Comic Boom - Comics in Education

Comic boom - The Comics in Education Podcast feat. author and illustrator Dave Shelton

May 31, 2023 Lucy Starbuck Braidley/Dave Shelton Season 2 Episode 6
Comic boom - The Comics in Education Podcast feat. author and illustrator Dave Shelton
Comic Boom - Comics in Education
More Info
Comic Boom - Comics in Education
Comic boom - The Comics in Education Podcast feat. author and illustrator Dave Shelton
May 31, 2023 Season 2 Episode 6
Lucy Starbuck Braidley/Dave Shelton

This week Lucy chats to the brilliant Dave Shelton - author and illustrator - to discuss how his life-long love of comics has influenced his work

His slapstick comedy noir comic strip Good Dog, Bad Dog has appeared in The DFC comic, The Phoenix, and the Guardian, and is collected in two books by David Fickling Books. His debut prose novel for children, A Boy and a Bear in a Boat, which he also illustrated, was short listed for the Costa prize and the Carnegie medal, and won the Branford Boase award.

Follow Dave on Twitter as @DaveShelton

Links to everything  discussed, including Dave's books and all of the comics he mentioned in this episode,  can be found on the podcast padlet.

 
Producer and Host:
@Lucy_Braidley
Contact: comicboompodcast@gmail.com

Music by John_Sib from Pixabay

Show Notes Transcript

This week Lucy chats to the brilliant Dave Shelton - author and illustrator - to discuss how his life-long love of comics has influenced his work

His slapstick comedy noir comic strip Good Dog, Bad Dog has appeared in The DFC comic, The Phoenix, and the Guardian, and is collected in two books by David Fickling Books. His debut prose novel for children, A Boy and a Bear in a Boat, which he also illustrated, was short listed for the Costa prize and the Carnegie medal, and won the Branford Boase award.

Follow Dave on Twitter as @DaveShelton

Links to everything  discussed, including Dave's books and all of the comics he mentioned in this episode,  can be found on the podcast padlet.

 
Producer and Host:
@Lucy_Braidley
Contact: comicboompodcast@gmail.com

Music by John_Sib from Pixabay

Hello, and welcome to comic boom, the comics in education podcast. If you're an educator interested in using comics in the classroom, then this is the podcast for you. My name is Lucy Starbuck Braidley and each week I'll be joined by a fellow educator and academic, a librarian or a creator of comics to discuss their journey into comics and provide some inspiration to influence your practice. And this week I am joined by the amazing illustrator and writer, Dave Shelton. Dave started off his career with his slapstick comedy noir comic strip. Good dog, bad dog, which appeared in the DFC comic, which was the precursor to the Phoenix. And it also appeared in the Phoenix and in the guardian and is collected in two books by David Ficklin. Books. His debut prose novel for children, which was an illustrated. Middle grade fiction. A boy and a bear in a boat. Was shortlisted for the Costa prize and the Carnegie medal and won the Brandford Boaze awards. Absolute brilliant book. Talk about that while. And since then his pens, the Emily Lime detective librarian series are most recently due to come out in August with David Ficklin books. And illustrated middle grade fiction called monster in the woods. I have a lot of love for a boy and a bear in a boat. I read it to my class early on in my teaching career. When it first came out and we all absolutely loved it. I have a lot of happy memories of that time, just a couple of years into being a teacher. a brilliant story that we all really, really enjoyed. I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of a monster in the woods as well. We don't actually talk about it much in this conversation. We just had a great old chat about comics topics. But it is a great read the tagline. Of the book is, I've seen some reviews is full of wit and wisdom monster in the woods is a future classic tale about family friendship, and first impressions. I would definitely agree with that. We touch on in this conversation, the kind of messages and morals of Dave stories. And there's a clear message running through. A monster in run the woods about not necessarily believing everything you hear or taking what you hear. on face value. Which is really important message and it's very well told. It was throughout the story. I loved the illustrations too. I felt they really added to the characterization for me in developing the characters in the story. We talk about Dave's approach to creating illustrated novels in this conversation and how his writing has been inspired by comics. Both as a reader and a creator of comics. And I really enjoyed our conversation. Here's what Dave had to say.

Lucy:

Hello, Dave. Welcome to Comic Boom.

Dave:

happy to be here, Lucy.

