Frequently Asked Questions
Which Beano characters have you drawn?
As of 2020, I've worked on: Ratz, Johnny Bean from Happy Bunny Green, Beano Manga, Billy the Cat, Les Pretend, Meebo & Zuky, Number 13, Ivy the Terrible, Little Plum, Will-I-Am the Conquerer, Angel Face, Tricky Dicky, Beano Boss and Minnie the Minx. The number of each title I've drawn varies from one or two strips to several years' worth.
How long have you worked for the Beano?
Since 2007. I started out assisting the legendary Hunt Emerson on the strip he was working on at the time, Ratz, which got me on the editor's radar. After a few months I was offered a full-page strip of my own - Johnny Bean from Happy Bunny Green - and I've been working for them more or less constantly ever since.
Do you write for the Beano?
Many Beano artists write their own stories, and I have done this in the past, but currently I'm only on art duties.
My child's a big Beano fan, can you send them a sketch?
Time permitting, sure. Email me and try your luck;)
How did you become a professional comic artist?
My story is a classic case of being in the right place at the right time. I've loved drawing ever since I was tiny, and had a plan when I was a teenager to study animation at university. But I chickened out of that, thinking my art skills weren't up to it. So I did an English degree and became an editor instead. After about eight years of editorial work I decided it was time to find out if I could do something arty for a living, on the logic that even if I failed it would be better than forever saying What If. It just so happened that around that time I heard about a course called StripSearch (shut up, I know) running in my home city, that was created to help people break into the comics industry. Long story short, I won a place on it. The positive feedback I got from the tutors on the course, who were all comics professionals, convinced me to finally quit my editing job and see if I could find comics work. I started assisting Hunt Emerson (one of the tutors) on his Beano strip in 2007, and the other tutor, John McCrea, put me in touch with the editor of a brand new comic - the DFC - who also hired me to draw two strips. It's no word of a lie to say that StripSearch changed my life, and I'm very pleased to say that in the intervening years I've been an assistant tutor on more recent (and thankfully differently-named) incarnations of the same course, allowing me to pay that forward to future comickers.
How can I become a professional comic artist?
Every artist's breaking-in story is different, so there's no single answer to this question. You don't necessarily have to study comics at college (I didn't), although there are some comics courses out there if you fancy that route. My main advice would be to draw a lot. A LOT. If you don't love drawing enough to do it every single day, for many hours, even if you've got to draw something you dislike (for example, I don't like drawing vehicles, but they crop up a lot in comic strips), really think whether you'd want to do this as a full-time job. And don't just draw single images - if you want to draw comics, draw sequential art. Draw many pages of it. Prove to an editor you have the chops to do that. Consider starting a webcomic. Put your work online, on Instagram and a dedicated portfolio website. Basically, do a lot of drawings and get those drawings under people's noses. Go to conventions and meet editors/professionals to get their feedback. Listen to the feedback, even if you don't agree with it. Be committed, be resilient, be kind, be lucky. Be prepared to have another job on the go at the same time that helps with your bills - freelancing is a fickle business, and many comic artists do this.
How long does it take you to draw a page?
This varies massively depending on many factors, such as number of panels and complexity of backgrounds, but an average Beano page takes me around 10 hours from blank paper to coloured artwork.
What materials do you use?
For most comic pages, I draw the artwork on A3 layout or marker paper using pencils and art pens. I then neaten it up and colour it in Photoshop. For illustrations I sometimes work all-digitally, and sometimes all-traditionally - depends on the job.
Did you work on Regular Show the TV series?
No, only on the spin-off comic by BOOM! Studios. They're made by entirely different companies, although Cartoon Network do have input in the comic stories.
Did you work on Steven Universe?
No. I'm just a fan.
How much do you charge for (a portrait, illustration, workshop etc)?
I quote on a job-by-job basis - please drop me an email with further details of what sort of thing you need.
I'm running a comic convention, would you like to be a guest?
That's jolly kind of you to ask! I can't always attend every show I'm invited to, owing to deadlines and other commitments, but please feel free to email and we can discuss.
I'm at college/school doing a project about comics, can I send you a list of questions to answer?
I'm really sorry, but my workload means I generally don't have time to do these. I've agreed to them in the past and always feel super-guilty when they get neglected in favour of meeting deadlines. Your best bet is probably to see me at a comic event, where I can answer questions face-to-face.
Why do birds suddenly appear, every time you are near?
They mistake my hair for nesting material.