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|Interview with Simon Bisley|
COMIC-ART.COM: Simon, I guess the first question I wanted to ask you is: How did you get into art?
BISLEY: Well, it's something I found I could do quite well since the age of about six. So really, you know it's always just a part of my life all the time, and just something I always did naturally and always took it for granted, and it never really occurred to me to sort of pursue it as a career. A friend of mine who was an art editor and freelance writer for magazines, took my stuff to London and showed it around and it got a good response and it kind of went from there, really.
COMIC-ART.COM: Did you ever take any lessons?
COMIC-ART.COM: Entirely self-taught, huh?
BISLEY: Entirely self-taught. I went to art college for a year, a foundation course, to do, you know, modelling and graphics and fine art and just all that, but I found it very difficult to get any kind of feedback from the art teachers. They weren't interested at all in what I was doing, so I became kind of very introverted with regard to my artwork and yeah, I was just all self-taught. It wasn't really taught, it's all learn it, so much as you just do it, and you get better the more you do it.
COMIC-ART.COM: What was the first stuff you did? You said it was for magazines, was that illustrations?
BISLEY: It was, the first thing I did was a T-shirt for a heavy metal magazine it was called Kerrang. I did a few album covers, and I did a few magazine covers , like, you know, computer magazines, game companies, that. So, that's what I was doing. Then I got invited to 2000, the offices of 2000 A.D. after they saw some of my examples of some of their characters I had drawn, and they more or less gave me a job on the spot. I'd never done a comic strip before. I had no idea how to do it, how I would approach it, how to play with it.
COMIC-ART.COM: Really? How did you feel about doing a comic?
BISLEY: Sort of excited. I mean it's something, again, because you're so kind of used to what you do, and you always look at comics, and never stick the two together, like me drawing comics. I mean comics was something that was way, way beyond me. It's just something you picked up and read. You didn't even think of someone drawing it. So when they said they wanted you to draw a comic it was kind of really strange. It's almost surreal, really.
COMIC-ART.COM: What was the first thing you did for 2000 A.D.?
BISLEY: It was the A.B.C. Warriors. One of the characters you'll see in the, Judge Dredd movie, one of the robots in it. That's interesting.
COMIC-ART.COM: Yeah, and once you got that first assignment, what did you do to sort of create a storytelling style for yourself?
BISLEY: Again, I had no idea. It was all instinctive. Everything was instinctive. It kind of just came together. The first page I did was rejected because I was sort of bleeding the characters over the panels. It became like a big mob and people couldn't understand what was going on. I think one guy, one of the characters was getting shot in the middle panel, he was just literally his arms and legs were splayed all over, across every panel you could see, the rest of it was pretty confusing for people. And it's difficult to say, really, because it was just instinctive..But I think what I did do was very large panels. I was very much into big, posey stuff, and really not making an effort in telling the story. I wasn't very interested. I think even now I'm not too interested in the story because I find it boring just drawing people standing around and doing what they're doing to tell the story. I've always got to think about each page and some great pose I'm going to do. I've got away with it thus far.
COMIC-ART.COM: So the body language is important to you?
BISLEY: Extremely important. I found that I'm just really interested in human anatomy and everything, so I guess that's the best thing I could do. It's difficult, difficult to do, really. It just happens. Literally.
COMIC-ART.COM: So, after the A.B.C. Warriors for 2000 A.D., what else did you do?
BISLEY: Oh, dear me. That's--Everything and anything...There's a period of time when I was working on Slane, the Horned God, Lobo, and all various covers all at the same and was kind of working on Judgement in Gotham as well. So, it was a kind of combination of everything, and album covers. God, all sorts, all sorts.
COMIC-ART.COM: What time period was your period of breaking into the industry?
BISLEY: I don't know. Can't remember. But I do know that 1992, I think, was my biggest year, in that the most amount of work I ever did. It was vast. I remember a time when you could walk into a comic shop, a London comic shop, and my comics, there were covers and comics everywhere I'd done. A vast amount.
COMIC-ART.COM: So, how did you begin working for D.C.?
BISLEY: Who was the original Doom Patrol writer, editor? What was his name? Tom or John Pierre? He approached me and said, do you want to do a Doom Patrol cover? And that was Doom Patrol number twenty-six. And that's the first piece I ever did for the Americans.
