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Tom Gauld talks about his illustrations and favorite books

London illustrator Tom Gauld is the author of Robots, Monsters, Etc. I asked him about his distinctive ink illustrations and comics, and about how he and his wife, artist Simone Lia, formed their own publishing house, Cabanon Press. Also Tom Gauld recommends some interesting books.

You might want to check out some of Tom Gauld’s ink drawings before reading the interview, at www.cabanonpress.com.

READERSVOICE.COM: Could you mention a few of your favourite books or recommend some out of the way books you liked?

TOM GAULD: The Inheritors by William Golding. I’ve read this twice and I’m looking forward to doing so again.

It’s a dense complex book, but really beautiful.

The Vinegar Works (trilogy) by Edward Gorey.

I love Edward Gorey’s work.

I’ve been influenced a lot by his books, the intense scratchy ink drawings, the lovely design and the dark humour.

He’s a genius.

Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut.

I could have chosen any of his books for this; the perfect mix of absurd humour and depth. And nice short chapters.

All Quiet on the Orient Express by Magnus Mills.

I like the odd little worlds that Magnus Mills creates and the simple deadpan manner in which he writes.

Tetratoid Heights by Mat Brinkman.

This is a very strange comic book which details a weird other world inhabited by odd creatures.

I think Brinkman’s drawings and storytelling are amazing.

Also I think these publishers do great stuff:

http://buenaventurapress.com/ www.bulbfactory.ch/comix/ www.sci.fi/%7Eevil0/napa/

RV: What’s the Angouleme Comics Festival and what will you be doing there?

TG: It’s the biggest comic festival in Europe.

It’s really an amazing thing, in France and some other parts of Europe comics are much more popular with both adults and kids than they are here.

The whole town gets taken over for the weekend with exhibitions, stalls, talks and parties all focussed on comics.

Even the street signs have the name of the street inside a speech bubble.

I go there to sell my comics and meet other artists.

Many of my favourite comic artists are European (Benoit Jacques, Jochen Gerner, Elvis Studio) so it’s good to see their work there.

RV: In your book Robots, Monsters Etc, what were the original sizes of these postcard size drawings?

TG:They vary; mostly I draw bigger than the print size.

Most of the originals would have been twice the print size.

For most of my other comics I work bigger than print size, maybe 130%.

RV: Do you draw in pencil first, or straight on with the ink?

TG: I draw everything carefully in pencil, making a lot of changes, and end up with a really messy drawing which I put on a lightbox and trace off on a new sheet very neatly and carefully with an ink pen.

This makes things look a bit ‘wooden’ but I quite like that. After that I scan the work into the computer to do a final clean up, or if necessary add colour.

RV: Do you like using nibs or brushes, or just ink pens?

TG: I just use a rollerball pen, as I like the unvarying line.

I don’t want the line to be expressive, I want it to look quite flat so that (hopefully) it can be ‘read’ more clearly.

RV: Can you talk a bit about your experience at the Royal College of Art?

TG: It was good for me, I felt after my degree show at Edinburgh College of Art that I was just beginning to go somewhere interesting with my work so it was good to have 2 years in London to take things further.

The course left us a lot of time to do our own things which suited me.

Meeting Simone and deciding to do comics together was a really good thing; it was lucky that we were in the same studio.

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