SIMON BISLEY ANSWERS 15 QUESTIONS WITH JULINDA MORROW
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past twenty odd years, you know the name Simon Bisley. He’s the love child of Frank Frazetta and Richard Corben who entered the comics world in the early 1990’s and proceeded to turn it on its head.
Simon’s art and characters are mirror images of one and another: aggressive, irreverent, brutal and sexy. From his work on Slaine to his work on Lobo, Simon has braved his own path and taken no prisoners.
A gallery of Simon’s savage art can be seen at the end of this interview.
Julinda Morrow: What path led you to comics and sequential art?
Simon Bisley: I read comics when I was a teenager so always had an interest. I submitted some art work to 2000AD when I was 23. They arranged an interview – it went well and I got a job working with Pat Mills on ABC Warriors.
JM: What schooling or training did you receive?
SB: I did a year’s foundation course at college studying art and design. The tutors were always annoyed because I was always drawing superheroes and comic characters.
JM: Who, in your opinion, are the pioneers of sequential art?
SB: Jack Kirby really changed the comic industry and made it popular with the masses.
JM: How do you define sequential art?
SB: Stories told using images and narrative making it more interesting for children to read. But now adults find this way of story telling interesting with books written by Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore, etc.
JM: Do you find that sequential art provides you with near-limitless possibilities for storytelling or do you experience it as constraining?
SB: I am, of course, constrained by the major companies I work for. They have to protect their franchise. Some stories started off crazy and then the company had to rein me in before it went too far.
JM: What qualities or resources do you believe are most important for a sequential storyteller to have?
SB: Original story and a sense of space and environment with good strong characters who have something interesting to say and do.
JM: How do you approach your work process?
SB: I don’t do any preparation for it. I just get it done between sleeping.
JM: How many hours a day do you work? Are you uniformly productive on any given day or more productive on some days than others?
SB: I don’t do work everyday. I tend to let it pile up and then work in a fury until it is finished.
JM: Was it a struggle, at the start of your career, to find work and make ends meet?
SB: No. When my career took off I had more money because before that I was doing manual labour jobs for very little money.
JM: What has been your most valuable professional experience?
SB: Meeting Frank Frazetta and having dinner with him in San Diego.
JM: What inspires or informs you creatively?
SB: Life – everything around me; music, food, people, history and other artists.
JM: What is your position on digital comics? Are they a good thing or a bad thing?
SB: I don’t think much about it – don’t care either way. I personally would rather have a comic – something I can actually own and hold in my hands.
JM: If you were to make any changes to the industry or the market what changes would you make?
SB: I think it works fine the way it is.
JM: If you could apprentice under any artist at any time in history and anywhere in the world who would it be?
JM: What, in the future, would you like to accomplish creatively?
SB: I would like to direct, act and design a movie.