Jimmy Broxton is a regular at theDRAW.in and we thought we’d catch up with him and talk about his current and recent projects. The UK-based somewhat reclusive artist is hard at work on a lot of projects he can’t officially talk about but in return he sent us a lot of awesome artwork and we also reminisced about Greek beers and kitsons like we always do.
Jimmy Broxton: I just finished the second part of a black and white Sci-Fi series Standstill with Justin Gray, I’m now drawing a four part Judge Storm series for the Judge Dredd Megazine which is full colour, written by Leah Moore and John Reppion, after that I return to Hope with my old partner in crime Guy Adams for 2000AD, and then I have a top secret (for now) creator owned project coming up with LA-based writer Doselle Young which I’m rather excited about, and there’s also a good possibility I’ll be returning to ’60s style spy capers for a one off special project for a UK-based production company. My plate – like my beer fridge – is rather full at the moment, I’m very lucky. And thirsty.
Absolutely, this is my first foray in to the Dreddverse, it has a wonderful history, chronicled by some of the best in the business, I feel truly honoured to add my two-penneth. It’s also really nice to work on something unashamedly British.
Is there a different approach to each project for you to get excited about them or do you use the same process always?
The technical process is the same, but the thinking is different for each project. The look of a series or story is determined by the subject matter and tone, sometimes I work more impressionistically, with a looser more spontaneous feel, other times the line work and colour can be more prescribed, with a more locked down and explicitly technical approach, especially if the story requires a lot of “production design”. Every decision though is always in the service of the story, I’m not interested in making pretty pictures, showing off or demonstrating fancy technique, if I can create the desired effect with a quick drag of a dry brush, then I’m a happy camper. They say the devil is in the detail, but unnecessary detail is the ruin of many a good story. If the reader stops to admire the cross hatching on the curtains in the background of a scene, or marvel at the triple lighting on a figure’s arse, then the artist has failed, unless drawing attention to fabulous arses is the intention. I’m always trying to communicate as effectively and directly as possible with the minimum number of lines. The great Gil Kane once said – and I maybe paraphrasing here – “the mature artist is invisible”, it took me a few years to figure that out, for me less is definitely more, but not when it comes to my beer fridge.
As a matter of fact, do tell what your beer fridge contains nowadays.
Well, as we are in the summer my thoughts turn to the Greek Isles. So right now the beer fridge is stocked with fine Hellenic lagers like Mythos and my personal favourite Alpha – incredibly now available here in the UK. Yamos!
Your linework is so flawless and exquisite I always wonder if you just trick us readers denying switching to digital over the years.
Oh, you’re very kind, not so sure about flawless, but it’s not hesitant, I have been working with the tools I use for decades now, so I guess I have a grasp of what I need to do. They are just tools though, I’m always looking for new pens and brushes to try, the computer is also a tool, and I try to use it when it represents the best tool for the job, it doesn’t always, and therein lies the problem, for some, it is not a panacea. The digital phenomenon is interesting, many creators have switched to completely digital work, and you know what? It shows! I can’t think of a single artist who’s made the switch and have it improve things. Yes, they still produce incredible work, but for me, it was just a little more incredible before. I am of course talking about “traditional” comic art, which is black and white line work that is then coloured, I’m not talking about fully painted art, that is a different kettle of fish, and some amazing digital work is being done in that field. I know it’s convenient and saves time, but in all the instances where I have been aware of the switch, the work is poorer for it. I don’t know what it is, no matter how accomplished the images, there’s a disconnect there, at some subliminal level our brains pick up on the fact that the pictures are created using ones and zeros, and it rings false some how. It’s like CGI in movies, it doesn’t matter how good it gets, you always know it isn’t real, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it, of course you can, and still get immersed in the story, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Who knows, with advances in computer technology and computing power maybe they’ll crack it and bridge the “unhappy valley”, but I have my doubts. Sure I colour digitally, but I try and make it look organic and hand-done where possible. The line work is real pen and ink on some crazy old invention called paper, so called digital inking is bullshit for the most part, it can look good, but never as good as when the artist does it for real with real pen and ink. Just my opinion, and like so often in this batshit industry, I’m in the minority. Sometimes I feel like the Walt Kowalski of comics, “hey, get off my fucking lawn you bastard kids, and take your Cintiqs with you…” I once had the great pleasure of having Dinner with Howard Chaykin and his lovely wife, it was a scream, the man is a legend and not exactly shy in sharing his wit, wisdom and his opinions. There was some banter back and forth between the two of us, some of it with the waiters regarding the less than perfect service, HVC – for that is what I call him – pointed to himself and said to me: “take a good look kid, you’re looking at your future”. I can only hope.
Speaking of HVC, can you still name inspirations for yourself and your art at this point in your career?
Oh, for sure, I’m always seeing new stuff that excites me, and inspires me to do better, but I do have my artistic heroes that always are always with me, in no particular oder, they are: Alex Toth, HVC, Dave Gibbons, Tanino Liberatore, Jean Giraud, Richard Corben, Wally Wood, Milton Caniff, Jim Steranko, René Gruau, Ronald Searle, Noel Sickles, Bob Peak and Syd Mead.
Do you ever plan on doing something as original and special as Goldtiger was?
Well, now you are being too kind, I reckon you just want to get me to let you at my beer fridge! Goldtiger was a unique project, the cross-dressing bastard offspring of an idea I had kept in the closet for years, Guy – never one to stand in the way of things coming out of closets, in fact he actively encourages such malarky – took it, ran with it and turned it into something unique and beautiful, way beyond what I could have dreamt up alone. I like to think of it as not just breaking the fourth wall, more like building a fifth one, adorning it with sequins and then taking a sledgehammer to it. The two of us have a few ideas we’d like to develop at some point. As for the future you never know, Barretti is missing assumed dead, but you know what happens when you make an assumption…
If you do, count theDRAW.in and me in for some sixth wall-breaking media presence and cross-promotion for it!
Well, that would be swelegant, thank you sir!
And finally here is a full gallery of amazing Jimmy Broxton black & white and colored art: