2000AD 1700 interview #3 – Leigh Gallagher

This week sees the release of 2000AD issue (or “prog” to the faithful) 1700.
As with previous issue 100’s this is down as a jumping on prog so every story is a part one, suitable for new readers looking to give 2000AD a try. To make the most of this I’ve nabbed a few quick Q&A’s with some of prog 1700′s contributors.

How do we follow up yesterdays Q&A with the man known as the Godfather of British Comics? Easy. We go with the man known as the Derek Zoolander of British Comics. Artist on Pat Mills’ Defoe, Leigh Gallagher

Your strip in prog 1700 is Defoe : A Murder of Angels with 2000AD legend Pat Mills. What can you tell us about it?

First of all, thanks for having me here Richard. You’re looking very pretty today.

Well, this fourth book of the series is about Defoe and his Brethren defending The Tower of London against the attacking zombie army in it’s many different forms. What’s great is that we’re expanding on the abilities of regular zombies, as well as adding new characters and creatures into the mix like giant freaks. I can’t wait for you to see what an angel looks like!
And if you’re one of those many people who lay awake at night, thinking “I wonder what Defoe is like when he’s drunk?”, then wonder no more!

This is the fourth volume of Defoe you’ve done (the first two volumes collected in the Defoe 1666 trade, kids!) . Has your artistic take on the character and his world changed at all during the course of these books?

There’s definitely been subtle changes to his appearance over the years, but nothing too obvious, as he needs to look consistent. At the beginning, he was more like a slimmer version of Ray Winstone, but as time’s gone on there’s been more and more Bruce Willis thrown into the mix.
What’s annoying is that my girlfriend’s brother looks EXACTLY like Defoe in every way, and the selfish sod refuses to pose in any reference photos for me. He doesn’t realise that he could probably make as much as £5.50 doing guest appearances at conventions.

A story in prog 1700 is a big deal, but one with the guy who pretty much came up with 2000AD is kind of massive. Do you still get moments of “Holy f**k… its Pat Mills?” now or has that eased off?

Hey, watch the potty mouth…

Hey, Im only talking ’bout Mills… he can dig it!

Yeah, I know what you mean. I’m honestly so proud to be associated with a comic that has lasted so long, and I’ve found that it’s respected in the most random places! Just last week I heard from my mother who works on a cruise ship, and met the ex President of Pakistan, who told her that his son-in-law is a big 2000AD fan!

As for working with Pat, of course I still get those moments! As you know, I still have that first issue of 2000AD I bought 20 years ago, which featured his Nemesis, and I never forget just how lucky I am to be working on such a cool ongoing story with him today.

I still haven’t washed since he hugged me months ago in Ireland.

Also how much input do you get with character design and story direction and has that also changed over the course of the four volumes? The impolite version of this question is “Have you ever the balls to tell Pat Mills you had an improvement on one of his ideas, and if so, did he hit you?”

I once suggested to him that maybe Defoe could grow a goatee, and he slapped me across the face, glared at me with cold eyes, and just whispered…”No”.

Nah, Pat’s fantastic in that at the start of writing every book, he’ll ask me if there’s anything in particular I’d like to draw and he’d try and work it in if possible. I’ll never be cheeky enough to suggest actual story direction to him, as he’s infinitely smarter than me for a start, but I do put forward the odd little scenario. That’s how the zombie babies came about in Book 3, and why you may find out the disturbing secret of Mungo’s cod piece in Book 5…

As for character designs, Pat gives me a very brief description, sometimes a reference to an actor which is helpful, but generally just let’s me go crazy. Seriously, I’m so proud of the angel design that we nailed on the first try. I’m looking forward so much to spending this weekend drawing him on the final cover, that I actually see it as my “reward” for working so hard lately.

Your 2000AD work has been primarily black and white which is out of the norm for comics. Why do you think 2000AD seems to have such affection for black and white artwork? (And for the record, I’m a big fan of B&W strips. Savage in the last few progs has looked amazing)

First of all, thanks for raving about someone else’s art in MY interview you utter b*stard…

Well I didnt want you to get TOO big a head… even though it would mean you wouldnt have to keep packing out your Termight Replica Dredd helmet with socks. Didn’t they sell them in girl sizes?
(has that distracted him? Cool… the Defoe artwork is amazing, just dont tell him)

That WAS the girl size you pleb. Even women have massive heads next to me. And thanks for the kind words mate–you didn’t need any prompting when you were sucking up to Rob Williams or Pat Mills did you?! DID YOU??!!!

ANYWAY, for me personally, it’s because that style of art is what inspired me when I was a kid. As for why 2000AD continue to support these stories, I can only be eternally grateful that they do. I like to think that 2000AD just aren’t small minded to believe that you have to follow everyone else in the industry by going the all colour route.

I’d like to delude myself that Matt picked my art style for Defoe because it maybe reminded him of “old school” 2000AD, but who can say?

But it is a scientific fact that black and white artists get the sexiest women.

When are you coming back on the Everything Comes Back to 2000AD podcast to treat the world to your uncannily accurate Welsh impression?

When I know that my sister’s safe. I know full well that it’s a ploy to distract me, so she’s left unprotected and you can kidnap her and dress her up like Amy Pond or a Dalek.

I was thinking she’d make a good Durham Red actually… and have some photoshopped pictures to prove it if you’d like to see them.

I hope you get buggered by a gang of Daleks.

Lastly, what’s in the pipeline for you art-wise and where can people check out more of your work?

I’m drawing an 18 page adaption of Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” written by Leah Moore and John Reppion, to be published next year in Self Made Hero’s Lovecraft anthology.

I’m trying to finish illustrating one of the children’s picture books I’ve written, so I can get that sent off to a publisher.

Pat’s busy writing Book 5 of Defoe, but before I jump into that I may see if Tharg has a short story I could draw. It’s just nice to do something completely different after being immersed in death and zombies for months, and it’s just makes the nightmares go away if only for just a short while….

You can check out my sexy,sexy blog  where you can find lots of “making of” features and studio tours at leighgallagherart.blogspot.com

And thanks for doing this Rich. Ridiculously attractive 2000AD droids like me really appreciate it. You’re a good bearded man. With a hot wife.

Like I told you at Birmingham Con, keep away from my wife… and stop staring at yourself in that mirror.


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