Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Because I wanted to talk to...James Nash (Part Two)

Have your diary comics, which, I assume, are read by people who know you, ever gotten you into trouble? Has anyone ever objected to the way that they have been portrayed in the comics?

Yes, but not as much as you might think. Though that’s the trouble with the instant nature in which it’s done.

I also think that if certain people don’t wish to be demonised, maybe they should try and not be such demons…

Looking back, is there anything that you regret putting in your diary comics? Have you ever revealed yourself a little too much?

I don’t think I really regret anything in particular, I think that because of its nature, certain qualities are exaggerated; also, maybe it can get a bit teen angsty. It’s funny when I meet one of the handful of people that have read it and they openly comment on their surprise that I’m quite a jovial person…

I remember that I got a really lovely email from Simone Lia ages ago about the comic telling me to stop drinking so much…But then again its not like I’m doing that all the time. I just choose to draw about that rather than anything in the other 15 hours that day I spent not drinking, if you know what I mean?

My memory of reading your comics is that they dealt quite a lot with your dad's illness. Was this ever difficult or, conversely, was it helpful to get your feelings/thoughts on the subject down on paper?

I suppose that I do use it like a vent for that kind of thing on occasion. I was asked to put all the strips about that stuff together and compile it for a story in Bad Idea and I heard from a few people that the main interest was probably not on the event itself (obviously thousands of people suffer all kinds of life-altering illness every day), but probably the cold and unsympathetic way that I treated it in those drawings. Again, I think it’s all editorial on my part. When drawing those things individually it was just how I felt and what was going on at the time.

I understand that you've moved away from self-publishing and you're now working in galleries/exhibition spaces. Please tell me about that.

Well, not really. Last year I was less focused on putting them together as comics, mostly because of getting disillusioned. Comic shops that I had previously had stuff in weren’t really interested in taking any more stuff, and second time round doing some comics fairs had a bit of a back-scratching air about them. But I found new avenues for people to see the work in a couple of exhibitions I was part of, and that it could be of interest as an ‘art’ project, which, I guess, is what it was originally meant to be.

I’ve always felt that the quantity of the work was important and so I put a few months worth of drawings on large pieces of paper and was really surprised to see people standing for a really long time reading them all through one by one...

It’s good to explore more than one avenue, but I’m definitely still into making comics. Paul Gravett asked Matilda and I to do the Comica Book Fair a couple of months ago and that was great.

Please tell us about your work as an illustrator.

I’ve been fortunate enough to do drawings for some magazines and people that I really like. It’s quite few and far between at the moment but it’s nice to do when it does come along. The work I do is informed by my comics stuff and vice-versa, stylistically at least.

I’m really interested in text stuff, concrete poetry and that kind of thing…I’ll always enjoy making that kind of work as there’s probably nothing better than thinking up a conceptually pleasing image especially in a time of increasingly inescapable visual vomit!

Where can people find your work? Can they still order diary comics from you?

Yes, definitely. I’m currently getting a website put together that should be up soon, and will be producing some new comics early this year, which, hopefully, will be in a few shops round the country. Currently the only place is a great new store at the Custard Factory in Birmingham called Platform, I’ve also done a couple of T-shirts and prints that will be available there.

What's next for James Nash?

As I mentioned before I’m putting together the last two years of my diary into two comics. I’m going to throw it around and see who’s interested. Hopefully I should have a website done soon. I want to do some more paid illustration work, get out of debt, get a job that doesn’t inspire suicidal thoughts, possibly a move somewhere and work on some new comics projects. I’m currently thinking about maybe an adaptation of something, although I don’t think I’ve ever seen a comic literary adaptation that didn’t suck, and who am I to change that?

James Nash, thanks for your time.

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