WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT IS YOUR CONNECTION TO COMICS?
My name is Dr Emil Lightbender, and I am a supervillain. DOKTOR LIGHTBENDER! TREMBLE BEFORE MY MIGHTY LIGHT BENDING POWERS!
(Actually, I’m not, I’m PJ Holden and I’m a comic artist)
WHAT COMIC ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
Right this second? Working on Terminator/Robocop – a four issue mini series from Dynamite written by Rob Williams (and lettered by the Mighty Simon Bowland). But also working on the final parts of Numbercruncher a creator owned series by Si Spurrier and me, which is being serialised in the Judge Dredd Megazine.
Also, once all Robot like things are completed, I’ll be doing “Monsterology 101” – a creator owned 4 part mini by Gordon Rennie, with colours by Steven Denton, letters by Jim Campbell.
WHAT’S THE BEST PART OF MAKING COMICS?
Drawing, when you’ve been left alone and things are sparking and it feels like you can draw anything. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it makes the entire endeavour worthwhile.
WHAT’S THE WORST PART OF MAKING COMICS?
Drawing, when you can’t find a minute and every line you draw feels like it’s been laboured out and looks just flat out wrong, and it feels like you can’t draw and why the hell would you think you could in the first place? That’s pretty bad. And more frequent than I’d like.
HOW DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER COMICS?
I’m pretty sure I first saw comics when I was about 3/4 – then again when I was 7 (when 2000ad came out), and it’s been pretty steady. I suppose, I lost them again when I was about 15 only to rediscover them when I was 18 (and the Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen) and again lost them for a few years until I was about 29/30 when I decided I’d really attack the idea of drawing comics as a pro.
WHO IS THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WORK?
Hard to say, I think there’s so many influences on my work when I was younger and didn’t pay attention to the names and then, later, as much as I try and soak influences in it’s much more laboured and obvious. The list of people I admire is pretty damn long. I think, in my very early days – when I was 10, the influences where all british war comic artists, then Steve Dillon, Alan Davis, Dave Gibbons and then, Mignola, Kevin Nowlan, and many, many more.
WHAT TOOLS OF THE TRADE DO YOU USE?
Mechanical Pencil (2H usually), bristol board (which I’ve never enjoyed pencilling on but it’s really nice for inking), and for inking either a dip pen or a brush (Saphire Series 51, when I’m feeling brave I use a 10/0 brush – which has about 6 bristles, it’s pretty fine – or, sometimes a 2 or a 0)
I’ll usually augment that by doing some work digitally, usually touchups and adding a lot of splatter to the art (I have a digital brush from a scanned splatter pattern which gives a fairly authentic feel without having any actual ink splattered around the house )
WHAT IS THE SINGLE WORK OF WHICH YOU ARE MOST PROUD?
Blimey, I’ve no idea – my pride in work is usually diminished on repeat viewing, making way for complete loathing. I’m pretty proud of certain bodies of work – while wincing at the actual artwork – particularly proud of the Battlefields’ Happy Valley story I did for Garth Ennis. But the pride is more about the overall story, which I think is a cracker – and, oddly, important.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED?
Be good, be fast or be reliable – any two of the three will do. (I picked fast and reliable, figuring I’ll work my way up to good).
WHAT IS THE WORST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
“You love drawing and you love computers, you should be doing Technical drawing”. Career advice is particularly sucky when a) technology hasn’t caught up with what you want to do (this was in the 80s) and b) no-one really knows what comics are.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE CURRENT IRISH COMIC SCENE?
I’ve always found myself distant from any sort of scene; suspect it’s an age thing, and the fact that by the time a scene had come along I had two kids and no time. I’ve no idea what the current irish comic scene is!
FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU COULD GIVE SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO START MAKING THEIR OWN COMICS? (And don’t say DON’T :) )
Best advice is to just do it. Comics is the easiest thing in the world to do – pen + paper + intent = comic. It’s really that simple.
PJ Holden made his professional debut in 1994 in the Fantagraphic’s comic “Holy Cross” with Malachy Coney. And again, in 1997 in Caliber Comic’s “Negative Burn” drawing Mike Carey’s “Suicide Kings” story, and again, in 2001 drawing Judge Dredd for 2000AD – which just goes to show, you should never quit.
His work can currently be found in the Judge Dredd Megazine, drawing the creator owned series Numbercruncher written by Si Spurrier, and, shortly, in the Dynamite mini-series Terminator/Robocop: Kill Human by Rob Williams.