Friday, 8 June 2018

Cockney Kung Fu Question Time!

The mailer that myself and Mr Prolix write and distribute every week just hit the magic fifty-two instalments this week. To celebrate we decided (Nick decided) that it would be fun to interview each other.

I case you haven’t signed up yet here it is in full.

Have fun. 

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Prolix asks Riptide...
Which character in CKF would you most like to see in their own spin-off strip?
This changes hourly. I’ve written a couple of short stories and another small four page strip about Peggy the prostitute who is a background player in Part one of Cockney Kung Fu. Without giving too much away she’s actually based on someone I knew. Sure she’s a junkie and a ‘street walker’ but I’ve loved giving her depth and realism. There is an immediacy to someone so base and desperate. She’s uneducated yet could con you out of a pound coin in a minute. But she’s also lost so profoundly that she cannot see a way back from that hole.
There’s a longer piece that I’m working on that features her more heavily. There’s also a back-up comic that is currently in the works with multi media artist Sarah Harris. I’m really excited to see what she does with it. 
Do you consider yourself a critic who creates comics or a comics creator who writes criticism? 
I am both I suppose. I was writing comics years before I started reviewing them. Books like Bingo Bonanza were made because I wanted to just write. I love the medium and writing about it or actually writing ‘it’ just seems like the same thing.
Writing a script is something of a communication between the writer and the artist. Writing a review is describing the communication between the comic and the reviewer reading it. I could go on forever about this but I think the answer should be that it is just the writing that I love and aim to improve at. A day without writing something is a bit of a lost day. I put as much effort and (hopefully) art into a review as I do a script. It’s all writing, it’s all part of our self on show, it’s all comics.
If you could write for any established character who would it be and why?
Oh Christ. I knew you’d ask something similar to this Nick. Again, this is an answer that would change hourly (I’ve actually written this answer in three different ways already). But as it stands now, right at this moment it would be Badger. A character so profoundly fucked up but also so utterly cool. For those that haven’t ever seen this nutty character I suggest you search out his First Comics appearances.

This is a character that is at times one of the best martial arts masters on the planet. He is also a protector of animals. His boss is a wizard and he has a personality disorder where sometimes he is a young girl and sometimes a serial killer. And on occasion his chi is known to reverse the effects of gravity. 
You’re a film buff and a music fan, but what is it about comics specifically that captures your imagination?
It’s hard to answer this question without falling into cliche. I love comics for the art, the words, the imagination, the family. I was a bit of a boarding school kid and left on my own during the holidays and these things were my companions. This is long before the internet and some of the time was before video tapes. So the Avengers, the X-Men, the Legion and many more were the friends and the family I needed in my life.
The above still doesn’t explain why I love them so much still. I’m not sure why they are the one thing that catches my imagination. It is such an original art form. It is unlike anything else and the way that they flow leaves your imagination to fill in the blanks. There isn’t anywhere in the art or media world with as much of a flight of fancy as there is in comics. There is nothing than can stand up to comics in pure imagination unfiltered and unfettered. 
There are also a million other reasons….
Which non-comics writing/Media text/artwork etc most changed the way you think about comics?
The words are where I like to sit. I love something that hits you or resonates with you are makes you go back and think. In general terms I think a lot of writing is verbose and over done. But Bukowski shows me the way every time. 

‘Find out what you love and let it kill you’ - Charles Bukowski.
Has there ever been a more real line? This sort of short unflowery, gritty, pragmatic, practical, immediate and melancholic use of language is something that I first discovered in my twenties due to the movie ‘Barfly’ with Micky Rourke. It is a movie with many faults but I felt the realism in the movement and brutality. I then went on to read the books and poetry. I think that the world is rough and mine has certainly not been uneventful. I’ve drunk and on the odd occasion got myself on the wrong side of a woman’s anger. Bukowski took a bite, he lived it, he let it in many ways ruin and enrich him at the same time. He uses that as ‘fuel’.
I occasionally sit and think what he would have made of the current creative climate. I think he just may have screwed it up into a ball and kicked it to the curb. He would then have just got on with what he wanted to do. There is no bigger motif for me than this man’s attitude. 
We have to listen and read to be able to write. Because of writers like Bukowski I also believe that we have to experience. You can tell the writers who lack that. 

Riptide... asks Prolix

How much is Slang Pictorial autobiographical?

Despite my shaggy appearance to the contrary I am not in fact old enough for any of Slang Pictorialto be strictly autobiographical, however many of the characters and plot lines  are loose composites of elements from different people I grew up knowing or knew about. So far there haven’t  been any directly autobiographical scenes in the comics but that’s not to say there won’t be in the future.

More than anything, I've taken my lead from Wil Eisner when he says of the stories in Contract With God, "some are true, some could be true". Hopefully that's how the characters and incidents in Slang Pictorial feel, that whether or not they are based on true life events, and regardless of the extent to which they may have been exaggerated for comic effect, they all feel like they could be true.

In the whole of the imaginary universe of Comics worldwide which character is the nearest to you?

No hesitation, Rocket Raccoon. Short. Huge whiskers. Curdmudgeonly but with a spiky wit and an explosive temper. Good line in boiler suits...

In terms of Slang Pictorial there doesn't seem yet to be any character who is modelled, visually at least, on myself, but Lenny, Solomon the tailor’s nephew with a passion for literature and a weakness for the nags who we meet in SP #2 is the character I probably most readily identify with, tho there are parts of me in a whole slew of characters, from Jimmy to Sammy, Ida the newspaper hack and even Linda, tho I reserve the right to refuse elaborating on just what.

Part of the fun of writing such a large ensemble cast - over 40 characters in three issues and growing! - is being able to play with so many different personas. The soap opera form, as well as being broad enough to accommodate so many incidental personalities also allows for individuals to change and transform over time, so it will be interesting to see if any characters grow into more complete self-portraits as the series progressess!

Top 3 influences? Who and why?

In terms of inspiration for the kind of comics I'm hoping to make thru Slang Pictorial it's without a doubt Los Hermanos Hernandez. Telling human stories in a world that persists and grows over time in which diverse characters can take centre stage, to be honest I don't think there is a better example of serialised long-form storytelling and the possibilities of creator-owned publishing than Love & Rockets.

Visually, Maurice Tillieux was a revelation and has completely changed the way I approach cartooning. One day I'll create a drawing with the visual clarity and robust pen line of a Gil Jourdan panel.

"Slang Pictorial? Pitch it to us," says Vince and my stock response is always, "Only Fools and Horses but with more immigrants", but in truth the real inspiration behind The Sheep And The Wolves is that classic comedy-drama series from the 80s, Minder

Everything from the Arthur Daley's patter, Terry's put-upon salt-of-the-earth good nature, the cast of colourful side characters, the London locales, the jolly hi-jinks and the ever-present undercurrent of potential aggro just around the corner, it all feeds into the kind of stories I love telling in Slang Pictorial!

You get to reboot an established character. Who, why and how?

I am toying with the idea of putting out ashcan comics featuring off-brand takes on my favourite characters, and the first is going to be my version of Batroc the Leaper but as a Sixties international man of mystery in a classic heist caper. Think Matt Helm meets Topkapi but with extra kickboxing! 

Recommend something other than a comic that people should be paying attention to?

Amazon is killing it in terms of original TV programming at the moment and too many people aren’t switched on to what they’re offering. Hap and LeonardThe Marvelous Mrs Maisel, Sneaky Pete and Mozart In The Jungle are all worth the price of a Prime subscription by themselves but if I had to recommend just one show I’d say give Patriot a try, you won’t be disappointed.

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