1. Hi Simon, can you introduce yourself and tell us how you got into doing comic books?
I'm Simon Gough, 31 years old, born in Birmingham. I moved to Brighton about 9 years ago after finishing Uni in Exeter (basically followed my missus and my mates, as they were heading this way). Did the whole arty kid routine through school, then A-levels and onto College after that, and then Uni. I've tried most mediums, but always liked just straight fine art painting, and mostly portraits at that. At the same time, I was always collecting comics, and being really into the Superhero genre… seems like art and comics were bound to go together pretty well for me haha! I got into the industry through trial and error basically. I was working at Size? Brighton as a Manager, but on the nights I was teaching myself Photoshop (money and space makes 'real' painting a pain sometimes, so digital is a nice alternative). I tried colouring some lines by a bunch of artists, got some good feedback, and it went from there… just luck really… and making some very solid contacts along the way!
My first 'published' gig was doing the animated cutscenes for DCUOnline video game, this was followed by Snake Eyes for IDW, which is my first printed work in the industry.
2. Is the comic book industry a hard one to get in to? As a UK-based artist is it harder to get industry contacts with not being based in the States?
I would say that its very hard to get into the mainstream industry of Marvel and DC, even quite difficult to get onto the books of smaller guys like IDW! The market is saturated with colourists right now (ease of access), so its very competitive… I think living in the US can give you a very strong edge with being easier to work with, and also being able to do face to face meetings, either at conventions or publishers offices. Also, there are much better educational courses in the medium of sequential arts over there than over here (from my experience)… most of the US Pro's I know studied exactly that at College. Another thing to be mindful of is that much of your earning are in $, so undercutting the guys from the US, and other countries is almost impossible. Making contacts and relationships very important, from my experience anyway being based in the UK.
3. What’s your take on the recent explosion in popularity of superhero blockbuster movies? Do you think a lot of people are getting in to comics for the first time through big movies like ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and ‘The Avengers’?
I haven't really noticed it to be honest… I think most comic fans knew that a time would come when all this crazy stuff that happens in the comics would translate better into film when the tech caught up. We've always had Superhero movies too really, and I think they have always done pretty well as both cult and mainstream movies. There are highs and lows, but they've always been in the limelight. I think my first Superhero movie was probably 'The Amazing Spider-Man' from the 70's, or 'Superman' with Reeves, and since then I don't really remember a time when there hasn't been a Superhero movie coming out at some point.
Right now though, we are in a high, and thats cool, but it hasn't affected comic sales much, especially when compared to the boom in the 90's. Hopefully we can get back to that amount of hype, but I doubt it haha!
4. You currently work on IDW’s ongoing ‘Snake Eyes’ series. Were you a big GI Joe fan growing up?
Honestly? Not really! More of a casual fan… there wasn't enough time in the day, I had so many toys (I lived with my mom and Grandparents, so I was spoiled for toys). I had a ton of the figures and vehicles, and I remember liking the arctic themed stuff the most… and Snake Eyes, him I remember really well from being a kid. I'm a Martial Arts movie nut, always have been, so any ninja type guys are always a favourite, and they don't come much cooler than Snake Eyes. Lately, I've started to really warm to his original design though, the commando was awesome!
5. Any titles you’d love to work on? Or is there anyone out there that you’d like to collaborate with?
The Amazing Spider-Man, with Robert Atkins (http://robertatkins.deviantart.com)… but, only when they bring back Peter Parker! Or anything with Dave Stokes (http://stokesbook.deviantart.com) and Garry Brown (http://thisismyboomstick.deviantart.com). There's a ton of Pro's I could choose, but its daunting when you're stepping into the shoes of former colouring giants who've gone before!!
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