Lau­rence Camp­bell

His shad­owy, scratchy style is a per­fect fit for the edgier end of comics. Lau­rence Camp­bell tells Joel Meadows why he’s al­ways been drawn to the dark side…

Comic Heroes - - The Art of -

Be­gin­ning his ca­reer draw­ing for US in­die pub­lisher Cal­iber, Camp­bell re­ally put his name on the comic map while work­ing for Re­bel­lion on strips such as Judge Dredd, Bi­son and Syn­na­mon. Since then, he has gone on to draw for Marvel on Wolver­ine, Pu­n­isher and Moon Knight, and he’s been the artist on Hell­boy’s ac­claimed spin-off BPRD since 2013.

Comic He­roes: You trained at Cen­tral St Martins – how much did this help you as a pro­fes­sional artist?

Lau­rence Camp­bell: “I’d al­ready worked as a graphic de­signer (while at­tend­ing the Lon­don Cartoon Cen­tre in the evenings) be­fore go­ing to art col­lege so I al­ready had a pro­fes­sional ap­proach. Art col­lege re­ally helped me to ex­pand my hori­zons. It gave me the op­por­tu­nity to ex­per­i­ment and it meant that I wasn’t afraid to make mis­takes. I also got to look at other artists out­side the field of comics. I con­tin­ued to read comics while at art col­lege but I’d only draw comics in my spare time; I didn’t let them af­fect my col­lege work. I pur­posely kept the two sep­a­rate. Al­though my art­work at col­lege was still il­lus­tra­tion, it was more ex­per­i­men­tal and pho­tog­ra­phy-based. I guess artists like Dave McKean blurred the bound­aries be­tween for­mal comic art and for­mal il­lus­tra­tion and I was in­flu­enced and in­spired by that. I was read­ing Cages [Dave McKean’s award-win­ning limited se­ries, later col­lected as a sin­gle vol­ume] and a lot of Ver­tigo comics while I was at art col­lege.”

CH: Your first pro­fes­sional work was for Cal­iber Comics. How did that come about?

LC: “While I was at art col­lege, in my spare time I was draw­ing a comic called Some­thing In­side writ­ten by Paul Carstairs (who had done a few Fu­ture Shocks for 2000 AD). Look­ing back, I was in­flu­enced by Hell­blazer. It was a real learn­ing curve for me, be­ing the first time I had pen­cilled, inked and let­tered (about 30 pages). This was around the time of Ver­tigo, Dead­line and Cri­sis. Self-pub­lish­ing was too ex­pen­sive at that point and not ev­ery­one had a com­puter, printer and scan­ner. We sent it off

to a few pub­lish­ers in the UK and didn’t hear any­thing, so we tried send­ing it to Amer­ica. Cal­iber picked it up and printed it as a one-shot. I con­tin­ued to get work from Cal­iber; a cou­ple of short sto­ries for Neg­a­tive Burn to be­gin with and then it de­vel­oped from there.”

CH: You’ve also drawn Judge Dredd for 2000 AD. Did you read 2000 AD as a kid? LC: “Yes. As a kid I was read­ing Starlord and I joined 2000 AD when the two merged. I can still re­mem­ber what sticker I got with the first is­sue of Starlord. ‘The Day The Law Died’ story arc in Judge Dredd had a huge im­pact on me. The im­age of Judge Dredd hav­ing been shot in the head, face cov­ered in ban­dages, rid­ing the law­mas­ter was very iconic to me. The whole thing, Judge Cal, the Kleggs etc, re­ally set this world up for me. I was buy­ing black-and-white reprints of Marvel Comics be­fore­hand, and 2000 AD felt a lit­tle more dan­ger­ous and a bit more out there.”

CH: Judge Dredd is such an iconic char­ac­ter – how did you ap­proach draw­ing him?

LC: “Judge Dredd, writ­ten by John Wag­ner, was the first thing I drew for 2000 AD. Look­ing back, I think I was a bit in­tim­i­dated but it was a great way to start. Ev­ery time I’ve drawn Dredd, I feel like I’ve got to know him a lit­tle bit bet­ter. Judge Dredd has got such a his­tory with such iconic artists and it took me a while, but I feel like I put my own stamp on him in the Judge Dredd Fall­out collection. My­self and Rob Wil­liams have a Dredd arc that we’d like to do at some point which re­ally ex­cites me and hope­fully at some point we’ll get a chance to pitch it.”

CH: You’ve worked for both UK and US pub­lish­ers. How dif­fer­ent is it?

LC: “In the UK I’ve only re­ally worked with 2000 AD and they seem to be a bit more ‘hands off’ than the US pub­lish­ers. For the US, I send work in at each stage – lay­outs, pen­cils and inks – whereas for 2000 AD I just sent in fi­nal inks. I en­joy work­ing both ways. I also en­joy get­ting feed­back from the writer, al­though this doesn’t al­ways hap­pen. I like it when the artist and writer work well to­gether – I think it shows in the work. The sto­ry­telling part is very im­por­tant to me.”

CH: You’ve drawn a num­ber of less tra­di­tional he­roes such as the Pu­n­isher, Judge Dredd and the mem­bers of BPRD. Why do you think you’re drawn to the darker side of comics?

LC: “I’ve al­ways liked the darker side of comics. From lik­ing Wolver­ine as a kid and think­ing Or­lok was pretty cool in Judge Dredd. At Marvel I think I was much more suited to the street-level type he­roes and Axel Alonso, my edi­tor at the time, re­alised this and put me on cer­tain projects. Work­ing on Pu­n­isher Max was tough but en­joy­able. I liked the re­al­ism and the real emo­tional im­pact that the vi­o­lence had on the char­ac­ters. It made it feel a much deeper ver­sion of Pu­n­isher.”

CH: You’ve also worked for Marvel, ini­tially on Wolver­ine with Rob Wil­liams. Was that a very dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence to work­ing for Dark Horse?

LC: “Rob and I had worked to­gether be­fore on Breath­ing Space for 2000 AD. We got on and seemed to work well to­gether so we pitched a char­ac­ter to Marvel and Axel asked us if we wanted to do a Wolver­ine one-shot. Things de­vel­oped from there. Dark Horse is a much smaller com­pany and there­fore feels a bit more in­ti­mate in some ways. Hav­ing said that, I de­vel­oped some good re­la­tion­ships at Marvel, es­pe­cially with Axel, who I learned

a lot from. I’ve never worked for DC but I have a Bat­man itch that I’d like to scratch at some point.”

CH: What are you cur­rently work­ing on?

LC: “I’m work­ing on BPRD for the fore­see­able fu­ture and that’s very ex­cit­ing for me. It’s a dream job. I work with great writ­ers, great colourists, an en­thu­si­as­tic ed­i­to­rial team and a con­tin­u­ing story with strong char­ac­ters that is de­vel­op­ing all the time. John Ar­cudi is a great writer, and when I first re­ceive the scripts, I read them as a fan. I am a huge fan of Hell­boy so the op­por­tu­nity of work­ing with Mike Mig­nola is fan­tas­tic. BPRD has some amaz­ing artists work­ing on it which makes me want to raise my game all the time. I feel like I’ve ex­per­i­mented with my work and I’m al­ways look­ing to push it, which is a great feel­ing for an artist.”

artist pro­file

Info Bri­tish artist who puts a new twist on clas­sic Amer­i­can line art





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