Sean Phillips is a British comic book artist, who has been a professional illustrator for over twenty-five years, mostly drawing comic books. Sean Phillips has worked for all the major American and British publishers as well as other clients including Twentieth Century Fox, Sony, Maxim and Island Records. Sean Phillips began his career in British comics working with John Smith on New Statesmen and Straitgate, as well as Pat Mills on Third World War both at Crisis. He was part of the British Invasion, getting work on Hellblazer before returning to the UK. There he most notably worked on Devlin Waugh for the Judge Dredd Megazine but also provided the art on a number of series for 2000 AD including Judge Dredd. Sean Phillips went over to Marvel Comics in 2005 where he joined Brubaker on Criminal at the Marvel imprint Icon and he also became the main artist on the first two instalments of the Marvel Zombies series with Robert Kirkman. In 2012, Sean Phillips was one of several artists to illustrate a variant cover for Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead No. 100, which was released 11 July at the San Diego Comic-Con. Please enjoy my interview with the wildly talented Sean Phillips.
When someone asks you ‘what do you do for a living?’ – How do you respond?
I’m an illustrator, mostly drawing comic-books.
Resolution by Denise Mina, the third of her Garnethill trilogy. I came to Denise’s writing quite recently, while waiting for Ian Rankin to write another novel. He’s recommended a few Scottish crime writers to me and I’m slowly getting through them. I’ve also always got a pile of graphic novels on the go. Currently reading Faceache Vol. 01 The First 100 Scrounges by Ken Reid, a collection of his very funny comic strips from the 1970s; Monograph by Chris Ware; and the Fantagraphics Studio Edition: Jaime by Jaime Hernandez.
What’s your earliest memory of reading?
Marvel Comics started reprinting their early 1960s comics in the UK when I was 6 and I was hooked straight away!
If you could encourage young people to read one book in particular, what would it be and why?
There’s no one book that every young person would like, so whatever book you read first, even if you don’t like it, read another. Eventually you’ll discover your favourite book, but hopefully, it’ll take a lot of years and a lot of reading.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
Walking the streets with a sandwich board advertising local businesses when I was around 13. I only lasted two Saturdays, it was just too embarrassing seeing people I knew on the street. I started drawing comics professionally when I was 15 so never really had any other jobs.
Do you read as much as you’d like to?
No! I’ve already got more books than I can read in my lifetime, but still buy a few every week.
What books do you feel are important reading for people on your career path and why?
Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. It explains everything you need to know about reading and creating comics. I’d already been working for at least ten years before I read it and I learnt a lot. Really though, there’s no substitute for making your own comics. You learn best by doing!
Is there a book that you’ve read more than once? What is it and why did you revisit it?
There’s plenty of comics I’ve read multiple times, but that’s mostly for the art rather than the stories. The only novel I’ve read more than once is Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. I just love its evocation of an idyllic childhood summer. Bradbury and I were both guests at a festival a few years ago and I took my dog-eared copy of the book along for him to sign, but couldn’t pluck up the courage to go and talk to him.
What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?
One of mine probably! My wife of 27 years has still yet to read one of mine. I’ll wear her down one day!
What’s your favourite genre of book?
Crime fiction most recently I think. In novels, comics and comic strips.
What do you think a world without books would be like?
Is there an author whose writing you’re such a fan of, that you’ll read everything they release?
Plenty! In prose, Ian Rankin, Mark Billingham, Denise Mina, and Matt Haig. In comics, Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo, Chris Samnee, Jaime Hernandez, Jason Latour and John Paul Leon.
Do you think digital books will ever completely replace real books?
Probably. Screens and paper will be indistinguishable from each other eventually.
What book do you feel humanity needs right now?
A new Calvin and Hobbes collection.
Are there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?
What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?
For two different work projects, research on World War One and television in the late 1950s. And lots of comics!
If you were to write an autobiography – what would it be called?
There’s already a biography of me, The Art Of Sean Phillips by Eddie Robson.
Image credit: Joe Gordon