Friday, December 3, 2010

Nick Abadzis - Cartoonist Survey #195

Cartoonist, writer and illustrator Nick Abadzis was born in Sweden in 1965. Raised in Sweden and England, he studied at the Chelsea School of Art in London. In 1987 he started working at Marvel Comics’ UK publishing branch as an editor. He left Marvel at the end of 1988 and became a fulltime freelancer once he started having success with his work in the UK comics and music magazine Deadline. While producing work for Deadline he created two of his most well-know characters, Hugo Tate and Mr. Pleebus. The Hugo Tate strips ran in Deadline for 6 years and some of the series was collected into the UK Comic Art Award winning graphic novel, “Hugo Tate: O’ America”. Mr. Pleebus went on to star in his own series of “Pleebus Planet” children’s books. The mid-90’s saw the decline in the UK comics market so Nick did a lot of work for children's publishers, worked for the BBC co-creating comics-based educational websites and did a lot of editorial work. He also worked for Eaglemoss Publishing and helped launch The Classic Marvel Figurine Collection and DC Comics Superhero Collection. These collections are magazines that come with hand-painted lead figurines of the Marvel and DC characters. Nick still writes the historical copy for the magazines and also does cover illustrations.

His 2007 graphic novel, “Laika” is the story of the dog the Soviet Union sent into orbit inside the Sputnik II satellite in 1957. As a child Nick was fascinated with the space program. His unanswered questions about this cosmodog’s one-way trip into space and the release of new information about the program in 2002 was the spark for this graphic novel. Nick spent a lot of time researching this book, traveling to Moscow and even visiting the home of the founder of the Soviet space program, Sergei Korolev. “Laika” was nominated for a Harvey Award for Best Original Graphic Album in 2008 and won an Eisner Award for Best Teen Graphic Novel in the same year. Other than writing, drawing and editing, Nick also teaches and travels doing lectures. He recently moved from England to Brooklyn, NY with his wife and daughter. Learn more about "Laika" here and visit
Nick’s website and blog.

What is your favorite pen to use?
Pentel brush pen, Chinese calligraphy brushes, Mistubishi Uni-Ball Eyes.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Mechanical pencil.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
Both - depends what the work demands.

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Color pencils, watercolor, inks.

What type of paper do you use?
Anything with a bit of tooth to it. I like Fabriano Tiziano, any kind of.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Not much.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?

Both. I'm fond of New York Central Art Supply in Manhattan - I like to browse.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Breakfast or sometimes I cycle around the park and do a bit of yoga.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Yes - I write as well as draw so it tends to be soundtracks, classical, jazz mostly. I love all kinds of music but tend not to be able to listen to anything with a human voice in it while working, so it's mostly textural stuff, mood music. If I'm inking I'll listen to audio plays, BBC Radio 4, DVD commentaries, that sort of thing.

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Yes. I'm not sure I had any one favorite, but Tintin, Asterix, Peanuts and The Dandy were perennials.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Peanuts, closely followed by Calvin & Hobbes.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
Tove Jansson - Moominpappa at Sea and yes, I still have the same copy I had as a child.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
Yes - Chelsea School of Art, London.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
The Internet is a loaded question.

Did either of your parents draw?
Yes, my mother.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My mother, my family, The Bentleys. Certain good friends. I'm fortunate these days to have good fans, too.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I keep several at any one time.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
Yes, I teach fairly regularly, sometimes at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. I also travel and do lectures at various universities and literature festivals. I love teaching.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Neither - perseverance is where it's at. Doggedness, determination, is the most important quality a working artist should develop in support of either (or both) of those qualities. That said, there's nothing more common than the talented person who is not passionate enough to turn their talent to some good use.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Books, I guess, and Daleks. I like robot toys of any kind.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?

Are you a righty or lefty?
I'm ambidextrous.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
Two tables and a window for light.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Not anymore.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Never give up.

Who is your favorite artist?

Edmond Baudoin heads up the list pretty often, but it's ever-changing.

Thank you very much Nick.

Broadside cartoonist Jeff Bacon is up next.

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