FERGUSON’S 7 QUESTIONS WITH… PADDY LYNCH
Up this time we have a creator who is greatly admired by other creators (and yours truly). He gave an excellent talk early last year on his work at a Laydeez Do Comics event. He does an excellent job of it here too (he provided all the art and all the links!). Taking centre stage is Paddy Lynch.
What was the first comic work you did that was published?
Aside from a couple of dodgy cartoons and comic strips in school newsletters or weird fanzines in the mid nineties, it was ‘Last Bus #1‘ which I self published in 2008. The drawing is pretty rough to look back at now, but I still think the story holds up.
What is the biggest thing you have learned since that book?
Stick to your guns. For most makers, comics are a lot of work for very little financial payoff. There’s not much point in spending time on something you’re not 100% into.
What’s your process for writing/drawing a comic book?
What I love about comics is the mixed process of writing and drawing. They’re very intertwined in my mind. There’s usually an initial ‘spark’ – an idea, concept, character or situation that I latch onto and then expand out from. I spend a lot of time turning the ideas over in my mind until I have a fairly solid story outline with a few key scenes.
For example, with the story Friendly, Local in Stray Lines I was thinking a lot about ‘territory’ and the idea of ‘ownership’ of an area. I was looking for a character to represent those ideas and Danny kind of came together is an amalgamation of any number of hard chaw types you might come across in a working class area of Ireland.
From that point I try and build or orchestrate a narrative that revolves around the central character or idea. Sometimes the stories end up pretty close to how I originally envisaged, and sometimes they don’t. With Friendly, Local I found it became a bit more about Danny’s character and his set of circumstances and less explicitly about the initial idea. Whatever works for a more engaging story.
I’d do a lot of this in my notebooks – very roughly sketch layouts or scene breakdowns, and scribble out dialogue ideas and panel transitions before bringing it all to the page. I have never worked out a full script beforehand – I like to leave some room for improvisation.
Visually, I have always worked pretty traditionally, from notebook based thumbnails to fully rendered pencils, inks and then digital colours. Recently though I’ve experimented more with drawing directly in ink/pen/marker and working in a strict grid to allow room to improvise and edit the story as I go. I’m constantly tweaking the process.
What is the biggest influence on your work?
These guys. Seriously, stay with me! It’s not like I’m trying to do a direct comics approximation of Red Medicine or anything, but there is something about the way they twisted and recombined aspects of rock music, embraced a sense of space, were unafraid of discordance and unconventional structures that completely opened up my appreciation of music and art in general. I try and apply some of those aesthetics to my own work.
Every time I sit down to make comics that’s at the forefront of my mind – if I could put something back out in the world that gave someone even the tiniest fraction of what I got from Fugazi, I’d be happy. Plus, the manner in which they conducted their business with complete artistic integrity, independence and intelligence is absolutely untouchable. We could all learn some lessons from their approach.
I love the work of cartoonists like Frank Santoro, Zak Sally, Dash Shaw, Eleanor Davis, Sammy Harkham, Nate Powell, Lilli Carré, Conor Willumsen. These might have more discernible visual cues as to where I’m coming from! Basically, I’m always interested in anyone that combines a strong personal vision with thoughtful cartooning and storytelling.
I’m not a huge movie buff but I do really like the films of Mike Leigh – I really like the way he constructs narratives. How you frame a series of events, even if the actual plot seems comparatively slight, can make for a very satisfying payoff.
What are you working on right now?
I just finished a 10 page submission for Kus comics anthology. Its about a guy who’s face spontaneously pixellates when he goes to buy a packet of Silvermints. Also, a weird science fiction story, ‘Stone Hewn Sky‘, which will essentially become Last Bus #3 and will be serialised on my tumblr prior to it’s release (still working out some of the visual kinks in this one):
What do you out now or coming out next?
Stray Lines, Big Jim, Last Bus 1 & 2 alongside various other minicomics. Get them all from my website, you won’t regret it – usually throw in a couple of postcards and a sketch with each online order. Stone Hewn Sky/Last Bus #3 will be out sometime in the spring (touch wood) and will be serialised online beforehand. I have plans for Cardboard Press to publish some comics by a few more artists later this year too.
What is your favourite Irish comic?
Gus Hughes’ ‘Animals Attacking Their Own Reflections‘ story in Stray Lines, weird, surreal and hilarious. I loved the primitive pixellated artwork he created for it – It wasn’t to everyones taste – I think it was all done in a really old version of Microsoft Paint. I also loved John Robbins ‘Curtains‘ from last year.