Thursday, 20 March 2008

A Chat With...Jim Medway (Part Three)

(Part One of this interview is here. Part Two is here)

MB: You also, on top of the cartooning and teaching, ventured into editing with the anthology Garden Funnies. Tell us about that.

JM: Some of the contributors are friends. A few are friends of friends. I’m pleased with the finished product. I think that the next one will be better.

MB: What are you going to improve?

JM: I’m going to make it twice as big in terms of its physical size. It’ll be A5 or A6. I’m doing this UK Web ‘n’ Mini-comix Thing, but because my comics are so small I’m going to struggle to fill a table. And also it’s just nice to have something a little bigger. I think that Teen Witch works fine at mini-comic size. It’s a nice thing for a child to handle. I’m very aware that I want my stuff to be all ages. All the best kids stuff is stuff that parents will feel happy buying and enjoy reading as well. The best kids’ films are those that have jokes in there for the adults as well.

MB: You’ve done Teen Witch and you’ve done Garden Funnies. It feels very ‘walk before you try to run’. Don’t make the mistake of diving straight into a longer form piece of work.

JM: It’s trying things out.

MB: And Paul Gravett and Nick Abadzis mentioned your name to the people at the DFC and you’ve been asked to pitch to that, which is nice.

JM: It’ll be great for the teaching, because I’ll be able to have something for the kids that shows that I’m a comic artist. They ask me what I’ve been in. Did I draw Shaun the Sheep or Dennis the Menace? But, of course, I haven’t. I’ve done Teen Witch, but I made it myself.

MB: I don’t think that it makes the lessons any less valuable if they’re delivered by a self-publisher. I am more impressed by self-publishers, when they’re good, because of the broad skills-set needed to self-publish.

JM: When I’m working with older groups, I tend to have more time and we do look at self-publishing. I show them my collection of mini comics and ‘zines and stuff, and they can see the diversity of material and the spontaneity behind it. You know, you can make something in the morning and it can be out there by evening.

MB: Self-distribute by hand in the cafes and bars…

JM: Sure. I show them the templates for how to cut, fold and staple their own comics.

MB: Are you yourself still evolving as a cartoonist?

JM: I’m testing stuff out. I’m seeing what interests me.

MB: Do you have a final goal in mind?

JM: I do feel that there’s a real absence of any kids’ stuff on the comics market. There used to be all these articles about comics growing up and comics being for adults. And that’s true, but it’s actually gone further than that. There’s actually nothing for kids any more. You go into a comic shop and you can’t even get Tintin or Asterix. That’s one of the things that the teaching does, to show kids all these fantastic books. Books like Fred by Posy Simmonds

MB: What do you think the future holds for comics?

JM: I agree with Paul Gravett that we’re entering a new golden age of comics, where there’s academic attention, there’s more vintage stuff available in reprints, there’s European stuff being translated…it’s quite an exciting time for comics and people are realising the kind of issues that can be dealt with and the different ways comics can tell stories.

MB: Recommend some cartoonists that people should keep an eye out for.

JM: Oliver East’s Trains are Mint stuff is fantastic. I’ve known Oli for years and seen where his work’s come from and how he’s arrived at his current stuff, so it’s nice to see how it’s all developed. He did the same course as me, Interactive Arts at Manchester Metropolitan University, but he was a couple of years below me. Neither of us were doing comics at that point. It was much more experimental. We did sculpture and printing and all sorts. Anything except drawing really. It was like an extension of a foundation course. You had the chance to experiment and collaborate in groups. In that way it was good. There wasn’t a huge amount of teaching. We were left to it a lot.

But back to cartoonists. I really like Stuart Kolakovic. He’s got a really good sensibility. He’s a great designer. There’s also a guy called Rob Bailey, who’s decorated the walls in Common, just round the corner from here. His work is very graphic, very simple and very bold. Wonderful stuff.

MB: Is there much of a ‘scene’ here in Manchester?

JM: I have started meeting cartoonists around Manchester. Adam Cadwell is a really nice chap. I met John Allison a couple of weeks ago and he was great. I’m slowly meeting these people, but just because they’re all into comics doesn’t mean that they’ve got anything in common. But it’s definitely nice to talk to people who are in that same kind of realm.

MB: To me it’s like there’s a scene that isn’t a scene. The thing that all these local cartoonists most have in common is an appreciation of the mechanics of comics.

JM: Yes…but then I don’t necessarily want to meet someone else who’s drawing cat comics for kids.

It would be like talking to myself.

Jim, thanks for your time.


ed syder said...

this is a great read. i love you jim!

Jim Medway said...

Hey Adam and John,
hope my comment about meeting other creators isn't taken the wrong way! You guys are top, and I simply meant there's no reason why say plasterers would automatically connect. I'm probably not making this any better am I? I'll shut up!
Matt - thanks again for a thorough and enjoyable interview!

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