Lucy:

Thanks so much for spending the time to come on the podcast today. I'm a big fan of your books. I'd like to start off by asking all of the guests to give us a bit of an intro into their journey as a comics reader. Where did that all start for you?

Dave:

Uh, well, uh, my earliest memory of reading at all is, is reading a comic, when, on holiday with my parents and my two brothers. We arrived. At the, uh, little static caravan that my, my parents had, on the Norfolk Coast. And, I had a copy of, I think it was something called TV Fun or something, but that's probably memory. And I was waving at my, at my dad having just arrived at, at the caravan saying, read me some this cuz I was, uh, even at that age, very excited about comics. I was waving at my dad saying, read me some of this. And, he was saying, well no, cuz I've gotta get all the stuff out of the car cuz we've just arrived and, you know, I'm kind of busy. So he sat me down with it at a table and, opened the comic up in front of me and said, just, just look at the pictures. I'm sure you can work out the story. And I kind of did. And, That was my first, kind of, my first act of reading was reading some pictures and getting a story, which probably was not the right story. Out of a, out of a comic strip.

Lucy:

I guess in that way it was probably your first writing as well, cuz you were kind of writing the story.

Dave:

all mis writing here. And my memory of it, again, I can't verify any of this, it's probably all wrong. My memory of it was that it was a Laurel and Hardy strip.. So this would be 1970s sometime. so I, I like the idea that, that that was my first act of writing because writing for Laurel and Hardy, that's not bad, is it? I've, I've, I've, I've, I've Essent I've essentially

Lucy:

starting point. Yeah.

Dave:

mined, Laurel and Hardy for, I've done slight variations on that dynamic of a double act in, in several other things I've done. So I've, I've shamelessly ripped'em off for years.

Lucy:

And what happened throughout school. So that was before school. Did your, your love of comments carried on. How did that sort of intersect or flow into your reading in general? Or did you have quite a wide range of reading tastes as a child, or were you very much someone that was kind of just stuck to one, Form?

Dave:

In as far as I can remember, I was, I was all over the place. The love of comics started early and, and stayed so I was reading, British Humor comics, dandy Beano, wizard Chips, that kind of thing very early on. And then graduated to war comics, warlord, and later battle. and then not as soon as it came out, but a year or so after, got into 2000 a d and in between that, there was, there was action, do you know, about action, which got banned for a while, and then it's, it was so, it was a of adventure. Comic, but had this reputation for being much more violent than most. I have to remind myself of this. When I, see kids saying they've seen such and such a film, I think, oh, that's, that's a bit strong for your age. I think actually I was reading action about the age of seven, which had, lots, lots of things in it were, were thinly veiled ripoffs of, of big films at the time. So there was variation on Jaws called Hook Jaw, which was just a big shark, chewing people up week after week, immense amounts of seven limbs and blood all over the place. And I had no qualms at all about reading that at seven for, uh, I remember seeing my nephews playing violent video games at about the age of nine and being appalled and thinking, what's my brother thinking? What a terrible parent he is, and then having to cast my mind back and go, oh, no, fair enough. I think, I think I turned out all right. But anyway. uh,

Lucy:

exactly. Children are quite resilient, aren't they?

Dave:

2000 AD was where it all kind of went a bit more serious. Instead of reading a comic and then throwing a comic away, I read a comic and I kept the comic, and then I put the next week's comic on top. And then there was a pile of comics, and then there was two piles of comics. And then there were eventually two suitcases of comics that lived in my parents' attic long after I'd left the house. So 2000 AD importantly, that had, credits for who'd written and who'd drawn stuff. So that was where I kind of started to go, oh yeah, Brian Bond, he's, I really like his stuff. And, I can still remember the names of relatively minor, 2000 AD artists, 40, 40 odd years later.

Lucy:

I, I do find the fandom element, really fascinating. I think because I am sort of on the outside looking in on that. That's not something that's ever been part of my kind of world or enjoyment of comics, so I find it very interesting.

Dave:

I would, kind of, Reject the label of collector in that I was never, buying the comic, putting it in a plastic sleeve and keeping it pristine. I was building up those piles of comics such that I could read and reread to destruction.