COMIC-ART.COM: So, did you start picking up work from the American market pretty quick?
BISLEY: Yeah, it came pretty quick from then on. There was Lobo and I said Judgement in Gotham, and it all seems to have been pretty well much clustered together, and then, so...
COMIC-ART.COM: Are you still doing stuff for the English market?
BISLEY: No. Not at all. This is something that I realize I've neglected it. I think I've just done an illustration for Doom II, the game for a PC games magazine and I'm going to do a few more for those guys. And I'd like to do some more for 2000 A.D., some pinups or some covers because you know, I'd like to get back to the English market because I think I miss it. It's going back to your roots almost. You know I think the British gave me an awful lot, well, my home town, home people, 2000 A.D., gave me a lot and once I became a success and everything I almost feel like I turned my back on them. Not that they really care. But I think it would be nice to go back and do some stuff again. I think the fans would like it as well.
COMIC-ART.COM: I'm sure they would.
BISLEY: You don't usually get that. I mean you don't think you get that. People usually use 2000 A.D. as a backbone to achieve their goals, and then disappear and that's it. So, I think this country really needs some sorting out. I think some creators should come back and give the guys a hand a bit. Not saying that they really need it, though they do actually.
COMIC-ART.COM: You mean guys like you and Alan Moore and some of the other successful writers and artists come back and work on British comics?
BISLEY: Well, yeah. Yeah, I think, and I guess Kevin O'Neill, and Glen Favry, well, he is almost. He's doing Judgement on Gotham anyway, I mean the second part.
COMIC-ART.COM: Well, let's talk about the Death Dealer project.
COMIC-ART.COM: How did you get called in on that?
BISLEY: Well, it was originally Kevin Eastman showed my work to Frank, the Slane stuff I'd done, and Frank liked it. There was kind of talk of me doing Death Dealer, then it all was very quiet. I don't know what happened there. I think I was distracted with other things, and then I got friendly with Glen Danzig and he said to me, Hey, do you fancy doing Death Dealer? I said, Yeah, and that's it. It's as simple as that.
COMIC-ART.COM: You'd said before that you'd wanted to do that character since you were a child.
BISLEY: Well, it was when I was eight years old I first saw Frank's stuff, and you know how you feel when you first see Frank's stuff?
COMIC-ART.COM: Oh, yeah. Yeah, it's very exciting.
BISLEY: So, I mean, it kicked me in the head as well. I just couldn't believe it. It's almost like a phantom sense of direction. It was that kind of age where you know you don't know much about anything, really. You just kind of plod through life and kick around and do things. But when I saw that image of, I think, is it The Barbarian, Conan standing on this pile of bodies, I couldn't believe my eyes. I mean, I thought, My God! And then I started collecting a few Frank Frazetta books, and those images always stayed in my mind, and I think it's obvious the huge influence he's had on my work. Even more so now, I think. So, yeah, I mean, and I'd always heard that Death Dealer was going to be a comic strip character or a film or something. So, I think it's incredible for me that I've been offered the job all these years down the line. I was born to do it I think.
COMIC-ART.COM: That's cool. It's going to be great, I'm sure. How are you guys going to do Death Dealer? Have you figured out the length of the stories, the format and that kind of stuff?
BISLEY: Yeah, we kind of worked it out. It's going to be like a forty-four pager, and I'll probably do about two a year, just sort of the same thing all the time. I think basically the first story is going to be oriented around just total, utter violence, gratuitous violence throughout. You know just battle after battle after battle in and out of different time periods and things, and the coming of Death Dealer and how he came about. And that's an interesting story. But I won't tell you much about it. It's mostly oriented around big imagery stuff and violent mood. And it's a homage to Frank, and really, I guess, about the character. It's almost like there's no story there at all. Just doing classy, classy illos really.
COMIC-ART.COM: But is it going to be comic panels, or just...
BISLEY: Oh, it's going to be comic panels, but it'll be huge, big splash panels. We've left a lot of freedom to do plenty of action in there. No bullshit story, just straight into the action almost from the very beginning. No one is going to be standing around for a minute, not for one minute. Just total carnage, total, total and it'll be great.
COMIC-ART.COM: Have you read the Death Dealer books?
