Bryan Talbot

On Tuesday the 24th of October 1995, we had the return of Bryan as a guest.
Bryan Talbot was born in Wigan in 1952. He attended Wigan Grammar School before doing a foundation year at the Wigan School of Art, before obtaining an LSIA in Graphic Design from Preston Polytechnic. Bryan started drawing comics for his own amusement in 1960. His first published illustrations appeared in the British Tolkien Society Magazine in 1969. In 1971, in conjunction with Bonk, a fellow student, he produced a weekly comic strip, Superharris, for the college newspaper.

After completing his education Bryan worked in the drawing office at British Aerospace and as a graphic designer at Longcastle Advertising Agency. However his real creative spirit was devoted to the underground press by creating the BRAINSTORM COMIX. The first three issues contained the 65 page story of Chester P. Hackenbush - The Psychedelic Alchemist. This was reprinted in 1982 in one volume entitled Brainstorm. The MIXED BUNCH issue of Brainstorm Comix included a 7 page strip - "The Papist Affair" - the seed from which The Adventures of Luther Arkwright was later to grow. Issue Six; Amazing Rock and Roll Adventures featured Bryan's 23 page story The Omega Report, an SF/rock-comedy thriller cum private dick pastiche.

In 1978 Bryan began Frank Fazakerly, Space Ace of the Future, a Flash Gordon/Dan Dare take-off, for AD ASTRA, and The Adventures of Luther Arkwright for NEAR MYTHS. This title ran for five issues and work on the Arkwright saga was halted until 1981, when its serialisation began again in PSSST! magazine. In 1982, Never Ltd published Rat-trap - Volume One of the Arkwright trilogy.

After completing Rat-trap, Bryan created over a hundred illustrations for a series of German role-playing-game books and wrote and drew Scumworld for a year for SOUNDS.

In 1981 he worked with SF writer Bob Shaw on the Granada arts programme CELEBRATION to produce Encounter with a Madman.

In 1983 he began working for 2000AD, and with Pat Mills produced three books in the popular Nemesis The Warlock series. The first in these won an Eagle award for Best Comic Album and the character Torquemada the Favourite British Villain award for three years running. He also worked on Judge Dredd by Alan Grant and John Wagner, which included the production of full colour strips for the IPC annuals and the 20 page RPG strip in the first issue of DICEMAN.

Over the years Bryan has created a variety of comic strips for publications as diverse as HOME GROWN and IMAGINE, magazine illustrations, including covers for DC SUPERHEROS MONTHLY and COMPUTER AND VIDEO GAMES, Rock and SF art Prints, posters, badges and logos.

In 1989 he broke into the American market, when Jamie Delano asked him to draw the first Hellblazer Annual for DC. This was the start of an association over the Atlantic which has recently spread from DC to Dark Horse.

In 1990 he worked with American Tom Veitch, whose underground comix work he had admired years before. The result of this collaboration was The Nazz for DC, a superhero comic seeped in symbolism and graphically depicting the outcome of achieving absolute power.

Still with DC Bryan has drawn a number of Sandman titles and a Shade the Changing Man.

In 1992 Bryan had an idea for a Batman story while lazing in bed. Two weeks later, at the Glasgow Comic Convention, he then met Archie Goodwin who had just taken over as the editor on Legends Of The Dark Knight, the more prodigious of the many Batman titles. Bryan told him he had a story and Archie told him to send him a proposal. It sounded like a polite way of getting rid of him and Bryan didn't take it any further. But six months later when he saw Archie again the first thing Archie demanded to know was the whereabouts of the proposal Bryan had promised. So Bryan sat down at the word processor and within two weeks Archie had accepted the story and told Bryan to spread it over two issues. The story concerned the possibility that Batman was a deluded drunkard who thought he was a hero, or alternatively Batman has a breakdown and believes he is a down-and out. The reality is unknown right to the end, and accuracy in the madness element was lent by Bryan's personal psychological advisor; Keith Marsland.

Most recently Bryan has devoted the last three years to writing and drawing THE TALE OF ONE BAD RAT, which was published by Dark Horse last year.
Bryan has adapted his drawing style many times for different projects. Arkwright, was drawn in a wonderful but laborious cross-hatching European technique. When he started working for 2000AD and DC he developed a fluid, slick style which allowed him to push the pages out at the required rate. For Bad Rat he wanted realism while retaining a comic feel. To do this Bryan used photo reference to get very realistic and accurate pictures. However, the pictures used for reference were not cut out of magazines. Each frame had a number of pictures taken just for that image and the detailed pencil drawings were produced. The inking then drew thick lines around the subjects. Any detail lost was replaced at the colouring stage.

This process produced the accurate images with a comic feel which Bryan wanted.
During the latter part of the production of Bad Rat, Bryan was introduced to TeknoComix by Neil Gaiman. His work on Teknophage, one of Neil's titles, helped enormously after the long time working on Bad Rat when he was only able to do small jobs to earn money.

TeknoComix, was started by a couple of people who became millionaires in America with an SF Cable channel. They decided to get into comics and did so in a big way. The money was attractive and the freedom they gave and technology used in colouring and inking was inventive. For example for a few pictures in Teknophage Bryan drew ten or so insects, and computers multiplied these by thousands so a veritable swarm is produced on the page.

So now Bad Rat is finished, what's on the horizon? Arkwright II? Well Bryan said many years ago that there would be no follow up, but since then he has thought of a good story, so we'll see. He is also doing some comic script writing which Dave Taylor will be drawing. If you want to know more ask the questions.