Lucy:

And keep going

Dave:

tho the, those earliest

Lucy:

Yeah. That is a

Dave:

were, were, hanging off the, the staples by a thread, you know, they were really

Lucy:

Yeah. It wasn't, it was the story that you wanted to keep going back to rather than the object. really

Dave:

mean, I mean, there's a a level of obsessive compulsiveness about that, that perhaps wasn't warranted by the, the quality of all the, narratives. But, that was love of the medium as much as. As you know, of the material itself, I guess,

Lucy:

And in terms of, Your engagement with comics at that point, is that where your kind of first interest in drawing came from or were they kind of running in parallel? Were you creating your own comics as a child and in drawing a lot based on what you were reading?

Dave:

I think, I think the drawing was there separately, but I think the comics fed. It's a great deal. I don't think I'd have retained such an interest in, in drawing, if it hadn't been for comics and I don't think, I don't think I'd be a writer without having had. Comics in my life from an early age.

Lucy:

Where'd you think

Dave:

oh,

Lucy:

Can you unpack that a little bit for us?

Dave:

uh, just because, uh, The way I kind of slightly simplify my, my journey to being some kind of a writer, is that I started off liking to draw. I studied to be an illustrator. I became an illustrator through illustrating a bit and through having a love of comics, I got to have a go at, writing and drawing comics. And then from there I was writing in one form and it was, you know, another step on to, to write prose, rather than speech balloons. There was some engagement with writing for its own sake at as school age. But I hadn't really thought about writing prose since leaving school until I'd, my own comics for a little bit, and then they were being published by a children's book publisher, who seemed like a chap I could ask. Could I have a go at writing, some kind of a kid's novel. I went to a regional awards ceremony once and afterwards they had loads of the nominated authors just do kind of sessions with, groups of school kids that were there. And, there's about five of us lined up, taking questions from the audience. And, and one of the questions was kind of, what was your path to being published, essentially? And, it kind of came down the line. I was last and everybody was going, well, I, yeah, I was, I always deeply loved writing. And I wrote just obsessively from a very young age. And then in around about my twenties, I wrote my first novel and it got rejected. And then I wrote my second novel and, and that got rejected. And then I wrote my third novel. And then I, I managed to get an agent and, but my novel still got rejected. And then after lots of rewrites and lots of. Years have bit a struggle. I finally got a, you know, some kind of a publishing deal with somebody you'd never heard of. And I've worked my way up painfully and slowly from there. And these four writers kind of all had similar stories like that. And I went, oh, well, I, I, I drew some comics and then, uh, I, I was doing this, you know, doing this for David Fickling out of David Fickling books. And so, uh, the comic that I was doing it for went under. So I said, could I have a go, writing? And he said, yes. I suddenly felt very hot on one side of my face and realized that all these other authors were going, you what? You, you just asked nicely. And that's how you, you're kind of, and you know, there was, there was a certain amount of, and I was, I was coming to it very late. I was writing my first novel at about the age of 40. So I like to think all those years of bitter struggle. I'd kind of done internally without troubling any agents or editors with, or indeed, or indeed any, laptops or, or sheets of paper with, with the kind of bad novels I should have written first before doing my first, you know, proper, proper published book.

Lucy:

I would like to just loop back a little bit to reading before we. Talk a little bit more about writing and your work in general, which is just, I wondered what you are reading. What are you reading currently? Whose work do you particularly admire? What's on your current reading pile?

Dave:

well, we recently moved house and I'm much closer to our local library than I used to be. So I'm, I'm getting loads of stuff outta the library, which is great. Big up to the library. it turns out that Suffolk, county libraries has much better graphic novel selection than, my local library doesn't particularly, but you know, you go online and go what you got. Oh, fantastic. Loads of stuff. So I recently read, in by Will McFail, which I'd heard a lot about and thought it can't possibly be as good as all these rave reviews, and it absolutely is an amazing piece of work. He's British, and he's a cartoonist who gets stuff into the New Yorker regularly, you know, gag cartoons. and then he went, oh, I think I'll do a sustained, I dunno, 250 page graphic novel, whatever it is, is a. Big, big chunk of book, and it's fantastic. It's beautifully done. It's really, really funny and, it sounds, you know, it's, it is a cliche. It's very funny, but it's also very moving, but it really is, and with a brilliant lightness of touch and beautifully drawn, so in by Will McFail. That's very good. Finally, he's a mate of mine, Alexis Deacon, not a close mate, but I, I know him a bit.

