Best of the Year 2014: Richy K Chandler
Well into the second week of our traditional daily guest series of Best of the Year selections (see here for the other posts so far), and today we’re joined by the man behind Tempo Lush, Lucy the Octopus and a heck of a lot more Brit comics, Richy K Chandler:
FPI: Can you pick three comics/webcomics/graphic novels which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Richy: The Abominable Charles Christopher by Karl Kerschl The graphic novel reading group based in Gosh! Comics, London has been great for getting me to read things I would otherwise overlook. My favourite comic that the group has introduced me to is this wonderful strip that juggles humour, pathos and beauty. Kerschl weaves a story around a large cast of animals centred on a likeable yeti type creature.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Ten by Christos Gage and penciler Rebekah Isaacs, published by Dark Horse. Rebekah Isaacs was amazing drawing the first volume of Angel & Faith, so I was thrilled when they announced would be the new artist on Buffy. Within the story, it’s great seeing the core Scooby gang working alongside each other again.
Kitaro by Shigeru Mizuki published by Drawn and Quarterly. Technically cheating with this one as it came out in August 2013, but I’m way behind with my reading (watching, flossing etc) so forgive me. Actually I’m kind of cheating more than that as the manga in this volume date back to 1959, though it has only recently been translated in English.
I lived in Tokyo for 9 months back in 2000, and these saw the characters from this strip all over the place. You know when you see a poster for a film or comic and imagine how wonderful it must be, only to be disappointed that the reality doesn’t live up to what you pictured in your head? Well this delivers.
A creepy, funny, sweet tale of a boy (who’s actually a 350 year old spirit monster or Yokai), who seeks out a wonderful mix of Japanese monsters and ghosts, alongside his dad (who happens to be one of the boy’s eyeballs – weird as that sounds). It’s also a great cultural lesson, walking the reader through myths, ghosts and creatures of Japanese folklore.
FPI: Can you pick three books which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Richy: Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Ben Greenman, published by Hachette Book Group. Another late 2013 release, and a fascinating reminder into the persistence an artist needs to move forward. It seems so many stars have to be in alignment for a band to stay together, let only succeed creatively and career-wise. Much like when reading Steve Martin’s Born Standing Up you see there’s no quick path to creative success, only gradual step by step progress driven by sheer determination.
Words for Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels by Brian Michael Bendis, published by Watson-Guptill Publications. An invaluable tool for anyone wanting to break into mainstream comics. I’m running lots of comic creating workshops at the moment and this is definitely going on my students’ reading lists.
It goes through the basic process of writing for the medium, (including alternative approaches from other writers) but also gathered in the volume are ideas of how to pitch and collaborate with editors and artists. It is even covers the scary legal stuff too.
Yes Please by Amy Poehler , published by Dey Street Books. An amazing talent and someone who seems able to move forward creatively while not swaying from her values. I was really interested in this for nuggets of stories of her days on Saturday Night Live and Parks & Recreation as well as any hints on how she developed her craft (spolier – hard work and persistence pay off yet again). That being said, when Amy Poehler writes about her children or her hometown or drugs or anything I’m instantly engaged.
FPI: Can you pick three TV shows and/or movies which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Richy: The Moomins on the Riviera – such a great looking film, Tove Jansson’s art is really captured in this hand drawn animation. The scenes of Moomin Valley and at sea are breath-taking for Moominions (the new official word for Moomin fans that I just made up).
Guardians of the Galaxy – so much fun, so much joy, very much its own thing but still fitting nicely in with the other Marvel Studios movies. I considered putting something more obscure (aka highbrow) on the list but thought nah – a good film’s a good film!
Last Week Tonight: Great to learn so much and be thoroughly entertained by John Oliver at the same time.
Honourable mentions: How to Train your Dragon 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Blossom (certainly not from 2014 but I’m re-watching this sitcom from my teenage years and finding it much better than it needed to be!).
FPI: How did 2014 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?
Richy:While pushing forward with my regular webcomic, Lucy the Octopus, my main focus this year has been on collaborating with exceptionally talented creators.
March saw the second outing for WASP (Webcomic Artist Swap Project) which I’d originated a year earlier. The project involves creators swapping art duties amongst their respective webcomics and working to each others’ scripts. It’s lots of work co-ordinating so many talented artists collaborating with each other but pleasing to think readers will be discovering new artists and strips through it.
October was the culmination of an intense period where I launched four new print comics on the same day. It was a relief to get everything off to the printers on time.
The third Lucy the Octopus collection Any Less the Freak (reviewed on the FP blog here) was relatively straight forward, but the other comics broke new ground for me.
Rosie and Jacinda: Demon Cloud (review here) saw a return to working with two characters I’d created with Zarina Liew a few years back. This time we were joined by Francesca Dare (Penny Blackfeather), Inko (Ketsueki, Rachel Moves To Brighton), Chie Kutsuwada (King of a Miniature Garden, Self Made Hero’s As You Like It) and Jade Sarson (For the Love of God Marie!, Cafe Suada). Gelling the styles and continuity of the different artists’ pages into a coherent story was a unique and ultimately very satisfying challenge.
Finally, Tempo Lush Tales is an anthology of comic book stories written and edited by me, with art by Matt Boyer, Francesca Cassavetti, Martin Eden, Tim Hassan, Steve Horry, Inko & Chie Kutsuwada, Mike Medaglia, Aaron Murphy, Van Nim, Karen Rubins, Paul Shinn and Keara Stewart, with a foreword by Steven Walsh. I’m proud that the volume contains so many wonderful creators that were happy (or at least willing) to work with me. It’s also wonderful to get so many ideas that have been bubbling around inside my head out into the world!
I had an amazing time at the new titles launch at Gosh! Comics chatting through the work with comics broadcaster Alex Fitch, performing musical versions of stories from the new releases alongside Sally-Anne Hickman and Steve Horry and eating Lucy the Octopus Dr Pepper flavoured cupcakes as made by Jess Cave.
Meanwhile, I’ve been teaching comic creation. My 11 week Adult Education course in Hammersmith is coming to an end. I’ve also shown hundreds of kids the joys of making comics throughout the year, in exciting venues including The Cartoon Museum, The Fuse Festival in Rochester, Gnash Comics in Devon , Discover Children’s Centre and Greenwich Theatre.
One highlight of my workshops was a chance to work with children in Islington over the course of several weeks developing a story and ultimately a comic using pupil’s own drawings.
FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2015?
Richy: Well I’m certainly not planning to release four books on the same day again – that was crazy!
I’ve handed the reins of the Webcomic Artist Swap Project over to fellow creators Francesca Dare and Sarah Turner, though will still take part as a writer / artist. Looking forward to seeing how WASP 2015 shapes up.
Of course I will be carrying on with Lucy the Octopus, with one eye focused the end of the story. Still got a year or two to go, but there are many seeds that need to be sown now to bring the story to a satisfying conclusion down the line!
Aside from that I will getting my head down and pitching some graphic novel concepts to various publishers. I have three definite ideas in mind that will see the light of day one way or another!
FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?
Richy: Yes! My talented bud (and Tempo Lush Tales collaborator) illustrator Paul Shinn has finally got his comic work into print, so I hope that will lead to more folk discovering him in 2015.