Ralph Steadman talks about his work with Hunter S. Thompson and film “For No Good Reason”

Ralph Steadman is a British Gonzo artist that is best known for his work with American author Hunter S. Thompson, author of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”. After meeting each other in 1970 to cover the Kentucky Derby, Steadman and Thompson formed a long-time relationship. Steadman’s did the artwork for Thompson’s books over his career. He is also an author himself having written numerous books focusing on his drawings…or as Hunter would have called it his “filthy scribblings”, according to Ralph. This April, “For No Good Reason” makes its U.S. debut in NYC, which is a documentary on Ralph’s career. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Ralph about the film and his work with Hunter S. Thompson.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you got approached for the documentary “From No Good Reason”?
Ralph Steadman: The director Charlie Paul initially came down to see me, then the producer Lucy Paul. This was over a period of twelve years, you know. They would stay for lunch, we would talk and then we would carry on. So over twelve years, we made this film. It just seems so long ago from when we first started it. They got Johnny Depp involved, which was good because he has become a personal friend of mine over the years. He is such a great guy, easy going, warm, genuine and terrific fellow…
MG: I loved Johnny’s narration in the film as well, very nice touch.
RS: Oh yeah, it was lovely. I agree.

MG: How did you feel about having a documentary about your life done?
RS: I first thought “For God’s sake…why?” “For no good reason”…that is what Hunter would have said. I used to always ask “Why are we doing this Hunter?” and he would always say “For no good reason, Ralph” [laughs].

MG: How was it seeing some of your drawings brought to life and illustrated in the film?
RS: That was quite interesting. I couldn’t be an animator in old Disney way when they used to draw one picture and then other but slightly different and then you would put them together like a flip book and they would actually move. The only thing I liked like that was doing something simple like a dot or a splat and putting it in a book form and flipping it and watching it move, that to me was magic. I like doing that kind of thing. But seeing my drawings in the film was really great.

MG: I find it so interesting that you said in the film that your work is unprofessional and “it is as unexpected to me as it is to anyone else”; can you talk about this aspect?
RS: Yeah, that is because I don’t do any pencil work. I never plan anything. I just begin and the drawing becomes what it becomes. My reaction every time is “I don’t know how I did that”. I am always amazed. “How the fuck did I do that?”, I usually say. It’s like Ludwig Wittgenstein’s idea that only thing of value is that thing that you cannot say but you can see it. I like that a lot.

MG: So how did your splatter technique come about then?
RS: Oh that was clumsiness. I was clumsy. I said “Oh shit” when I flicked my wrist with my pen but I realized it made this beautiful sweep of blots. I thought to myself them “Oh I like that, it’s quite nice” So I started to use it more deliberately. I would spill ink all over the place. I liked the idea of putting a sheet of paper on the studio floor taking a bottle of ink high on a ladder and dropping it. Not all of it…but just enough. It would make terrific, radiating splatters of different designs. Then you look and think “Hmm, it could be a spider” and I would go from there.

MG: Looking back at the film now, how do you feel that it has come together?
RS: I was amazed by it actually. After twelve years, it was nice to see it all come together. They did cut out a few things that I would have liked them to keep in like my art teacher, Leslie Richardson. This was a pity since I really wanted him in it. What they were after was the notoriety including the fame of Johnny Depp. So poor Leslie Richardson, who is now 93, was left out. But he still goes around kicking old ladies and children in the streets [laughs].

MG: Tell us how you originally crossed paths with Hunter Thompson?
RS: When I was planning to come to New York in 1970, I had some friends that invited me to stay with them in the Hampton’s. They were soon to be married, so I felt a little uncomfortable saying with them for a long period of time. So after staying a little while, I was going to leave for the city and I was about to leave when there was a cal from a guy named J.C. Suarez. He was an editor from Brooklyn. He wanted me to come to Kentucky and meet an ex-Hells Angels, who just shaved his head. I asked why did he do that and he said “Why? Because he’s a Hells Angels. He is a rebel”. So I asked “What for?” He told me that he was not only looking for a photographer but for an artist and they saw my book of pictures called “Still Life with Raspberry”, which was my first book of collected drawings. Don Goddard was the foreign editor of The New York Times and he had found the book in England and then came back and said that they need to put me with Hunter Thompson. So that is how it happened.