Lucy:

I did the, he did a, does a comics and graphic novel short course at Goldsmith's University and I've done that with

Dave:

Yeah, he's, he can draw a bit. anyway, his, thing from No Brow, which is now called Curse of the Chosen, I read that recently, and that's, that's pretty amazing too. Just, just a stupid amount of work as well, and working in a, in a genre, it's, it's kind of a fantasy thing, which normally I would not go near. I'm not really bothered about normally, world building and all that is normally a, a phrase I would run away from, but, and, and a brilliant ability to keep different story strands with, you know, followed different characters along different story strands and keep it all coherent and, the kind of stuff I can't do plot-wise very well at all. So that was, that was great. But yeah, most, mostly just really amazing to look at cuz, cuz he draws like such a dream. and I also recently read, why Don't You Love Me by Paul b Rainy, visually his style is, not so much my kind of thing, but, doing some very interesting stuff ideas wise,

Lucy:

I wanted to talk to you about your own sort of processes and there's, you know, lots of things I'm really interested in. The first thing I guess was around, so I've read Monster in The Wood, which is incredible. I'm gonna dip into that a little bit later on. When in the front of that book, you talk about starting to write, that with the intention of it being a picture book and then it, it coming out as a sort of an illustrated longer forms, middle grade novel in the end. And I just wondered how do stories present themselves to you and how do you know how, where they're gonna end up? When you think of a story, are you thinking, oh, this is a perfect comic story, or this needs to be, a prose novel?

Dave:

I suppose the def, uh, no. Is that true? I was gonna say the diff the default is normally pros novel at the moment because that's mostly, what I've been doing in the last few years. I, although I'm very keen to get back to doing some comics. But it's, it's a little bit that I'm, I'm kind of mostly on the lookout for ideas that would, that would be suitably done as, pros or illustrated pros. there is, there is a degree of, having an idea and thinking, oh, what does that want to be? And I, I do kind of see it in that. Hands off. It's not about what I choose to make it. It is about what it wants to be. What would best, yeah, what would best suit that narrative. And mostly the ideas are something very, very tiny that grows bit and becomes, something interesting that grows a bit more. And, you know, it's a snatch of dialogue heard while nipping to the shop on the corner kind of thing. And you hear the middle of a sentence and complete it. And then you think, oh, that's interesting. And then, maybe that's interesting enough to imagine the next sentence and then not interesting beyond that. Or maybe it's something that turns into an idea for a comic strip that I may or may not ever draw, or maybe it turns into a novel. And obviously even, you know, even if it's quite a good idea, they can't, can't all be novels cuz I only write one about once every two or three years. And then there's a load of graft to turn it into a thing. My process is that I start off with, this fairly fuzzy idea of what it's gonna end up as. It is never this kind of pristine vision of some platonic idea of the perfect novel or anything. So it starts off as fairly fuzzy and then I aim to. Complete something within that, that fuzzy vision and then miss, and it becomes something else entirely along the way. And that's something that I came to accept quite early on and indeed embrace.

Lucy:

Often, the phrase is about trusting the processes. Mentioned a lot when it comes to writing is that kind of, don't, don't worry about having it all sussed before you start, but just get, get in, get sat down and just start.

Dave:

I don't, I don't, I don't, I don't so much trust in the process as, as trust in, my editors and, and all, all the lovely people at David Fickling books to say, oh, this isn't turning out well Dave, if it's not turning out. Just having that safety net gives you, gives you a greater freedom with your, with your first draft to just go, oh, you know, it's, it's, it can be, it can be wide of the mark at this point and it, it doesn't matter too much and we'll, we'll sort out the rest later and it makes it, or has thus far for me, made it a lengthy process. You know, I really envy these people who can, who can knock out a book in six months. Cuz it takes me a lot longer. Even, even without taking into account the large number of illustrations I'm normally putting into them as well.

Lucy:

How do you make those decisions around the level of illustrations that go into, an illustrated prose book, is it like a commercial decision in terms of the costs or is it a story led decision and how do you get that balance right.

