Scottish Independent Comic Book Awards nominee, co-creator of webcomic Jonbot Versus Martha and accomplished artist with works covering topics such as his travels to Barcelona and Berlin and stargazing, Neil Slorance was kind enough to take time out from his schedule to answer questions on his process, successful year and future plans.
Geek Chocolate – Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions, Neil. First off, what was it that first drew you to telling stories with art?
Neil Slorance – Well I reckon the reason I love doing art so much is that it can tell stories. I started out by doing canvas paintings with little characters that would tell a little story in one picture and a lot of the time they’d ultimately be me getting my thoughts and feelings on canvas. I’m personally a bit of an introvert so being able to get my thoughts across with art is a bit of a life saver.
GC – You’ve developed a very distinctive style; what elements and influences would you say you incorporate in your work?
NS – I like to keep things simple. I’m a big fan of Chris Ware whose art is very geometric and functional yet looks simple and elegant. I also love Luke Pearson especially the Hilda books where the art is playful and beautiful. A big influence on my new book was Ryan Andrews who is great at using texture and ink washes as well as an amazing use of lettering and composition.
GC – Which artists/recent books are you currently enjoying, be they prose or comics/graphic novels?
NS – I’m still reading Chris Ware’s Building Stories in bits and bobs. I just finished Jeffrey Brown’s A Matter of Life which was pretty good. I also re-read Ryan Andrews’ This Was Our Pact because it’s fantastic.
GC – Jonbot Versus Martha, your web-based collaboration with writer Colin Bell that was nominated for several SICBAs last year; what impact did working on that project have on your art?
NS – I came on miles while working on Jonbot. You can see by looking at the first and the last strips. The first strips were all done as basic line drawings with nothing digital whatsoever and then nearer the end it was in full colour with gradients and shading and I was doing most of it with a tablet so I learned heaps about digital art while I was on the job. It was also great practice having a weekly deadline as well as doing wonders for my confidence as an artist.
GC – Your books Nine Lines of Metro and Seven Days in Berlin describing your trips to Barcelona and Berlin saw you moving your storytelling in to autobiographical territory. What was it that prompted you to write about these experiences?
NS – It started when I was in Barcelona. I was keeping a comic diary of my holiday mainly as an exercise, but with the events that unfolded these little exercises turned themselves into a book and then into a little saga. Fortunately they were received pretty well. I had a big fear of “nobody wants to read about my holiday” when I was releasing them.
GC – The Amateur Astronomer’s Journal, though a step away from travelogues such as Nine Lines and Seven Days, still retains that very personal feel; how would you describe the book fitting with your other works?
NS – I guess it fits in the way that it’s still told from a journal point of view so still feels quite personal like you’re reading someone’s diary. A lot of the stuff in the Astronomer’s Journal comes from my own experiences of going out with my telescope so in a way it’s autobiographical.
GC – With The Amateur Astronomer’s Journal seeing you again nominated in the SICBAs, how do you feel about being recognised amongst the top talent in Scottish comics right now?
NS – Pretty good! I know the competition this year was a lot tougher so I’m just super happy to be recognised and nominated. I was especially taken aback with the best writer nomination because I’ve never really thought of myself as a writer, I’ve never sat down to write scripts or plan out stories, I just kind of put the words in as I go.
GC – Having produced several well received books in the last year, what projects and plans do you have for the next twelve months?
NS – If all goes to plan I’ll have another three books within the year. Firstly one with my friend Campbell Miller which will be all about how to be a suave chap, in a similar vein to my How to be a Ghost book. Later on in the year I’ll be finishing Dungeon Fun which is Colin Bell’s big new thing, and last but not least I’m going to wrap up the travelogue series.
GC – And finally, what advice would you pass on to aspiring writers and artists out there?
NS – Don’t be afraid to show your work, even if you’re not proud of it. Do something every day and put yourself out there. Thank you!