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An interview with the artist Adrian Salmon about his new graphic novel Terry Sharp: The Faceless
You're probably best known for your illustrations for Doctor Who Magazine. How did you end up as an illustrator?

ADRIAN: After graduating with a degree in illustration from Manchester Polytechnic , I packed my bags and headed up to London to make some sort of career in art. After 5 years of working up from barman to illustrators rep and collecting together mostly a Women's magazine illustration portfolio , I decided at 28 it was time I tried my hand at comics ( which ultimately had been my dream). My first port of call with my comic samples was the JUDGE DREDD MEGAZINE , which after some tryouts landed me my first big commission - JUDGE KARYN : SKINNER - a 6 episode story. Almost simultaneously I managed to break into DR WHO MAGAZINE using the same stark angular style. Although editor Gary Russell felt it inappropriate for the main strip - he hooked me up with writer Alan Barnes on THE CYBERMEN - a 24 part colour strip - not a bad debut opportunity. Things just slowly built from there!

You're style is very distinctive and certainly gives The Faceless a unique feel. How did you develop this?

ADRIAN: For THE FACELESS I wanted to employ the style I'm now known for - but give it more depth and atmosphere and concocted this textured hybrid seen in the book.I also wanted to go back to basics - to draw and paint the artwork on the board first - before transferring it to computer for colourising. Of course the story itself drove the intepretation - I knew Terry had to look iconic and I deliberately kept him simple and bold. Once Terry was visualised I had to make sure that the Terryscape he inhabits gelled with his look - I liken it to how THE AVENGERS were presented - a surreal imagined British landscape where image and reality blend into one.


On to The Faceless itself. You collaborated on it with scriptwriter and director Robert Tinnell. How did you two come to meet and actually begin work on The Faceless?

ADRIAN: Bob and I met through an online horror film forum - but were properly introduced by mutual friend Neil Vokes ( artist on THE BLACK FOREST and THE WICKID WEST - plus a gazillion other strips!). Bob emailed me a proposal that hit all the right buttons - because who could refuse a strip about a 1962 action hero ..not I !


How long did The Faceless take to get published? Did you get commissioned or simply submit the idea on spec?

ADRIAN: It probably took about a year and a half from it's genesis to publication - things moved fairly rapidly once I started the book. Before we approached IMAGE comics - we did two other Terry strips for other publications. The first was the b/w RUNES AND RUSES - a 2 pager that ran in the charity benefit comic MORE FUND and the second was a longer 6 pager ( in colour) called VENGEANCE IS MINE , that debuted as a back-up strip in FRANKENSTEIN MOBSTER. It was on the strength of this that IMAGE were persuaded to go with the graphic novel THE FACELESS.


The book seems a distillation of many familiar film and TV series. What productions influenced the book?

ADRIAN: We tend to specifically cite THE FACELESS is an amalgam of THE SAINT meets CURSE OF THE DEMON and ultimately that was the driving force of the book. However into this mix we brought our love of shows like THE AVENGERS - Elspeth Sasdy is our nod to Mrs Peel pretty much - though visually she's more like Jacqueline Pearce from Hammer's THE REPTILE and has a leather jumpsuit ready for the next adventure!

Hammer horror also played a huge part in directing the ambience of the book - Terry is in all but name a Hammer director - but by night he fights real Hammer horrors! We also backed up the book with a RETURN OF FRANKENSTEIN strip - drawn exceptionally by Neil Vokes and coloured by myself - we hope to continue this trend of running excerpts from Terry's films as *extras* - to further flesh out the character.



Am I right in saying that The Faceless is the second script you developed for the character of Terry Sharp? What happened to the first story? Has it been used in any form?

ADRIAN: As mentioned above we did the two short strips - however before that Bob wrote a 25 part online Terry Sharp story called SHADOWDANCE . It's a slightly lighter strip in tone than THE FACELESS - even more pulpy - Terry and Elspeth get lost on the road to Tigon's End and run into a ghostly dance of stones and witness a druidical sacrifice. The feel here was inspired by John Moxley's low budget genre classic CITY OF THE DEAD - everything cloaked in fog and somewhat mysterious... yet fun. SHADOWDANCE though scripted first - was drawn after THE FACELESS and was FLASH animated - debuting on the Fangoria website in September.

How long does it take for you to finish a page of artwork in general? How long did it take to finish The Faceless in total?

ADRIAN: Page production times vary - it might take a day and a half to get a page pencilled , inked and wash applied before it's scanned. Then you can estimate about a day or so for colouring and tidying up before going off to be lettered. The full book took about 4 months solid to finish including the cover - simultaneously editing the pages being lettered with Bob- so we'd have everything print ready for IMAGE - who essentially are packagers of the book.

Have you a whole season mapped out if the book is a success?

ADRIAN: Bob has Terry's whole life mapped out ! - it's a story that encompasses his continuing fight against the shadowy satanic Faceless, whilst also taking Terry up new story avenues , which is why we prefaced the title of the book with The Terry Sharp Stories. THE FACELESS can almost been seen as the pilot story in essence ( but self contained) - parts of the ultimate jigsaw puzzle and we hope that with readers support , we'll be able to slot these pieces into place as well as developing Terry and involving him in other interesting tales - and be assured , the big guy has a rocky road ahead !

When can we expect the next episode then?

ADRIAN: I'd like to hope within the next 6 months ideally - but we are bound by how the market reacts to the book and if it sells enough - response so far has been very encouraging. IMAGE are very much behind Terry Sharp as a character and we believe his unique English genre roots will hopefully appeal to the film and TV genre fans who might not necessarily buy a graphic novel , as well as comic buyers . We both know that for Terry Sharp to stand half a chance - it's imperative to get the word out about him and interviews like this are very much appreciated.


What are your favourite films / TV series?

ADRIAN: I tend to gravitate towards horror films from the 1960's/70's and firm favourites are BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW , WITCHFINDER GENERAL , CURSE OF THE DEMON and VAMPIRE CIRCUS. I particularly like films from this period for their style and exploitiveness - which is refreshingly honest in these cynical and hypocritical times I feel.

My TV favourites range from an absolute obsession with THE AVENGERS and Dr WHO to a deep love for many of the ITC classics - THE CHAMPIONS , DEPARTMENT S , THE SAINT and THE PRISONER - all the usual suspects I guess! I'd also like to mention SAPPHIRE AND STEEL which is top stuff. We intend to keep being inspired by these films and tv shows and carry on the tradition of high adventure and horror they represent!.


Thanks to Adrian in sparing time to answer our questions and the rather lovely exclusive Terry Sharp illustration.



Image Comics , paperback, 64 pages, published October 2005 price £4.50

For further details, background information and to view a trailer for the grahic novel : http://theblackforest.net/terrysharp/

To order in the UK go to :
http://www.fpigraphics.co.uk/acatalog/
The_Faceless_A_Terry_
Sharp_Story.html


A review of the book (we can't rate this enough - buy it now damn you!), Terry Sharp: The Faceless, is located here.


Adrian had his own Yahoo group where he can be contacted at : http://groups.yahoo.com/
group/VisualAde