Dave:

well, here's, here's how it's gone in the last few books. There's, there's an initial, very hard line economic decision on my part where I say, oh, it's gonna be illustrated, but it's not gonna be so heavily illustrated cuz it's just, it just takes me too long. So I'm gonna do like 60 illustrations. Okay. That's how it's gonna be. And I'm thinking, and I'll keep most of'em quite small. And, and then, and then I write the first draft of the book. And then I rewrite and rewrite. And then by the time I'm, I start illustrating it. I've forgotten. How hard work and how long it took illustrating the previous book. And I, I'd knock out some illustrations and then the designer, and the editors and all the other people say, oh, it'd be, it'd be quite nice if, uh, this bit here was illustrated and this, this is, this is good. But don't, don't think this deserves a double page spread and at every stage think, I mean, it's more work, but I can see that they're right. And then it creeps up and creeps up and I end up doing, twice as many illustrations as I intended. And it takes far too long. But hopefully, hopefully it ends up a better,

Lucy:

It's worth it.

Dave:

Yeah.

Lucy:

When you are actually writing the words of the story, as part of that process, are you thinking, oh, this would be a good visual image as you're writing? Or are you very much just focused on the story and then you look at it again with fresh eyes and think about where the, where the images could go?

Dave:

it varies a bit from, from book to book, but mostly I just kind of write it. There's, there's maybe some of it I've visualize a bit as I go along and think, you know, there's some scope for a nice illustration. But, mostly I just write it. I, I think part of it is I still feel as if the writing is something that I'm still getting to grips with. And, I would claim that all my books are good, but they're good because I've rewritten them quite hard, quite a lot. The first drafts have been really quite ropey and yeah, mostly I just rely on the fact that I'm gonna doggedly go back to it and, do the boring graft of, of drafting and redrafting. And largely, I, largely, that's a, it's something I want to address. It's something I want to make more of an organic thing with the, with the illustration and develop them both alongside each other. There's, there's ways in which having more visual development early on would, would help with the writing

Lucy:

Yeah, that's really interesting, like the visualization of it and

Dave:

and, also minimize, minimize the amount of, instances of illustrator me going. What on earth was he thinking with the, who, who,

Lucy:

did I write that?

Dave:

whoever wrote this, they just had no regard. The illustrator whatsoever. Idiot. I'm

Lucy:

Right.

Dave:

idiot. yeah. writer me goes, ah, it's not me. I don't have to do it despite, no, no, you really do.

Lucy:

We're discovering You've got some split personality

Dave:

saying, Lucy, is, I'm quite stupid about it all.

Lucy:

I've got, I've got an observation, that I don't know whether you would agree with, but I'm just gonna put it out there. I feel that your, the actual writing is quite informed by, Comics. This is something that I noticed reading Monster in the Woods, and you might not see it as a direct link, but it, it kind of popped up to me, that on a, on chapter ends when you're sort of transitioning from one chapter and starting the often in that kind of juxtaposition of what's happening, there's like some humor or feels like a deliberate contrast, like you on one point and then the next chapter starts, somewhere else. But there's almost a joke in that kind of, that transition that feels very like something that would happen between a panel to panel and a comic or a page turn. And I just wondered what you thought about that.

Dave:

Uh, I'm intrigued. yeah, I try to make chapter ends not quite a cliffhanger, but there's, yeah, there's a moment of humor or there's, there's a moment of contrast. I think certainly, the comics I have read have massively influenced my writing. I think there's, there's stuff about how I, there's also stuff to the detriment possibly in the, any, any time I have to just describe, yeah, just describe, actually I don't need anything beyond that. Anything I, anytime I have to describe, I just, I just say, ah, yeah. somebody should draw the picture. I shouldn't, shouldn't have to do this, you know,

Lucy:

I was interested, it was a bit slightly dorky question.

Dave:

Is it, it about what pen I use? Is it, is it

Lucy:

I don't even know if anyone else in the world is interested in this. It's not about what Penn is, but it is about black and white illustrations. Okay. So what, this is what I was thinking about. I literally, I dunno if the rest of the world cares about this, but I was wondering about it because I quite like drawing in black and white. I'm presuming that your illustrations are like ink drawings, but I don't know, maybe you could confirm

Dave:

Yeah, it's normally some kind of a fiber tip pen

Lucy:

Okay. So when you are thinking about the world that you are putting down onto paper, is it in your mind black and white? Or are you thinking of that world in color? Or is it, does it in your mind appear in black and white?

Dave:

Um, That presupposes.

Lucy:

is a, this is a, for me, this is a very big question.

