I met Gary Chudleigh at Capital Scifi Con last February, and we started to talk about his involvement in comics. I took home his ‘Plagued: The Miranda Chronicles’, winner of the SICBA Award (Scottish Independent Comic Book Alliance), and thoroughly enjoy it.
FB: Your professional life is grounded in the comic world. Why comics?
GC: I gradually began falling into the comic world because how creatively freeing it is, especially when up and coming. There are no budget constraints and you are limitless in choice. I love telling sci-fi stories so it would be extremely difficult for me to write something like that in another format and expect any realistic shot of it coming to fruition.
The more you learn about the medium, the more you realise how unique it really is too. The way the narrative is developed and told through each step, from script to art to lettering, is fascinating.
FB: How did your journey start? Take us through the steps you took to go from idea, to lettering to writing.
GC: My journey first started out about nine years ago while still in college (and yes if someone told me it’d take nearly a decade to ‘make it’ I would go cry in a corner). I was studying media and communication and while it could have led to many careers, it was always writing that overworked my brain and just something I felt compelled to do. Yeah, that sounds a bit cheesy but it’s true. I’m a writing junkie and need to keep feeding the habit. If I go without writing for a few days, I start to get twitchy.
In the earlier days my cousin and talented artist, Graeme Kennedy, and I began collaborating on some short funny comics while I was reading up on books about writing comics and storytelling. We then graduated on to a mini-series called Villainous – which was a very Batman inspired crime thriller featuring a redemptive mass murderer stopping a copy-cat terrorist.
Villainous was my entry point into the small press scene in Glasgow and eventually the UK. We began putting our own money into our books and selling them at conventions nationwide. In fact, for our very first con we got over 1,000 copies printed not realising that selling 70 was a huge success for an indie book. I think I still have copies somewhere in my loft.
From that point on I kept writing, reading, writing, reading, writing until I built up a small portfolio of work with different artists before getting Plagued: The Miranda Chronicles published by BHP Comics in 2014.
When it comes to the steps of creating a comic, for the idea I try and merge a few elements into one. The first is finding a story or scenario that excites me or entertains me. This is usually inspired by comics, books, video games or TV shows I’ve seen before. Now, this might sound a bit like cheating, but we can only know what kind of stories we love by the ones we’ve experienced.
For example, with Plagued I found inspiration from my love of post-apocalyptic stories and mixed it with my Joss Whedon fanboyism (witches and humour ahoy) to give a unique slant.
The next step I then consider is what I want to say. What theme I want to explore. And if I can develop characters and a plot that conveys that theme around the initial story idea, I’m ready to take it to the next level.
I then plot and write the script, which involves really breaking it down into logical steps. The best approach to scriptwriting I find is letting the left side of your brain explode its creativity all over the page and use your right side to build it up piece by piece, making sure you hit the correct beats to develop a cohesive and entertaining narrative.
Once complete, the editor will provide notes which I’ll take on board and create a new, shiny final draft for the artist to look over and create the art for. From there, it gets coloured, lettered and designed up to be print ready and viola – a comic is born!
FB: Last year you won the SICBA award – the Scottish Independent Comic Book Alliance – for The Miranda Chronicles, together with artist Tanya Roberts, who did the artwork for it. How did it feel to receive such an acknowledgment for your work?
GC: No modesty here, it felt amazing. The creative process is a scary venture to the unknown – all your efforts could be for nothing if the people hate it. Not only did people like it, some loved it and it led to winning freakin’ awards. It was a surreal night for sure.
FB: We understand there is a special edition of The Miranda Chronicles coming out in March. What can you tell us about it?
GC: It’s the first trade paperback, which is a graphic novel collection of the first story arc (issue #1 to #3) along with some behind the scene goodies.
What’s even more exciting is the book is being released to comic stores nationwide on June 1st 2016 (which all lovely folk can pre-order using Diamond’s code: APR163164).
FB: Imagine you had no constraints: what project would you love to bring to life?
GC: I’d love to take a crack at some licensed characters to spread my wings a bit but to be honest, Plagued is the project I want to bring to life. If all keeps going well it’s got the potential to run for several issues as an on-going series. I love the world and the characters, so I’m desperate to keep telling this story.
FB: What’s next for you?
GC: I’m already on issue 6 of Plagued so if all goes well, I’ll be charging on with that for the near future!