FERGUSON’S 7 QUESTIONS WITH… LEONARD O’GRADY
What was the first comic work you did that was published?
My first work in comics was as a separator back in the mid-90’s, I want to say it was for Superboy, but there was such a high turnover of work that I can’t be one hundred percent certain. I do know that the first gig I got under my own name was for Dave Bishop at 2000AD. It was a Sinister Dexter story and in hindsight, I probably over egged the pudding a bit and rendered the crap out of everything in each panel. Thankfully, I think Dave put it down to enthusiasm and things rolled on from there.
What is the biggest thing you have learned since that book?
Comics are hard. If you break it down, a standard American Comic has about one hundred panels that need filling- it’s a turnover that a lot of artists in other professions would balk at. On top of that, a good colorist can make poor art tolerable, but an inconsiderate colorist can murder any quality art. A decent communication between the team is essential. I know how obvious it sounds, but you’d be surprised how often it can get overlooked in the rush to meet a deadline. If had a penny for every artist who was surprised and relieved I got in touch with them, I’d probably be able to buy a Cornetto.
What’s your process for colouring a comic book?
Pretty straightforward- if necessary, I contact the artist to see if there are any notes he might have for me, then I read the script, noting where the emphasis is in each panel and on each page and plot out the palette in my mind. If the art needs cleaning up, I get that done and then it’s off to my flatter, Dee. Flatting really saves me a lot of the heavy lifting, especially on a detail heavy comic. When it comes back, I tweak the flats so the various planes and the emphasis I identified earlier are clear, and I get cracking. I work on a Cintiq 21 hooked up to a MacBook Pro, though that old warhorse is showing her age now.
What is the biggest influence on your work?
I’d have to say I’m pretty eclectic- I grew up on 2000AD rather then spandex, so I think people like Mick McMahon, Kevin O’Neill, John Hicklenton, Cam Kennedy and later Mike Mignola and Jeff Smith have been huge influences on how I draw comics. In terms of color, it’s all over the place- Dave Stewart, Matt Hollingsworth, Igor Kordej and Gerald Scarfe leap to mind, but I get ideas from all kinds of places; photography, television, The Impressionists… it’s all grist for the mill- comics are insatiable and your mind is constantly grasping for new ways to approach things.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I’m polishing off Triple Helix for John Byrne at IDW and have started a new historical supernatural thriller for Delcourt in France. Both very different, which is exactly what I need.
What do you have out now or coming out next?
My run with Simon Coleby on IDW’s Judge Dredd: Year One is out this week, I think. Simon is always a joy to work with and we get on like a house on fire- lots of smoke, screaming and people jumping from windows.
What is your favourite Irish comic?
Right now, it’s anything done my my fellow Eclectic Micks, though The Department of Monsterology is a real stand out for me.