Dave:

having, I'm having to think, um, what I do and I don't, I think that presupposes a level of visualization in my head, I am seldom, prone to. Is that true? Uh, I think, I think I kind of start drawing.

Lucy:

I'm sure it's something that happens unconsciously, but I'm just wondering what, what is going on in the subconscious?

Dave:

I've got this kind of pet, well, it's not a theory. It's, it is kind of, it's, it's kind of thought in process about, the comedy producer John Lloyd. Who did like Black Adder and Not the 9 o'clock news and all kinds of things back in the day. He's got a thing about absenteeism, it's about getting out of the way. And I think he was talking about it in terms of parenting and saying, you know, we threaten, we fret about, you know, the best way to be a parent. And actually the truth is mostly you just need to get out of the way cuz he'll be all right. And you just need to be kind of, a presence ready for when anything goes wrong and pick up the pieces. But mostly you get out of the way and that's the best thing to do. And I don't think he's talked about it in, in the terms that I've started thinking about it, but I kind of think a lot of the time when I'm drawing, I'm not really thinking about drawing. Or it's not, it's not in that kind of conscious bit of the brain. It's not quite muscle memory, it's not quite, it's it's, it's something slightly outside of myself almost.

Lucy:

Mm

Dave:

and, and, or at least that's what it is when I'm doing my, what I consider with the stuff that I like best that I do, uh, which mostly stuff that appears in my notebooks and isn't actually for, purposes of publication. It's when my mind is free and my hand is free and my pen is free, and it's, that's when more interesting stuff to me comes out. And there's, there's something about getting out of the way of yourself and. Letting, letting that kind of subconscious bit of your brain be in charge, and that in concert with your hand, which is drawn a bunch by now, that they kind of know what they're doing. And if I don't get in the way by going, uh, this is what I want you to do, it's better results. I get little themes when I'm drawing for fun in sketchbooks just prior to. A boy and a bear and a boat starting to be written. I've drawn a lot of bears. Lately there's been horses, which is rare, and evil cats. And, uh, just lately it's, it's people with eyeballs for heads. and I'll have these little, little themes and, you know, that would not necessarily sit so well in, in a children's book. but it's, it's just, you know,

Lucy:

Yeah. I think it's really what you think you just said is really interesting because there's a lot of, analysis from a visual literacy perspective, analysis of what's in the image, which I think is really valid and useful. But it's almost, it is separate from the intent of the creator, because so often that's so innate. and also as a viewer, you never know what someone intended you to, to feel or think. You can have a suspicion, but also you're bringing so much of yourself to it that it's almost, irrelevant. Irrelevant what people, what the creative wanted at the point of it's like left your hands and it's in the hands of the reader or the viewer it's more about them at that point,

Dave:

yeah, I hadn't heard of the whole. Concept of the death of the artist, as you say, you create a thing and then it goes out into the world and then it's not yours anymore. It's the audiences. And I hadn't particularly heard of that, but a boy in a bear in a boat in particular, I'd written it in a very open fashion such that it was very open to interpretation. and I heard, you know, there were some fairly definite things that I intended, but I didn't mind if people didn't get. There were some bits where I just thought, I'm not quite sure what that means, but it's interesting. So I'm leaving it in. And there's lots of, scope for interpretation when it came out and people. particularly because it got Carnegie shortlisted, so it got, into the shadowing process. So lots of people wrote shadowing reviews of it, about a third of which were really hating it, which was hilarious.

Lucy:

Oh no.

Dave:

it was fine cuz I don't, you know,

Lucy:

Some people like to be

Dave:

well it was,

Lucy:

They don't like open, open-ended

Dave:

it is a bit of an irrelevant tangent. It's, it's a, it is a quirk of the Carnegies that, I think they've, they may be slightly addressing it since, but, at the time anyway, a lot of the shadowing groups were basically in secondary schools and there were a bunch of teenagers expecting to read exclusively YA novels on the Carnegie shortlist and they got this weird little fable for seven and and it's that, that's a book that appeals to probably slightly younger than seven, up to about 12. And then there's some teenagers that hate it, and then there's loads of adults that think it's great. But there's a, there's little, there's a little band within which an awful lot of Carnegie shadowing groups were saying, this is, why is this meant to be, it's pointless. Uh, anyway, in the, in the process of it, of it being reviewed, there were various kind of theories about it, and there were a bunch of things where I thought, oh, I hadn't thought of that. But that's interesting. And there were, there were only one or two where I thought, no, no, absolutely not. Which was mostly when people were taking a, a religious angle with it, which I wasn't particularly happy with. but I can't, you know, I can't really complain because as I say, I'd, I'd left it very open to interpretation. People are gonna do that.