BISLEY: I haven't, no. I heard they're not too hot.
COMIC-ART.COM: Yeah, I have a couple of them that I got for the covers. I haven't read them either.
BISLEY: Yeah. Why do you think people buy them? Because of the covers. Exactly. I mean the story was basically just written so the covers could be used, isn't it?
COMIC-ART.COM: Yeah, and the guy who wrote them I think is a friend of Frank's.
BISLEY: Oh, right...So, what's the story on that, then?
COMIC-ART.COM: The guy's name is Jim Silke. He's an artist himself...
BISLEY: All right.
COMIC-ART.COM: And collects pin-up art, and stuff. And I guess he's known Frank for years.
BISLEY: All right.
COMIC-ART.COM: He's supposed to be one of the biggest experts on pin-ups in the country.
BISLEY: Is he really. I'm surprised that he's not involved in this Death Dealer project then.
COMIC-ART.COM: How much direct involvement is Frank going to have?
BISLEY: I've no idea. I've only talked to Frank once, and he just basically said, you know, don't go crazy with the muscles and try and make it--I think Frank doesn't want, you know, stereotypical "Image-type" illustrations, you know. Death Dealer is not, Death Dealer, and I do appreciate it, and it's how I want to approach it, is that classic look going back to Foster and St. John and Frank. I mean it's basically, we've got to draw, I want to draw Death Dealer as Frank would have done it, I guess, obviously with my own style strongly sticking out I suppose.
COMIC-ART.COM: Are you going to do the pages full color on the pages, painted?
BISLEY: No, I'm not painting it. I'm doing it black and white line.
COMIC-ART.COM: And then is it going to be colored?
BISLEY: Yeah, and then we've got Oliff. Isn't it Oliff or something?
COMIC-ART.COM: Oh, Oliff? Excellent choice.
BISLEY: Yeah, he's absolutely brilliant.
COMIC-ART.COM: Yeah, so it'll be that kind of moody, dark coloring, lots of blacks, blues, slate gray.
BISLEY: Yeah, that's right. Exactly. And we'll hint at this color and that color, like Frank does. The thing is, this isn't done so much for money, on my part, it's really done purely because we love Frank's stuff. And it's done just for the joy of doing it. You know I'd do the damn thing for nothing. It's just something that I have to do.
COMIC-ART.COM: No, believe me, I understand. It must be so cool getting to work on a project that's the product of one of your artistic heroes.
BISLEY: Well, yeah, and I'm also very much obliged to do a bloody good job of it...
COMIC-ART.COM: Yeah, well, you not only have to please yourself, you have to please Frank, too. And he's a tough audience.
BISLEY: Well, yeah, I think I'm doing it. You see, I think I'm doing it for like Frank really, and for myself, not for anybody else. And if other people enjoy it, then that's a bonus, isn't it?
COMIC-ART.COM: So when's the first issued supposed to be out?
BISLEY: It's supposed to be out (laughs) about February time. So, I'll be starting that pretty soon. But obviously I'm working, working...I'm obviously doing stuff for the moment with Kevin, which is my main project and my main priority. So I kind of fit the Dealer in at my leisure, but that's not making it (a) secondary job. So I'll just kind of work around things and make it work somehow. It'll come out great in there.
COMIC-ART.COM: And then are you going to do any color work for it, or just do the black and white line art?
BISLEY: Well what I might want to do is paint some of the panels, I mean some of the pages, some of the splash pages, paint 'em in full color. And I would die to do a Death Dealer painting, at least, but I think Frank's pretty much holding onto that. I think it's unlikely. It's very difficult I think to get Frank to let me do that. I'm not sure. I think...he eventually will but I don't know. It's a shady area, a funny area. He's obviously going to do a cover, but I don't know.
COMIC-ART.COM: I think he's only done, what, like half a dozen paintings, with that character?
BISLEY: Yeah, I think, yeah, he has, yeah. But I think it needs some more.
COMIC-ART.COM: Oh yeah.
end of part two
COMIC-ART.COM: Tthe first Death Dealer painting. That's become a complete icon.
BISLEY: Yeah, you don't even look at it as a painting. You just look at it as, it's almost like the Niagara Falls, or Mt. Everest, almost like something that came naturally from the Earth and we just see it as part of our lives, you know?
