12 Books in 12 Months

writing books and blogging about it



Interview: Cartoonist Alexander Matthews

This being graphic novel month, I have organised a few interviews with proper artists who do this sort of thing for a living.  Alexander Matthews is a freelance cartoonist who draws comics for loads of people, including Private Eye, The Spectator, The Week and The Dandy (which I’d recommend buying solely for his strip, Nuke Noodle – read the first episode on his blog here).  He currently lives between Russia (where he teaches art) and the UK.  He very kindly agreed to chat about what it’s like to be a proper comicker, rather than a charlatan like me.

The Artist

You trained in illustration and graphic design and you’ve also been a teacher – which came first and how did you get to the point where you are now?

Illustration came first; the teaching thing was really a way to make money. It’s extraordinarily difficult to make ends meet as a freelance illustrator straight out of college. Teaching very much took over my life for a number of years, however. It’s a tough job but one I love.

You draw in a few different styles (strips and panels, colour and monochrome) – which is your favourite to draw and do you have different processes for coming up with them?

I don’t really have a favourite style. The demands of the publication tend to dictate how I draw. With gag cartooning I might sell one out of every 10 I draw, so I tend not to spend so much time on the images. The strips sort of write themselves-I start at picture one and end up at picture 12. Then I go back and stuff a few more jokes in there! Writing gags is much more difficult-a lot of staring out of the window, drinking coffee and going for walks. I draw all my cartoons directly onto the computer because I’m lazy and paper is a fire hazard.

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Book 12

December is here at last, which means I am on the final stretch of 12 books in 12 months!  Well, the first stage of it at any rate.  It’s been quite a journey.

The last genre is ‘graphic novel’ – a nice easy one to go out on, I’m sure you’ll agree.  The idea is to draw as I go which will take me quite a long time, so realistically it’ll either be a comic, or series of comic strips.  I am still thinking about what exactly I’m going to do, so for now help yourself to something I drew not that long after the UK elections…

Why is Nick Clegg under the sea in a suit?  That is for me to know.  Also it’s a comic, you shouldn’t read too much into it.  I’ve done a few cartoons about whale shark which you can find in the depths of my other blog somewhere, and I think I’ll make more at some point.  Maybe even this month, who knows.

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