FERGUSON’S 7 QUESTIONS WITH… KEN MAHON
What was the first comic work you did that was published?
Well, I primarily do webcomics, so I’ll just treat this as the first comic I posted online. It was a 3 page long comic about the sham wedding of myself and Evanna Lynch, the girl who played Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter movies. It was part of a college project and I guess enough people thought it was funny to the point where I seriously considered doing more.
I think the comic itself still holds up as pretty funny, but its terrible to look back at now.
What is the biggest thing you’ve learned since that book?
I should never colour something myself. I am an AWFUL colourist, and at this point, I think my work is strongest when it’s just black and white.
I have done SOME strong colour work, but those are rare instances with predetermined palettes. That and they weren’t even comics anyway.
What’s your process for writing/drawing a comic book?
I would scribble short notes about jokes and plot points down in my notebook, come back to it several months later and think to myself “Was I drunk when I wrote this? James Connolly executed by a pie firing squad?”.
My process changes depending what I’m working on. Long form stories get an ambiguous script thats just dialogue and splits each portion into pages for a sense of pace. My brain does the rest of the work when I thumbnail. For gag comics, most of the writing is done in my head, then takes shape primarily through the thumbnails.
Now the writing process is covered; I do most work traditionally, apart from highly detailed backgrounds and toning. Those are dealt with in photoshop and my unsteady hands lead me to illustrator for nice panel borders. A lot of my methods seems somewhat unorthodox to me, but as long as the final product is presentable then what’s there to worry about?
I’m sure one day an editor will tear me apart.
What is the biggest influence on your work?
Oddly enough I didn’t even start reading comics until a year after I started writing them, religiously at least. I read the Beano and some Batman. Now of course I read hundreds of comics and get influenced by the way each person draws their freaking panel borders. Specific influences on me these days include the artists Giannis Milonogiannis, Zac Gorman, Kate Beaton and Moebius, but we’re going back to the past! What really led me here was cartoons and anime
As such, a 700 chapter strong manga called One Piece seems to have effected me the most. Never have I encountered such a beautifully weaved story, delivered through this bizarre prism of a where there’s thousands of entirely individual characters, all designed by the one guy. From the outside it looks like a goofy adventure about pirates looking for treasure, but the inside is this elaborate political drama about a power struggle between the government and the worlds strongest pirate crews. It’s also hilarious and has made me weep more times than I can count.
If I can write something half as good as that, then I’ve made it. My art style is pretty clearly influenced by it already, as well as my knack for building ideas around elaborate puns.
What are you working on right now?
So many things! On my main webcomic, Clockwork Pandas, I finished up the first chapter of a time travel comic called PARADOX a while ago; the second chapter to follow after I’ve finished the currently running sort-of-journal comic about my entire play-through of the video game Dark Souls. I don’t know why I thought it would be a good idea, but I’ve never been more recognised throughout my entire comics career, so I’m not gonna look that gift horse in the mouth.
What do you have out now, or coming out next?
In shops around Dublin, I believe my journal comic Weekend Lost, which was about a trip to a convention in London where I lost all my friends and found a new one, is available, along with the first 2 issues of Dead Beats, about a zombie jazz band, and an issue of the Mystery of the Murderman, the first chapter of a now finished comic I started in 2008 on Clockwork Pandas.
Next I’m looking to finish up Storm Chasers, which I started months ago, and release it on ComiXology. Or potentially pitch it to someone at DICE. Here’s hoping.
What is your favourite Irish Comic?
It’s gotta be Stray Lines. It’s just the kind of stuff I’m into at the moment. Some simple comics, that aren’t bogged down by extravagant premise or the need to be overtly Irish, but still have a lot of ideas. And it’s in classy black and white.
And I’m super jealous of Phillip Barrett’s line art.