Comic Creators Anonymous – Gary Crutchley

Gary Crutchley’s work in the WesterNoir release from AccentUK was a big factor for me coming back to the title again & again so I HAD to find out more about his work.

What was the first title you worked on?

The very first title I ever worked on was for a Fanzine. The title was Fourth Incarnation and it was published by a local comic shop.  The owner wanted to produce a monthly title to offer a blend of art, fiction and reviews of books. He wanted to include a couple of original strips in each book and he asked me if I wanted to be involved.

He knew that I had done some short strips (just for my own amusement really) and one of his regular customers was an actual published fantasy writer, so we teamed up and produced the very first strip for this publication.  It took about a week to do the ten page strip.

In the late seventies, early eighties when this was done Fanzines were all the rage, everyone was producing their own cheap comics.  Fanzines were really cheap photocopied art stapled together, usually with very poor design and a lot of substandard art.

The owner of the comic shop wanted to produce something more than just a fanzine but when it was finally printed it inevitably turned out a bit shabby. He just wasn’t prepared to invest money into the venture I guess.  After he printed the first issue he decided that it had taken much time and effort to produce it so, unfortunately the first issue was the only produced.

Not the most auspicious of starts I guess, but I did remain good friends with the writer and we collaborated together on several more strips for other fanzines.  I also adapted his 30 page science Fiction tale that he had written as part of his writing course at university.  He printed as a small A5 comic and handed it in with the rest of his course work and what do you know he got his degree.  I like to think that it was all down to my art. hahahahahahaha.

From there I went on to work for Trident Comics, Revolver Magazine, Fantaco comics, Calibre Comics, 2000AD and Malibu comics.  I even had a recurring strip in the Satirical magazine “The Truth” for a while.

So not too bad all things considered.

How has your work changed since then?

The biggest difference is I now work digitally. I still create layouts and sketches the old traditional way, with pencil and paper, but then I scan the artwork to my computer.  I use a graphic tablet and ink the pages in Manga studio or Clip Studio Art as it’s now known.

This really is an excellent piece of software that has been specifically created with comic artists in mind.

Who are your main influences?

I grew up in the seventies and eighties reading Silver and Bronze age Marvel comics. I was not much of a DC fan then.  So it was the artist and writers working for Marvel that had the biggest influence on me.  Writers such as Roy Thomas, Stan Lee, Steve Englehart , Steve Gerber, Doug Moench and Bill Mantlo.  Artists like John and Sal Buscema, Gene Colan, Jack Kirby, John Romita Snr, Neil Adams, Paul Gulacy, Bernie Wrightson, Barry Windsor Smith, Tom Sutton…the list goes on and on.

I loved all their art and their story telling abilities and I hope if even a fraction of their talent and inspiration has rubbed off on me then I count myself very fortunate.

I’ve met some very talented British artists over the years who have become close friends such as Mark Buckingham, Matt Brooker(AKA D’sraeli), Shane Oakley, Art Wetherall (who is sadly no longer with us), David Hitchcock, Staz Johnson…And I’ve learnt something from each and everyone of them. they’ve all been very generous in their help and advice.

With the internet I’m exposed to new artist all the time and the talent out there is phenomenal.  Even the new young talent that’s now emerging are producing amazing work

What comics are you reading just now?

Considering I was such a huge fan of Marvel, I don’t read their books now…nor DC for that matter.  I find I’m more tempted by the plethora of Independent comics.

I loved “Sixth Gun” from Oni press, “Saga” from Image, anything that Mike Mignola is involved in from “Hellboy” to “Frankenstein Underground”.  I did read “Powers” but got fed up with it moving from one publisher to another.

A few Books I thoroughly recommend are Random Trials by Dean Beattie, Skies of Fire by Vincenzo Ferriero and Ray Chou and Kane Mesmer by Dave West and Marleen Starksfield.

I’ve backed several Kickstarter campaigns and I haven’t been disappointed yet.  I especially like Joe R Lansdale and Sam Glansman’s “Red Range” and I’m looking forward to Jason Pearsons new “Body Bags” book.

What’s the best thing about creating comics?

I’ve always loved creating comics even when I started to draw my own at the tender age of eleven (a very lonnng time ago).  Seeing the books I’ve worked on in comic shop and on convention tables is a wonderful feeling.

Getting feedback from the fans is a real buzz. There’s no finer feeling than seeing a potential customer buy the first issue (normally as a curiosity purchase) and return later wanting to buy the rest of the books.

What are you working on just now?

For the past few years I’ve been working on an on-going series; – WESTERNoir co-written with Dave West.  It’s published by AccentUK (who are Dave West (him again) and Colin Mathieson (an accomplished artist/writer in his own right). AccentUK have been around a fair few years, longer than some of the “big companies”.

They started off publishing yearly anthology titles: – Zombies, Robots, Predators, Western that sort of thing where each book had a specific theme. They also printed a fair number of one off titles, but Dave really wanted to do a continuing series. So he and I got together and created WESTERNoir.

Like I mentioned earlier, Dave and I share the writing chores, then I go away to draw and letter it, only giving it back to Dave at the printing stage. It seems a method that had so far worked really well.

It features the character of Josiah Black:-ex-sheriff, ex-gunslinger, ex-bounty hunter who finds himself hunting monsters hiding in plain sight and living as ordinary folk.  Of course there are twists and turns and not everything is it appears to be, and we try our best to give the readers plenty of surprises.  Each issue is a 40 page book with black and white art (but with full colour covers), no ads and, until the later issues are pretty much stand-alone tales.

We also produce “Tales of WESTERNoir” where Dave and I write short tales of various characters appearing in the main book, even Black “hisowngoodself” and tell their back stories.  It’s so we don’t interrupt the flow of WESTERNoir.   We invite various artists to illustrate these tales and so far we’ve had some excellent artists in the three books published AccentUK have published.

We’ve collected the first four issue and printed it as a trade paperback, sort of like the first season of a TV series, added a new 10 page story and loads of pinups by some extremely talented artists.  Its 160 pages of dynamite art and storytelling, even if I do say so myself.

I’ve just completed all the art and lettering on issue 8 so that’ll go off to the printers any day now.    I’ll be taking a short break before I carry on with issue 9 to finish off a tale I started many years ago. Another western that will be printed by AccentUK next year. It’s called “Hard Country” and will be 120 page book.

Most of the art is done and dusted so I’m hoping it won’t be too long I can back to work on WESTERNoir book 9.

You can catch-up with what Gary is working on over on his Blog & Facebook pages and get over to the Accent UK Blog to find out more about the titles Gary has contributed to.


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