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Big time surprise today, folks. I’ve got the very cool Mr. Paul Duffield of the famous FreakAngels in to answer the 9 questions. Paul was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule and give us a bit of insight into his work. If you haven’t ever run across FreakAngels, it’s written by the one and only Warren Ellis. So, let’s get down to it, huh?

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Q1] What are you working on right now, art-wise?

I’m currently working on a creator owned project called The Firelight Isle, which is my first long-form comic as both artist and writer. You can see more at http://www.thefirelightisle.com/

I’m also working part time at The Phoenix (http://www.thephoenixcomic.co.uk/), which is a fantastic new children’s comic! Although I’ve produced comics for them in the past, my role there is as an in-house illustrator and designer, which is a bit of a departure for me, and has lead to quite a bit of learning about the process of publishing!

Q2] What is your workflow like?

In the past, I’ve worked both traditionally and digitally, doing my rough drawings in photoshop using a wacom tablet (for flexibility), then doing my linework in pencil, and scanning it back in to colour on photoshop. I also use 3D Studio Max to build some complex environments or vehicles in 3D and incorporate them into my roughs in order to speed up the production process.

3] Who are your top three influences? 

Top three would be: Tatsuyuki Tanaka (animation), Joshua Middleton (comics) and Ursual Le Guin (books).

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Q4] What is the one piece of indispensable advice you would give a comics creator for getting their work out there?

Learn as much as you can! Comics are a hard discipline to master – they require storytelling skills, storyboarding skills, observational drawing skills, cartooning skills, design skills and lettering skills! That’s a lot to master, so having a good foundation in each is imperative!

Q5] What do you think your duty is to the reader?

I think my duty to the reader is, weirdly enough, a duty to myself. Because there are so many readers, and so many tastes, it’s impossible to second-guess what everyone wants out of a story, and someone is always going to end up unhappy, whilst others are pleased. Often, writing that aims to please a particular (perceived) audience ends up making fatal assumptions – normally about the intelligence of its readers! In the end, all I can do is a creator is to create something that I can honestly say I’d love to read. Whilst this may sound self-indulgent, I’m a reader as well as a creator, and my own harshest critic – if I can live up to the standards that I expect from the fiction that I read, then I feel like I’ve given my readers everything that I’m capable of.

Q6] If you could do one thing better, in regards to graphic storytelling, what would it be?

Everything! I know I have plenty of weaknesses, and I never see the learning process as something that stops because I’ve “done it right”. That duty I mentioned that I feel I have to myself is two-fold – if I was a lazy reader, I’d be a lazy creator, and vice-versa. I’m always trying to learn by reading/watching as much material from as many different genres and mediums as I can, and I’m always trying to push the technical side of my artwork.

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Q7] What, if anything, do you prefer to listen to while you work?

I normally listen to audiobooks whilst I work! I’ve been on a bit of a Brandon Sanderson binge lately, but I’m also listening to Alan Garner at the moment.

Q8] What is the one comic story that has stuck with you throughout the years?

That would probably be Blankets. It has one of the best mixtures of story and image that I’ve encountered in a comic, and whilst I’ve enjoyed a lot of different comics, that’s the one I find myself coming back to most often.

Q9] What do you consider to be the greatest power of graphic storytelling?

I believe it’s a power of creative vision. There is no other visual storytelling medium in which one author can bring your their own creative vision so completely and so single-handedly. It’s incredibly satisfying as a creator, despite being such a massive amount of hard work!

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There you have it. Some awesome artwork from a great comic. You can view FreakAngels online, or buy the books. Everyone, please give a big round of applause in “Thanks” to Paul for stopping by and breaking things down for us!