Our third guest or more precisely guests, are a sibling partnership that has produced some classic comics and have been regulars in The Phoenix Comic.
Please welcome The Etherington Brothers, Robin and Lorenzo, to NCC 2015!
Tell us a little about your process. Is it a case of Robin writes the book and then Lorenzo draws it or is there more of a collaborative approach throughout the production?
Largely it works that way, yes, but we’ve a slightly more involved editing approach that we’ve refined over the years. Each new book or series begins as a simple, compelling idea. If Lorenzo isn’t extremely excited by the raw concept of the story, the key characters and (in particular) the world, he’ll pass. As it takes so long to put these books together we both need to seriously love the material. There’s no point investing twelve months if you don’t LOVE it! Once he’s on board, I’ll get to work on the script, which will move through the book or comic machine with an external editor until it’s ready to hand to my brother. Lorenzo will rough the pages, then I’ll letter them. At this stage he’s re-editing the action, cleaning the comic “beats” and making sense of my camera angles and stage directions. At the same time, I’m refining the text, ripping out the unnecessary and improving the jokes. I hope. Then Lorenzo moves to the final art stage, and I give the text a last polish. Bingo! One finished page … wash … rinse … and repeat!
In general we separate the responsibility for the words and the art right down the middle. It allows us each to focus on the task at hand and it stops us from treading on each others creative toes.
All of them actually, for quite different reasons. Malcolm Magic was our debut, our breakthrough and a steep three-year learning curve, but it showed us where our true strengths in comic-creation lay, namely all-ages comedy adventures. Monkey Nuts was our first original IP from a major publisher and it allowed us to spread our work further than we’d been able to achieve … and we were allowed to create a truly mental story with that one! Baggage was the project that genuinely refined our skills. We’d been on a tight deadline for Monkey Nuts, but Baggage was completed over the course of a year and that extra time is reflected in the book as Lorenzo tweaked his style significantly. YORE! was a blast because much like Monkey Nuts, DC Thompson gave us a free rein to build whatever we liked for the Dandy. And then there’s Long Gone Don and Von Doogan, our latest ongoing series, both now on their fourth books. With Don we’re getting to tell the sort of long form adventure series like Asterix or Dungeon, where the characters have room to breath and grow and the world can expand in any direction we choose. With Doogan, Lorenzo is showing that he can both write AND draw (yikes) and create the most mind-melting puzzles of all time. We’re having a blast!
You do a lot of workshops with schools, have you ever been tempted to use/steal any ideas that the kids have come up with?
Tempted? Always! Do we steal them? Always! Ha, no, but I’d be lying if the odd idea didn’t worm its way into my subconscious mind. The sheer volume of imagination showcased by the average 9-year-old child, when allowed to unlock their inner creative, is enough to fill a thousand books. But to be honest, by the time we’re done performing, our brains our often completely fried from all the awesomeness! There are just too many good ideas out there.
As you might know, The Phoenix Comic is actually the spiritual successor to The DFC comic, which first serialised Monkey Nuts and which went on to run for 43 issues before closing its doors in 2009. The head honcho behind that wonderful enterprise, David Fickling, never gave up hope of returning with a new comic, and when conditions were favourable he relaunched with The Phoenix. We were invited to pitch alongside some of our former DFC brethren – talented peeps like Jamie Smart, Neill Cameron, Gary Northfield and James Turner – and the rest is history! It’s a sheer joy to be able to contribute to a British comic that puts the reader first at every turn. No ads, no filler, just comic, and lots of it.
What can we expect from you at this year’s NCC?
You know, this is actually our first proper comic convention in quite some time, so we’re bringing all the good stuff. There’ll be our original 320-page Malcolm Magic collection for the those in search of a big read, and a limited supply of the out-of-print hardback copy of Monkey Nuts. This is the way it was meant to be read!
Baggage, Long Gone Don and Von Doogan will all be waiting to be signed alongside two exclusive treats.
PLUS, Nottingham will be one of your last chances to pick up a copy of the original print run of Lorenzo’s kickstarter-smashing Deluxe Collection Vol.2 Sketchbooks … a 600-page whopper of an art book.
So comics, comics and more comics. And plenty of laughs. And chat. And silliness.
With so many awesome guests/comics already lined up for this year’s NCC, I best get saving now!! Visit The Etherington Brothers at this year’s con and check out their site here.