David Lloyd

FM: Kickback is your crime noir thriller that you were both writer and artist for. Could you explain the premise of the book and tell us why we would want to read it?

To answer your last question first, you’d want to read it because it’s a very good crime thriller, which has more depth and range than most other crime thrillers you’ll find on the market. And if you’re short of money, it’s also very cheap for a 96-page hardback that has the kind of good looks that will attract the attention of your friends from the moment you place it on your coffee table.

The story is basically about a corrupt policeman in a corrupt police force, and how he eventually escapes his situation. But it examines the source of corruption generally. The book’s main character, Joe Canelli, is a ordinary guy going along with the crowd because subconsciously he sees himself more as a criminal than as crime-fighter. Self-hatred is the key to all doors that lead to evil.

FM:How did you come up with the idea for the book, was it something you’ve wanted to do for a long time?

The idea came from an image and title I’d scribbled in a notebook of ideas I used to carry around, of a man walking on the central maintenance platform of an airship - an axial walkway. He could be walking in one direction while the airship was going in another. Even in an airliner, you can’t tell the direction you’re going in unless you look out of the window. For me it was a useful metaphor for someone who was negligently going down the wrong path in his life. A corrupt cop was a good example of such a person, and I’d always wanted to tell a story that was in the mold of some of my favourite crime movies - so that’s how it came about.

I always wanted to write more of my own stuff - whatever the subject matter - but I didn’t have the time for more than the odd story here and there because I was always drawing scripts for other folks - nice though that is to do. I think the reason there aren’t more artist/writers around in the business is because most artists are earning their bread and butter drawing EXTREMELY time-intensively to illuminate the scripts of other writers, and just don’t have a moment to spare to develop any projects they might be harbouring of their own.

I determined to get KB under way when I came off the War Stories I did for Garth. They were great stories I’m proud to have worked on, but I needed to do so much research and use so much research material for them that they became creatively burdensome. Like I was carving a marble statue and having to dig the stuff out of the quarry as well. I needed to escape and enjoy the freedom of creating my own world to entertain people with.

FM:Considering the writers you’ve worked with throughout your career, is it liberating to be writing as well as drawing on this book? Or have you just managed to create twice the work for yourself?

Complete freedom is the best working environment in anyone’s book. In the case of this particular business, I’d say that if you know what you’re doing, and you can avoid the pitfall of being self-indulgent, being a writer/artist is the best thing to be.

Artistically, have you approached the book in any particular style? Has being creator allowed you to really express yourself, or did you decide to hold to a look that the genre of your story – perhaps - dictates?

I’ve always treated every story I’ve done - whether I’m writing as well as drawing or not - in the way I thought it should be treated from the viewpoint of it’s subject matter. So, yes, KB looks exactly the way it should look for the story’s best effect. Now go to ‘ Charlie Chaplin ‘ in The Big Book Of Scandal

FM:The book came out last year, I think starting in France, how have sales been? Has the level of advertising in different countries made a difference in sales?

I don’t look at sales figures. In France, I did KB for a small company that had no publicity budget ; in Spain, the girl in charge of publicity had no idea who I was and what I’d done ( I found this out later ) ; in the US, in the year the Vendetta movie came out, Dark Horse gave it no promotion at all. So, you see, why would I look at sales figures? What would they mean? What would they tell me that I didn’t know already?

FM:Did you have the notion when you created the book that with so many comics being made into movies, you might be able to do the same with Kickback?

I didn’t think of that at the time but it would make a great movie. Like I said, it was partly inspired by my favourite crime movies - and the work of directors like Hitchcock and Don Siegel. I will be writing a treatment for it, whatever becomes of it. Self-sufficiency, I figure, is a good idea in light of my experiences with KB.

FM:As creator and owner of Kickback, you obviously had to get it pushed around different publishers over the world. Looking at where this approach has taken you, would you do it the same way again?

Well, it has been easy to sell it to publishers. Getting them to promote it has been the problem, bizarrely. I mean, I’m not just any Joe in this biz. I’d almost understand having the problem if I was. Every country I sell to now, I take a direct interest in their promotion plans. I don’t take them for granted anymore. I also plan my own publicity as backup. Hell may await, so an asbsestos suit is always a good idea.

FM:You’ve kept your hand in “mainstream” comics over the years, with a couple of War Stories with Garth Ennis, and a Global Frequency issue with Warren Ellis amongst other work. Do you see yourself continuing to do comics like that? Do you actively look for work, or do you wait for the offers to come to you?

Well, no-one offered me the War Stories - I saw they were being planned in a news item in a trade mag, and thought ‘ that’s a good idea ‘, so I got in touch with DC and asked if they wanted my services. Usually, I get a call.
I don’t mind what I do as long as it’s good. But I won’t do any old stuff just to pay the bills - though I respect those who do and must because of their circumstances. I prefer to work on something that means something rather than just the latest adventure of Hoohah and Dynamo.

FM:I’m curious as to your opinions on the current state of comics, particularly the American market. Do you see it as a means for major film companies to plunder ideas, rather than as a legitimate form of entertainment in it’s own right?

The comics medium is a fantastic one, full of potential largely unrealised in the US/UK market because it’s dominated by the superhero concept. I can’t see it ever changing unless the Big Two decide to expand their lines and promotional budget to include a wider form of strip story than the muscleman stuff and capitalise on the smaller but still viable markets for indie material and suchlike. In the situation the way it is, though, I just say good luck to anyone who can exploit the market for superheroes, or any manga characters or styles, and come up with any ideas they can sell as comics, then movies, games, figures, paper plates, whatever.

There’ll always be little triumphs of smaller books in the medium, but it’ll never be fully appreciated by the wider public while those crowds of JLAs and Justice Leagues obscure the view of it.

FM:What do you think of current comic artists? Are there any whose work you particularly enjoy, or equally, any whose style put you off?

Ex Machina’s art I hate, with all that photo-posed artificiality, but I’m sure it’s got lots of fans. But there are lots of great artists in the biz, and more coming. People want to create comics because they love them, like I did. It’s a passion. Even when comic sales were rock-bottom and there was no glut of movie-making going on, still good people kept coming along wanting to draw them. And it’s not the best-paying biz for an illustrator to go into. We do it cos we love it - and I detect that love in lots of the stuff I see that’s new.

FM:What can we expect next from you?

Don’t know how well it will be distributed here and in the US - though I’ll let you know - but the last thing I did was not a graphic novel but a book on Sao Paulo in Brasil. Brasilian publisher, Casa21, commissions artists from there and abroad to write and illustrate their impressions of the various towns and cities of the country. There are volumes on Salvador, Belo Horizonte, Rio, etc. 30-40 illustrations plus commentaries, which are all in Brasilian-Portugese, though in English also at the back of the book. It was very hard work and a great challenge to do, though I’m very pleased with how it turned out. I felt honoured to be asked to do it, too. Not often you get asked to paint a personal picture of one of the greatest cities on earth.
I’ll be starting a new graphic novel next year, but at the moment I’m not sure what it’ll be.

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  • JAMES DODSWORTHJames Dodsworth - Born and raised in Yorkshire, residing in London since 2000, James has a Law Degree and works for the Anti-Financial Crime Office of a International Asset Management Company. He is a writer and editor for FractalMatter.com. But his main claim to fame is living next to the pub where Shaun of the Dead was conceived.