AUTUMN OF INDIE: Interview with Taking Flight’s Stephen Sutherland

As part of the Autumn of Indie, we are talking to many up and coming creators. Today we talked with Stephen Sutherland, a Scot who is one half of the team behind Taking Flight, an intriguing depiction of the superhero.

Geek Syndicate (GS): Hi Stephen. At the beginning of the year you and Garry Mclauhglin released Taking Flight. Where did the idea come from?

Stephen Sutherland (SS): With Taking Flight, I had two weeks of leave to take from work, and wanted to make the best of it. I had met Garry not long before, and we wanted to see if we could work together on something. I threw around a bunch of ideas for a while, and Taking Flight really just came together as an idea very quickly. I think it’s because many of the themes of the comic were hitting pretty close to home. It’s essentially about a young guy who suddenly has a huge responsibility come his way, and isn’t sure he’s up to it. He’s lucky enough to have an incredibly supportive girlfriend who helps him find his way. I can relate.

GS: What first inspired you to write comics?

SS:  I always enjoyed writing, even when I was really young. I think I had 4 pages of an A4 ruled notepad containing a special story where my favourite Power Ranger came back as the Gold Ranger. Oddly enough, that happened years later. Seriously though, writing comics was always just the thing to do. I always loved comics and always loved writing, so I’d do it in my spare time. Some teacher or other asked me in school once “What would you really like to do when you’re older?” I said “Write comic  books”, expecting him to tell me it was stupid. He paused for a second and said “You know what? Someone has to.” And he was right, someone has to. Might as well be me.

GS: What type of storytelling do you like?

SS: Layered. Maybe it’s the English student in me, but I love picking a story apart for all its hidden meanings and metaphors, trying to really get under its skin. Sometimes you’ll read a comic and the Flash is punching a giant gorilla, and that’s exactly what it is. And that’s great. Sometimes the Flash needs to punch a giant gorilla, its big and silly and fun. But other times you’ll see the Flash punch a giant gorilla and what’s actually happening is something else entirely. I love the thousands of different ways my favourite writers and artists find to use things we think we’ve seen a thousand times before to say something new and bright. I also like the kind of adventurous, bold stuff. People like Grant Morrison, who are always finding ways to actually pushing the boundaries of their chosen medium to see what’s possible. Layered, brave and last but not least  – entertaining.


GS: How did you and Garry meet?

SS: Blame Grant Morrison. My girlfriend and I went to see Morrison at the Edinburgh Book Festival, and stuck around afterwards for the signing. We were at the end of the queue, and got talking to the folk in front of us. Folk, in this case, being Garry and his friend Glynn. Garry was interested in meeting comics writers, I was interested in meeting artists, and we both were huge Morrison fans.  The rest wrote itself.

GS: Will we see more from Taking Flight? The story finished in a way that could open up for a sequel?

SS: Taking Flight was originally conceived as a one-off, really just a story to get something out there, kind of introduce myself to the comic book world.  While I have no immediate plans to write the sequel, I have thought about it many times and wouldn’t be surprised at all if Michael and Rosie turn up again.

GS: Your next project is entitled Everlast. Can you tell us more about it?

SS: Sure! Unfortunately, I can no longer actually call the project Everlast! Someone already has a comic by that name, the godless swine, and so the series has been re-christened Neverending. I’m working with an old friend, Gary Kelly, a phenomenal artist who I’ve known since high school.  It’s about Olivia Olsen, the girl who never sleeps. She’s spent her life never having to stop, and now has to look back at the big secrets in her life to find out what made her the way she is, and stop her world coming apart. I’m really excited about it, and hope to option it to a few big publishers as soon as possible.

GS: Can you tell us how you went by getting Taking Flight made?

SS: With Taking Flight I really got lucky in my collaborator, Garry McLaughlin. Not only is Garry a fantastic artist, but he had been through the production side of things before and pretty much guided me through.  I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t contribute much towards the project barring the original script – pencils, inks and lettering were all Garry, and the colouring was by the fantastic Keiren Smith. Garry then contacted UKComics and sorted out the printing side of things. It was an immense learning experience for me, and I have Garry to thank for it. Don’t tell him I said that though.

GS: To any aspiring creator out there, what would you say is the best piece of advice?

SS: Create. Don’t aspire. Do it. So many people, and I was one of them, sit around with their friends talking about the things they’ll write one day or draw or paint one day.  Talking about it doesn’t get it done, only getting it done does that. I asked Neil Gaiman for advice on writing once, and he said “Just keep putting one word in front of the other. One day, you get good.” I think that holds true for everything – keep at it. Practice and you will get better.

GS: Where you would like to be in 10 years time?

SS: I’d love to be able to support myself and my family through writing. I have no shortage of ideas for original projects for comics, and I’d love to take a shot at writing for TV and film one day, too. And hey, if DC Comics happen to ask me to write Superman, I suppose I’d be fine with that. I’d be fine with that.

If you are interested to find out more about Stephen and his work you can check out Taking Flight here and he is also on Twitter. Why not give him a follow.

Reporter: Luke Halsall

More from the world of Geek Syndicate

%d bloggers like this: