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2004

CHRIS WESTON: THE INTERVIEW
by Adriano Barone

CHRIS WESTON is a very talented artist whose career starts on 2000AD: his first assignment is drawing one of the icons of the magazine and of British comics, Judge Dredd. Like many others UK artists and writers, he ends up at Vertigo, where he works on several high profile series, from The Invisibles to The Authority to Enemy Ace: War in Heaven to Ministry of Space (written by Warren Ellis) and the masterpiece The Filth (written by Grant Morrison, coming soon collected in paperback from Vertigo).
During Cartoomics, the Milan’s Fair event dedicated to comics and animation, Mr. Weston was so nice to find the time to speak with Drive Magazine about his most recent, present and future works…


DRIVE MAGAZINE: Let’s start from your last two projects. You’ve just finished The Filth and…
CHRIS WESTON: Ministry of Space 3! Hooray…and it only took me two years! (Laughs)
DM: What are your thoughts about these two projects now you’re done with both of them?
CS: It was a shame that it took such a long time to complete Ministry of Space 3 and I was aware that people were desperately waiting for it. It’s going to be nice to go to conventions without having people ask me “When Ministry of Space 3 is coming out?”. Last Bristol Convention someone was walking around wearing a T-shirt with that question on it! Next Bristol I’m going to wear one saying “MoS 3: It’s done!”.(Laughs)
I didn’t have any problems with The Filth; that was pretty straight forward, really…but it was hard work!
DM: So it wasn’t easy collaborating with Grant Morrison?
CS: Oh, no, Grant is great! We get along fine. He can come across as being a bit intimidating, but only because it’s so hard to understand a word he says! He’s got such a deep Glaswegian accent! (laughs)
But, seriously, I think we get on fine. We had a good time together in San Diego, last July, and we also had a few entertaining drink ups…(laughs)
DM: Back to the comic itself, in a certain sense it’s incredible it sold so well being such a complex work…
CS: It is complex! But I have no idea what the saless were like. Were they good? I don’t think they as good as Y The Last Man; I think that title is Vertigo’s big seller. It was, as you say, quite a complicated and difficult read. The readers had really to use their brains to work out what was going on.
DM: Was it a challenge even for you?
CS: Oh yeah! Three quarters of the way through, I think I figured out what The Filth was all about. I told Grant my theory and asked him if I was right…well, he gave me a satisfied nod and said something like “Close. But not quite!”
DM: How have you been chosen as the artist attached to the project?
CS: It was Grant who approached me. He wrote the series for me, to be honest, which was nice.
DM: So you were the chosen artist from the beginning…
CS: Oh, yeah, I am the One! (Laughs) I think it came out of a chat Grant and I had at a previous San Diego, when I said “I want to do a comic that is so weird that no one can understand it”. I wanted something to be as unusual and original as possible. Grant had the same desire and we both thought about how British comics in the 60’s were kind of creepy and you couldn’t tell if the characters were good or bad…We wanted to try and emulate that. And then Grant had this idea about doing something like Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s Thunderbirds, or Captain Scarlet. The Filth was all of these ideas (and many more) mashed into one comic book.
DM: Maybe the influence of the Anderson’s shows has been less perceived by US readers…
CS: Yeah, I think that particular influence got pushed to the back, because there are so many ideas in The Filth.
DM: Let’s get back to Ministry of Space…how did you get the gig?
CS: Well, Warren Ellis just offered me to draw it out of the blue. I just answered “Yeah, cool”. I thought “Ah, it’s my opportunity to do Dan Dare!” and I was enthusiastic about it, since I am such a big fan of that character.
DM: Ministry of Space could be considered the anti-Dan Dare…starting from John Dashwood (the main character), which is a utter bastard, differently from Dan Dare, a prototype of the perfect hero…
CS: You’re right! It is definitely the flipside of Dan Dare! I wish you had read number 3, because we’d have more things to say about this…
