Interview with Artist Will Simpson

While we’ve got the legendary Will Simpson touring our stores we thought we’d pin him down and ask him a few questions!

  1. You’ve spent a long time storyboarding Game of Thrones and other media properties. How had that changed your style and approach to storytelling?

I don’t know if working on big film and tv projects had changed my storytelling that much, I mean having the ability to tell a story was one of the reasons I got film jobs. All the comic strips over the years really helped. My knowledge of working through scripts for planning comic pages was just inbuilt.
All my years of watching movies as I worked on my drawing creates a logic in being dramatic! I guess the one thing will be less crossing the lines of sight. It needs to make sense on a comic page too, I’m slightly more conscious…though being unconscious often, may also help! Ha! Instinct has a lot to answer for!

  1. How does it feel coming back to more regular comics work, and what differences do you notice in yourself and the industry?

It actually feels like I’ve stepped back into the fun I used to have, when I started off telling stories, rather than coming back to regular comics work. I’m still only working on my own deadlines just now, ‘cause I’m actually pretty good at self motivation when I’m not doing film work. Mostly, these days, I’m seeing comics as tv and film productions, which in some ways is great as tech has opened the door for all the fantastical things that originally in comics, but that’s the crunch though, comics are where most of the lasting ideas have come from and yet it still is an under-appreciated medium, not for the wonderful true fans with taste and understanding that know how great a comic strip can be, no matter what format is labelled on the version, a comic strip is still told with script and amazing artwork, at it’s best, whether standard comic, newspaper strip, graphic collected album, graphic novel, independent underground, these are all created by very dedicated people. I love a comic to be a comic though, not necessarily instantly aimed at tv or movies, that’s the extra bonus and I have no issue with that progression, but the comics I still tend to read always were comics. Mind you, I did love Netflix’s Daredevil and Punisher series. They kept the heart, as does Preacher and The Boys.
As to the industry, I’m still finding out. It doesn’t feel as safe as it used to…and it wasn’t safe then! It seems, there’s a big onus on creators doing it themselves.

  1. You’ve had a long history with vampires in comics, so what sets VMT apart from the rest?

Ahhhhhhh, that long vampire history…I always loved vampire characters from my first viewing of Bela Lugosi Dracula’s, B/w history and all the other classics, Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein and Lon Chaney jr’s Werewolf, the brilliant Cat People, the original (and Nastassja Kinski’s version where the Bowie track grabs from the beginning) and then the Christopher Lee Dracula that used to creep me out as a child, vampires have always been a big part of my entertainment. My mother got me Bram Stoker’s Dracula from the library, when I was an eleven year old, week long, sick kid, trapped in my room and she figured the book would perk me up! Truly brilliant thought process! I’ve re-read it a couple of times since. After all my comic drawing, stepping into real horror with Garth Ennis on Hellblazer, primed me beautifully to come up with Vamps with Elaine Lee, for DC’s Vertigo. Elaine was a dream to work with but when DC didn’t capitalise on our epic biking vamps, it left an unfinished vampire psyche that I never quite got away from. I went on to do lots of movie work and tv series’s, having a giant 10 year stint on ‘Game Of Thrones’, doing early concepts and eight seasons of storyboarding, some documentary work, like ‘Better Things’ with Maria Cabardo and as Elaine went on with her amazing ‘Starstruck’ work and the gaming world and we would occasionally push at DC to think more ‘Vamps’, it was just a giant stall.

So, I started following a little track of my own. I’d been writing film projects, turning out a couple of short films, which I got to direct and generating feature film scripts, (animation in there too, with my brother, computer head Ken). Some of these tales were definitely comic stories and I just let them evolve in-between my celluloid work. Thankfully encouraged by Alexander Finbow, who I’d done the previous two ‘24 Hrs In London’ stories for Renegade, I allowed VMT to build.

In some ways, I guess it’s a reaction to my big corporate experience but more so, a vehicle for me to explore some of the things that are horrible to me. Vampires are the outsiders, the separated, those that are elevated from the matter of things, while still trapped by their…‘condition’! I just didn’t want to have my vampires sparkle! I wanted to bring myself back to being influenced by Dracula, Lost Boys and Near Dark…and ‘Vamps’. The thing is, when all the storylines seem to be done, the big thing that is different and of value, is the individual approach, the characters becoming, their state of being and that’s what makes our worlds unique. It’s probably so much more about questioning our world’s flaws, being revolted or repulsed by things I don’t actually like and thrilled by horrors, where problems are solved kinda directly! It’s also a want to continue with the vampire world in my form rather than trying to separate from what’s gone before! It’ll still deal in blood. I guess I’m just a hopeless fanboy of all things canine!

Catch Will this Saturday (November 12th 2022) at our Glasgow store!

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