COMIC-ART.COM: That first Death Dealer painting has been widespread, I've seen that same character painted on the side of a B-52 bomber.
COMIC-ART.COM: Yeah, the name of the bomber was Ultimate Warrior.
BISLEY: Really? Jeeze.
COMIC-ART.COM: I've got a photo of that in the newspaper.
BISLEY: My God. Well, it's the definitive fantasy illustration isn't it, in that genre. That says everything about that kind of like, this kind of like sword and sorcery thing.
COMIC-ART.COM: Oh, yeah, I was going to say that pose is so perfect, so classic, it's hard to envision it, that character being posed any other way in that painting. Death Dealer standing on top of that cliff edge with an ax raised above his head. I mean that is absolutely outrageous. Outrageous. The power is incredible.
COMIC-ART.COM: It's nice to see Frazetta give full rein to the dark side of his work.That's what gave the Conan paintings their edge, and in the Death Dealer it's even more so.
BISLEY: Well, I think it's that kind of realism, somehow. It's something so real about it. It's hard to do, it's hard to pinpoint, I mean looking at Conan's face in that, the Barbarian painting. I mean there's something so real about it. He's kind of like, I don't know. It's just not the cliche, is it?
COMIC-ART.COM: When I interviewed Frazetta about '85, I asked him about that, about Conan. And I said, where did you get that character? And he just kind of shrugged, and said, well, I grew up with guys like that, you know. They were kind of like neighborhood guys and second-rate boxers and you know tough guys that worked on the docks and that kind of thing.
BISLEY: Yeah, I can see that. Gnarled look.
COMIC-ART.COM: He said if he ever did a Conan movie, he wouldn't get some actor, you know. He said he would go out and find some guy who looked like that because of the life he'd led.
BISLEY: Well, this is right. I mean this is why I think it worked, because you could really relate to it. His physique was derived from his work and his life, I mean like a blacksmith, or, like I said, someone who works in a foundry, or a bouncer or a boxer, a general heavy. I mean I used to see guys all the time walking around, I mean that's why I think kind of Arnold didn't work as Conan for me because he was just obviously a body builder.
COMIC-ART.COM: Yeah, yeah. You know who I thought would have been a great Conan was, Charles Bronson from about '63.
BISLEY: Yeah, if he'd been a bit taller.
COMIC-ART.COM: Yeah, yeah, but that chiseled build and that kind of like, tough, Slavic face.
BISLEY: That's right, yeah. Yeah, and all, yeah, that's right. (laughter). It was great. Just the scar across his nose was good. I think, looking at that painting, it looks like Frank to me. That same mouth. The same mouth and nose and things, you know?
COMIC-ART.COM: Yeah, well I think he's the inspiration for a lot of his own characters. You can just kind of see that in the pose, and like the way he does a lot of dark-haired male characters. But, you know, he always adds that something extra.
BISLEY: Well, he always adds that something extra, but he always leaves that something out. He just does enough.
COMIC-ART.COM: Yeah, like those paintings he'll do where he's just throw in like the character, a little bit of foreground, and midground, and like the background is all masonite or something.
BISLEY: That's right. I mean this is, I mean look at the Death Dealer, everything is just suggested. The thing is, with Frank's stuff, you've got to look at it as a whole and you're drawn to it immediately, to look at the painting as a whole. Whereas, you find that other artists, their paintings work because it's so technically perfect that your eye wanders all over the place, and that's getting really arty-farty, isn't it?
BISLEY: Do you know what I mean, like, Boris's stuff is fantastic, but it's incredibly statuesque, isn't it? Everything he does. I mean, there's something about the quality of an artist that's very, very rare and very hard to define. It's just something that someone's got that makes things from it work, do you know what I mean?
BISLEY: Just the right pose, just right moment, just the right look, somehow. I mean, the people are technically brilliant, but it just doesn't do nothing for you.
COMIC-ART.COM: Well, I think one of the things that distinguishes Frazetta is, his taste. He knows what's the right moment to pick.
BISLEY: That's right.
COMIC-ART.COM: You know, other guys have like the same amount of technical skill, maybe, though I kind of doubt it, but Frazetta's got that technical skill and great taste.