DM: How did the first two issues do?
CS: I think they completely sold out in the US: they are reprinting them in one comic and a month later issue 3 will come out. I think it’s out this month.
DM: What was the greatest challenge in drawing Ministry of Space, if there was one?
CS: The biggest challenge was drawing cylindrical rockets! That was really difficult. All those curves…are really hard to draw! (Laughs) Next time I do a science fiction project it’s going to be full of square spaceships…they are much easier. I never want to draw a cylindrical rocket again!
DM: What you’re working on at the moment? On your website you talk about some projects with Tom Peyer…
CS: Well, our Bizarro project was rejected by DC: we were told they had plans for the characters that would exclude what we wanted to do, but I don’t know what those plans are…
DM: That’s a real shame. And the story you pitched to Wildstorm?
CS: I haven’t heard anything back, really. I keep pestering Tom, telling him “Phone ‘em up again! Phone ‘em up again!”. They said they liked it, so I don’t know what the hold up is.
DM: Maybe they’re just trying to fit it in their publishing plan…
CS: They said they wanted to make some changes, but I don’t think Tom wants to rewrite it …so I couldn’t say who’s really slowing the project.
DM: So, again, what are you working on at the moment? Something you can talk about?
CS: I’m back on 2000AD, doing Judge Dredd! It’s like my career has gone full circle.
DM: Who’s going to write the story?
CS: John Wagner. It’s going to be great! It’s the return of PJ Maybe! Oops! Shouldn’t have said that…
DM: We’ll keep it a secret. Have you already started?
CS: Yes, I’m halfway through. It’s 24 pages, and I’m doing it in full colour.
DM: Are you painting it?
CS: No, I’m doing pencils, inks and computer colouring…
DM: That’s something completely new for you, isn’t it?
CS: Yeah. First time ever! And it’s taking me forever!
DM: Satisfied with the results?
CS: I don’t know yet. I’m at a point in which I look at things asking myself “Does this look good?” and I need someone to come in and say “Yeah, that’s great!” or “No, it’s crap!”. I’m not sure at all about this, but fingers crossed, I hope readers will dig it!
DM: Why this choice? Do you like to experiment new things?
CS: Yeah, definitely. It’s not something you can really do in American comics, they have their own colourists, their own inkers…that’s why I went back to 2000AD, because I thought it’s time I did the whole job all by myself again.
DM: Have you ever tried to approach other markets, like the French one, at least as far as creator owned projects are concerned? Or maybe you’re not interested?
CS: Oh, I am very interested, yeah, but I don’t know where to start, really. We don’t get European comics in England…
DM: One very last question: on your site you talk about a project you would like to draw, but you have no one writing it: a steampunk story involving Frankenstein…have you already found a writer?
CS: I can’t remember what I wrote on my site, but John Smith, a 2000AD writer has been thinking about this project for years. I can’t wait to get started; I want this to be my masterpiece! But I don’t want to give the story line away.
DM: C’mon, is there nothing you can tell us?
CS: John’s still writing the pitch, it’s going to take a lot of research, because it’s going to be very historically accurate: it’s all about Victorian England, mainly realistic but with a sort of fantasy element in it.
DM: Has it got some connection with Mary Shelley’s novel or is a complete reinvention of the characters and the story?
CS: It’s a sequel! It’s about what would have happened if Dr. Frankenstein didn’t die. What if he carried on living? What if he made…more monsters? Oops! I didn’t want to give the story line away! Me and my big mouth!
DM: Sounds intriguing.
CS: Ah, you’ll see…as I said, I’m going to make this my masterwork!
DM: And closing with these spoilers, we thank Mr Weston.
CS: Oh, you’re welcome! And call me Chris!

This interview was held on March 20th, 2004, during Cartoomics event in Milan’s Fair. A big thank to Chris Weston for his extreme kindness. We hope to see you back again in Italy soon, Chris!

© 2004 Adriano Barone- per gentile concessione dell'autore