MG: Do you feel that your career would have been different if your path’s didn’t cross?
RS: As far as I was concerned, meeting Hunter and going to Kentucky was a bulls eye for me. For all the people that I could meet in America, he would be the one…go figure. Meeting Hunter was the best thing for me in terms of making a career. What we did for journalism was that we became the story and that became know as gonzo journalism. That was really what was so good about it. One day, this guy Bill Cardoso told us that the Kentucky Derby piece we did was “pure gonzo”. Hunter never heard the word before and it really stuck. He used to say “Don’t do those filthy scribblings”. He used to call my drawings filthy scribblings [laughs]. He used to also tell me “Don’t write Ralph, you will bring shame on your family”. But he always loved to sort of go against you but on purpose because he would know that it would provoke me and my work would benefit.

MG: “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” is one of my favorite books and the movie is great as well…
RS: The thing is people get too sniffy about the movie and things like that. They say that it is not quite this or quite that. No! It is a version of the book. I didn’t mind it, especially since the whole damn thing, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” was a crazy idea to begin with.

MG: Do you recall how long it took you to complete the illustrations for the “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” book?
RS: I think I did nine pictures in a week and it was done. The rotten thing was that I ended up selling all of the originals since I was told it would be a good career move. I think I got $75 dollars each for them. Can you imagine what they are worth now?

MG: Has your drawings been affected since the death of Hunter S. Thompson?
RS: No, not really. I have been doing bird drawings for the last few years. I don’t like drawing politicians any more, I can’t be bothered. They are so awful. I don’t feel so bitter about it. I do not feel like I am trying to change the world. I have changed the world enough since I started and it is worse now than when I started [laughs]. So good, I have done what I had meant to do [laughing]

MG: Yeah, you start off the film saying you set out to “change the world”; I was going to ask if you felt that you have accomplished that goal?
RS: We’ll you look around, I have done my part but bloody computers have changed everything.The business and also people in general. You can’t walk down a side street without somebody passing you by and they are not looking at you or around them, they are looking down at their phone. I had to go on a train recently to Halifax for a show of my drawings and there was this woman on the train that was a good example. She had red hair which was long down one side and shaved on the other side. I have a drawing of it in my book here. She was so awful, I had to draw her. But she had her makeup out in one hand and her phone in the other from the moment she got on the train. That is the problem about the invasion of the computer, like Twitter. Everyone wants to tweet you now. So that is very weird to me.

MG: Tell us about your latest book “Proud Too Be Weirrd”?
RS: I collected together a bunch of things that I never had no good reason to use [laughs]. I thought I would start with the first page and go through my studio finding this and finding that and just building the book from there and that is how I worked on it. This guy Steve Crist from AMMO Books got in touch with me about doing it. He used to work at TASCHEN. Benedikt Taschen rang me after the book was made and said he was actually very disappointed because he wanted to do the book, but at the time I didn’t know this. He did my book with Hunter, “The Curse of Lono”. Steve Crist used to work with Benedikt and that’s where he began. He sort of adopted the style of big book like TASCHEN did. I really like the title “Proud Too Be Weirrd” and it is a great book

MG: What are some of the artists that inspire you?
RS: I love Picasso. He is such an inspiration for me. There is a film called “The Mystery of Picasso” that is really worth seeing if you can get a copy. It is fascinating for me to watch him at work. The director, who made the film, was allowed to by Picasso to be in the studio with him. This is what Charlie did with me as well for our film. Picasso would set things up for him including painting on glass and having him film from the other side. This is amazing work and it really continues to inspire me.

MG: Are you working on anything else new currently?
RS: I got a new book of creatures that I am working on right now. These are completely made up creatures for example instead of a pelican; you do a pelicant [laughs]. You have to keep doing something otherwise what is the point. I guess I am taking advice from my father, who couldn’t bear to just sit about. I am also learning how to etch steel plates as well. So I suppose I should continue to carry on.

