Hi Jed, thanks for taking the time to be my first interviewee.
Thanks for having me.
You’ve been writing comics for a number of years now, can you remember what some of the earliest comics you read were?
I actually came to comics late. I read the Beano a lot when I was young and I did read a lot of manga in my early teens. Mostly Sh?nen stuff– One Piece, Bleach, and Death Note.
I picked up American style comics while studying. I didn’t have time to read novels for fun and comics seemed like a good compromise. I quickly read the classics (Watchman, The Dark Knight Returns, Maus) and then a year later I started working on my first comic script.
What inspired you to be a writer?
I’m a serial dabbler, If I like something I’ll try and make it myself. Over the years I’ve turned my hand to brewing, cooking, making video games, and so much more. Writing just happened to be the thing that I was reasonably good at and also enjoyed.
There’s a lot of hard work involved in being a comic writer especially with all the conventions. What are some of your favourite comic cons?
Maybe I’m biased but Thoughtbubble is the best con I’ve ever been to. It’s the only con I’ve done that has a real focus on comics plus it’s my local con so I don’t have to travel very far.
What I love about comic cons is there’s always an indie/small press section it gives readers a chance to find something different and niche. What indie/small press comics have you been reading lately?
I loved Martin Simpson’s The Needle Man. It’s an excellent slice of Orwellian weirdness and it’s got this unique hyper detailed art style that is just amazing. Seriously there’s one double page spread in there that is jaw dropping.
I’ve recently read your comic series The Show and was impressed on how even though it had influences from other sources like Big Brother, The Truman Show and the Arcade character from Marvel it was different. What type of research did you do for the comic?
Not much to be honest. I listened to an old episode of the podcast This American Life (Episode 529 – Human Spectacle) and it had a story about a Japanese Reality TV show called Denpa Sh?nen teki Kensh? Seikatsu. It was a about a guy who they locked in a room with nothing except a few magazines. He wasn’t allowed anything except things he could win from sweepstake competitions. I think he ended up staying there for 15 months. After they let him out he had problems holding a conversation for about six months.
The book is rather nihilist in its view of reality TV and even the world in general. How much of that do you think is possible?
I don’t know. The internet is definitely changing things. With the amount of content out there there’s only really two ways to stand out. Be really, really good or do something outrageous. Just the other day I watched a video where someone took a bath in hot sauce. The guy nearly went blind but he got 28 million hits. I don’t know if there is a limit to what people will do to become famous.
Speaking of possible, Issue two was really insane with Johnny’s gas inspired trip. Were you nervous doing an issue that focused more on a dreamlike state than reality?
I didn’t actually think about it too much at the time. It was only when I started showing people the script and they all said how weird it was that I really considered its place in the story. I do think it adds to the story though and at the very least it gave Robert something interesting to draw.
Another bold choice you made was only having three consistent characters and not giving us a backstory for them or even a name in some cases. Was this part of the mystery?
It was definitely a deliberate choice. I purposefully chose to only name the characters in front of the cameras. Big Brother was a cultural-phenomena but nobody really knows who created it. At its worst reality tv turns its players into caricatures and its creators into faceless monsters forcing the contestants to eat kangaroo testicles. I don’t think it serves anyone very well.
That said, I don’t think Reality TV is inherently bad. When done ethically it can be genuinely entertaining. I think it’s telling that one of the most popular reality TV shows is the Great British Bake Off. Hopefully that means that people are starting to get sick of the nastier stuff.
Are you planning a sequel?
There’s no plan at the moment for a sequel. I’ve got a few ideas for comics that explore similar themes and ideas but I have no plans to revisit The Show.
Can you tell us what else you’re working on?
I’m currently working on my first ever Kickstarter which let me tell you is stressing me out. It’s for a book called Transmissions which is a spy story about a Cold War era brainwashing op that is resurrected in modern times.