Steve Ringgenberg: Simon, I guess the first question I wanted to ask you is: How did you get into art?
Simon 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.
SR: Did you ever take any lessons?
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.
SR: 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.
SR: 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.
SR: 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.
SR: 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.
SR: 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.
SR: 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.
SR: 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.
SR: 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.
SR: 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...
SR: 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.
SR: 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.
SR: 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.
In the next part Simon talks about his work on the Death Dealer