 

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David Lloyd reflects on his work illustrating “V for Vendetta” graphic novel

David Lloyd is known best for his work illustrating “V for Vendetta” graphic novel and working with Alan Moore.  David recently attending the 2012 New York Comic Con to promote this latest project called “Aces Weekly”, which is an exclusively weekly comic art magazine.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with David about his work on “V for Vendetta”, how it is still relevant today and his inspiration.

Mike Gencarelli: Where did you pull the inspiration for your illustrations on the “V for Vendetta”?
David Lloyd: If you mean the look of the character – the idea of making him a kind of resurrection of Guy Fawkes — it’s because it fit into what we needed for the character beyond his basic form as an urban guerrilla fighting a fascist tyranny. We needed a colorful eccentric look because that’s what makes attractive and fascinating characters in most mainstream comics. And he was a character branded a villain by history who was, however, a hero to his cause as many branded as villains by history were. A good man and a bad man at once. If you mean the style of the art – it was a simple choice because of the subject – it was about a stark, bleak future, so I chose a stark, bleak style of art. But it was influenced by seeing Jim Steranko’s Chandler and the work of someone who was a great inspiration to me and a friend who actually helped me on some of V – Tony Weare – a master of light and shade.

MG: You worked with Alan Moore on “Doctor Who” prior to this, how was the collaboration in comparison on “V for Vendetta”?
DL: Well, the difference was that we had full control and we could do what we liked on Vendetta, whereas the Doc Who mag stuff was work for hire. But our working relationship was as good. We were on the same wavelength creatively – influenced by many of the same books, tv, movies. And V was also produced at a very slow pace in the early days – 6-8 pages a month = allowing us time to experiment, think, talk, plan and have creative accidents that made it a very organic object, not planned out from the beginning but made up as we went along – like good jazz : )

MG: V is such an iconic character; if there is ever a comic convention he is always present. Why do you think he resonates so much with the fans?
DL: A colorful and admirable fighter for freedom against the tyranny of cultural and political oppression and repression who also happens to be a mad genius. It’s not rocket science… : ) Alan produced something very profound as well as a great adventure. It’s a classic of great storytelling with an important message for everyone – hang onto your individuality at all costs.

MG: How do you feel that the story was translated into the 2007 film?
DL: I see it as another version. In an ideal world it would have been nice for it to be exactly as the original, but a Hollywood movie has so many needs to fulfill – I’m glad it was as good as it was. There are great performances in it and it’s a powerful movie, and the Washowski bros and James McTiegue did a great job that in other hands could have been disastrous. And most importantly the central message of the book is right in there and has been spread to a much wider audience than might ever have heard it via the graphic novel alone.

MG: How do you feel that the comic genre is changing with now digital being so popular?
DL: Depends what is done with it. It’ll change depending on what the audience for them decide they want out of the techniques being used on them. I don’t like motion comics as we understand the term but I’m sure something creative and aesthetically satisfying can be done with the medium and some kind of movement. The digital comics myself and Bambos Georgiou, my collaborator on the project, are presenting via Aces Weekly are not digital in any sense other than they’re just fantastic art and storytelling on screen instead of the page. And they look beautiful and jewel-like!

