Drawing On Horror
TRIPWIRE Contributing Writer OLLY MACNAMEE spoke to the artist on Titan’s Anno Dracula series, Paul McCaffrey…
Having come across the recent spin-off comic book series, Anno Dracula, from Kim Newman and Titan Comics, and having the accidental good luck of meeting Paul McCaffrey recently, what better way to welcome this week’s third issue than to sit down and catch up with Paul and ask him about the comic book, his input into the look of the book and his own preferences when it comes to drawing.
Olly MacNamee: Paul, Were you familiar with the Anno Dracula series of books before this gig?
Paul McCaffrey: Yes, definitely. I’d come across ‘Red Reign’ (the novella which Kim Newman expanded into the first ‘Anno Dracula’ novel) in an anthology and I was hooked. The first three novels were out of print at that point but I managed to pick them up and loved them all.
OM: And how did you get involved with this series?
PM: I met the editor, David Leach, when we were both at a con promoting Aces Weekly. Some time later, I was working on Adler: Woman Of Mystery for Titan and doing the odd cover when the Anno Dracula series was mooted. I jumped at the chance to draw it!
OM: This is a fascinating world to explore, I imagine. A world in which Dracula succeeds and now reigns over the British Empire. You’re story’s set 10 years into this reign, and a jubilee to celebrate this, right? Do readers need to be familiar with Kim Newman’s novels to enjoy this comic?
PM: The storyline of the comic is firmly embedded within the Anno Dracula chronology but it stands alone, too. Kim does a great job of establishing the Anno Dracula milieu quickly and effectively in the first issue, I think.
OM: And, how much free rein did you have in designing the myriad of characters scattered across this series? How much back-and-forth did you have with Newman? I believe this was a fully-scripted series before you’re involvement?
PM: Kim Newman provided copious notes and references along with his fully-finished script (including characters who might only appear in the background of a single panel!) but there wasn’t much back-and-forth between us. If I’d strayed too far off the path, though, I imagine I would certainly have heard from him.
OM: This is yet another comic book series that sports not one, but a number of strong female leads. Are we, do you think, any closer in readdressing the gender balance in comics and at a time when there are more female readers than ever before?
PM: There are still too few female creators working in this industry for it to be truly balanced just yet. I think we’re moving in the right direction, though, particularly when one considers how male-dominated the world of comics has been.
OM: With issue three out this week, and the cover already revealed, we have the entrance of a very iconic looking vamp, Nosferatu. How much fun is it playing with such characters?
PM: I loved the design stage of working on this series. I could quite happily have spent a whole year kicking ideas around. Certain characters you don’t mess with, though!
OM: I loved your recent portrait cover for the third Doctor for Titan Comics, which begs the question: have you got many particular preferences when it comes to comic book illustration? Are you a stone-cold steampunker as Anno Dracula dictates, or more a sci-fi or spandex kinda guy?
PM: I’ll have a go at pretty much anything, which probably comes from my background in scholastic illustration, but I do have a fondness for the horror genre.
OM: And, finally, how do you approach the bank page? Are you a meticulous pencil, pen and ink artist, or do you do digital too? Which is your preferred method, for any aspiring artists out there, maybe?
PM: Everything is scribbled out in pencils, first. I ink with a fineliner, scan into the PC and colour in Photoshop. So, I start analog and finish digital.
And with that, Paul shuffled off menacingly into the night. Never to be seen again. Anno Dracula No. 3 is out now! Grab it while you can! You’ll thank me that you did. I’d stake my reputation on it!