The new droids who burst out of Thought Bubble: Will Morris
2012 winner of 2000 AD/Thought Bubble new artist competition speaks about the challenge and benefits of putting oneself at the mercy of Tharg...
1 year ago
Every year, 2000 AD gives new writers and artists the chance to get their first work for the Galaxy's Greatest Comic at the annual Thought Bubble convention in Leeds.
Put before a panel of top creators, prospective art droids have their work scrutinsed while would-be writers must pitch their own original Future Shock in just two minutes! They're not for the faint of heart but the competitions have launched the professional careers of some of the newest talent to grace the pages of 2000 AD!
The competitions are happening again at Thought Bubble on 22-23 September and you can see the rules and download the art competition sample script here...
If you’re good enough, you’ll find yourself gracing the pages of a Prog just as artist Will Morris did when he won the 2012 art contest! His Terror Tale, ‘The Death Magnetic’, written by David Baillie, appeared in 2000 AD Prog 1836.
Will Morris’ first book, The Silver Darlings, was published by Blank Slate Books in 2011. Following his 2000 AD/Thought Bubble art win in 2012, he’s responsible for the creation of a giant comic strip for the V&A Dundee, spanning the building’s construction site and telling three stories of Scottish design. Will has also contributed work to a wide range of publications, including an adaptation of the Child Ballad, Clerk Colvill, for Nobrow, comics art for Spirou, 2000 AD and Vertigo, as well as an adaptation of Jack London’s The Call of the Wild for Oxford University Press.
With this year's competitions rapidly approaching, the 2000 AD blog's Richard Bruton chatted to Will about being a previous winner and what he’s been up to since...
How did you hear about the 2000 AD talent search and what convinced you to enter?
I found out about the 2000 AD talent search trawling the event programme on the Thought Bubble website. I’d had a bit of luck in a previous year with the Northern Sequential Art Competition and guessed that this was a good way to get my work in front of the great creators and editor of 2000 AD.
The final art judgment is in front of a live audience and a panel of 2000 AD’s finest – how did you find this terrifying experience?
Perhaps I have a masochistic tendency, but I love getting a critique from creators and editors. Tharg, Simon Fraser, Frazer Irving, Rob Williams and more let me know what was and wasn’t working in my pages - that’s really valuable to me. It’s absolutely nerve wracking and a total buzz.
What were your thoughts on winning the art contest and finally seeing your work in 2000 AD?
I’m confident in my art, but winning was a real surprise. It was lovely to hear the warm response to my pages from people in the theatre, which I hadn’t even packed with my friends and family.
Once the Terror Tale was published, the first thing I did was call my friend, Tom, who is a lifelong fan of 2000 AD. It’s something that makes me smile to think about - I’ve had my work in a copy of 2000 AD, home to some of the best, anarchic, allegorical comic stories out there.
Were you also a lifelong fan or were you something of a late bloomer when it came to reading 2000 AD?
Late! My mum banned me from Garbage Pail Kids and watching Neil Sharpe’s Fun House for being too gruesome when I was young, so there was no chance I’d get my hands on 2000 AD. Coming to it late, meant I was able to take a lot from the stories, especially Judge Dredd, which I really admire for its social commentary.
You won in 2012, with your Terror Tale published in 2013 – how has your art evolved since then and how did getting that first 2000 AD art gig affect your career?
My work has definitely evolved since then. The more I read and creators I discover online the more my work is infused with a little bit of what I admire in them. I hope it never stops evolving. My Terror Tale strip was one of the first I inked using a brush, which is something I’ve taken into all my comics since, including a Nobrow anthology, an adaptation of Call of the Wild and a massive comic strip on the building site hoardings for the V&A Dundee. The Terror Tale itself was written by the impossibly nice David Baillie. He was kind enough to get me a gig working on a short story of his for a Vertigo anthology.
What advice would you give to up and coming writers and artists about getting into comics in general, and the Thought Bubble competition in particular?
Explore what it is you like about the writers and artists you admire, then research and practice what it takes to achieve it. There is a book or online resource for everything, whether it’s writing a nourishing story, drafting expressive poses, composing a page, the impact of light and shadow or creating an emotional response with colour. There’s a lot to learn. If there’s something that niggles away at you about your work, try to tackle it head on. It can be frustrating, but it’s worth it when you surprise yourself with a panel that’s better than the idea you had in your mind’s eye. Also seek out criticism. The 2000 AD Thought Bubble competition is a great opportunity for this. There’s no shame in feeling a little prickly when you receive it, it’s your work after all and that feels personal, but always be graceful and take away some useful ideas to improve your work. All of the above is as much advice to myself as it is anyone else.
Finally, what’s coming up for you in the near, or not so near future?
I’m currently working on a creator owned comic series, which is aiming for a 2019 release. It’s a historical fantasy, set in Tudor Devon.
You can find updates on Will’s new work on both Instagram and Twitter.