MG: Who are some of your mentors and favorite artists?
DL: I was given a little book called The Observers Book of Painting, which had reproductions of the great masters. One of them was Turner’s ‘ Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus ‘ , which I managed to get a print of, and which remained on my bedroom wall for years – even during the ‘ film poster wallpaper ‘ period of my teenage years. It was the atmosphere made from light, that impressed me most with Turner – and Rembrandt was on the same team. Then Millais for his extraordinary photo-realist work allied to amazing lighting effects, Geoff Campion – he drew ‘ Texas Jack’ in one the English weeklies, Steve Dowling, who created the newspaper strip ‘ Garth ‘ – the first British superhero ( not Marvelman ), Giles – an English political cartoonist, whose work was an extraordinary blend of the realistic and the cartoony, George Woodbridge and Jack Davis in Mad magazine – loved their work so much, of daffy dogs and gunfighters, that I did tracings of them and hung them on the wall ; little, b/w reprints of US comic book stories, packaged in the UK under the titles – ‘ Mystic’ and ‘ Spellbound ‘, Wally Wood, Orson Welles, H.G.Wells, Ray Harryhausen – ‘ The 7th Voyage of Sinbad ‘, Ron Embleton, Rod Serling, Ian Fleming, Mickey Spillane, Robert McGinnis, Josh Kirby – who painted covers for a series of sf paperbacks ( some time before he did Pratchett stuff ) including some for… Ray Bradbury ; then there was Richard Matheson, Robert Bloch, Robert Sheckley, H.P.Lovecraft, Don Medford, Don Siegel, Alfred Hitchcock, Boris Sagal, Terence Fisher, Ron Cobb – of Famous Monsters of Filmland, Frank Frazetta, John Burns, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, Frank Bellamy, Al Williamson, the EC crowd, Tony Weare, the early Warren crowd, Gray Morrow, Toth, Torres, Jim Steranko. Steve Ditko astounded me with his work on Amazing Adult Fantasy, which was the most consistently powerful, individualistic and atmospheric comic book work I’d seen to that date. I tried to draw like Ditko. I tried to draw folds in clothing like he did, but couldn’t because I knew practically nothing about the way people were put together at that time. At around the same period, I saw the work of the great English strip illustrator, Ron Embleton, on the first series of Wrath of the Gods – as I mentioned earlier – a centre spread in Boy’s World, in which the use of black shadow, expert pen work, and rich colors, collaborated with faultless draughtsmanship, to produce the single most impressive piece of work I have ever seen in this area of craft.  Amazing Spiderman appeared then. Then the Fantastic Four and Kirby/Lee – those fantastic, overblown, revolutionary, soap opera-style epics that had to be tracked down issue by issue through the various stores in my neighborhood  cos we had unreliable distribution of US comic books in England. Dr Strange. The EC guys came after that through the Ballantine books – you know the names – and not just the smooth guys. Al Feldstein’s work looked like he cut it out of pieces of wood – but it was extraordinary. Then I got the early Warrens. Even better. Bigger. More of it. FRAZETTA. UNBELIEVABLE COVERS. Blazing Combat. Gray Morrow on ‘ The Long View ‘. REED CRANDALL. ALEX TOTH. Too much. But not enough. Never enough. Then, when I was at the studio, I saw a newspaper strip called ‘ The Seekers ‘, which was drawn by a guy called John Burns. I thought he was American cos I didn’t think an English artist could draw in such a smooth, cool way – like Alex Raymond but with more realism. He took risks which worked – he drew water solid black, and minimalised it into a design element. He was totally in control. A master. Tony Weare was drawing another newspaper strip – a western called ‘ Matt Marriott ‘ – which was all done with one brush, it seemed, and looked lazy but wasn’t, and largely depended on shadow for delineation of figures and objects. All of all of that, and more I could list, helped me.

MG: Do you feel that your style has changed over the years?
DL: Well, other than from early days of learning, no. But then I don’t think I have a style that is a fixed thing to grow or not. I’ve chosen different ways of drawing using different tools on many subjects that demanded a variety of approaches. Sure there’s a core personality to it and to me as a creator – but a set ‘ style ‘ ? I don’t think so – though of course because I’m known principally for V many folks think of me in that context and no other.

MG: Tell us about your recent work with Aces Weekly?
DL: An EXCLUSIVELY digital weekly comic art magazine – not previewed for print – which I am publishing. You get this and only get this by subscribing and it’s delivered to you at the touch of a button every week to iPad, tablet and any computer anywhere as long as you’re connected to the net. It has up to 30 pages including extras of story and art every week featuring 6 continuing stories that run through 7 issues making a volume of up to 210 pages. And it’s a steal at just $9.99 for 7 weeks of some of the finest talent in comic art from me, Steve Bissette, John McCrea, Phil Hester, David Hitchcock, Mark Wheatley, Yishan Li, Bill Sienkiewicz, Colleen Doran, Herb Trimpe, Dylan Teague… and many more. We go straight from the creator to the buyer. No expenses on printing, distribution, warehousing, retail, and no barriers to sale. We have an international team of creators and we can sell internationally to anyone reading English. But we’re new and we need lots of subscriptions to thrive. So please help us spread the word : )

