The wonderfully talented, D20 carrying James Gifford kindly took the time to answer our 10 mildly interesting questions ahead of this Sunday’s Catford Comic and Zine Fair.
CCZF: Hi James, what are you doing right now?
JG: Right now, I am resisting the urge to eat all my Xmas calendar chocolates. It’s a Where’s Wally? themed calendar from my mum. I’m also painting some DnD miniatures while I listen to some audiobooks.
CCZF: We’ve seen your DnD miniatures on twitter. Watchtowers and potions stalls. Fabulous.
Are there chicken shops in DnD?
CCZF: How long have you been doing comics and art and stuff?
JG: Gosh, I’ve always been drawing. Though I would say I’ve been doing comics and illustration work “professionally” since I came to London around four years ago.
CCZF: In order of preference, what are your three favourite soups?
JG: Thai Chicken soup, if I’m spoiling myself.
Sainsbury’s Tomato and Basil, is a good go-to with nice bread.
Heinz oxtail soup, if I want to reminisce about my student days.
CCZF: Aah the oxtail. Did you know that Gareth Hopkins has a tattoo of a tin of oxtail soup on his arm.
What are you reading and listening to at the moment?
JG: I’ve just started reading Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demik – an incredible book about life in North Korea…though it’s very heavy at times, I’d recommend it!
JG: While working, I tend to listen to podcasts: ‘Radiolab’ for interesting science stories and ‘More Perfect Union’ for interesting American Supream Court stories and ‘Podcastle’ for interesting fantasy short stories.
CCZF: Your DnD comic Dungeon Diaries is wondrous thing.
It’s a great introduction into how to start playing DnD plus it has the added bonus of having a cameo appearance by Norwegian comics genius Jey Levang.
CCZF: How old were you when you first started playing DnD?
JG: I started when I was 16, I had no idea how to play but I liked telling stories and I loved fantasy video games and books. I just found friends, snacks, a pre-written adventure adventure to get us going and dived right in!
CCZF: What do make of the DnD references in Stranger Things?
JG: I love it! Those kids seem pretty pro though, a Demogorgon is no joke.
CCZF: If you had to recommend a comic/graphic novel/zine for a 11 year old what would it be?
JG: You can never go wrong with Calvin and Hobbes.
I didn’t read many comics when I was younger…though I loved classics like H.M Bateman’s comic strips, really old CONAN comics, Beano…animated cartoons like the 1940’s 1950’s Tom and Jerry.
CCZF: What are you working on at the moment?
JG: I’ve been doing some book commissions for Oxford University Press which I am honour bound to keep secret.
CCZF: Spoil sport.
JG: When I have the time though, I will be starting the second issue of “Dungeon Diaries”!
What advice would you give to somebody starting out in comics?
JG: Ah! so much advice!
Start out with short comics – It is all too easy to lose momentum creating an epic comic series on your own. Also, Trying to get someone interested in a multi-issue comic series is a tough sell. Short, cheap comics, take less time to make and are an excellent way to practice your creativity as a comic writer/artist without worrying about getting it right first time.
Never shoot yourself down. If you tell people your work is bad, they’ll believe it.
Don’t spend too long over one project. Getting obsessed over the details of that one-hit wonder is never worth the the time. Your skills will naturally improve at their own pace so prioritise getting it finished over getting it perfect.
Most importantly: Work on what you enjoy. Should it all fail miserably, it’s far better to have wasted your time having fun.
CCZF: Hear, hear, that is top drawer advice James, thank you.
Do you know how to get to the Blythe Hill Tavern?
JG: I have absolutely no idea.
Here’s a handy map. See you on Sunday James.
You can meet James and buy his wonderful comics at the Catford Comic and Zine Fair this Sunday at the award winning Blythe Hill Tavern.