Hang in there, Dave -fame is on the way!!
Below: Spike Milligan and Eric Sykes from Dave's TV sketch book
I do not,as those who know me will tell you,”big up” any artist unless I think they are really worth it –for our non-English CBOers,”big up” means to praise and promote. In the case of David Gordon,I’ll big him up any time [I mean that in a kind of macho guy way,okay?].
As most people know,I have dipped my little toe into the world of Erotic Graphic Fiction [dirty comics]. Art Wetherell,bless him,was truly the big fella in the UK and he enjoyed drawing and enjoyed what he drew. To me his successor has to be David. After almost thirty years in the comics business I can say without a doubt that I have seen nothing close to David’s work. He should be considered the British Milo Manara!
Seriously,why is he not being recognised for his work? Is it because he has not drawn Judge Dredd or Batman? His black and white work is superb and if you see his collected colour work you’d get blown away!
So,thanks to interest in David’s work from Europe,I thought now would be the time to ask him some questions –before he becomes a super star!
Terry:Now,I have standard questions I like to open with such as:where and when were you born?
Dave: I was born in Ayr, Scotland in 1968, so I’m getting on a bit now.
Terry:I’m going to guess that as a child you liked drawing? What about comics –can you remember any that influenced or left a long-lasting impression on you?
Dave: I remember drawing the starship Enterprise with those jumbo crayons when I was about three…that started my Dad bringing home all kinds of paper and encouraging me to draw on it. I was subjected to a lot of old late sixties Batman and Superman annuals that my older cousins had outgrown, the art style is really dated now but I remember much of the Superman stuff was drawn by Curt Swan….so you could say that indoctrination started early with me. Later on comics like Maevel Uks Titans and Super Spiderman then Star Wars weekly with those amazing back up strips, and Futuretense that first exposed me to Gil Kane’s work.
Terry:I’ll also guess that maybe you drew comic strips for yourself at some time,influenced by what you were reading –did you have any thoughts about drawing comics when you were younger?
Dave: Oddly enough I ended up drawing my own barbarian style comics, probably influenced by the John Norman ‘Gor’ novels, I was about eleven or twelve when I first started reading them. At the same time I was reading the Conan novels with the Frazetta covers.
Terry:Who were the artists and what were the strips/comics that influenced you?
Dave: Two strips that I adored were Michael Golden’s Microauts-’cos I had the toys as well- and Jim Starlin’s Warlock. Later on it was Steranko’s run on Nick Fury and Tom Sutton’s Starlord. One comic that sticks in my mind more than others though was Starlord the IPC thing. I loved the way that was put together, the art and the stories , like Mind Wars, were so ahead of the curve it was no surprise it was short lived…tragic in the way that many of the strips were neutered once they moved over to 2000AD.
Terry:So when did you think you might like to draw comics and what reaction did you get from those you told?
Dave: My Mum just thought it was one of those things that I would outgrow, my Dad however took it more seriously, mainly because my ambition to draw was all his fault. He was the one bringing home comics for me every Saturday, so I don’t think he was surprised. He also told me to get an education to fall back on…I took that to mean ‘read as many sci fi novels you can get your hands on’.
Terry:I know the first I saw of your work were two A4 zines you submitted to Comics World magazine for review [I can see the covers but can’t remember the title-All Women Are Bad?]. Anyway,the review I submitted was badly altered and words added to the effect you should have your fingers broken!!
Very unprofessional of the editor and I’m glad that I kept my original review to send you later. Did that review effect you or your outlook on working in comics?
Dave: Ah….that review came from me pestering a certain editor to review the comics I had given him. I loved that review, it was the worst review ever to be given in Comics World ‘hallowed pages’ (sarcasm). Sadly I don’t have a copy of the printed one anymore, though I would like to see it again. It didn’t affect adversely, quite the reverse…it made me work harder and kept the name of Terry Hooper firmly in my mind.lol
Terry:When Fantagraphics screwed up the Two Girls trilogy I was stuck looking for an artist who would draw 90+ pp on spec and put an ad in Comics International. I got a letter from you with some samples and later we talked over the phone and you brought up that Comics World review! I’m glad you were more lay-back about it then.
In fact,had you not been so inclined to drawing 90+ pages without a penny from Fantagraphics I’ve no idea what I’d have done because you were the only person replying! I think you even sent me a Derna mini comic?
How big a challenge was it for you to sit down and draw that many pages –were you happy with the results?
