interview by cans mckenzey


cans: For our readers who arenít familiar with you or your work, could you tell them what you do for the comic world?

Andi: I mostly write and draw my own comics: Samurai Jam, Skeleton Key, Geisha and Breakfast After Noon. They're considered to be ďindieĒ comics, which is a small but creatively vital part of the wider, crumbling comic industry.

c: Have you always been British?

A: Last time I looked.

c: Whatís a typical day like for you?

A: I'm very boring! I wake up and feed the cat and my wife breakfast while listening to the news. I sit down at my drawing board around 8:30, and donít stop until 6pm, when my wife gets home. We have dinner, answer e-mails, watch TV, read, do some exercise, whatever. Sleep. Repeat.

c: Sounds like you have a lot on your plate. Is there something you would like to do differently in your day?

A: The big thing about comics is the sheer labor involved. It'd be nice to have enough time not to have to work when Iím not feeling up to it. I guess everyone feels that way, whatever job you're doing.

c: How did you get your start in the industry?

A: I did a comic at the end of college and three mini-comics upon leaving. I sent them out to publishers and Slave Labor agreed to publish new material. It went from there.

c: What inspires you to feature strong females as the leading roles in your comics? I only ask because it seems the norm is to use big-breasted woman with swords and guns.

A: Thatís exactly what I wanted to avoid. The majority of comic readers are teenage boys (although I see more 20 to 40-something men in comic shops) so the subject matter tends to pander to their tastes. It's embarrassing. It's a horrible feedback loop where readers, big publishers and retailers feed off each other while comics sales drop. I try and write characters within their given situation. So far, that hasn't lead to the common depiction of women in comics.

c: Is there anything new you are working on?

A: A series about this chick with huge breasts. She works at an intergalactic Hooters by day but battles evil aliens by night. Actually, that's my next book. Before that I'm working on a new six-issue series called Slow News Day that starts in July. It's about Katharine Washington, a Californian who comes to work on a regional newspaper in England. She covers all the strange little stories you see in local newspapers; school football teams, injured turkeys, lost hamsters. It's about the differences in the US and UK, personal and professional relationships, success, ambition, and parents and children.

c: Do you make any other forms of art outside of comics?

A: I do illustrations. But my comics are pretty all consuming. I keep sketchbooks and try out different things. That's where I find new ways of doing things.

c: My friend is trying to velcro bunnies to a canvas. Would you ever try something like that?

A: I condemn any use of live animals in artwork. Especially cute, fluffy animals. Tell your friend to stop! Actually, my cat sleeps on nearly all of my pages, and stomps all over them. But there's absolutely no velcro involved.

c: Do you have a stalker? If not, can I be yours?

A: Sure. You can stand alongside the horses in the field opposite my house and stare in my windows. Be sure to bring an umbrella and thermals.

c: Do you think Iíll be safe there? Isnít there a tree or something I can hang out in?

A: Well, there are hedges and a couple of trees out there so you could build yourself a fort of something.

c: You used to write Buffy the Vampire Slayer for Dark Horse Comics. How did you land that and why did you stop?

A: Jamie S. Rich, who is the editor at Oni now, was editor at Dark Horse at the time. He liked my work on Skeleton Key and suggested I pitch some ideas for the upcoming Buffy book. They liked my ideas and it happened. I finished after 16 issues because I'd done all I wanted to.

c: Do you like writing for other comics?

A: Writing is interesting because it's a different discipline. You have to explain exactly what happens in each panel and give the artist opportunities to show their stuff. There's no point in doing a talking heads story for an action-type artist, because they'll just get bored. So even though you're concentrating on the writing you're thinking visually too. I do enjoy it, particularly the dialogue. But doing my own comics is definitely the most satisfying. I don't honestly believe you can separate the writing and the drawing, they're indivisible. That's the magic of comics.

c: I heard somewhere that Skeleton Key will be an animated series?