Lucy:

And is having those sort of layers of meaning, again, I'm veering into asking you whether something's deliberate, which I don't know if that's that helpful a question, but it seems to be something that's really central to, to your writing is having, these kind of layers of meaning. Are you driven by wanting to say something your

Dave:

I, it varies from book to book and. So like the Emily Line books were, were written pretty much just as pure entertainment. I think the others have a bit of something else going on. and it's something I suppose is, is a bit like, it's a bit like drawing the notebooks I get, I try to get out of the way. So I think there's something more there because I don't get in the way of it, through. I'm expressing this very badly. I wouldn't, I wouldn't want anything to be in there too kind of straightforwardly and directly, but I think, yeah, there's, stuff about. Kind of, you know, my general attitude to life. my, in the loosest possible sense philosophy, that certainly crept into boy and a bear in a boat. I sent a copy of boy in a bar, a boat to my old English teacher, Mrs. Ball, who was my English teacher when I was about 11, 12, 13. who was, he was brilliant teacher, absolutely wonderful. she was kind enough to write to me and, I think she saw from my, my writing some kind of level of, compassionate outlook, or something in there. And I was flattered because I should stress, she didn't remember me from school at all. She made this very clear. Bless her

Lucy:

That's brilliant.

Dave:

with,

Lucy:

So you were completely forgettable. She

Dave:

well, you know, she was my, she was my one, she was my one English teacher for those three years. And, and I was one of, you know, several hundred kids that passed before. apparently not one of the memorable ones. And that's fine. No, I do totally understand. But, Yeah, she had seen some, she thought something of my character within my, within my writing, which, to some extent I, I guess is inevitable.

Lucy:

Thank you so much. It's been really, really interesting. I usually end the podcast with asking guests for a couple of takeouts or things that they'd like to leave educators thinking about or maybe perhaps drawing on some of your experiences that you've had with on school visits and things like that. Doesn't have to be specifically around comics. Could be writing an illustration base, but just something, maybe some food for thought or that we can ponder on after listening to the episode.

Dave:

I'm a bit reluctant to say, the idea that comics are a way in for reluctant readers. I have some issues with, but it's also very true. I have issues with it. As if, as if, As if, as if, you know, I I I don't like that. It's kind of, oh, well, you know, if we, if we can get them started with, with the training wheels, they can move on to proper books as if, and you know, God knows there's plenty of comics that are trash and there's, but there's also plenty of prose that is trash and actually, what's wrong with reading a bit of trash in any case. But also there's, there's fine examples of both.

Lucy:

Ooh. I love it. I do. I mean, I like watching married at First Sight, so that was,

Dave:

you, you, you're outside of my

Lucy:

I am not, I'm not a defender of the high brow,

Dave:

so there's, there's that, there's a, you know, a, it is not necessarily trash just because it's cos I don't say if it was trash, isn't it? I think, you know, with very rare exceptions. All reading is good reading this idea that you would move on from comics rather than just going, uh, as I have. Oh, well that seems to be the form for me. And, and you know, I, I always read Pros as well, and I always will read Pros as well, and sometimes I read prose rather than comics because I haven't got the energy. I spotted myself doing this once, so I kind of had various stuff by the side of the bed to read. I picked up whatever Comicy thing I had, I thought I actually, I don't, I'm too tired for that. I, I can manage that, that book pro there. But that particular comic, whatever it was, is, uh, you know a higher degree of processing that I'd have to do. And I don't have the energy at the moment. So the idea that, yeah, comics is an e easy option is absolute rubbish. But that said, I think there's, a naturalness to the process of reading comics, that children have and then lose. I have a, a friend who's an extremely clever, professor, you know, brain the size of a planet, can't read a comic. Hasn't other skills doesn't. Yeah, it doesn't know. Do I look at pictures first? Do I read, the balloon first? Do I read the caption first? Can't do it. But absolutely, you know, phenomenally. But I bet when she was 10, she could, and I do not and will never understand what, what's going on there, but there's, there's something, Instinctual, I think might be the word, about how to read comics. And something I have witnessed is that, you know, I go, I go into schools quite a bit and I will quite often ask the question, so who likes comics? Whether or not I'm talking about. Books, or I'm talking, sometimes I do cartooning workshops. Sometimes I do writing workshops. Sometimes I just talk about me. But I will normally at some point say, so who, like, you know, who likes comics And some places loads of hands go up some places, hardly any do, in some of the places where hardly any hands go up, you stick some comics on the table in the middle of the room and everybody will want to take a look and everybody will read and know how they work and everybody will like them. It's just that some of them don't do it normally. It's a really natural form to comprehend until you've got entrenched in other forms of a mediums of narrative. And then you understand how films work and how pros works, but you, you've suddenly lost the ability to read four panels of peanuts. You know, it's, it's, it's, very odd.

