences, but comics are comics. I make no distinctions.
What’s your favorite film or TV show?
My favorite movie is “The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp,” by Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger. It has it all, comedy, tragedy, romance, a brilliant script and some of the finest acting you will ever see on screen. As far as TV is concerned, I don’t think there has been anything better than “Breaking Bad” has there? Though the final season of “The Shield” is probably the most brilliant conclusion to a TV show I’ve ever seen. We’re living in the Golden Age of TV right now. Really.
If you could cosplay any character really well, who would you pick?
Tom Baker, Dr Who.
Who’s your biggest creative influence when it comes to your work?
Probably the writers I’ve been fortunate enough to work with, particularly Martin Millar and Robbie Morrison.
What’s your most embarrassing fanboy moment?
It’s not embarrassing but it taught me a lesson. I saw the great Gene Colan sitting at a table at one of the New York shows. I didn’t go and talk to him and tell him how much his work meant to me. I was busy or something stupid. He was dead less than a year later. I make a point of finding my heroes now and telling them that.
What are you currently working on or in the near future?
I’m currently drawing an Alex DeCampi story called Prison Ship Antares for her Grindhouse anthology from Dark Horse Comics. It’s 48 pages of women, in prison, in space. It’s utterly filthy and obnoxiously violent, but women and sci-fi are probably my 2 favorite things to draw so I’m having a blast. It comes out in December. Then in November I return, full time, to Lilly Mackenzie & the Treasure of Paros, which is a story about women in space too. Though this time a good deal less violent and sleazy. It’s more of an old-fashioned space opera adventure story, but with my own spin on it. It will debut on ACTIVATEcomix.com, then it should be published in the Judge Dredd Megazine.
I’m also working with the Big City Dare2Draw on putting together a TV pilot for a drawing-based game show featuring and showcasing young talent.
What’s your average day like when working on comics projects?
My day revolves around my daughter’s school schedule, we have a good arrangement of picking up and dropping off etc. I go to my studio (Drawbridge Studio in Gowanus), which I share with around 20 other comics artists, then I sit and try and avoid working for as long as I can. Then when my guilt level reaches critical mass and I’ve drunk as much coffee as I can physically stomach, I crack and start drawing. If the deadlines are particularly onerous (like now) I go back to the studio in the evening to keep working. There are usually quite a few people there to keep me company into the wee small hours.
In addition to being a 13th D contributor, Hannah Means-Shannon is Senior New York Correspondent at Bleeding Cool and is @hannahmenzies on Twitter.