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 artist Laurence Campbell, who has been working on BPRD - a spin off from the Hellboy comic - for the past seven years.
Previously he has drawn "Judge Dredd" for 2000AD, and worked at Marvel on titles such as Deadpool Pulp, Marvel Universe Vs Wolverine, Punisher Max, Wolverine, Moon Knight and Stephen King's The Dark Tower.
What are you working on, comics-wise, right now, and when will it be published?
Laurence Campbell: I’m working for a new company called AWA. The comic is called Old Haunts, it’s written by Rob Williams and Ollie Masters who are both good friends and whose work I respect.
I’m also hooking up with Lee Loughridge, who coloured most of my Marvel work and also working with my former editor at Marvel Axel Alonso. Axel is one of the main people heading up AWA. In a weird way it all sort of fits in with the story. It’s the right time for a book like this and will be out next year sometime.
Which comic project you've worked on are you most proud of and where can people see it or buy it?
Laurence: I’ve just finished working on BPRD which was set in the world of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy. I worked for about seven years on the title, seeing the book to its natural end. Working in that world has been a real honour. Everyone I’ve worked with on the book has been amazing.
I was a fan of Mike’s work long before I worked on BPRD, so professionally this has been a highlight. You can buy the trade paperbacks of BPRD from most comic stores, bookshops or download from the Dark Horse website.
How do you plan your day as a creator? (Do you plan your day?)
Laurence: Continuity works best for me. I go for a walk in the morning and then start work once at my drawing board. I plan what needs to be done for that week and frankly get on with it.
I’ve found it’s all about pacing. If you are doing an ongoing book you can’t keep doing long days and nights before you crash and burn. It’s best to pace yourself with a realistic schedule, small size chunks.
What's the best thing about being a comics creator?
Laurence: For me, it’s the storytelling. I love telling stories. I also like the challenge of solving what the writer wants in the script. The feeling when it all comes together is amazing. Nothing like it. There’s also a lot of freedom in drawing comics not many commercial art jobs have has much freedom. I love it.
And the worst?
Laurence: I think as an artist you really care for the craft. If you’re not careful you can be over critical with your work thinking nothing is good enough. Working long hours on your own can take its toll and it can be pretty lonely.
What most distracts you from getting your work done?
Laurence: Not much, to be honest. I enjoy family time when way from the drawing board and like to get out the house.
Do you think it's easier or harder for young comic creators to get published today?
Laurence: Well, I see a lot more diverse artwork out there on the net, which is great. I think publishers are open to different types of styles and storytelling telling now.
When I first started out, it took me years to see some other artists’ pencilled pages and find out what materials they used. The biggest reveal for me (which was an eye opener) was that you could make a mistake on the page and patch it (this was long before photoshop). These days I love that people can have access to all this by searching the net.
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?
Laurence: I’ve been to the Lake District on holiday a number of times and love it. Never done the Festival so looking forward to it. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.
Which one comic creator would you most like to meet, and why?
Laurence: Plenty of guests to catch up with. I’d like to see the Duncan Fegredo exhibition and the Garth Ennis panel, if I get a chance.
How do Festivals and other comics events help creators most, do you think?
Laurence: Well, in a number of different ways. When starting out it’s a chance to talk to editors and people in the same field as you. It’s also a way of having break and chatting about the business and having a laugh as most of the creators would of been working on their own for a fair bit of the year. Certainly collaborations have come out it it.
What one piece of advice do you offer people looking to work in the comics industry?
Laurence: Go to cons. Talk to like minded people - it’s fun and feels good.
What's your favourite comic right now and where can people get it?
Laurence: I’m enjoying a few comics at the moment, Immortal Hulk, House of X, 2000AD, These Savage Shores and Criminal, to name a few. These can be picked up at comic shops and Comixology.
Laurence, thanks very much for your time - looking forward to seeing you in Kendal!
• The Lakes International Comic Art Festival returns to Kendal at various venues across the town 11th – 13th October 2019 | Buy Tickets | View the full Festival programme online or grab the Festival Guide as a free PDF download
LAURENCE CAMPBELL ONLINE
• Web: www.getcampbell.com
• Twitter: @getcampbell
Questions by John Freeman