Exploring the Otherworldly Landscape of Martin Simpson’s ‘Misc’ [Back Pages]
Sometimes you see a style of storytelling that is so distinct and different from anything else out there that you have to stop and just admire what's going on. In the case of Martin Simpson's Misc anthology, currently running on Kickstarter to fund a print edition, you'll need every moment possible to try and cram in every little detail of the work.
Simpson's artistic style is inspired by everything from Bruce Timm to The Triplets of Belleville, and it offers a strikingly bold, sideways glance at a world that pulses with off-kilter energy. His colors stamp an electric atmosphere across the faces of his characters, while the worlds and lives they live feel unique, uneasy, and imposing. It all looks hugely impressive, and feels like a firm footstep into another dimension.
To find out more about Misc, and the uneasy shimmer of neon nightmares that glimmer beneath each page, we spoke to Simpson about the project.
ComicsAlliance: What’s the basic premise of the anthology?
Martin Simpson: Misc Anthology is a 52 page collection of seven short comic book stories that I’ve been creating, on and off, over the last few years. If you’re in the market for post-apocalyptic nomads, bizarre carnivals, Victorian era madness, gothic nightmares and a bit of dark comedy, then look no further!
I’ve been producing these odd little stories every now and then since 2011, and earlier this year, when I realised I had enough short comic stories to put together a short anthology, I thought I would give it a go and put them out together.
CA: Are the stories interconnected in any way --- by theme, or character?
MS: Well, all the work came from the same brain… so in a way it can’t help but be connected!
While these stories were created without any intended relationship to each other, it was really interesting for me to see how many accidental connections, re-accruing themes and imagery I could see when I first collated everything together. It’s quite revealing about me and my life actually!
CA: Your artistic style is so striking --- how do you feel you've developed as an artist over the course of the last few years, from 2011 to now?
MS: Thanks very much! Well, I’ve been working as a freelance illustrator for the last eight years and my style and working methods have developed a lot over the years. Usually, people are quite surprised to find out that I paint 100% in Photoshop using a Wacom Tablet. I’ve only been working this way for the last four years though… so always looking to get better!
My process is very intuitive but nothing new really… concepts start in my sketch book for both the design and plot. Then I like to write up a script and layout the story in rough sketches. I’ll then collect or photograph any reference I’ll need to aid the final artwork and get down to the hard graft of painting it all up. Everything begins as a greyscale painting --- then I start to play with adding colour. It’s pretty labour intensive!
CA: Where do you feel you draw influence from, as an artist?
MS: From so many places I don’t know where to start… and it changes too. Cinema and animation have always had a huge impact on my work. Comics wise, I’m a huge fan of the French comic artist Nicolas De Crecy --- he’s fantastic. I think I first stumbled over his book Foligatto in a comic store quite a while ago now. I instantly fell in love with his work --- which is strange, dark, detailed, sometimes a little manic. He also has an amazing use of colour. He was also heavily involved with the look and design of the animated film The Triplets of Belleville --- I love that film too!
I love Shaun Tan’s work too. Plus, although there is absolutely no sign of it in my work, I’m a big fan of Dave McKean. I also have a deep ingrained love of the early 90’s Batman: The Animated Series… that was a big influence on me as a kid.
CA: What made you decide to take the project to Kickstarter?
MS: I’m fairly new to comic book making, and I thought that by Kickstarting I might find out, if there is any kind of paying audience for my work. Plus, I don’t think you can overestimate what great self-promotion crowd funding can be --- on top of the usual financial help it gives you.
CA: How much of the anthology have you already completed?
MS: Misc Anthology is totally complete, proofed and ready to go to the printers right now!
CA: If you achieve your goal, what’s your estimated delivery on the final project?
MS: I’m now fully funded with two weeks to go on my campaign. Everything will be delivered to all backers by the end of this coming January at the very latest.
Misc will run on Kickstarter until Friday 13 November 2015, looking for a target of £700 (which has already been reached!) To find out more, you can find the Kickstarter here.