Friday, May 21, 2010

Hunt Emerson - Cartoonist Survey #127

Born in 1952, British cartoonist, Hunt Emerson has been drawing cartoons all of his life. He became interested in the underground comics movement in the early 70’s after seeing work by R. Crumb, Jay Lynch (Cartoonist Survey #57 ), Rick Griffin and Gilbert Shelton He worked as a library assistant and mailman before ending up at Birmingham Arts Lab where he worked for six years doing layout, design and running the printing press. While at the Arts Lab, Hunt was part of the group known as Ar-Zak, publishing British underground comics and drawing his own strips. He soon launched his own title, Street Comix, published under the Ar-Zak Press label. During this time he also began getting freelance illustration work and in 1979 he became a full time freelance cartoonist. In 1981 he became the regular artist for Galaxy Publications, Firkin the Cat, a two-page comic that still runs in Fiesta magazine. Throughout the 80’s and 90’s he published many books with Knockabout Comics (formed in 1979 by Tony and Carol Bennett) including 'The Big Book of Everything', 'Jazz Funnies', a personal adaptation of 'Lady Chatterley’s Lover', 'Hard to Swallow', 'Startling Planet', 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner', 'Rapid Reflexes', 'Casanova's Last Stand', 'Pusspuss', 'Aliens Ate my Trousers' and 'Citymouth'.

Since 1996 Hunt has written and drawn the comic page ‘Phenomenomix’ for Fortean Times, the leading monthly journal of unexplained phenomena. He also still draws ‘Firkin the Cat’ and he has been contributing to ‘The Beano’ (British children’s comic book that started way back in 1938) since 2002. His comic strips have been translated into ten languages and the Centre Nationale de la Bande Dessinee et de l'Image has named him as one of the 75 European Masters of Cartooning of the 20th Century. Hunt lives in Birmingham with his partner Jane and their three cats. When he’s not drawing he runs a T’ai Chi class and sings and plays guitar in the rock/blues band The Hound Dogs (Check out this
video of them performing Money). Go have a look around at his Large Cow website and buy something from his shop.

What is your favorite pen to use?
I draw with a Daler "Dalon" brush, size 0, and Indian ink.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
My pencil work is very rough, and I use whatever pencil is around.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?

What type of paper do you use?
A printing paper which has a pressed china clay surface. The brand varies each time I buy it. I get three or four hundred pieces at a time, so it lasts a while.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Slaughter a chicken.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
No, I mostly listen to BBC talk radio. If I'm writing then it's in silence.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Not fanatically, but I used to like The Beezer.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Gilbert Shelton's Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
I read “Reach for the Sky”, the biography of Douglas Bader, about six times before I left junior school from the school library. I don't have any of my childhood books now, but I used to like Peter Pan.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
Two years Foundation art course in Newcastle on Tyne, then a three year Fine Art course in Birmingham. However, I dropped out of the Birmingham course after a year. Wasted education; I was not an Artist, and should have done a graphic design course - but I was a rather stupid youth.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
A curse.

Did either of your parents draw?

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My art teachers at school pushed me in the right directions.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Used to, but not these days.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
Yes, I still do workshops when the occasion demands. It's OK, but I'd probably rather be at home drawing.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Hard work is most important.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
I have too many Beatles books, and I do hoard stuff, but I don't go out of my way to "collect". I collected Putti for a while, but only because people thought I collected Putti, and so would give them to me at birthdays and Christmas.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
J Wellington Wimpy.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Handedly - right. Politically - left.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
I'd like to have been an archaeologist.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
An attic room with every surface covered in piles of paper.

Do you play any musical instruments?
I play guitar (strictly rhythm guitar, no solos) and sing in a band called The Hound Dogs. It's the most fun in my life but it only happens occasionally.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Be prepared to have other work, to draw anything, to spend a lot of time alone, and to get a back ache.

Who is your favorite artist?
Difficult one, that... Paul Klee. Hieronymus Bosch. David Hockney. African Rock artists. Jim Dine. Jan Van Eyck. Rembrandt. Juan Miro. and so on... The list is long.

Thank you for participating Hunt.

Next time on David Wasting Paper, Stanley Award winner and nominee for this year’s National Cartoonist Society’s Magazine Feature/Magazine Illustration award, Anton Emdin.

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