Ferguson’s 7 Questions With… Nick Roche
Up this time we have the creator (artist and co-writer with James Roberts) behind my favourite Transformers story, LAST STAND OF THE WRECKERS, and co-creator of a new series MONSTER MOTORS (with Bryan Lynch). It’s 7 questions with Nick Roche.
What was the first comic work you did that was published?
My first work to appear inside one of them American comics one hears so much about was in IDW’s Transformers: Infiltration #0. The company’s Editor-In-Chief, Chris Ryall, was really keen on reader inclusion and wanted to emulate the chumminess of Marvel’s Bullpen where Stan Lee would talk to the reader as if they were old buddies. In order to welcome the new influx of readers into the IDW fold, he had me draw him as a Transformer. There was a toy out around that time called Windcharger which turned into a red Honda sports car, and Chris being the massive media hotshot he is, happened to drive that particular make and model. And thus, Chris-Charger was born. That led to me doing cover for #1 of that series and a few thers before my first interior work on Transformers Spotlight: Shockwave a few months later.
What is the biggest thing you have learned since that book?
If an Editor asks you to draw a picture of him as a robot, draw him pretty.
What’s your process for writing/drawing a comic book?
Question the editor thoroughly about whether they have the right guy. Then eat a load of chocolate until Sweet Mistress Cacao visits me and drizzles me with dewy inspiration.
Other times, I take a different approach. For drawing, it’s the same as most folk: read, then re-read the script, allowing myself to absorb the feel of the story. With some jobs, depending on the demands of the editors, I’ll lay out the whole thing in thumbnails so they can get a clear idea that I nearly know what I’m doing. If there’s a stronger relationship and a higher level of trust with the editor, they leave me to get going myself, and the layouts I do won’t be as presentable, but they’ll convey the info I need to move forward. More and more, I try to focus on the storytelling of the strip, and plan out how to make stuff as readable and flowing as I can at this stage, setting up action that moves nicely across the page and is pleasing on the ol’ peepers. For the meat (pencils) and pertaters (inks), I LOVE to work in big batches. So, ten pages of pencils, followed by ten pages of inks. Sometimes (rarely) I’ll have the script far enough in advance that I can get the whole book pencilled before tackling inks. The only downside to me here is that when returning to the pencils after such a long stretch away from them, the scent has gone cold a little; On the projects where pages needed to be handed in as they’re done, my loose pencil marks are more readable to me when it comes to ink them, rather than coming blindly to a page I pencilled a fortnight ago. But it keeps me more interested and focussed to separate the two duties into separate things.
For writing, it’s long walks and long showers that break the story and help with the plot. Doing something else that’s not writing (but not drawing) really allows inspiration to visit you. Sometimes, the act of writing down a thought will springboard into the next logical step of the story, or forces a nice little connective leap to get you to the next beat of the book. Inspiration can often come from the research material, which can lead to all sorts of fun avenues when building up a story. I’ll then hack away at a synopsis, all the while keeping an eye on the page-count of the comic, and figuring out the length of certain scenes. I really only start visualising the staging (camera shots and compositions) of the tale once I’m at the script stage; I’ll draw a scene and figure out panel transitions when I have a sense of the dialogue between characters. Before that, when I’m blocking out a story for a synopsis/pitch, it’d just be the odd image, if that, which makes itself known to me. At the scripting stage, the story has been broken and agreed-upon between myself and the editor, and it’s at this point that the actual massaging of the keyboard comes into play. No more time for lengthy strolls or indulgent – but thorough – cleansing rituals.
What is the biggest influence on your work?
Artholes: Madureira, Ottley, Ramos, Senior.
Write-whores: K Vaughn, Snyder, Gaiman, Furman
Telly: League Of Gentlemen, Charlie Brooker, JJ Abrams, Pegg/Hynes/Wright, Buffy, Batman: TAS, Millennium & Star Trek TNG/D9
Fillums: Christopher Nolan stuff for atmos, Richard Donner for nice, chunkily-constructed stories, and Disney/Pixar for the pretties.
What are you working on right now?
Right now, as I write, I’m working with a band (international; loud) on their album and promotional artwork. That sort of came out of the blue, so I’m enjoying the detour. The next comics job is a project I’m writing and drawing, but seems to have been idling at the amber light for a while. If it dawdles for much longer, I’ll probably look elsewhere and maybe get a few one-shots under my belt as I wait for it to come fruition. All of the above currently can’t be spoken about. That’s what you interviewers love, isn’t it? Admit it.
What do you out now or coming out next?
I currently pace the floor with other harried Dads waiting for the birth of my latest beautiful bouncer, MONSTER MOTORS: THE CURSE OF MINIVAN HELSING. It’s the follow-up to last year’s one-shot, and just like Back To The Future Part II, it picks up right where we left our hero. Vic Frankenstein, his home-made assistant iGOR (interactive Garage Operations Robot) and his possessed big rig, Frankenride, have been infiltrated by another batch of Monster Motors: Minivan Helsing, Wheelwolf and the Lagoon Buggy. Led by April Van Helsing, they want to keep an eye on Vic and his little operation, but their night is thoroughly ruined by an outbreak of Zoombies.
This is my favourite job – and I think my best work – EVER. The writer is Brian Lynch, who is writing the MINIONS movie out this summer (as well as writing – credited and uncredited – a host of other big-name Hollywood animations and comedies over the last few years) and his stuff just sings. The script made me laugh a ridiculous amount; each character just burbles with wit and goofiness. We described the original as ‘Joe Dante meets Pixar’, but we’re better at sequels than either of them. (The Toy Story trilogy really effs that analogy up, so strike it from the record) Len O’ Grady matches the pitch of the comic perfectly with his colours. He just nails everything that’s asked of him. And a massive shout-out to an unsung genius.Tom B Long is our letterer, and steals the show. Each character has their own unique visually appealing signature speech balloon. With
just Brian’s script and his floating word bubbles, you’d still have a great-looking comics.
CURSE OF MINIVAN HELSING is a two-parter and arrives in February. Make it your Valentines’ gift to me and buy it. Also, pretend it’s my gift to you. So we’re quits now. I was gonna break up with you anyway.
What is your favourite Irish comic?
This is the question designed to divide the Irish comic scene once and for all, isn’t it? Barrett snubs Shalvey. Mooney forgoes Thompson. Sliney pistolwhips Ennis. You devious mummer-hummers.
That said: Mr Amperduke by Bob Byrne. Wordless minifig epic that I give to non-comics readers to fall in love with.
I’m very lucky to be able to say that THIS was a very hard question to answer. Well done, Irish Comics Scene on your high quality output. Don’t stop.
Nick Roche on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NickRoche
Nick Roche on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nick-Roche/318229511288