We Talk To Comics Legend Stewart Kenneth Moore

We spoke to Stewart Moore! – The iconic artist behind 2000AD, Project MKUltra, Macbeth and Thrawn Janet and so much more. Moore is well respected in the industry, recognised for his wild, trippy art-style and sending a message through his almost-psychedelic visuals.

Ahead of Stewart’s visit to our Glasgow store next week, we sent him a few questions to get your juices flowing…

  1. Could you tell us a little more about your particular art-style and your inspiration?

I never really developed a signature style. I was always told that one would emerge, it never did. Project MKUltra may be the closest I have to a personal style. It always walks the line between real and cartoon. I enjoy that mix of real and cartoonish. It keeps everything elastic, sometimes too much realism kills a comic, make the images too stiff, but if it’s too cartoony it can also lose a sense of importance and power. MK has American underground comics notes, for the 60’s and 70’s scenes, and more of 1950’s awkward charm for those era scenes, that’s what I aimed for anyway, I averaged 1 page of art every 3 days, too slow. But changing tools, limiting pallet and enforcing a strict time-limit can lead to a whole new style. With Macbeth I worked very fast, sometimes finishing 6 pages a day, although 3 per day was my average. I almost never used a pen to model anything, I allowed no shading either and no continuous tone. I just filled the panels black and cut out the light and gave myself only five minutes to decide if it worked, after five minutes I didn’t allow myself to change a thing. When I started drawing Pat Mills Defoe series for 2000AD {Profs 2150 to 2161} I tried to draw a comic that looked like a comic adaptation of a lost UFA film, like a forgotten Kabinet of Dr. Caligari, that had been illustrated before it was lost. I even blurred the images and distressed them like old film. I allowed myself no cross-hatching on Defoe. Cross-hatching was uncommon in finished art until after the 17th century. Could be wrong, but, I felt it was an anachronism and mostly avoided it on Defoe. I opted for bringing lines closer or flaring the line to generate tone in most cases. A decision that added weeks to the drawing time. Defoe was also a bit like a second childhood because it reawakened my love of the work of Bernie Wrightson. As a teenager I drew many a horror inspired by Bernie. I realised I could still draw and ink in a similar way, but hadn’t done so in decades, that was so much fun, like finding a fantastic old bumble-bee jersey I’d forgotten all about :D. I work solidly on Judge Dredd when a script comes my way, but I don’t set a time limit on a page. It’s done when it’s done. The best artists have cut their teeth on the series and he has to be the hardest comicbook character to draw, he’s also the most stylistically diverse with a variety of artistic interpretations. This all sounds a bit crazy, but if you are a burgeoning artist, try changing tools, changing speed, limiting pallet, they all have a huge impact on the end result.

  1. Would you say it’s easier to create stories rooted in reality or fiction?

Both are equally demanding, but I guess you are free to go where you wish with fiction. Project MKULTRA mixes reality and fiction with pop-culture references. How you tell it is important, how to avoid being a bore is the key thing, I think. It’s why my pages have so much ‘Chicken Fat’, I think Will Elder devised this method. Enriching a page so a reader can return and always find new details to enjoy. I’ve been watching HBO’s ‘Barry’ and I think the writing is superb. It defies expectation and can be equally funny and tragic, excellent pacing, excellent in every way. Severance and Succession are also excellent, all are fictions that poke fun at certain realities of life. In terms of comics MAUS is a great example of a story based in reality. In this case the memory of parents who were Auschwitz survivors, the memory of their memories, as told to their son Art Speigelman. Persepolis tells the story of a young woman’s personal memories of growing up in Iran, it is a great example of this too. Stories come when you’re not looking for them. I was drawing a man amid a crowd the other day, he looked a real sad-sack for some reason. Later I drew another man, an intense face, and he looked like he was looking at the first guy, this was accidental, I hadn’t planned it. I realised he was tailing the sad-sack. But why? A story was beginning. Sometimes you can generate a story by just putting the characters together. They start to tell it for you.

  1. What are you reading and enjoying at the moment?
    I’m reading The Castle right now, by Franz Kafka.
  1. And to finish up, is there something you wish you could tell your 20 year old self?

Even at my laziest I always produced a lot of drawings and paintings. But I’d tell the 20 year old Stoo to draw and paint even more, paint everything. Draw everything….and go for more bike rides.

Drop in to our Glasgow store on December 19th at 5PM, have a chat, get your book signed! Stewart will also have prints that will be available to buy! https://fb.me/e/37MMSIS7z

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.