BISLEY: Yeah. Well, this is it. I mean what makes a great painter is how well he can render something. I don't think it's how well you can render, you know, I think it's just, I don't know, it's just this something. I always used to call it "It". Somebody's got "It".
COMIC-ART.COM: Well, it's the quality of your ideas, being able to make the stuff look lifelike and believable. I think that's one reason why I like Frazetta so much. There are many fantasy painters out there, but when you look at one of Frank's paintings, that environment is real. It's much more accessible. It's more believable.
BISLEY: Yeah. I think maybe 'cause like you were saying, 'cause he's lived it. He's been around guys like that, and he was pretty much a guy like that himself.
COMIC-ART.COM: Oh, yeah. He was a tough guy.
BISLEY: He plays golf, he plays all this stuff and that. He kind of looks a bit like that himself, so he can relate to it and make it work because he's done it. He's not some faggot artist, you know, spending their life just learning airbrush techniques and things like that. It's not going to work. It won't come across, just in the way, just the way the abdominals will knot up, or the arm, the way the elbow's bent, and the whole posture, kind of thing. I mean if Frank wasn't an artist, I'd certainly fear him, like in the medieval days or something, the Dark Ages. You know what I mean? I imagine he's like, he's almost like, he's like a warrior of, in his art, kind of thing, you know?
COMIC-ART.COM: Oh, yeah. Well, he was a very tough guy growing up, from what I've read about him, and talking to his friends. It's like nobody messed with Frank.
COMIC-ART.COM: Yeah. Frank's quite a character, man. I hope you get to meet him in person sometime.
BISLEY: Well, I was hoping to meet him. We had a car, we had it full of Budweisers. I had golf clubs, I had baseball bats, I had everything. I was hoping to go out there and like, play some golf, and play some baseball and things like that and go out and meet him, but unfortunately I had had a bad night out in New York. I was at some strip club and I was just so hungover we didn't make it, to get to do it on time. I think I fell down some stairs as well and bust a rib.
COMIC-ART.COM: Jesus, sounds like a rough night.
BISLEY: Hey, it was fun at the time.
end of part three
COMIC-ART.COM: It really sounds like you're taking the right approach to the Death Dealer character, just the emphasis on the action, and the savagery. I think that's not only going to be a satisfying comic, I think it's going to be, it's probably going to be popular, too. That sounds like what audiences want.
BISLEY: Well, I think it's going to, I think they do want it. He's nothing but the very, very essence of death, I mean the very representation of someone that's almost like the Grim Reaper kind of thing, you know. He represents all that.
COMIC-ART.COM: That's what Frazetta said when he was talking about him one time. He said, he was saying that the Death Dealer's like a death symbol, but beyond that, I hardly know what he is, he said. He's not a cowboy. He's not a spaceman.
BISLEY: (Laughter)...I always thought of him as someone who just appears...I think you don't really know where the hell he comes from.
COMIC-ART.COM: He just sort of appears and disappears?
BISLEY: That's right, he's the guy who appears on the horizon just at the right moment. And I don't think whether he's good or bad. I don't know. But he's almost like a judge, you know. He's more like a guy who judges the situation and takes out the ones he feels need it, but I think this is the way we're approaching the comic is that he's such a powerful entity, so strong and everything else, that every nobleman, every bigshot in the entire planet, get every single one of their very, very best warriors just to take the guy out, he's so dangerous. Because they can't control him, you know? He's gonna fuck up the whole deal so they've gotta try and take the guy out.
COMIC-ART.COM: Oh, like he's a force of nature?
BISLEY: He's a force of nature almost, yeah. But he's almost like you know, the good side and the bad side that conflict on either side. But you can never judge him. You can never know where the hell the guy is coming from, and because of this of course, people fear him enormously. He can just crop up anytime and just destroy an entire army at will, just through the ferocity of that axe and those arms, you know? So, in the story they basically try and take him out, just a huge gathering, and he fights for like a day. There's not like a fight that happens over, like, hours. It happens over seasons, you know what I mean?
BISLEY: And it's just like carnage continuously, okay, they have a tea break, maybe, but...that kind of thing, he's totally unstoppable.
COMIC-ART.COM: Is the Death Dealer going to exist in the real world or is this like a fantasy world?
