Today for you we have the marvelous Craig Collins, talking about his experience in the industry and his up and coming work with Iain Laurie!
Name: Craig Collins.
Occupation: I’m comic writer and occasional cartoonist / photoshop mischief maker. It’s not my occupation, but it does keep me occupied. I letter almost all my comics too.
Worst job you had before breaking into Comics: I wouldn’t say I’ve remotely broken in, certainly not in any working for a living way. But I think I’ve broken into “making comics”, and I can tell you about shitty jobs. Not to be deliberately mysterious, but I think I’m legally unable to tell you about the very worst! I should look at the paperwork again. That aside, I part-timed in a Lloyds-TSB call centre battery farm many years ago. We lured and cajoled people into their banks for a “financial review” appointment, in which some slick personal banker would try and foist a loan or a credit card on them. Morally dubious, and it was properly shit too. You’d be interrupting people while they’re having dinner, bathing the kids, watching television – “Ehm, but I’m watching Gladiator” – and it was only out of fear that The Bank was calling to visit financial disaster upon their houses that they didn’t hang up immediately. There was no let up – one call stops, and BOOP! another starts, for hours on end. There are far worse jobs though, really.
Main Influences: There’s a lot of writers and cartoonists whose work I really enjoy. I don’t know if there’s anyone who’s a specifically strong influence, I think it’s easy to go from ‘influenced by’ to ’emulating’. I like writers and cartoonists who can throw about an incredible wealth of ideas or things that come out of the left-field, like Grant Morrison or Michael Kupperman, or writers who can make you laugh or give you the creeps without being cheap. Mainly when making comics I tend to roll about ideas and put them into short narratives, or make stupid jokes that I crowbar into a few panels, and I suppose a lot of the influence and inspiration for this stuff comes from here, there and everywhere: TV, music, people, the news, work, home, stuff I like, stuff I don’t like, stuff my kids like.
What have you been involved in?: I’m probably best known for Roachwell, the surreal horror comedy webcomic I did with Edinburgh artist Iain Laurie. It’s there to read online, and I collected it up into a nice wee book which I’m pleased to say received some great reviews and was nominated for the Scottish Independent Comic Book awards, as was my collection of small press oddball comedy comics Haunted Bowels last year. But I’ve also had comics in all manner things, I contributed some screwy comedy comics to every issue of Alan Grant’s Wasted, and have had strips in weird and cool anthologies in the UK and from the likes of America, Australia and Belgium.
Top heroes / villains: Aw man, I’m crap at this question. I’ve not kept up with the mainstream hero comics for a hell of a long time, so I’m not that well placed to name traditional heroes or characters because for all I know they’re a villain now, or reformed as a hero now, or they’ve switched back and forth between hero and villain a dozen times since I read X-Men in the nineties. I’ll just tell you about a load of characters I like… Jesse Custer is a great hero – principled and straight-forward, a no-shit man out for justice, but it’s the humanity and humour that runs through all of Preacher and that Ennis fills him with that makes him a really magnetic character. A bad-ass who doesn’t need to make a song and dance out of what a bad-ass he is.
I’ve been a huge fan of The Goon for years, picking it up back when Powell self-published on his Exploding Albatross label. The Goon’s stony reserve is an excellent counterpoint to the ridiculous and overblown world he inhabits, but over the years Powell’s been crafting an impressive and sympathetic backstory that suits him as well as all that amazing two-fisted monster-bashing. And you’ve got to love Cannibal Fuckface, because he’s a marvel of simple and effective character design, and an amazing violent maniac. On villains, the Kurgan from Highlander is to my mind one of the greatest villains in cinematic history! Beyond being as fearsome and intimidating as you would want in a villain, he’s a guy who absolutely loves his work. He’s full of the cavalier attitude that comes with being centuries old and nigh-indestructible, and his humour and enthusiasm are totally infectious. Clancy Brown plays him with such relish that he’s ridiculously magnetic and I pretty much wish the Kurgan had won.
What got you into Comics: I’ve always been into comics in one way or another, be it as the only kid in Tasmania well versed in the Broons and Oor Wullie, Ninja Turtles comics at a later point then X-Men as a 14 year old. But it was when I was at university and discovered Watchmen, Invisibles, Sandman, Transmetropolitan and all the usual suspects that I saw how cerebral and mature comics could be, and understood that comics are a medium and not a genre. I pretty much went mad about good comics from there on….
Favourite Comic Moment: Aw, there’s so many! That’s like “pick a favourite food”. Batman grinning as he leaps out the Batmobile to fist-fight it out with the Mutant Leader in Dark Knight Returns. Hyde cordially chatting at the dinner table as it becomes clear what he’s done with the Invisible Man in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The cat attack sequence in issue three of We3. The Rocket Sam Christmas Day strip in Acme Novelty Library is beautiful and hilariously bleak. Although half the time my favourite comic moment is whatever Johnny Ryan just posted on Twitter.
Where can we see you next?: METRODOME! Me and Iain Laurie’s next comic project, which has been slowly bubbling away for a long time but should finally land in our grubby mitts around April. It’s our most superhero-centric comics to date, but also pretty unconventional, and Iain’s given me some excellent pages. After that I’ll be completing a couple of other projects then hopefully kicking off some new ones, large ones and small and weird ones, so keep an eye out this year for Crawl Hole and the long neglected Dingo Road, then Incongrodisco and maybe even Krang Of Hearts! I’m working on some stuff with a couple of American collaborators too, Edwin Vazquez and German Orozco. I’ll also be tabling for the first time at this year’s Thought Bubble, and possibly some of the Glasgow marts before then and maybe the Glasgow con, if somebody gets hit by a bus and cancels their table…!
You can keep up with all my comics goings-ons at: http://craig-collins.blogspot.co.uk/ or follow me on Twitter on @CraigComicsEtc