Lucy:

The one final thing I ask guests on the podcast to leave listeners with is a recommendation, something to read, a comic graphic novel that we could add to our to be read pile. What would you recommend? Just one think of something that might intrigue or interest us.

Dave:

it's, an adaptation of Victor Hugo's. The Man Who Laughs. written by David Hein and drawn by Mark S. Stafford, who's a mate of mine and who is probably my favorite, cartoonist working currently. I just think he's amazing and he happens to be a friend. tremendous, tremendous talent. And, David Hein and Mark Stafford have done a number of books together and they're, they're all good. But, possibly Victor Hugo just br brought enough to the party that I, I think that remains, that's something they did about 10 years ago. I think that remains the, the, the best of what they've done. But, it's all good stuff and, it's just, Tremendous work. Mark. can throw ink about like hardly anybody else. And, he can do funny and he can do squishy horror and he can do, nly, nly lines like you wouldn't believe. He's, he's great. And he's, also very good at the black and white. He'll be interested to hear. He's very good with the color too, but

Lucy:

Well, next time you see, ask him a few thinks of the world in black and white when he is.

Dave:

Will do.

Lucy:

I w I won't, I, I'm, I'm gonna ask every single person this question now until I get, until I get a proper answer. Thank you so much for coming onto the podcast. Um, it's been absolutely brilliant to hear, about your process and your thoughts about stories and putting images and words together. So thank you so much. It's been great

Dave:

It's been a very great pleasure. Thank you, Lucy.

Um, there, we have it. I loved that chat. I would definitely recommend exploring Dave's work if you haven't already. And the monster in the word is available for pre-order now it's coming out in August. So not very long to wait. I'll put a link to that in the Padlet. Which you can access in the show notes. Dave mentioned Mark Stafford there, his mate. Um, just happens to be the cartoon museums cartoonist in residence. Mark. If you're listening do get in touch, I would really love to know if you visualize your black and white illustrations in black and white. We're always here for the hard hitting questions. On comic. Boom. So, yeah, please do get in touch. I'd love to know the answer. My recommendation this week, actually. What I'm reading at the moment is quite by coincidence, a monochromatic book, um, strictly for adults, this one. But I've recently discovered the work of Gareth. Brookes. That's Gareth Brooks and Brooks has an E in it. If you try and Google Gareth Brooks without the Google just wants you to be searching for Garth Brooks really, really badly. So yeah, put that e in I'll also put his website into the show notes so that you can find him more easily than I could. When I was looking after seeing some of his work in a lecture that was in, his book that I have got a copy of now is. The black project, graphic novel, really, really interesting. It's about a boy who makes himself a girlfriend. I haven't finished the story yet, but the artwork is, incredible. It's all created with lino cut and embroidery. And I just loved the really different approach to image making. and I also just, the whole thing's a bit disconcerting really, and a little bit weird. Which I always enjoy. That's it for this week. Thanks so much for listening. Please do like share, subscribe, tell your friends about the podcast. Even if you think they might not be interested in comics. I think there's a lot of interesting content on here that we can really draw people in. So please do share away. You can reach out to me on Twitter, on at Lucy underscore Braidley. And you can also find my contact details in the show notes. I have an absolutely lovely email this week from someone who said that listening to the podcast has really boosted their confidence and that they were now going to start a comics club in their school in September. And I was absolutely thrilled to get that It was brilliant. So please do reach out. I'd love to hear what you are up to. That's it for me this week. My name is Lucy Starbuck Braidley. And you have been listening to comic boom.