The Dude Designs’ Thomas Hodge talks creating art for the horror genre

Thomas Hodge is the man behind The Dude Designs (thedudedesigns.blogspot.com). He is a
freelance film poster art director, designer and illustrator for such films as “Hobo With a Shotgun”, “The Innkeepers”, “Fathers Day!”, Arrow Video Covers: “Savage Streets”, “Jaguar Lives” and many others. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Thomas about his work and his love for the horror genre.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your got started with The Dude Designs?
Thomas Hodge: It was creative frustration and a passion for film. I’ve been in the design industry for over twelve years now, going through all types of design from corporate business to in-store promo for toys & DVD’s, general design agencies and have spent quite a few years in and out the games industry, creating key art for packaging etc. Creatively I felt I was always held back from producing something which would standout. so I rediscovered my love of old video cover art and that sent the old cogs grinding and i started experimenting more with styles and design to tap into that classic vain, in a market i felt was running dry creatively.  I suppose the initial inspiration was for an intoxicated night at the midnight movies screening of the grindhouse film. I was over there with a bunch of mates and they had silly draw a grindhouse poster so I entered my drunken scrawl for a poster of DUDE! Which I then later worked up into one of my early video cover experiments:

MG: How did you get involved doing film posters and DVD/Blu-ray covers?
TH: Like I said I started experimenting creating flyers for midnight movies night. It’s easier to start the wheels in motion design wise (I find) if you have a purpose, so doing the flyers on the side gave me that initial push (i was still working full time creatively) but it made me experiment with my passion of film as the medium, if you will. Creating the blog then gave me a platform to get this work out there for people to see. So from there I then was starting an art project creating old video nasty covers really getting wrapped up in all the little design niches that I loved, I was still working more with photographic imagery so to really capture that inspiration essence which excited me about this type of art I needed to push it further, and I worked on a self project titled Cannon (a mock 70 crime action drama based on my love of “Death Wish” and 70s Italian crime cinema) then I tackled a competition for Empire Film Mag in the UK and the response was great, with that style and my other work at Sony I picked up the arrow covers. Still wanting to push it further I saw the release of “Hobo “loved it and contacted the guys about creating a poster, they said sure love to see what you can do, i worked my nuts off on that. they loved it so much they brought it and used it… the rest as they say is history, but I’m still trying to push my style and work further with each project, I’m aiming for world domination of bust!

MG: Your work is a breath of fresh air from all the lame (giant heads) Hollywood posters, tell us about your influence?
TH: EVERYTHING from my childhood to adolescence, video rental shop shelves. Artist wise Graham Humphrey’s work form films like “Evil Dead”, “Nightmare on Elm Street”, “The Return of The Lliving Dead”, “Spookies”, “The Stuff”… man the list goes on. Enzo Sciotti, who is an amazing Italian poster artist from the 70’s and 80’s. Frant Frazetta for his use of form and figures is just incredible!  Even the more minimal work of Stephen Frankfurt has influenced me. All the greats which seem to have been forgotten about and over looked, good design has been excluded from commercial (I’m not talking about ‘limited edition’ screen prints) film posters for far too long now. The responsibility of that doesn’t come down to the designers either it’s the distributors who feel dumb is best to sell. My work has been swapped out for some appalling designs on DVD releases; did you SEE what they did to the Innkeepers in the UK? I’m always searching out new inspiration trying to push the envelope.

MG: How much freedom do you have when working on a project?
TH: Again it depends on the client, I usually try to get a lot though, why higher me else? If you’re going to pay me I will promise to deliver the best god damn poster design I can to appropriately promote your film to an audience. A lot of the time they will request a montage style poster, so that will be the framework but I like to experiment and try to sell other styles in to. At the end of the day I’m trying to get people trusting in what I do creatively and I sell myself more as a creative director of these projects. Working with directors directly gives the most freedom I find, they trust you and it usually forms the best relationships. I don’t do design by committee been there done that.

MG: What do you enjoy most about working in the horror genre?
TH: The fantasy element, it gives you that fun visual hook to play with. You can let your imagination run wild; I wish people would make more rubber monster films again. I feel I make as many twisted action flick as horror though.

