Chloe Noonan is a monster hunter with no powers. If she applied for a job as a monster hunter, the likelihood of her application being succesful is slim, but still, if there’s a monster she’s usually the one who ends up dealing with it. It’s the brain child (I love that phrase) of Marc Ellerby, and is easily the British equivalent of Scott Pilgrim. It’s got comedy, pop culture sensibilities, all sorts – we managed to get some questions to the creator about the comic and we threw in some of the brilliant art… which is nice.
Good Comic Books | What (or who) was the inspiration for Chloe Noonan?
Marc Ellerby | The character of Chloe Noonan is made up of many girls I have known throughout my life. It seems I’ve known a lot of scowly girls and so a little bit of each has made it into Chloe. I have a friend called Tara Noonan (who has starred in a couple of Ellerbisms in her time - click HERE) so that’s where the name came from, and visually – well she’s not too far removed from the Chloe aesthetic.
The story came together when watching Buffy one night. You know how Buffy usually arrives in the nick of time to save the day, like she’ll run across Sunnydale and then BAM! Starts taking down vamps left right and center. I was okay with that because she has powers and stuff, but in those early seasons, her mates Willow and Xander would always be just behind her. I was like “they’re not even out of breath! They don’t have powers, how’d they get across town in pretty much the same time?” So I thought, wouldn’t it be funny to reverse the roles, have the “bit character” take center stage and strip her of any super ability. And I guess you know the rest…
Marc | There’s definitely a bigger story in place, but I haven’t even begun to hint at it yet. My plan is to do a four volume graphic novel series that would act as “the first season” as it were. So we have bits that are individual in their own books but slowly the bigger picture starts to emerge where volumes lead into one another.
I really love making Chloe comics so I don’t see her going away any time soon. I think last year I was in this massive rush to get them out, but now I’m going to take my time, try and find the right publisher (or actually the web is looking more and more likely nowadays) and do it properly. She isn’t going to go anywhere.
GCB | What is your process for writing the comic? Do you head to pretentious book launches on purpose to gather inspiration?
Marc | That bit you’re referring to was actually taken from the second year of my illustration course. I enrolled in a book making class and we pretty much did the complete opposite of “making books”, and someone did actually make a book of smelly plastic pouches, it was a total ‘Art School Confidential’ moment, haha. I was pissed off about it for weeks (read: years). “It’s not even a book!”
My process is a little chaotic, I guess. I haven’t refined it at all, it’s usually scrawled plot points in a notebook with tiny little thumbnails to give myself an idea of where my head is at. Then I try and write the script but it’s usually only dialogue and I try and piece that together with what’s in my head and then go straight into proper thumbnails.
Saying that though, I wrote a few drafts of the first Chloe graphic novel earlier this year like a film script, which I maybe did just to make myself feel like a “proper writer”.
GCB | The stuff about being in a band seems right on the mark, is it based on personal experience?
Marc | Nah, I have no musical talent whatsoever. Pretty much everyone I hung out with at uni was in a band and so I just took stuff that they did as a starting ground. Being in a band seems really boring for the most part.
GCB | Did the Moomins freak you out as a kid as much as they did me?
Marc | No, but I’ll tell you what did. Short Circuit! I can’t even remember what it was that scared me, I think I had bad feelings towards anything robotic or animatronic in the late 80′s early 90′s. What were those two mutant bad guys at the end of the second Turtles film? Jeez, I couldn’t even make it through to the end of the film I was so freaked out. Absolutely terrifying!
GCB | How hard was it to get the comic off the ground? When was it you learned how to be a comics creator and publisher?
Marc | Oh I don’t consider Chloe off the ground yet. I’ve started pitching it around, but it’s a struggle trying to place it at a publisher, one publisher who will remain nameless said it was “too funny” which knocked me back for a good month I think. “Is that bad? Is funny a bad thing? How can funny be bad? People love funny! Shall I make it less funny?” but then I realised it was more to do with the fact that the publisher and the project wasn’t a good match.