BISLEY: This is like the real world. I don't want to do Lord of the bloody Rings or anything like that. I think it's going to be very much like in the Robert E. Howard world. You know, you see specters, you see ghosts, and you fear the dark and things like that. He's kind of like almost a nightmare image as are his own opponents are kind of nightmarish. But I don't want to do silly green monsters jumping around with dripping saliva and looking stupid.
COMIC-ART.COM: I think one of the things I meant by that question, too, is the Death Dealer going to visit actual historical periods, you know like the Hundred Years War or something?
BISLEY: Well then we never thought of that. We just put it in it's set in the time when it's like Russia, in Siberia, you know, kind of the Dark Ages. Always it's going to be in the Dark Ages, but I suppose he could appear any time, I suppose, like in the future or in the past, maybe he's been around ever since the beginning, you know? Maybe he's some kind of like, some race that he's the last one who kind of lives forever, kind of thing, you know? I don't know. I mean this is just it, I don't know. I suppose if he can't die, it's not so much his spirit, his very entity can't die. But the way we're working it, it's not a particular individual that has this strength and power, it's all in the helmet and the axe and the whole shit, you know? It's, this is where I explain it, but we've got a beginning where this one character is having this huge, huge battle with like thousands and thousands of people, and he's kind of like almost the only one left, right? And he knows that there's a gathering every year, and he's compelled to go to this huge keep, this huge castle, this black castle guarded by, like these huge like panthers and things like that, you know? This place that no one goes to. Birds don't sing. Flowers don't grow. And so he enters the building, and I won't tell you what happens after that. Just imagine.
COMIC-ART.COM: Okay. So, have you done any layouts or anything on the first issue or do you just have ideas?
BISLEY: It's all mental, mental. I do not do layouts. I just always just work it out in my head and then I just get down and crack on with it.
COMIC-ART.COM: So, that's how you do a page, you'll just sit down, you have the idea for the page and just start pencilling it?
BISLEY: Yeah, like I said, it just kind of happens. I know...It's almost like it's not so much what to do, but what to leave out because I've got so many things I want to do. And suddenly I'm thinking of all the different great poses I can do just to really maximize the Death Dealer and bring him across, because this is, it's not easy. You think about just how powerful Frank's images are, you've gotta kind of make that work, you know, and so...
COMIC-ART.COM: Trying to match that kind of power is a real challenge.
BISLEY: I can do it though.
COMIC-ART.COM: I'm sure you can, man. I'm sure you can.
end of part four
COMIC-ART.COM: You know your stuff is so detailed, Simon, I was wondering, are your pages pretty big? Do you work large?
BISLEY: Kind of average...
COMIC-ART.COM: Do you use a big piece of illustration board or do it like the size of American comic pages?
BISLEY: It depends on what I've got lying around. Usually it's kind of like comic size...We've got ten by fifteen, average black and white pages would be, about that.
COMIC-ART.COM: What about some of your cover paintings? Are those larger?
BISLEY: Well, they can be ten by fifteen, up to much, much bigger than that. Sometimes four times bigger than that. I'm working much, much bigger these days just because when I sell it, it'll be worth more...
COMIC-ART.COM: Well, when you do The Death Dealer stuff are you going to do it standard American comic size or on pieces of illustration board.
BISLEY: I think because of the time factor I'll have to do it standard American size. But I kind of feel terribly claustrophobic and restricted by that. I need space. I'll kind of have to get into it.
COMIC-ART.COM: So are you going to try and do a lot of double-page spreads?
BISLEY: Oh, it's inevitable. I've got the whole freedom of the world to do what I want to do, panel-wise. There'll be these successions of huge splash pages, everything in single, big, big panels and things, you know, wow! I mean some of that stuff will be just be heads and arms and legs just coming from off view into the panel, you know what I mean? And then you pan down and just see this guy hacking the shit out of everything, but kind of, not like, not ballet, it's not ballet. He's just kind of real rigid, just stood rigid on his feet, you know? And he just twists and moves from his hips and swings around. He's got people leaping and jumping around, getting hacked to pieces, you know? He's kind of very strong, powerful, almost heavy, but with ferocious power, just, almost like a heavyweight, a real heavyweight boxer kind of movement...
COMIC-ART.COM: Yeah, it sounds great. I love your concept. I think it's going to be a really cool comic.
