FERGUSON’S 7 QUESTIONS WITH… BRIAN BURKE AND JOHN DEVLIN
One of the objects of 7 questions is to highlight creators that people might not be aware of yet. Up this time are the creative time behind the recently released Incadescent Memories. 7 questions with writer Brian Burke and artist John Devlin.
What was the first comic work you did that was published?
Brian: My first published comic was for Uproar Comic’s ‘Zombies Hi’ issue #7. Met Danny & Kevin at my first convention at Arcadecon and showed them some work I had prepared from college. The story was called ‘The Honeymoon’ and was written by Ronan Davidson.
John: The comic me and Brian worked on, Incandescent Memories is actually the first time I’ve properly done a comic to be printed. I’m completely new to this side of illustration. The only kind of comic work I done before this project was in college In my comic class. I done an 8 page Ni No Kuni comic which I really loved doing and that experience made me want to get into comics.
What is the biggest thing you have learned since that book?
Brian: If I had to point out one important lesson I took from the experience it’s that always push your capabilities in terms of scope. There was a particular panel in that story that I had a problem conveying. Danny,who was the editor, kept at me to push myself to make the shot more dramatic,more hellish. A few re-adjusted thumbnails later I got it to work. I finally got what he meant as my first pass wasn’t even comparable in hindsight. Danny got me to learn that in comics, no panel is set in stone and that it’s ok to dump the idea even if it’s a cool shot you had in mind. If it isn’t working,it isn’t working. Don’t marry ideas.
John: Since it was a project we had complete control over I found it very hard to get out of the development phase and into actually beginning the pages. I love designing and developing things as far as I can take them and we had only one month to get it done and printed for D.I.C.E. It was a bit overwhelming to say the least but I learned to commit to a process and not a goal. Get each step done one stage at a time and stick to the deadlines.
What’s your process for drawing/writing a comic book?
Brian: In terms of writing,I come up with an idea and no matter how stupid or thin it may appear,I just keep writing. I sit on it for a short while until I come back to it and review and pick apart everything I dislike about it,rewording it and correcting continuity if it needs to be done. Characters usually come first and evolve around the story as I go along.After that comes character designs and concepts,thumbnails and layouts.The art is usually done traditionally with inks and pens and then scanned in later into Photoshop to be coloured digitally. When it’s purely done by traditional means,pencils,inks and watercolour are all layered and scanned individually into the computer to be compiled into photoshop.
John: For this one Me and Brian decided we would do 4 short stories. We would write 2 each and swap one of the stories so I had one of his and he had one of mine. I had 2 simple enough ideas and wrote them down and developed them for a day or so. They had to be only 5 pages each so it couldn’t be anything too in depth. As far as the art goes I like to develop the characters first and really get a feel for who they are and where they came from by just looking at them. Then I’ll create designs for the world around them. This is my favourite part of the process. I’ll do colour studies and create character sheets for myself. Only then do I get to making the pages. Thumbnail each page out about 5 times, use the shots that work. See If the story flows nicely. Once I’m happy with all that I’ll then get comic boards and rough my pages out using a 7H pencil. Very light I know but it’s what I’m used to. I make basic shapes and detail. Then I ink them traditionally and scan to Photoshop for digital colour.
What is the biggest influence on your work?
Brian: Quentin Blake without a doubt! A big influence and inspiration towards my work. I also love the work of cartoonists and absurdists like Gerald Scarfe and Ralph Steadman. Their linework and grotesque shapes and figures were ingrained into my mind at a young age. Another influence of mine was my mentor, Dan Berry who helped me refine my style and got me into reading comics I normally wouldn’t hear about from Europe and elsewhere. He also got me into thinking more analytically about the language of comics and storytelling. Probably the best lecturer I ever had.
John: I’d love to give a couple of reasons as to what influences my work but there is too many to name. I just love illustration and looking at art and the countless different styles it comes with. Comics, animation, Video game design. It all influences my work and sets me a standard that I’m always trying to move toward.
What are you working on right now?
Brian: Me and John are just about to begin another comic project akin to ‘Incandescent Memories’. We’re doing more short stories but this time we’ll be expanding the operation from 2 to 4 artists!
John: I’m working on a lot of small things all the time. Right now I’m doing illustrations for a card game and doing some commission work for different people, I‘ve an exhibition coming in November and in talks about making a second artbook. Me and Brian will be teaming up with 2 other illustrators for a big comic project in the next few days which I’m really looking forward to. I really enjoyed working on the last comic with Brian so can’t wait to see what happens with this one.
What do you have out now or coming up next?
Brian: Our comic,Incandescent Memories is out now in comic shops around Dublin after the craziness that was our launch at this years DICE convention! I also contributed art to a digital comic in the UK that came out just before DICE called ‘Everybody’s Cursed’ from Clockwork Goat Comics. Before I forget,I also contribute a comic strip to Rabble Magazine called ‘Harry Hangover’ which just came out in Issue #9. Next,I have one project in particular lined up that is in the early stages at the moment. Nothing much I can say about it but it is something I’m eager to sink my teeth into! (That didn’t mean to sound cryptic there…)
John: The latest is this Comic me and Brian worked on, Incandescent Memories. It’s on sale in pretty much every comic store in Dublin. I also have a small art book called Chonkyfire which is on sale in the same places (if there is any copies left that is) .
What is your favourite Irish comic?
Brian: If I could only pick one,it’s Bob Byrne’s,Mr Amperduke. It has a universal story that can be understood in any language due to its silent method of storytelling and has you just constantly flipping pages back and forward and re-examining details in panels. Of course you don’t have to and you can be done with the comic in a few minutes but the fact it doesn’t restrain you to make that choice is very liberating. Plus it involves Lego and who doesn’t like Lego?
John: They’re all great!