Every year, in the countdown to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October, we bring you a series of interviews with guests at the event. This “Festival Focus” for 2019 is with writer Rob Williams, whose works include "Judge Dredd" for 2000AD, with a collection of The Small House on sale next week; Action Comics, Martian Manhunter and Suicide Squad for DC Comics, Amazing Spider-Man, Daken and Ghost Rider and for Marvel, Kingsman: The Red Diamond for Millarworld, Doctor Who for Titan Comics and Indiana Jones and Star Wars for Dark Horse.
His creator-owned titles include Unfollow and The Royals: Masters Of War for Vertigo, Ordinary for Titan Comics and Cla$$War for Com.X.
He has recently written the pilot script for the forthcoming TV show Judge Dredd: Mega-City One and is writing the new series of Roy Of The Rovers graphic novels for Rebellion.
What are you working on, comics-wise, right now, and when will it be published?
Rob Williams: We're currently putting together Old Haunts, a creator-owned series from AWA Studios that'll be out in 2020. It's a very noir supernatural crime thriller. Three LA gangsters are retiring from the city they've run for decades, but the ghosts of their past start catching up with them. Think Michael Mann meets The Shining. It's be me, Ollie Masters, Laurence Campbell and Lee Loughridge, both of whom are guests at the Lakes Festival.
Which comic project you've worked on are you most proud of and where can people see it or buy it?
Rob: That's tough to answer. I'd probably choose ORDINARY by myself and D'israeli if I had to pick just one of my books. Again, that's creator-owned. What if everyone in the world got superpowers via a plague apart from one guy. The unluckiest man on the planet has to find something extraordinary within himself and become the father to his child that he never was.
How do you plan your day as a creator? (Do you plan your day?)
Rob: No plan, as such. Get the kids out the door to school in the morning. Work until lunch. Watch Daily Politics and have a sandwich. Maybe go for a run. Work again in afternoon. There's an awful lot of procrastination within that framework.
What's the best thing about being a comics creator?
Rob: Getting to be creative for a living. That's a dream come true.
And the worst?
Rob: Probably the fact that rejection is a constant facet of the job. You're always going to get pitches turned down, notes you don't agree with etc, sometimes bad reviews. You have to be somewhat thick-skinned.
What most distracts you from getting your work done?
Rob: Twitter. Evil, evil twitter. I wrote a comic about how evil Twitter is - UNFOLLOW. That's how evil it is.
Do you think it's easier or harder for young comic creators to get published today?
Rob: Probably easier, due to the internet giving access to so many publishers and editors. There's a thousand scripts to read online, tutorials on Youtube. I hate to sound like an old fogey, but when I was growing up there was maybe one comic script example in a 2000AD annual. Editors were a letter across the Atlantic away. Now you can publish your work on the net and you don't need print costs or anything like that.
Have you ever been to the Lake District before and if so what did you think of it? If you haven't, what are you expecting?
Rob: I love the area. Have been on holidays here several times the last few years. It's one of my favourite places on Earth. I'm hoping to take an extra day for a bit of walking after the con this time too.
Which one comic creator would you most like to meet, and why?
Rob: I think I've been fortunate enough to meet most of my favourite comic creators over the years. I've not met Alan Moore. So, probably Alan.
How do Festivals and other comics events help creators most, do you think?
Rob: You build your circle of friends and contacts every single con you go to. The first Bristol con I went to in... 1999, maybe? I knew not one soul. Your comics family builds every time you attend a con. And sometimes the brief chat you have with someone will turn into hugely important collaborations for you both a decade later. You can't underestimate how important conventions are, for the networking and just for life-affirming good times.
What one piece of advice do you offer people looking to work in the comics industry?
Rob: Learn your craft before you try and get your break. People fixate early on about getting their big break. You're better off spending time learning the craft of your comics, and getting that to a professional standard. Then people will want to hire you, rather than you wanting them to hire you.
What's your favourite comic right now and where can people get it?
Rob: I'm enjoying Jonathan Hickman's X-Men books right now.
Rob, thank you very much for your time. Looking forward to seeing you again in Kendal!
ROB WILLIAMS ONLINE
All images © respective creators/ publishers