What can you tell us about Slow News Day?
Andi Watson: It's a six issue mini-series, bi-monthly, starting in July,
published by Slave Labor Graphics. Black and white interior, colour
cover on a nice stock (hopefully). The original idea was to do a series
involving all the weird little stories that turn up in my local
newspaper. With the likes of CNN and whatnot, we're used to the big
dramatic stories from around the world being reported almost as they
happen. Local newspapers are a great contrast as their concerns are to a
relatively small area. I suspect that the regional papers in the States
are the same... reports on school sports, pets, and local politics.
An American, Katharine Washington, comes to work on the paper
expecting it to be based in London. She's disappointed to discover the
"Wheatstone Mercury" is tucked away in the provinces and that
it only has one reporter, Owen. Why she's really there is revealed over
the course of the series.
Could you tell us a bit more about Katharine and Owen, and who are some
of the other characters who appear in Slow News Day?
Watson: Katharine comes
from San Francisco so has an easy going attitude and tolerance mixed
with a typical American desire to make things happen. I wanted to avoid
any of the hippyish stereotyping that the media lazily uses to describe
the area though. It is there, and is especially prominent in areas like
Berkeley, but most people aren't sandal wearing buddhists.
Owen is the one remaining reporter at the paper and so is harrassed
and stressed by the workload and what he sees as the profit driven ethos
of the paper. He's intially hostile and suspicous of Kath's motives
which are revealed as the story goes on. Both have parents and partners
that have a role in the story and their differences and similarites are
part of the overall theme.
A theme of Slow
News Day appears to be the culture clash between America and
England. Is this based on any personal experiences?
Watson: I lived in the Bay
Area for a year in the mid-nineties, have worked with US indie
publishers for almost a decade and have quite a few American friends, so
I have some experience of the two cultures. I think our countries are
similar enough to be friendly with each other but different enough to
spark debate. Covering all the differences is too large a subject to
cover in 100+ comic pages, but I wanted to touch on some of the
contrasts that interest me while weaving them into the plot. I think the
fundamental difference in the cultures is that the US is focused on the
rights of the individual while the UK is more concerned by the
conditions of the majority.
Your stories are more character driven than the bigger-than-life action
you find in many comics. What attracts you to these more personal
Good question. I'm interested in characters and the choices they make in
certain situations. What they want and what is important to them. Isn't
that something that happens in all our lives? I'm interested in these
areas of shared experience. Most of us live with a partner, have jobs,
parents, pets, children; so love, work and life are all things we care
about. That they're not the kind of things often dealt with in comics
explains a lot about the mediums perception by the general public.
They're not interested because the majority of comics aren't about the
kind of things that they recognise. Whereas novels, movies, tv shows,
etc. are. Who cares which muscle bound guy is beating the crap out of
Your art style is very distinctive. Who are your artistic influences?
Watson: Hmmm, I like all
kinds of different things... portraits by Ingres and Holbein, early
German, Flemish and Renaissance painting, Japanese woodblock artists
including Hiroshige, gothic art, Matisse, Degas, Reynolds, Rembrandt,
Raphael, design from the 30's and 50's, Roman/Greek figure vases...
Chaland, Max, Clerc, Dupuy/Berberian, Avril, Stanislas, Herge, Jaime
Hernandez, Toth, Timm, Miyazaki, Seth, Mitsuru Adachi, Seizo Watase,
Do you think your work on Buffy helped to introduce
people to your other work?
I'd like to think it did as that was part of my motivation for doing it.
However, in reality, I don't think it did. There's no real cross-over of
audience between Buffy
and indie comics. Fans of the show are only interested in Buffy and most comic fans
who read licensed stuff don't pick up black and white books.
You're contributing to DC's Bizarro Comics HC. What
can you tell us about that?
Watson: Yeah, it's a
pretty cool project edited by Joey Cavalieri. I wrote a story about
Wondergirl and Wondertot involved in a little sibling rivalry on
Paradise island. There was no continuity or any of that stuff, so it was
fun to do. I wish there were more female superheroes in comics, it might
help change the gender imbalance that troubles the medium... at least if
they're not drawn in a "bad girl" kind of way. Mark Crilley
drew it in a really detailed style which looks amazing, he went to town
on the architecture and whatnot. He wrote a story for me called First Contact which is about the Atom feeling under appreciated in the JLA.
It's pretty funny and there's no punch ups which is refreshing. I got to
draw and ink and colour the whole thing which was cool.
Do you have any other upcoming projects you'd like to mention?
I'm hard at work on Slow News Day. I have a story coming up in the June issue of Star Wars Tales. It's about a slave girl trapped in Jabba's hideout
and how she got there and how she gets out. I did the whole thing from
script to colour so that was a blast. I'm doing the covers/design for
the upcoming Hopeless Savages four-part series from Oni press. I've drawn an 8 page
story for the upcoming Grendel: Black, White & Red series. It's a series of full
page pics with a samurai theme and Matt [Wagner] has written Haiku-like
text for it.
Any closing comments?
Watson: I just heard last
night that Breakfast After Noon got an Eisner nomination for limited series so I'm
pretty stoked about that.