Dave: Maeve was a joy to do. I remember the little asides you would type in the margin, it made me laugh. I wasn’t bothered about getting money up front about Maeve mainly because it was a good product and I knew it would find a home eventually. At the time I was happy with it, now though there are pages that I think should be redone though I think I’ll leave well enough alone.lol. There are sequences that I think are really good, when Maeve runs in to M and J, and the whole fetish sequence….and the Maeve and Don parts as well….let’s face it there isn’t much I don’t like .lol. It tested me and I think at the time I did pretty well.
It gave me the confidence to go ahead and do other things.
It gave me the confidence to go ahead and do other things.
Terry:Then you vanished. Fantagraphics said they had no mail address for you and your phone number was dead. I seriously thought you’d succumbed to the loony living in the flat below your own! I did try contacting some Scottish creators I knew but I think the only response I got was one saying the rumour was that you were dead!
That devastated me. Art Wetherell worked with me and died. David Gordon worked with me and died. Who’d work with me after that?!! Then I got your call to say you were alive. I also learned that you’d set up My Excess –can you tell me the background to setting up My Excess?
Dave: I had returned to Scotland in September 2008, from a disastrous four years living in England with a crazy woman. I was a mess, I had no home, no money and a crap job in a bad video store in a desolate part of Scotland. My friends saved me, particularly one called Ronnie who provided me with a roof and a bed. I hadn’t drawn properly in nearly four years. I caught up with Curt Sibling and found new inspiration. There was a comic mart approaching and I wanted to put out a comic again, I used what I had of the Little Eva graphic novel and did some new art with my Derna Character and made it into the first 48 page volume of MyExcess.
It was rushed, I’d like to do it again properly, but I like to leave projects as they are…to learn from them.
Terry:You no doubt found it far more relaxing as your own boss:work when you want and how you want and not be subject to some editor who has no idea how to write or draw but likes to tell you how to?
Dave: It can be a blessing and a curse. You can do what you like when you like, but all too often you can be too close to something, you don’t see what might be going wrong. It’s good from the point of view that you can work in a cathartic way, you can work through whatever issues you have or whatever is annoying you within the confines of storytelling, while trying not to make it too personal, or having someone look over your shoulder saying ‘Nope, you CAN’T do that’.
Terry:The question most people would ask is why write and draw what you do rather than draw super heroes or something more mainstream?
Dave: I’ve always done what amused me, first and foremost, almost to my detriment, but more often than not, to the range of reactions my work gets. Superheroes I’d love to do, I once did some spec pages of Wonder Woman and Supergirl fighting in a clothing store over a thong. I also did some Vampirella pages at the behest of Mark Miller, pages that were never seen as some petty minded individual in Glasgow during a pub evening pinched them. For some reason the superhero stuff I’ve done has always been met with the ‘ho-hum’ reaction, so I tend not to do them.
The earlier stuff like ‘All Women Are Bad’ always sold like hotcakes in my local comic store, probably because it was overly violent and had a lot of sexual overtones, but I killed it off after three issues as I was running out of what I would call my ‘A’ material and ended it on a high.
Terry:You have had a go at science fiction in a way with Buster Cherry –will we be seeing more of the inept interplanetary hero?
Dave: Yes indeedy. Buster’s adventures will be collected together in a MyExcess edition later on. I have long term plans for the hapless one, but at the moment he’s on hold while the family moves house.
Terry:I had to be given oxygen when I heard and saw that David Gordon had written/drawn a childrens book! That was an unexpected curve-ball! What can you tell us about this and are there more planned?
Dave: The Adventures of Brian the Hairy Fobbit was an accident. I was working night shifts on the pet food aisle in Tesco while living in England. I really wasn’t drawing anything at the time, and needed to fill the hour long ‘lunch’ break with something. I scribbled a female creature emerging from water with a wide grin and hair covering her eyes. She became the River Witch. The Fobbit was another scribble of a small proportionately skewed furry little man. As the evenings went by I bought a sketch book and drew them together, adding in a fairy called Daisy as the Fobbit’s best friend. It would have gone no further had some other night shifters not seen it and asked what they were for, suggesting it would make for a great children’s book. Four years later it re-entered my focus and I finished it. There is a second volume planned, but at the moment only two pages are finished with the rest of it plotted.
Terry:You’ve taken the plunge and republished Two Hot Girls as well as Maeve and you are drawing the final part of the trilogy –I’m hoping the final part throws you a few story curve-balls! The Darke Child should be out in 2011?