A: That has been in the pipeline for a long time. However, there should be an announcement by the end of this summer. The production company has been in talks with a major kids network, so we'll see.

c: What do you really think of the Queen? Itís alright. You can tell us.

A: Well, the notion of a monarchy is an anachronism. Also, the British constitution is arcanely entangled with the Royals. An example of this is that the democratically-elected Prime Minister has to ask the Queen's permission to form a new Government. It's ceremonial but hopelessly out of date. I'd get rid of the lot of them, but I can't see that ever happening.

c: As early as you can remember, who were some of your artistic influences?

A: Like any kid of my generation, I watched a lot of crappy TV. Starsky and Hutch, 6 Million Dollar Man,..garbage. Iíll probably be one of those uptight parents that never lets their kids watch TV.

c: If there was one childhood memory you could relive, what would it be?

A: One from a long summer day. Sun, the woods and getting scratched to hell by playing soccer on freshly cut fields. It'd be interesting to see the world through my young self's eyes again.

c: Yeah. When youíre a little kid, you see the world differently.

A: Well, I don't subscribe to the Wonder Years ideas about school being the best years of your life and all that crap. Being an adult is a lot less worrying. Little peer pressure, no fear about getting randomly beaten up by some moron, no teachers or parents ordering you about, no gym class (thank God!) and no younger brother trashing your stuff. Life has gotten a whole lot better.

c: Do you ever base any of your comics on experiences youíve had?

A: Write what you know is a stock piece of advice. You have to have an emotional investment in your work. But you also have to be able to stand outside it. You take on the multiple roles of feeling what the characters are going through while inventing the situations that make them react. Breakfast at Noon was part real experience and part invention.

c: Do you have any superstitions?

A: Nah, I'm a boring rationalist. I don't believe in UFO's, sex magic (that's a scam for ugly people to get more sex) vampires or any of that stuff. I do avoid walking under ladders, though.

c: Does it bother you when someone tells you they thought you were going to be a girl because of the spelling of your name?

A: What, like ďA Boy Named SueĒ? My birth certificate reads "Andrew Watson". The "Andi" spelling was a teenage affectation that stuck. As for the gender misunderstandings, I'm flattered. Just like when people think I'm American or Canadian. It reflects well on the work.

c: Would you like to know why they call me ďcans"?

A: You never recycle? You're an alcoholic? You collect toilets?

c: I collect toilets?

A: Going to the "can". Isn't that what you people say?

c: Yes, people do call them that but thatís not why they call me that. I flash íem. You know, my "ta-taís". Iíve yet to do it at church, but there's a first for everything. My parents are very proud.

A: Your "ta-ta's"? That's a euphemism I've never heard before. So, what's wrong with church? Religious or something? You'd be very popular at a comic con!

c: I'm having trouble with a Turbo C program which crashes and says something like "Floating Point Formats Not Linked." How do you fix that?

A: Duh, that's so easy! Just link up your floating point formats.

c: Do dogs have lips?

A: If they do why are they such crappy kissers? And they always slip you the tongue. Have you noticed that?

c: Iíll take your word on that one.

A: Don't take my word for it. Check it out for yourself.

c: Fish and chips or a burger and fries?

A: I gotta say, although I may be drummed out of the country for this, I'm not that big on fish and chips. A good fish and chip place is hard to find. You mostly get these fat, undercooked chips the size of a two by four and the fish is the size of a sardine while the batter is the size of a trout. Then there's the wonderful side orders of mushy peas and pickled eggs or spam fritters. Feeling hungry yet? I'll stick to my veggie-burgers.

c: Yeah, thatís just gross. Iím up for that veggie burger. Can you drink tea only at 4pm or is that a myth?

A: It's a relatively free world, so you can drink tea whenever you want. Except iced tea! Yuck! Tea should be hot, damnit!

c: Would you ever wear a bra on your head?

A: As long as it was properly fitted and gave me support.