Not to get all ranty, but I reckon some UK publishers should be looking at genre pieces as well as the highbrow books they’re chugging out. “Pop” isn’t a dirty word. Not that there’s anything wrong with serious comics or thought provoking narratives, but entertaining comics should have a place in the publishing field, I mean, people like to be entertained, guys. And just because something has humour in it doesn’t mean it’s not as “good”, y’know? I would argue that the writing in 30 Rock is equal to the writing in The Wire, you obviously can’t compare the two shows together but in relation to what they bring to their respected genres, they’re at the top of their game.
(Not that Chloe Noonan is near 30 Rock’s brilliance but you get what I mean, right?… Right?)
I’ve self published Chloe because I felt the story wasn’t ready to be a graphic novel straight away. The idea wasn’t all there yet. The three issues I’ve done so far have been practice runs for me to get to know the character, to try out stuff I hadn’t drawn before (monsters, action, chase scenes) and see what wasn’t working.
I’ll be honest, I don’t want to self publish any more just due to the sheer effort it takes in doing it all yourself and I’m not in a position where I can give up my day job to replace that with full time comic drawing, let along publishing. There’s only so many hours in the day. But, I believe in the character and the story and if I can’t find the right fit, I’m sure the web will play an important part in getting the story out there. But then I have issues with the web too. Gah, it’s so complicated, haha.
GCB | You recently tweeted drawings you had done in your childhood, would you trace your craft back that far? When did you know it was something you wanted to do when you grew up?
Marc | Yeah sure. I knew I wanted to draw for a living when i was a kid, I knew who Jim Davis was, Eastman and Laird, who Matt Groening was y’know? I was like “someone is drawing these comics and making a living off of them so why can’t I?” I haven’t escaped that mind frame I guess, haha.
GCB | Are you working on anything now that we should know about?
Marc | I’m trying to get a collection together of my webcomic Ellerbisms, but I don’t want to rush it or anything. Personally, this year’s not been a great one, so I’m going to take my time with the book and get myself in order before I try and add anything else to an already complicated mess. Health > art, right?
Other than that I drew a comic for the band Art Brut which I guess is coming out soon. I don’t really know much about it other than it’s an anthology and has some awesome people in it (Bry O’Malley and Hope Larson, Jeffrey Brown, Jamie McKelvie etc) but I don’t know how you can get a copy or whatever.
GCB | What comics would you recommend for us to read?
Marc | Ooof, what a question! Save doing a massive list, I’ll just go on about the lovely comics I’ve read recently…
Liz Prince’s last couple of mini comics have been so good, and if anything have made me want to get back into doing autobio. Alone Forever and More Squares are especially fugging good and deserve your Paypal monies. She’s one of my favourite autobio creators – click HERE
I love Joe Decie’s comics, a true original in the field. Full of half truths all rendered in lovely ink wash, his book The Accidental Salad should be in all of your hands – HERE
Loving what Louis Roskosch is doing at the moment. I picked up Leeroy and Popo at the last MCM Expo and it was easily the best thing I picked up. His stuff is kind of what like Taiyo Matsumoto meets Nintendo – HERE
Have you seen the books published by Koyama Press? Ohhhhh boy are they a treat. Not just brilliant comics, but lovely production values. It’s probably the one line that I love everything they bring out. On one hand you have Dustin Harbin’s wonderful autobio strips and in another you have Michael Deforge’s kitchen-sink-drama-esque comics drawn in this…”vomit” of styles. You’ve got art comics, kid’s comics, but mostly they’re just really bloody good comics. I love ‘em, just wish they were slightly easier to get hold of over here – HERE
GCB | Where can people find Chloe Noonan as well as other awesome stuff you’ve made?
Marc | On the interweb! You can find links to Chloe, Ellerbisms and to my store HERE
But if you live near any of these fine comic establishments then you can buy a copy of Chloe in real Life!
Gosh! Comics – London
Orbital Comics – London
Page 45 – Nottingham
OK Comics – Leeds
Dave’s Comics – Brighton
Plan B Books – Glasgow
Comic Guru – Cardiff
Travelling Man – Manchester, Leeds, York and Newcastle