WC: Did you always want to become a comic writer?
ST: I”ve had an interest in comics since I was a child. That has now developed into a full-blown obsession which also, thankfully, gives me some creative reward. The writing part is something I”ve picked up and put down over the years due to personal circumstances but came back about 5 years ago with a vengeance!
WC: Some writers prefer to go into great detail plotting almost every aspect of every panel while others prefer to leave a lot of freedom to the artist when it comes to panel design. Which group do you subscribe to and how would you describe your writing style?
ST: Usually the more familiar I am with an artist the less exacting my scripts become, simply because I know what they will bring to the page. I think it”s important not to bludgeon the artist into submission with detail as a bit of freedom always seems to reap benefits artistically. I always try and keep in mind when writing scripts that for the artist – who will always spend far more time drawing up a page than I have done writing it – it needs to be rewarding to draw.
WC: You”ve written a number of comics ranging from graphic novels to one-shots including the freshly printed “Dick Turpin and the Crimson Plague”. Do you have a favourite and why?
ST: The latest story that I work on is always my favourite at the time.
WC: Apart from being a comic writer you are also a comic book publisher. How do these jobs differ and do you have any particular preference?
ST: I started Time Bomb Comics to get my own work out there, but it always seemed a natural progression to get other creators work into print. The majority of books now in development are by other creators, so I”m really more a publisher than a writer. The way I see it now is that every now and again I”ll write a Time Bomb Comic, but to mainly write comics for other publishers if they want me!
WC: You also manage a publishing company called “Time Bomb Comics”. How did you go about setting up this company and what inspired you to do it?
ST: The whole notion originally self-publishing came from being thoroughly inspired by visiting the first British International Comics Show in 2006 at the Birmingham Custard Factory, after I hadn”t been to a con for more than a decade. It was packed not so much with the dealers and their bargains I had been expecting but the small and indie press UK publishers and creators. I had encountered small press in the past, mainly the cheaply photocopied comics that were obviously works of love more than anything else – but here was a room filled with comics that were of the same quality, both in production and content, that was sitting on the comic shop shelves. I mean, I was blown away by the likes of Accent UK, Andy Winter”s Moonface Press, and a whole host of others. After speaking to the creators and publishers I came away from the con with bags of these exciting new comics and had a personal Damascus moment. I realized that the UK comics industry was more diversified, vibrant and creative than I had dreamed of, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it. Of course, that was the easy part. I quickly realized there were two major hurdles to overcome. The first of these was that although I had some scripts I didn”t have any artist, the second that I had never had a stab at publishing before in any way, shape or form. It could have ended there and then but over the next few months it kept coming back to me, and I think it was the following April when I decided I wanted to make a serious stab at creating and publishing comics. Then it was a case of finding a partner to achieve this with and hammering out the details, with the goal of sitting behind a table at the next BICS in October 2007 displaying our efforts. I had dabbled with comics creation back in the 80″s with an artist I used to know – Andy Dodd. I got in touch with him again and he came on board for the first 18 months or so before moving to pastures new. It was a huge learning curve, and I gleaned a lot from Andy during that time that has since proved invaluable.
WC: Although Time Bomb Comics is still relatively new it has already built a reputation of a company that publishes diverse yet quality comic books. What in your opinion has made Time Bomb Comics successful in such a relatively short time?
ST: Right from the start I had definite ideas about what the publishing strategy would be, that was based on what I would respond to as a reader and what I had seen others struggle with in the past. To me, “one-shots only” was the key and remains the cornerstone of what Time Bomb Comics is about. I hate waiting months and months between issues, I have no interest in the variant market, I”ve lost count of the times I”ve seen the second issue of an indie book and put it back on the shelf because I can”t find the first issue anywhere – my aim was to avoid all those things, yet at the same time put out a quality product that – comics readers would enjoy. I really hope I”m achieving that.
WC: Can you give us a brief description of the plot of “Dick Turpin and the Crimson Plague”?
ST: Dick Turpin the notorious English highwayman encounters a nest of vampire prostitutes in 18th Century London. It”s a sequel of sorts to “Dick Turpin and the Restless Dead” which was Dick Turpin fighting zombies. “Of sorts” in that you don”t have to read the one to enjoy the other – but both will be available from the Time Bomb Comics table at Malta Comic Con!
WC: Dick Turpin and the Crimson Plague will be internationally launched during the Malta Comic Con 2011. Any particular reason why you chose the Malta Comic Con for this?
ST: Part of it was the timing – the weekend before Malta we”re officially launching the book in the UK as part of the Leeds Thoughtbubble convention. It”s the first time we”ve attended a convention outside the UK – we looked into going last year but it actually clashed with the 2010 Leeds event so we couldn”t. I always bring my family to the shows too and I know they”ll enjoy Malta!
WC: When did you first hear about the Malta Comic Convention and what convinced you to attend?
ST: Every UK creator I”ve met who has attended in previous years has raved about it. It was definitely on the radar for a couple of years.
WC: Time Bomb Comics is always on the lookout for talented creators. What advice will give to creators who wish to become part of the Time Bomb Comics legacy?
ST: It”s not intended as a sales pitch but take the time to read at least one of our books so you understand what we”re about. Follow our submissions guidelines on the website – they”re very simple but it”s astonishing how many of the blind submissions we receive don”t follow them. I”ll be happy to review portfolios all weekend at the con – but if any prospective artists and writers can give me copies of their work to take away that would be ideal.
WC: What projects do you have in the pipeline in your capacities as a writer and publisher?
ST: Let”s see… The Last Ride Of Henry Holden by Alex De-Gruchy, Giorgio Iannotti and Mike Bunt which is a Western book in the style of Deadwood. Kronos City, an urban fantasy graphic novel about a city with a river of time by Andrew Croskery, Alex Wilmore and Lauren Sharp. We released a book called London Calling by Stephen Walsh and Keith Page last year that”s done very well and have a follow up to that on the way called Squadron Of The Screaming Damned. It”s also going to be our 5th anniversary next September so are trying to put together something for that. Beyond that we have maybe four or five more books in development including some more Dick Turpin from myself and Graeme of course!