MG: What is your favorite 80’s horror films? Current horror film?
TH: Oh man, how longs a piece of string? Er…. I honestly can’t say. I love them all for their 80’s cheesy. More modern is easier as there’s a lot less on the list (excluding all the ones i worked on as I don’t want to be seen showing favoritism) “Wendigo”, “Last Winter”, “I Can See You”, “Session 9”, “Pontypool”, “28 Days later”, “Altered”, “The Objective”, “Let The Right One In (Swedish)” and “Insidious” (that’s quite a mainstream one for me) stood out for me.

MG: How do you approach a project like the design for “They Live” Blu-ray?
TH: Well I look at what the films message is, visually how its approach and style, setting are. Then work on a visual which reflects those messages to the viewer. it’s an 80s action extravaganza combined with social commentary, staring one of the greatest wrestlers ever. So that’s what I drew! I was so enamored in the film in my head I was trying to produce a piece which had almost religious iconography undertones and Piper with Keith where latter day saints standing against adversity! Crazy shit hey, at first you may see big guns but if you look deeper there are messages. It doesn’t need to be like a minimal to be clever!

MG: What other projects do you have planned upcoming?
TH: We two corking (actually four) posters yet to get released for “Almost Human”, “Wake Before I Die” (bit of a change of gear on that one so see how people react, that’s always fun!). Then I got another poster for “Would You Rather” (which has a classic flavor) and a big fun monster one for “Hypothermia”, if they release it.

Gerald Scarfe talks about working with Pink Floyd on “The Wall” and “Wish You Were Here”

Gerald Scarfe is a satirical political cartoonist and is known best for working with the band Pink Floyd on two of their albums “The Wall” and “Wish You Were Here”. He also created the animation used in the film “Pink Floyd: The Wall” and worked with Roger Water on his new tour of “The Wall”. Media Mikes got the chance to chat with Gerald about his work and reflect on its impact with fans.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your revisiting the wall with your book “The Making of Pink Floyd: The Wall”?
Gerald Scarfe: What I think think the weird thing about going through the diary of one’s life is that first of all you forget things and misplace the dates. It was like unraveling a piece of memory or putting together a jigsaw puzzle. But overall it was a fantastic experience looking back working on this project, which was some 30 years ago. I really didn’t feel at the time that it was going to be anything really exceptionable. I knew that Pink Floyd were extremely well known at the time. I worked with them for about five years to produce this thing. People have asked me in the past and asked if working on “The Wall” changed my life but for me then it was just another a job that I did. They have said “Well it has definitely changed my life”. So I think it really did strike a nerve in the public at that time. The young of those days are the older generation today and they are still fans and write to me. There is a guy who recently contacted me to tell me that his entire left arm is being tattooed with my illustrations. So it is still relevant today.

MG: Tell us about revisiting “The Wall” after almost 30 years ago with Roger Water’s new tour? What was your involvement?
GS: It was a fantastic experience. Now it is back up and running again. Roger contacted me about two years ago and said he was going to do the show again and would need new material. I re-designed some new things like the puppets and some bits of film here and there. I also did various lettering and writing for the program, which was projected on the wall. What has changed from when we originally did it is that things were not computerized. Where we were using three projectors on the wall back then now there are seven or eight projecting. They can literally pin point an individual brick on the wall using the computer. Even when we first did it I thought it felt like a Roman circus and was just so spectacular.

MG: How do you compare going from working on “Wish You were Here” to “The Wall”?
GS: When they first approached me, they were touring at the time and I did little pieces of animation here and there. I wasn’t really sure what was needed or wanted of me at the time. I was known in Britain and parts of America for being a satirical artist, making fun of society and poking fun at politicians. I think that is why Roger (Waters) and Nick (Mason) needed from me at the time. I didn’t quite get that and I started to make them these surreal images of men tumbling through the stratosphere and crashing through the sky. They were all rather surreal. I think what they were expecting from me was probably something a little more actual about the world itself in a more precise way. I actually started the flowers (from “The Wall”), way back then in the early days of “Wish You Were Here”. The flowers have some much work in them. I think in some places there are about 24 drawings per second in them, in order to most very slowly. Each one of those drawings probably takes 1-2 days and there are thousands of them. It was very labor intensive and expensive also. So that is how it all began. Later when we came to do “The Wall”, we cannibalized some of these pieces for “Wish You Were Here” and used them like the flowers and so forth.

