QUICK QUESTIONS WITH Bob Curran
Who are you and what is your connection to comics?
I’m Bob Curran. I write books based around history and folklore and also work in community development in Northern Ireland. Over the years I’ve drifted in and out of comics – I’ve worked at times for Eclipse, Cozmik, the Dandy and the Beano and a number of small-press publications, all scriptwork . I also used to run Fool Moon Press.
What comic are you working on right now?
I’m scripting a few comics –Space 1949 (with a spin-off, Hal McLean) with artist Adrian Lutton; Joachim Darke, about a 17th century witch-hunter, with David Dale; Doc Lazarus, an Edwardian time traveller, with both David and Adrian, Forgotten Soldier, about a Roman legionary left behind when the Legions leave Britain, and Father Tibor: Judgement of the Calusari, about an East European holy man – this is done in Poland. Some of these are up on the Bog Standard Comix website.
What’s the best part of making comics?
The creative process – imagining things, thinking them through and seeing your ideas come to life on the page. Nothing beats that. Also seeing how artists interpret your own ideas – maybe in ways you never thought of yourself – that’s part of the process too.
What’s the worst part about making comics?
Not being able to draw – however I’m able to think visually and have a good idea of how to describe it to an artist. However, in order to put a comic together, you have to have an artist with the same interest, so it’s a slow process. It’s also a pretty solitary one and I sometimes miss having somebody around to bounce ideas off when I’m working.
How did you first discover comics?
When I was younger, we lived in a very rural part of County Down and each Thursday the breadman used to have a selection of comics in his van which he brought out along with the papers. These included the Dandy and the Beano. Later at secondary school I would buy comics on my way home – Wellworths used to have a big roundel display of American comics like Rip Hunter, Tales to Astonish etc. Those were great.
Who is the biggest influence on your work?
Probably Sidney Jordan and Willie Patterson. One of my uncles used to get the Daily Express every day and I used to turn to read Jeff Hawke even as a child. They were thoughtful and intelligent scripts and a couple of people have said that my Space 1949 has the feel of Hawke which is the best complement that they could pay me. Other than that, the great Don Lawrence who did Trigan Empire, Storm and Karl the Viking, and the terrific Frank Bellamy as well as Eric Bradbury who did Maxwell Hawke. If I had to pick an American artist I would probably pick Steve Ditko for his work on early Spider Man and Dr. Strange, although I gather he’s not all that approachable as a person. Or maybe Archie Goodwin for his work for Creepy and Eerie which I used to love.
What tools of the trade do you use?
My brain and a computer.
What is the single work of which you are most proud?
That’s like asking me which of my children do I prefer. I like everything I’ve done but for different reasons.
What is the best advice you have received?
Take your work seriously but never yourself. There’s always somebody else who’s as bright or as talented as you. You don’t want to finish up like Bono do you?
What’s the worst advice you have ever received?
Just forget about it. It’ll never work.
What do you think of the current Irish comics scene?
I don’t know enough about it to comment properly. It seems to me that it is a number of very talented individuals doing their own thing and that makes it very disparate. As an actual movement, I think it lacks focus but that’s only a passing opinion – I could be wrong. Or maybe that’s its strength.
What would you like to see happen in Irish comics in the near future?
I’ve read what a couple of other people have said in this regard and I think they’re spot on. I actually would like to see some sort of mechanism, whether it be a permanent Forum, a dedicated publisher or, perhaps ideally, a regular magazine, or a set of magazines, which showcase the obvious talent that’s out there. I think that here in the North it should be funded in part by DCAL (Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure) although given the type of Ministers that we’ve in that’s not going to happen. It would encourage young artists and raise the status of comics in general .The Dutch, French and Italians can do it – we’re way behind the rest of Europe.
What would you like to see happen in comics in general?
A decentralisation of power and money from America. End of Marvel/DC dominance which is ruining the entire comics industry and inhibiting the growth of smaller companies with film tie-ins and the like. A divergence of content is really needed with a heavy emphasis on storytelling. I’ve nothing against superheroes but if you want to continue down that road, then some sort of original thinking is needed. New and exciting ideas really need to be explored – something that corporate comic book publishing ignores.
What was the last comic that made an impact on you?
I’ve given up buying US comics because I sadly don’t find them interesting any more. Probably EPPO – a Dutch stripzine, maybe because I used to do some stuff for it. But most comics are mediocre both in style and content these days – you’d have to go back to the 1970s I think,
From your experience what is the advice you could give someone who wants to start making their own comic?
I’m not really one to offer any advice except maybe, if you think it’s worth doing stick with it.
Any final thoughts?
For more on Bob Curran, see the bio on his website.