BISLEY: Yeah, well I think it's about bloody time, you know, this kind of stuff came across. And I hope it sets up, you know, brings this genre to life again....
COMIC-ART.COM: You know, there used to be good fantasy stuff in the early seventies.
BISLEY: Well, you've hit the nail on the head. I want to see Eerie and Creepy kind of stuff come back, you know? Robert E. Howard type, that real quality, good, classic fine art type of approach to things, you know? I think it's got to the point of, `Hey, guys, let's stop here. These superheroes are just getting too big that you can't, like Frank said, you can't relate to them anymore. And I think that's absolutely true.
COMIC-ART.COM: Don't you think that stuff's going to finally crash and burn? People are going to get sick of it?
BISLEY: I think so.
COMIC-ART.COM: I think so, too.
BISLEY: But you've got to replace it with something. And I think this kind of, this stuff will, it's not so much replace it, it works alongside it. I think, I think this kind of fantasy stuff is always there. It has its days and then it goes away again, but it's always kind of like, it's almost like rock and rock music, you know? It has its big moments, and then it goes away and then you've got rap and other kind of grunge music, but then rock will come up again. I think this sort of fantasy art will arise again, raise its ugly head. I think it will do in this regard, and you know, bring back this kind of fantasy stuff; good, honest shit.
COMIC-ART.COM: Simon, aside from Frazetta, who are some of the other people around you like?
BISLEY: Who do I like? I like everybody's stuff. I see something in everybody's stuff that I like, and I think if there's anything I do dislike, I dislike blatant copying, that stuff, like someone's just literally copied their background, or copied any type of pose. I can't like that. People who work off the back of other people's blood and sweat, that's what I really, pisses me off. So, it's more stuff I don't like as opposed to what I do like.
COMIC-ART.COM: Besides Frank, is there anybody out there who is a particular favorite?
BISLEY: Oh, hell. There's Mike McMahon, Kevin O'Neill, jeeze, Bill Sienkiwicz, Corben. The late, great, great, Kirby, who I only just liked recently, umm, uh, damn it! McMahon, Oh, I don't know, what's his name? He's really good. He does Hellboy.
COMIC-ART.COM: Oh, Mignola.
BISLEY: Yeah, he's absolutely fabulous. I like, oh darn it! There's a guy called, Badger.
COMIC-ART.COM: Oh, yeah. Mark Badger.
BISLEY: Oh, wow. He's great! Oh, jeeze, so much stuff I like. I don't really pick the names up too much, you know? Painting-wise, I don't know. There's not many people around, is there?
COMIC-ART.COM: No, not really. It's nice to see Frank back doing some stuff.
BISLEY: Not that he needs to. Do you know what I mean? He's made his point. And he doesn't have to sort of prove anything now...
COMIC-ART.COM: I know. I think anything he does from now on is just going to be for himself.
BISLEY: I think pretty much so. I think the thing is he's gone beyond comic strip art now.
COMIC-ART.COM: Oh, yeah, way beyond it.
BISLEY: He's way up there with the real classics and the real greats of the kind of fine art side of things, but I think it'll take time for people to realize that, or at least acknowledge that, because the fine art people are real dodgy bastards, you know? They don't know good when it's just stuck up their backsides. .
COMIC-ART.COM: Okay, well, that was a good hanincr=F|dful of names. It's just interesting to see who you like and who you're influenced by.
BISLEY: Subconciously you take things from a lot of other people, you know, you think, Well, wow! That's great, that bit of shading or that bit of darkness. I think it's not so much taking away what they've done literally as opposed to, you're influenced by the mood, or just by the power of something they've done. Do you know what I mean? So you just get excited by looking, like I look at Frank's stuff and I get really excited about it, but I won't sit down with Frank's books in front of me. I totally refuse to do that because I've got to do this thing on my own. That's very, very important to me...Well, it's got be funny, isn't it? And it's gonna have that slight kind of like twist to it, that kind of humor is got to come across somehow. Because you can't take anything too seriously, you know.
COMIC-ART.COM: I think some of those Lobo covers you did were hysterical.
BISLEY: Yeah, I enjoyed doing those.
COMIC-ART.COM: Yeah, those were very popular.
BISLEY: I'll be doing some more of that soon.
We thank interviewer Steve Ringenberg for this transcript