Interview with Kit Gillson of Zone comics. Friday 29th March 2019. 4pm.
So, if I have read correctly, Zone came about after a comic book symposium held during the 2016 Guernsey Literary Festival. Can you reflect on what your initial thoughts about the project when you first came together as a collective?
Yes, the Guernsey Literary Festival in, yep 2016. As artists we were fed up with not getting anything done alone. THe symposium inspired us to think about doing things differently. Breaking into the UK for all of us as individuals seemed remote so as a group we figured that starting something on island [sic. Guernsey] would suit our energies better.
Now three years on, can you describe what has changed?
Yeah it has changed. We have lost some contributors but those of us that reman have got better at what we do. The first year we were unsure, the second year we were unsustainably over confident and ambitious with our expectations.
Is that why it took over a year to to get the third edition of Zone out?
Kind of. Through the process of making the third one we learned to keep our expectations in check and focus more on the outcome of the edition rather than having an overload of ideas.
At the start, would it be fair to say that as a group you didn’t really have a consistent message or concept for the publication?
All the contributors comics were very different and still are. That’s the beauty of it – variety. We are more used to working together now, that’s the real difference.
Does the variety in concept affect the audience you attract?
Yes and no. Anthologies are harder to sell but we throw a wider ner in that there is likely to be something for the casual reader.
What art styles would you say Zone has?
Well, from traditional European comic style such as bande dessinée to fairly experimental styles. The idea is there is no Zone style.
So the point is you don’t want a unified message?
We want stories, quality and variety.
As a collective are you a closed group?
Not entirely. We are open to committed contributors.
How actively do you search for new people?
Not very! We all keep an eye open but, we met organically so presume the mext will join organically.
Can you describe your group’s representation?
One hundred percent male, age range mid twenties to mid forties, all white. On contributor is from South Africa, one is Dutch. We all live in Guernsey.
How do you think your publication might change with a more diverse representation?
Our publication is not about politics. It’s about crazy stories. People who read our comic are not necessarily standard comic book readers so more variety would help this I guess.
What methods do you use to sell your comics?
Currently just at Zone events.
How do you see the comic moving forward?
With new contributors, we will become stronger as we refine our roles within the collective. We aim to make on going stories within the comics. Which will attract a readership base. People buy the comic for the variety and because it is local. But we hope they will come back for the next edition for the next installment of the stories.
Do you have high hopes for the continuing success of Zone?
We all have our individual hopes for what we are building. I hope the anthology will grow and we can build our own individual pathways from it. So launch our individual projects on.
Can you describe your role in the collective?
Co-founder or board-member, artist and writer.
How would you describe your art style, what does it bring to the collaboration?
I experiment with personal parameters, which are a consistent style throughout the story I tell in each issue, and then change the style in the next issue. I’m not sure if or what I will stick with as I’ve not been doing it all that long. I get bored if I don’t change things up. I definitely bring bold colour to the publication.
What are your main influences as a comic book artist?
Well, Guillermo del Toro and Mike Mignola, Hayao Miyazaki, Albert Uderzo and Didier Conrad of Asterix, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet to name a few.
Which contributors art style do you prefer and why?
I like the techniques of Fimbulwinter as it is made with traditional methods, full size, on paper with brush pen. But I also like Axolotl Had Face Man as it appeals to my sense of humour, the story and the art style.
You are also a film-maker, animator and TV camera operator. Do you think this has an affect on how you draw to tell stories?
I tend to think in camera angles. Some comic book artists use the page as a whole, or blend images together in interesting ways. But I think in camera angles. To say my comics are a storyboard would be underselling, but like a storyboard for a film I guess. Really its is about framing and composition of each panel like it is a different shot. I ask is the angle making the character humorous, or scary, assessing the relationship between the characters is important. So using film language really, in illustration.
How important do you think it is to be multifaceted as a practitioner? Does it help or hinder to be an illustrator and a film-maker, animator and TV camera operator? Would it be easier for you if you were defined by one discipline or specialism?
I find it doesn’t help me focus. I admire people who can do one thing. I try to keep the disciplines separate. There is some crossover as my creativity stretches over all the things I do. But I do think of them as separate. To be honest it’s something I’ve not really thought about. The difference between filmmaking and News camera, from the outside they might look the same, but they are very different.