You started as a commercial artist in an advertising art studio. Making comic books came naturally to you or you had to learn it?
Yes, I started drawing them on a continual basis from the age of 13. It did come naturally. I guess if you have a natural appreciation of what is the best of art, you follow the best artists as role models. I had that gift, luckily, so you could say I learned unconsciously from good examples. From a technical point-of-view, I only had two books that I used for some direction – one of the big Walter Foster books (if you are unaware of these, they were large size American instruction books on all kinds of facets of art, which could be found in almost all art stores at the time I was a tyro) and a little Charlton Comics pamphlet for aspiring sequential artists.
It was your idea to avoid sound effects, thought balloons and captions in “V for Vendetta”. Revolutionary idea but what was the reason for that decision?
Only revolutionary in part, and only in part of the mainstream comics business. I wanted to do that because I was always interested in getting more people to read good comics than those who were naturally attracted to them. I wanted to expand the reader base – spread the gospel of how good comics were to those who had a prejudice against them based on their perception of them as second-rate literature for semi-illiterates. One of the ways was to eliminate the totally unnecessary use of sound effects – only necessary for morons who don't know a gun goes “bang” or for children who want bells and whistles – which have always branded comics as intellectually low grade in the eyes of the general public. And the other things (including the use of simple rectangular panels in tiers) were planned simply to give the familiar effect of a tv/cinema experience – a straight narrative without any complications that non-comic readers might baulk at. In the end, Alan couldn't do without captions – for their own value as descriptive devices and as substitutes for thought balloons, so that ambition of mine had to be modified.
You are best known as an illustrator, but you’re also a great writer. When you’re working with somebody else’s script, you’re talking with a writer about some changes or you’re giving him some advices, your ideas?
Rarely an exchange of ideas with a writer who's supplied a full script, like with Garth Ennis or others, though with “V for Vendetta”, after the initial brainstorming of the thing into existence, we'd discuss what happened in the Books of the story before the individual chapters of it were written. Then after that, I'd suggest changes in pacing and action in the individual chapters if I thought they'd make things better. Working with Jamie Delano is different though, because I've always worked with him in the “Marvel method” – that is, from breakdowns of action that I lay out into panels, and to which he writes the final script. On “Territory” and “Night Raven” we collaborated on the development of the story. But on “The Horrorist”, I just helped as much as I could with the visual storytelling.
You showed in “Kickback”, how to keep a balance between images and words. You are showing what is necessary and telling what is necessary. You don’t like modern comic books, where the authors are showing and telling everything to the reader?
Absolutely. I think comics should be much closer to cinema than they usually are, but traditionally the industry has always wanted to pack lots of story into their comic pages so this hinders the possibility of that occurring when the perception of “cinematic” in most editors minds means “slow”. This is a mis-perception, of course. Ironically, despite being heavily expositional most of the time, many comics these days have found themselves telling very little story in their spaces, because they've given over too much space to the sizes of panels – perhaps because of the desire of publishers to keep their readers buying a title through long story arcs...
Cinema has movement and music has sound. And what – for you – distinguish and make comic books a different medium?
You don't have to have movement or music to tell a good story. I don't want to distinguish what a comic is by what it isn't, because to do that labels it as a particular thing that does this or that – and if we do that we fix it down to the ground again. I can stick two pictures together that will tell you something, or a thousand that will tell you something more. I can put words into it or not. In balloons or not. What is it? Sequential art.
Many critics say, that everything in art had already been said and done. If that’s true, what are the new solutions and horizons for comic books?
Not really interested in what many critics say.
Instant photography, like Polaroid, captures the evanescent moment. And what is evanescent for you?
Oh, happiness. It never lasts.
If you could take only one picture, what would you photograph?
A cliche – but a beautiful sunset. There is nothing more beautiful or exhilarating on this Earth – for me it symbolises all the other beautiful things that can be found on the planet.
You can also find David Lloyd here:- The Comic Book Database