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Peter Normanton p2

Peter Normanton talks about his daily routine in the north of England, and how horror comic art has changed.

READERSVOICE.COM: Where in the north of England do you live and can you talk a bit about your daily routine?

PETER NORMANTON: I live in Rochdale, a town of just over 200,000 people, situated about fourteen miles north east of Manchester, very close to the Pennines. It is a town now very sadly in decline following the demise of the cotton mills and the engineering firms that kept them going.
My daily routine focuses on my work for the local council as a finance officer looking after the Vehicle Maintenance section, the council’s vehicles, Social Care Transport, Refuse Collection and would you believe the Cemeteries and Crematoria.
I’m usually up at 5:30 and walk down into town to arrive at my desk for 7:00; I prefer to be in early when it’s quiet. I leave anytime between 4:30 and 5:00 in the afternoon.
Evenings are spent with my wife, or up in the loft at the PC answering emails and getting the next issue of From the Tomb ready. Both my wife and I are film buffs, so if we get the chance we enjoy a relaxing evening with a good film, usually something noir on Sunday afternoons especially when it rains, which it looks like it’s going to do today. My wife isn’t the biggest fan of horror but enjoys her fare share of thrillers, period drama and European cinema.
Weekends are spent socialising with family and friends, evenings in the pub over in a village close by as well as going to gigs, getting out walking on the moor across from our house and now and again I do actually get time to work on From the Tomb.

RV: Do you still go looking for old horror comics, and have you been tempted to look for them in the U.S., and what sort of places have you found them?

PN: I picked up many of my earliest horror comics straight from the newsagents in the 1970s and then from comic fares in Manchester during the 1980s and 1990s. I was also on several mailing lists.
I picked up my first EC in January 1985 and didn’t buy another until May 1989. It was around then I started to see pre-Code horror sneaking on to the dealers’ walls and into their boxes at these comic fairs. It was only when Ken Harman got in touch with me I really began to build my collection. I have never been over to the States, I don’t get on too well with air travel – strange I know in this day and age.
I rarely buy pre-Code horror these days because it has become so expensive. Every spare penny I get goes to keeping From the Tomb alive.

RV: What I really appreciate about horror comics like the ones in the Mammoth book you edited, or one of the things I appreciate, is the art work — all the tones and details they could get with black ink alone. Do you think the craft of drawing in comics like these is underappreciated? Could many artists draw with that kind of skill today?

PN: There was a time when the horror comic boomed in the 1950s these artists weren’t really appreciated. Thankfully this has changed; pop culture now has its place in the world of art. Sadly for people like Wally Wood it came just too late.
There are artists today who can draw with the skill of the past masters, Steve Bissette, Dave Hitchcock, Brian Bolland and The Gurch immediately spring to mind when it comes to cross hatching and working with tone. Modern comics however do not call for this particular style; rather they prefer coloured tones which do not always allow the artist to express his innate ability.

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-copyright Simon Sandall.