MG: Your animation in “The Wall” was used to portray Waters’ political expression throughout the songs, did you consider that when creating them?
GS: It was Nick that approached me first in the very beginning.Then Roger got more and more involved. Roger came forward bit by bit and I ended up dealing with him primarily. I felt a little awkward at first working with Waters since I felt like I was denying Nick, he is still a very good friend and I had dinner with him just recently. Roger is very insistent and precise. Roger said to me and this is true “When you hire an artist, you don’t interfere with what that artist does or try and push him your way. You get what you get”. So Roger was very happy for me to interpret his lyrics since we were on the same page. I was able to visualize the whole thing for him. He has not only given “The Wall” an audio personality but I’ve given it also a visual personality. We met many times and drank a lot of a special brew of Carlsberg beer, which is very strong, and luckily we have the same dark wit. That developed into a strong relationship that we have today.

MG: Where did you draw inspiration from for the marching hammers, The Judge and the “Empty Spaces” sequence?
GS: First of all my experiences of judges are that the ministry of the law is a tricky business and they always make mistakes, so to me the law was an asshole, so that was that [laughs]. The hammers were suppose to be the forces of repression. What can you think of that is more cruel and relentlessly mindless than a hammer as it smashes down. That is the kind of way I think. When it came to “Empty Spaces”, I believe that was a stream of consciousness. I made a film prior to this where I just rolled from one image to another, which is actually how I ended up meeting Nick and Roger, it was called “A Long Draw Out Trip”, which I made for the BBC. That was really everything about America that I could think of at the time. I had Mickey Mouse, Playboy, Black Power, John Wayne and Frank Sinatra, which were all morphing one into the other. I took that idea when I came to “Empty Spaces”. Interestingly enough, “Empty Spaces” starts with the flowers, which began like we said from “Wish You Were Here”. Then I just kept adding to it all the time. The flowers end up making love and then I thought well what happens when people fall in love, sometimes they hate one another. So then the female ends up devouring the male and flies away. It grew and grew and was unraveling. It was much of a journey for me, adding a page a day to this unrolling adventure.

MG: I’ve read you saw The Wall back in 1980 at Nassau Coliseum, NY, how do you compare “The Wall” from then to today?
GS: It is difficult really since it was in fact a long time ago and one’s memory has blunted. I remember being very excited. I never worked on theater in this size at all. I remember Roger telling me one night, “You know that you are a rock ‘n roll artist now, right?”. I looked and there were thousands of people applauding my flowers and work. I realized that I was pleasing the audience and that was a terrific feeling for me. Being an artist can be a lonely job. You work alone and don’t see the people who are looking at your pictures generally. So to be in an auditorium like that where they are cheering at your work, it is a really great feeling. Over the years, I have grown used to that feeling having done a lot of opera, theatre and my work with Disney on “Hercules”. It is still a thrill though. I went to Madison Square Garden last year to see the show and I had the same kind of thrill still. The guy who wrote to me and told me about him getting the tattoos on his arm said that he was a Gulf War veteran and told me how much my work has helped him through his difficult periods. It is hard for me to imagine that it actually helps people. I guess the music becomes very personal to some people and it stay with them through their life.

MG: Due to the diminishing role of physical packaging due to digital downloads, what do you see for the role of art playing in the world of music in the future?
GS: Well, I don’t see why animation still cannot be used. In my other job, I am the political cartoonist for the London Sunday Times, where I’ve been for like 45 years, I can see a point where newspapers will be phased out. People will be getting the news online, which is much quicker. I personally am not tremendously computer literate but I have people that help me. All of my work is now electronically sent around the world, once it is scanned in. Going back to music, I don’t see why these images cannot be downloaded with the music. It is exactly the same.

 

Related Content

James Hance talks about his art and his book “Wookie The Chew”

James Hance is the genius behind Relentlessly Cheerful Art. He has created many great pieces of art by mashing up his childhood favorites, whether it be cartoons or movies. James has already created the brilliant book titled “Wookie The Chew”, wonderfully mixing “Winnie The Pooh” with “Star Wars”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with James about his work and what existing projects he has planned next.

