Issue 7 of comics anthology Paper Science (one of the gems of the excellentBrit small press anthology comics we’ve been enjoying in recent years) is out today, and to mark the occasion we’ve got interviews with some of the series stars all this week as Paper Science’s Head Boffin Matthew Sheret talks to some of the contributors. First up it’s Chloe Noonan creator Marc Ellerby, who contributes ‘The Minke Whale’, written by Meryl Trussler.
Matthew Sheret: You contributed to the very first issue of Paper Science; how has it changed in the intervening time?
Marc Ellerby: Well there’s more than one comic now so, y’know, quite a bit. Before planning my strip in the newest issue I went back and looked over the older issues just to see how many panels I could get away with in such a tight space and I was amazed that there was like one comic in the first issue and it was [Adam] Cadwell’s. It was more interview and prose based, which I’m glad you broke away from.
MS: Is there anything you’ve particularly enjoyed about working in the newspaper format?
ME: The size! With PS 7 it was great; even though I only had 2 pages to work with I could still fit 4 pages worth of comics in the layout. You can really slow the reading process down and tell quite a dense story in the size available and that’s how I approached both our PS7 story and my PS5 strip. The PS7 story has, what, 40-50 panels over a double page spread… I consciously wanted the layout to look unlike the other strips in the anthology so far.
Also, this might bore some people, but newspaper printing isn’t the same as using a traditional press. So often the colours you have on screen is different to what is printed; the paper almost sucks the boldness out from it and it handles shades of some colours differently to others (it doesn’t seem to like blue very much). It was one of the few projects where I really had to think with the colour, not get too snazzy, and yet still be interesting with my palette. I think Cadwell’s colours on the King of Things have been gooooooooorgeous! But then it is Cadwell and he does have the magical Photoshop skills.
MS: What was it like working with writer Meryl Trussler for your Paper Science 7 story?
ME: Wonderful! I’ve known Meryl for years and I’ve followed her writing for just as long (she wrote a great piece about webcomics for Plan B magazine don’t you know) and it’s her style of writing that I love – that it seems so familiar and quirky without being obnoxious and I thought that we would be a good fit. She came along to that London Small Press Expo thing last year. I casually asked her if she would write me a comic and she said yes.
I gotta say that I’m probably not the best person to work with as Meryl was like “what do you want to draw?” and my reply was “I dunno SHRUG”. All I knew is that I wanted a quick break from drawing monster hunters. I love the comic we did though and hope we can do something else down the line.
Plus she is hella into The Muppets, so y’know…
MS: What do you think about the current crop of UK anthologies?
ME: I haven’t read Nelson (controversial, I know) or ink+PAPER yet. If I wasn’t in Paper Science it would still be one of my favourite anthologies because it’s full of the type of comics I love to read. It embraces POP comics in a way that’s largely ignored by the UK industry and that’s why I’m really sad to see it going on a break, Matt. Like really sad! In a scene built on the idea that “Highbrow is the Only Way” Paper Science stuck out.
I really like the Songbird anthology for the same reasons. Don’t get me wrong I like a bit of navel gazing as much as the next tote-bag carrying indie comic fan, but comics can be funny or entertaining and still be full of heart. Just because it’s fun doesn’t mean it has any less worth. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again ‘pop isn’t a dirty word’ and you really took note of that. Who else is going to fly the flag for these type of comics?
MS: Well, as you said, Paper Science is going on a bit of a break for while… but if you could pick a theme for a future issue what would it be and who would draw the cover?
ME: History would be good wouldn’t it? Will Kirkby should draw the cover as he is AMAZING!
Come back tomorrow for an interview with My Cardboard Life creator Philippa Rice. FPI would like to thank Matt and Marc for taking the time to share their thoughts on the new work.