HAIRY HI-FI no.2    1989     CHRIS REYNOLDS interview by John Bagnall

    

The most familiar faces of comics have been the superheroic or funny so it comes as a surprise to read strips that evoke different emotions > the more vague feelings of nostalgia, mystery or unsettling strangeness. Weenies raised on 2000AD may find Chris Reynolds' self published comics foreign territory - but if preconceptions are dropped I reckon the hypnotic power of his work could have a wide appeal. Please check them out! Meanwhile, an interview:

 



YOU'VE INCLUDED BATMAN, CAPTAIN KIRK AND THE RIDDLER IN YOUR STRIPS. WERE THESE CHILDHOOD FAVOURITES?

Out of those, Captain Kirk is the only one that wasn't really a childhood favourite, but I've come to appreciate him later because of the way he behaves; making those decisions on the bridge and sorting everything out. The Riddler and Batman were childhood favourites. The Riddler was the best villain on the Batman TV series because he was so nutty, running around and giggling all the time.

THESE FICTIONAL CHARACTERS ARE SHOWN IN YOUR PERSONAL "UNIVERSE", OFTEN IN RURAL LOCATIONS. I KNOW YOU WERE BROUGHT UP IN WALES. ARE THESE COMIC LOCATIONS BASED ON YOUR EXPERIENCE OR IMAGINARY?

All the locations I use are based on real places, although they may be round a corner which I've never actually been round or "over that hill". But it's the atmosphere of places that's more important, rather than what they're actually like. The Paisley Pool, for example, is how I saw it when I was small not how I see it now - - -

 




YOU OFTEN US STRANGE JUXTAPOSITIONS LIKE SCI-FI VEHICLES ON FARMS OR MASSIVE ROMAN ARCHES IN MINING VILLAGES. ANY COMMENTS ON THIS?

They're actually there. On farms for example, you often see things like an old tractor rusting away: then you realise it isn't just an ordinary tractor, it has some wierd half-track drive system and a streamlined engine casing. And like I said about the places round the corner; what other vehicles were here? As for the massive Roman arches they exist too (but only for me, I suppose.) I've recently been thinking that perhaps the things you imagine come from the language you grew up with. Welsh is a very concrete language, which is why its good for legal documents, and why you get so many Welsh lawyers and politicians, and growing up thinking of things in a solid material way may be the reason my friends and I see things like that arch, placing it there because of some association at one time. And if it comes in a sort of brilliant flash, its something you'll remember every time you go that way, and soon, well, its there isn't it?

WHY THE RECCURENCE OF RAILWAYS, STATIONS AND TRAVEL?

Because I like the dream-like state you get into when you're travelling: thinking about the place and people you've just left and about the place where you're going. What things will have changed? How will the "flavour" of the places have changed? Also, thinking about the people you're travelling between is in a way like bridging between two different realities

 



DO YOU EVER USE DREAMS AS INSPIRATION FOR YOUR STRIPS?

I dream vividly a lot of the time (I went to Brighton last night and was shown the Abbey.) Dreams are sometimes useful for story ideas, but they're usually so firmly set that they're difficult to mold into something I can use. The best ideas for stories just make themselves up when I'm awake and I write them down.

YOU ONCE MADE FILMS AND SOME OF YOUR STRIPS ARE QUITE FILM-LIKE. ARE COMICS FOR YOU A SUBSTITUTE FOR FILMS?

Comics are a substitute for films in some ways, but they're also a lot better. For example, in a comic, if you know exactly what you want you can do it all yourself and you haven't got to worry about other people getting things right. Another thing about comics is that the reader can stop and think about what they're reading at any time without having to follow events at a set speed. Perhaps the reason that a lot of films seem so dull sometimes is because you're in the wrong mood for the way that they are paced.

 



TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT THE "ONE PANEL STORY" SERIES - -

The one panel stories came about when Paul Harvey and I had a lot of ideas that weren't working too well as longer stories, so we thought the best idea would be to distill the one scene from them that gave the most atmosphere and just use that. We like having the United Mills and 524 titles round them all the time because that gives them their own framework, away from the rest of the stories in the comic, and it gives the opportunity to use stronger and more varied title styles that might be obtrusive on the longer, quieter stories in the comics.

ONE LAST QUESTION, WHY "MAURETANIA" COMICS?

Mauretania is called that because that's just what it had to be called. There were no two ways about it at all. The name comes from the old atlantic liner that was built in Newcastle.

 

All images © Chris Reynolds

 

More Chris Reynolds -

Reviews of his book 'The Dial And Other Stories

'Read the One Panel Stories

Read the photo-story 'Inspector Rockwell at Condover'

Read the photo-story 'Back To The Old School'

back to the Hairy Archive

 

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