Also check out our giveaway for James Hance’s Relentlessly Cheerful Art, click here to enter top win some great prizes.

Mike Gencarelli: Let’s start with Wookie The Chew, how did you create this wonderful book?
James Hance: I had a dream about it, woke up and all the characters were there. I knew exactly who everyone was. I just recently decided that C3PO is going to be rabbit but I’m not entirely sure what to call him. Maybe Threepit? Christopher Robin was always going to be Han solo. I posted a few pictures on Facebook to see if anyone would dig it and people really got into it. I did a few and someone jokingly asked when the book was coming out, so I wrote the book.
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MG: Why did you choose to do the pictures inside the book in black and white?
JH: I wanted to keep in theme with the early E.H. Shepard Pooh illustrations. Also my printing guy would’ve charged 2x as much for color! [laughs] Once the trilogy is finished I’ll release them as a single full color volume.

MG: So you have plans for another book “Wookie The Chew”?
JH: I am about 2/3 of the way through episode two right now and I’m releasing new prints to coincide with the story. The first one was loosely based on Episode IV, the second book will be ‘When We Were Very Jedi’ and the third, ‘Now We Are Sith’.

MG: Tell us about the animation clip for “Wookie The Chew”, are you planning turning it into a feature also?
JH: Billy Allison and I put that little sequence together as a promo for the book, prints and upcoming audio book. We wanted to let the reaction to the clip determine whether or not to go ahead with something more feature-length. There’s been an amazingly positive response so far in such a short space of time and it was so much fun to put together. Now it’s just a case of working out the logistics of making the movie. Lucasfilm have been amazingly good about this so far.

MG: You have a lot of work inspired by “Star Wars”, my favorite is ‘Force By Northwest’, tell us about your inspiration?
JH: “Star Wars” has been a huge influence, as you can tell. Jim Henson and George Lucas practically walked me through my childhood. As a kid I’d constantly be doodling, on any flat surface I could find. I remember drawing Link Hogthrob (Pigs In Space) piloting an X-Wing and being ridiculously proud of it. I should really do that one again, that’s gold!

MG: Tell us about your latest prints inspired by “Firefly”?
JH: “Firefrog!”. People kept requesting “Firefly” art but I’d never actually seen the show. Eventually I picked up the box set and washooked. Half way through the first episode I was plotting out each character and their Muppet counterpart. I was posting my progress pictures on Facebook and it started this big snowball of suggestions and amazing feedback. I’m very happy with how it went.

MG: What is your first step in starting a process for a project?
JH: I’ll usually sit down with endless coffees and watch the movies or episodes of whatever it is I’m working with. I don’t really mash-up anything that I am not passionate about. I’ll sketch like a mad thing through the movie (I often take a sketch pad into the cinema and doodle in the dark. That sounds a bit weird, actually) and then go online and and source pictures for inspiration and just go from there. It’s really just me in my pajamas watching cartoons and eating
cereal all day. That’s the dream.

MG: What has been your favorite artwork to date you have created?
JH: One my personal favorite pieces has to be “The Creation of Muppet”. Kermit and Jim as Adam and God, with Jim surrounded by various Muppets. That was a 4ft x 2ft painting, It took about a week and I’d add a few characters in each sitting. I’m really happy with how that turned out. It was hard to let the original go when the time came!

MG: When are you going to start selling originals on your website? How about work for hire?
JH: I take commissions as and when I can but I’m pretty busy with
writing and the Chew series right now. I’ve put together a lot of
digital art and t-shirt designs lately but these past couple of weeks
I’ve actually gotten back to painting. I forget how much I enjoy it
until I actually have the brush in my hand!

MG: What are you currently working on now?
JH: I’m currently writing book two of the ‘Wookiee The Chew’ trilogy, I’m also working on ‘The Timelord At The End Of This Book’ which is a Doctor Who / Sesame Street parody. That one’s had an amazing response so far. I’ve finished the writing, onto the illustrations now. Then there’s a ‘Star Wars’ / ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ book in the works, the Wookiee The Chew movie, etc. I’m planning on hitting the conventions all of next year so I’m working hard to have an abundance of relentlessly cheerful art to take with me.

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