Art

Warwick Johnson-Cadwell of 'Samurai Jack' fame on his latest work

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The artist’s follow-on book to ‘Mr Higgins Comes Home’ with writer Mike Mignola was released recently

Spaceships. Specifically, spaceships shooting at each other. And fire. That is what celebrated UK-based comic book artist Warwick Johnson-Cadwell remembers drawing as a young boy.

“I always drew. It was the easy way to play. I didn’t have to worry about asking my parents to buy me spaceships… well, I asked them to buy as many spaceships as I could, but I could make my own spaceships.”

The unassuming artist, who was in Bengaluru for the Maruti Suzuki Arena Bengaluru Comic Con held over the weekend in Whitefield, smiles as he adds, “Drawing is something I do every day. I don't necessarily set myself a job daily. But if I don't draw, I feel like I need to sit down and catch up. I have done a few jobs where I was meant to be working but I was drawing quietly in my sketchbook instead.”

Warwick has worked in editorial illustration, animation, concept design, storyboarding and narrative art. His projects include a much-celebrated take on Tank Girl as well as the Samurai Jack comic series and illustrations in The Guardian.

So you want to be a comic book artist?
  • Warwick preaches what he practises. “Draw lots and lots and lots. Draw every day. Online is a place where you can start conversations with people... It’s much easier to do that nowadays. To speak to either creators that you're a fan of, or even people working in the industry. If you're doing it the right way. Politely and respectfully. So that’s it. Keep drawing, work hard.”

His latest work, just released in the US and UK, is with writer Mike Mignola (who created Hellboy) titled Our Encounters with Evil: Adventures of Professor JT Meinhardt and his Assistant Mr Knox. Set outside the Hellboy universe, it follows the adventures of the two characters featured in the duo’s earlier work, Mr Higgins Comes Home. “Mr Higgins was completely a dream job because it was with a dream creative. Mike [Mignola], who I have been an enormous fan of for many years, wrote it and I drew it. Our Encounters with Evil… is actually a series of short stories,” says Warwick.

He adds, “I prefer to call it a follow-on book because the stories could be all before or after Mr Higgins or they could even be on the side. What I wanted to do was investigate and get into the world with the two characters, Professor Meinhardt and Mr. Knox. There is also a new character, Mary Van Sloan. They are vampire hunters and I wanted to explore more of that world that Mike set up in Mr Higgins. Because there seems to be so much more fun that could be had in there. So many more stories to tell, so much more to draw.”

Warwick has a background of working on iconic material, namely Samurai Jack and his own spin on Tank Girl. Stating that he has always been a fan of Tank Girl, he says, “[co-creator] Jamie Hewlett is one of the many artists I look to to improve my own work. So, it was very exciting to be able to do it but it was quite a worry because Tank Girl is such a big, popular thing. I was worried about how people would accept it, especially [because] my drawing is very different from Jamie’s. I had to make a decision that the best way to do it was to just not to try and make it look like something that wasn't my work. Because then it would be my own fault if no one else was really keen.”

He adds, “It was very similar working on Samurai Jack. The television series is just beautiful artwork, fantastic stories… I knew a lot of people weren't going to be as keen. So, I did the same thing again. I just had to do it the way I would do it. I have heard since that sometimes people had not heard of Samurai Jack until they saw the comic. And that seems a terrifying prospect to me because… Go straight to the television series. Watch that, find out about the series, because it is so good and then maybe look at the comics afterwards... You should go straight to the source.”

When asked about the comic books and artists he would recommend, Warwick says, “This is where I get into trouble because I’m a big comic fan and I tend to buy a lot. But I also don’t get to read much of it because I get busy. There are artists who aren’t new artists but are great to follow. People like Mike [Mignola] who continues to produce Hellboy. The last few comics series that I’ve managed to read through include Murder Falcon by Daniel Warren Johnson, which I thought was fantastic and John Allison’s Steeple which is fantastic as well.”

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 1:48:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/warwick-johnson-cadwell-of-samurai-jack-fame-on-his-latest-work/article30007143.ece

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