Home to the rambunctious and ribtickling, British indie publisher Attic Studios is a trio of talent and tasteless gags. Miles Hamer caught up with comic collaborators Dan Harris, Kris Carter and Jim Bampfield to find out more about Lou Scannon, Bruce Outb
COMIC HEROES: So, how did you guys and the studio get together?
Dan Harris: Jim and I met in a product design studio way back in 1997. We first got to meet Kris in ’98 when our GNVQ course did an introductory course to Animation with Kris’ Foundation course. We got on over a love of Star Wars and then, the following year, all started an HND in Animation together. Years later, when Kris found out I had this huge universe built around
Lou Scannon, it seemed somewhat inevitable that we would end up doing something together. Who knew then about all the fame and riches that it wouldn’t lead to?
Kris Carter: Attic Studios is named that because we used to do our first year animation work in the attic of the campus building. Also, my home studio is an attic, and that’s where we keep most of the stock...
CH: Lou Scannon seems to come from a distinctly British tradition of bawdy, quirky space hi-jinx. What inspired its creation?
DH: I have a thing for inappropriate humour. I’m somewhat sarcastic and rather cynical. Is that synonymous with being British? Perhaps... Generally, though, the way we break it down is like this: if it feels like it’s Red Dwarf- y, that’s Kris. If it feels somewhat Monty Python
esque, that’s Jim. If it feels rather dark and/or twisted? Probably me. Put the three together and we seem to have something that works.
CH: The Lou Scannon universe feels lively and populated. How much of the backstory and world had you worked out before starting, or is it more spontaneous than that?
DH: I had the entire universe planned out looooong before issue 1 came out. I had a start, middle and end for the entire thing. Lou Scannon was originally my third year film as part of my BA in uni. After graduating in 2002, I still loved the universe and didn’t want to just let it go, so I started to flesh out the backstory.
Jim Bampfield: As the saying goes, a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite
amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare. But at around supper‑time on Wednesday he will have written Lou Scannon.
CH: Can we expect any more Druid Investigations after its initial run?
DH: Absolutely! This comic is a massive labour of love for me! Once the initial storyline is done, I hope to be able to do a lot of one-shot issues as well as ongoing story arc ones. The best way I can describe what I want to do with it is like Mignola did with Hellboy: a bunch of issues that are one-off, standalone stories and then others that are three-to-five issue arcs.
CH: Tell us about Bruce Outback.
KC: Australia’s greatest detective, sent back in time to solve unsolved crimes with the help of his koala! It’s fun, a bit more kiddie-accessible than Lou or Druid. It’s also a heartening example of the kind of nonsense you can forge into an actual comic when four grown men and women get trashed and brainstorm in the back of a taxi.
CH: Your comics steer towards humour. Why’s that then?
KC: Cos we’re hilarious. Actually, no, it just seems to be the way we write stuff. If something makes you laugh, you remember it more. And if something we write makes us laugh, we want to write more of it.
CH: Would you consider a move towards more traditionally “serious” tone or subjects?
KC: Absolutely. I think all three of us have other ideas percolating away that would suit darker, more sombre stories. Dan’s “Bunker” strips ( patreon.com/DanHarris) are definitely more serious, but even then that’s not totally devoid of humour. That being said, I don’t think we’d ever write something that didn’t have at least a glimmer of humour in it.
JB: Well... I do have this one idea. A small boy witnesses the brutal murder of his parents. He decides he must dedicate his life to the pursuit of justice. But how will this imposing figure of revenge manifest itself? He is without inspiration until one day a large emu bursts through the study window and... Well... I’ve given away too much already.
CH: How essential do you find print and attending conventions?
DH: I love doing conventions and think they’re the most important part. People invest in you. Showing your passion and enthusiasm and giving them something to believe or invest in... you don’t really get that digitally. People will come back to you digitally but they’re less likely to take that initial punt on you that way!
KC: We all prefer the physical feel of a printed book to reading it on-screen, and the bulk of our sales come from meeting fans and new readers in person at conventions. Digital’s great, but we’re not foregoing print for as long as we can avoid it.
CH: What next for Attic Studios?
DH: We’re hoping to keep pumping out Lou Scannon books, and fit Druids and Bruce into the gaps as we can. Ideally, we’d love to get the studio to a point where it is the day-job, but that’s easier said than done. KC: I’m currently in the process of putting finishing touches to a card game I’ve been working on with two of our friends, one being a regular collaborator, Gavin Mitchell, the other being a proper doctor and everything: Anthony Caravaggi. JB: Total World Domination, the first person on Mars and a spot of tea... Oh, and a biscuit.
“I had the entire universe planned out long before issue 1” Dan Harris on Lou Scannon
Below: Art for Lou Scannon and Druid Investigations by Dan Harris.
Above: Say g’day to Bruce Outback by Kris Carter.
Below: The Attic Studios line of titles.