Dave: The Darke Child has indeed got some plot elements that kept me guessing. I expected it to go one way, but then it went somewhere completely different. This does finish off the trilogy perfectly, it gives me a chance to draw without thinking of what happens next, which is a great change of pace.
Terry:You have a whole catalogue of books [I’ll give the link to your storefront] and I’m sure you have no lack of ideas for future books. That said,I have to admit that I am just totally dumbfounded that you do not get proper recognition in the UK –or get offered more chances to work on other projects. That must be really awful –any ideas why you get the reaction [or lack of it] you do?
Dave: Britain, and in particular British comic buyers are so far behind the rest of the comic buying world -in terms of attitude- that it saddens me. Go to any European country and you will see the likes of Manara, Belial etc…artists that are true artists. Artists that are as individual as bananas are to potatoes. However over here, we see artists that are so sanitised in their ( public) output that yes they are good, but nothing about them makes me go ‘Great Gosh a mighty I MUST have it!’
And it comes down to Joe Public. Comic shops are too afraid of offending the bespectacled ,overweight, woman fearing, basket ball boob desiring armchair wrist athletes that buy every X-men edition, Superman family, Batman publication that comes along. The type that doesn’t or can’t think for itself through years of mind numbing banality provided by Marvel/DC/Image etc.
The artists must shoulder some blame also, if they weren’t so reticent to do what they really wanted to the British Comics Scene wouldn’t be in such a tired, weary, apathetic, worthless state that it is. I don’t even think screaming ‘Code Blue’ would change a thing. Naturally I’m generalising, there are some notable comrades out there trying to change things, Curt Sibling and his Nexion for example.
Terry:Your work is unique in the UK and I think that is something you have to be proud of and remember. But there must have been comic characters you read the exploits of and thought you’d like to draw them one day?
Dave: Again it would have to be Adam Warlock or Thanos. Maybe She Hulk, Powergirl or Nick Fury.
Terry:Okay,you are the UKs “Milo Manara” –hey,he’s just drawn Marvel! Have you considered putting the UK scene behind you and trying to establish yourself in Europe where they tend to be more open to differing genres?
Dave: To be compared to Manara is high praise indeed. The resistance I have encountered both professionally with some of my peers and in some comic shops seems insurmountable. It smacks of repression and sometimes jealousy on a grand scale, and borders on hypocrisy. I can walk into any comic shop with a comic featuring decapitations, gore, ultra violence and get them to put it on a feature shelf….however put in some realistically proportioned women in a sexual situation and the arms raise to the rafters in mock horror….’Oh noooooooooo…..who would I sell THAT too?’ they cry.
I have been (lately) accused of producing rape fantasies and tracing. When trying to defend myself I have been shouted down by comrades of the accusers. I tire of the UK and it’s pathetic indifference to a wider vision of what is possible. I tire of the petty small-minded repression laden types with no time to open their eyes and see what is out there and ache to leave them to their darkened rooms and dreams of super-heroes and masturbation fantasies.
Terry:Where would you like to see yourself and My Excess in,say,five years?
Dave: In the new house there is a bookshelf that I want to cram full of MyExcess books. I’d like MyExcess to become the home of the newbie….a place for writers and artists to experiment with form and format….just as I do. Too many artists have phenomenal work in their sketchbooks that no one ever sees, MyExcess should be the place to make that a possibility.
Terry ave,what can we expect to see from you in 2010/2011 –will you be at any comic conventions?
Dave: The next twelve months will be a busy time for me. Publication wise the reprints of ‘2 Hot Girls’ and ‘Maeve’ to coincide with the final part of the Goddess trilogy ‘The Darke Child’, ‘Little Eva’ is nearing completion, we’re doing a sci fi book with Jim Stewart, Curt Sibling and Blair Fraser among others, ‘Cuties,Curves an Capes’ is due in the autumn and a couple of other secret projects. Appearances will be at Birmingham and Glasgow later in the year. 2011 is another matter altogether.
Terry:Right,any words to people who might have bought your books or are contem-plating doing so?
Dave: Try them, they aren’t expensive, they’re pretty to look at and fit neatly on most book shelves, MyExcess largely publishes complete projects, so there’s no need to worry about not getting the last part of the story…we leave that to other publishers.lol
Terry,D ave,thanks for giving up your time and here’s hoping your talents get recognised very soon!
Dave's books and Chang£ling Dolls can be found at these links:
Dave's books and Chang£ling Dolls can be found at these links: