Luke Pearson is an awesome comics guy, and he designs t-shirts for Weezer… cool. I came across his comic Hildafolk at a con, and thought it was incredibly beautiful for one, with an extremely charming child-like innocence about it, leaving me wanting to find more from the creator. We were able to box him into a corner to answer some questions about Hildafolk and his newly released graphic novel Everything We miss, a much darker story that has us intrigued.
Luke Pearson | Hildafolk is basically a short story about a girl on a brief adventure through the fantastical Scandinavian-esque landscape she lives in. I wanted to create a fantasy world that appealed to my adult self and the child in me, taking inspiration from some of the fantasy worlds that have most affected and inspired me, such as those found in the work of Tove Jansson, Studio Ghibli, His Dark Materials and the tales of Scandinavian Folklore.
I really wanted it to be a good read for kids, without being crammed with the kind of cloying, phony values that are shoe-horned into a lot of the awful guff that kids have to read or watch for fear of outraging parents. I wanted to create a world that’s as creepy as it is cosy, but in a way that’s never too far from safety. The stuff that adults always remember about cartoons they watched when they were kids is the stuff that scared them or that was unintentionally creepy. I think kids really like that stuff but it’s watered down and siphoned out of most of what they get. I realise my readership is mainly adult though and I wanted it to be a good read for them too, by being pretty and weird and hopefully telling a good, adventurous story. I don’t feel like I succeeded or touched on all of my aims, but the intention was always for it to be a world that evolved over a series and this was an introduction/practice run.
GCB | Everything We Miss has a darker tone to Hildafolk, what was the catalyst for writing it, could you give us a short synopsis?
Luke | I was wary of following Hildafolk with another Hildafolk or something similar in tone as I knew I wanted to create adult works as well as more family-friendly stuff. I didn’t want to build a readership of people who might not appreciate me going in a darker direction so it was an intentional move to make sure my first two comics somewhat represented the two different paths I want to move down simultaneously.
It’s hard to give a proper synopsis as it’s only partly narrative. It’s essentially a straight forward break-up story but filtered through the darkly surreal and the ridiculous to make something that I hope has a unique atmosphere to it.
GCB | The preview I’ve seen makes me think it’s a very cathartic experience, presenting moments in a relationship I’m sure many people can relate to, is it drawing from personal experience? And if so, is it hard to show that much of yourself on the page?
Luke | I imagine a lot of people will assume this but it’s not really the case. There is obviously a lot of my personality in it. Everything comes from thoughts or feelings I’ve had at some point, so in that sense it’s truthful and I’m definitely hoping people can relate to it, but it’s not actually drawing from any specific experience or point in my life. I actually imagined the characters as being a good few years older than me. Maybe it’s a pessimistic prediction of the future.
GCB | What was your process for writing and drawing it?
It was a lot looser than some stuff I’ve done. I didn’t sit down and write it from start to finish. I worked out generally what I wanted to happen on each page and fleshed them out just enough in thumbnail form to convince myself it would all work naturally. I then drew it page by page and wrote the dialogue/conceived specific details and imagery as I went. Once I actually began to do the final artwork it was a very intense process and it was done from start to finish in a relatively short period of time.
GCB | And where should people be buying it?
You can buy it online from Nobrow HERE, in various comic shops across the UK soon including Nobrow’s shop at 62 Great Eastern St in London or (if this goes online in time) at one of my signings in Brighton July 16th (sorry, my bad – ED), Leeds July 23rd or Newcastle July 30th (details HERE)
GCB | A lot of your work seems to have a focus on nostalgic memories of childhood, would you agree? Where do you think this comes from?
I feel like there came a point not too long ago, when I stopped moving forward, turned around and I’m now going to spend the rest of my life scrutinising my childhood and bringing to fruition all the half-baked ideas I had as a kid and didn’t have the ability to do then. I’m always trying to tap into the way I thought as a child, it was all raw ideas and optimism and innocence and fun (when it came to drawing anyway, I have always been miserable and no fun). I’m also kind of naturally sorrowful and constantly looking back and worrying about how I could have done things differently, so childhood is basically my mind’s first port of call.
GCB | Why do your comics smell better than all the other comics?
This is due to my publisher Nobrow. They use high quality paper stock and offset printing. All their books look and feel great. And smell.
I really started properly drawing comics in the last year of my illustration course. I’d always like comics to an extent, but I didn’t really discover indie/art/small press comics until going to university and that sparked it off. I hadn’t really done too much when I submitted an illustration to Nobrow’s ‘People I’ve Never Met’ competition and they asked me about doing something for their 17×23 series (which became Hildafolk). I’ve just kept doing them since then.
GCB | What are you working on at the moment?
Right now I’m working on the first book in a series of bande dessinee style Hildafolk books called ‘Hilda and The Midnight Giant’ which will be out in November.
GCB | What would you have us read?
GCB | Where can the people find your work?
You can find all my work HERE. If you click on the comics button at the top you can get a fairly comprehensive run down of every comic I’ve drawn and where you can read and/or buy it.
Thanks Luke! Nice one.