This week we sit down and talk to the one and only P.L. Woods. If you like comics, and we’re sure you do, you’ll want to take a peek at what P.L. Woods is up to. After you’re done, be sure to check out his work here.
What was your reason for getting into comics? That is, how did you end up involved in comics?
I’ve always loved drawing and comics. I spent many hours as a reclusive teen in my room copying art of the classic artists like John Romita Jr, Neal Adams, Brian Bolland and Steve Dillon (R.I.P) I always wanted to create my own comics but life got in the way. Whilst my passion for narrative structure and comics never waned my belief in whether I was good enough and talented enough, was of the negative. I considered my time as spent and resigned myself to having fruitless dreams of never being in comics. However, around five years ago I decided that I shouldn’t listen to those voices and decided to get a portfolio of work together, take it to a comic convention and see what happens. I waited patiently in line in Artist Alley to see some of the artists whose work I had admired for years. Instead of being turned away with a kindly phrased message of “Yeah stick to the day job mate” I actually had some encouraging words. I hung around in the bar after the comic convention and met with some of these writers and artists who didn’t have a shed of ego about them. I made some introductions and ended up with a book to work on. Encouraged by this I have since developed more and more contacts refined my work and continue to believe in myself.
Who would you say is your comic book inspiration as an Artist/Writer?
The biggest influence on my work has to be the late great Steve Dillon. His use of line, storytelling techniques and fun that you can see in his work is beautiful. I’m also heavily influenced by Terry Dodson, Brian Bolland, and Adam Hughes. There’s something about the way these guys use limited lines but can convey such emotion and dynamism in their work that blows me away.
Before comics, what did you do? If you’re still doing it, what are you doing?
I’ve worn many hats on my way to being a comic artist including being a T-shirt printer, a teacher, salesman and currently a customer support specialist. As much as I’d love to make comics my primary profession, I do comics because I love them primarily. Unless you’re extremely lucky then there really isn’t much money in comics, although if you work with some really nice writers there’s often free beer (hint hint to anyone I’m working with).
What was your first work in comics like? My first work in comics?
Hmmm. Let’s just say there was a lot of room for improvement. Being given the opportunity to work on my first book was very exciting, nerve-wracking, fun and frustrating in equal measures. The first book I worked on was a book from Planet Jimbot (a small indie publisher in the U.K.) I produced all art (pencils, inks & colors). It took me about 6 months to do the first issue as I was working on roughly a page a week. There are quite a few things in the page structure and pacing that I have since learned to do differently. Though that feeling when I held a comic in my hands that I had done the art for, the 14-year-old in me still squeals with joy.
How many years have you been working in comics?
I’ve been actively working in comics for about 5 years, they have all been baby steps towards building up a name for myself in the U.K, indie scene with an aim to one day if I’m lucky enough making the transition to paid work, though I’ll carry on making them anyway 🙂
Tell me a little bit about your work. Where does it draw inspiration from?
Where do you come up with your ideas? As an artist, I generally get given the script and lowdown on the universe/scenario that the writer wants to create. When I first started in comics I would receive scripts that had detailed explanations of panels from writers. Sometimes with the golden rule of more than one action in the panel being completely disregarded. As a result, communication with a writer is super important. I’ll have ideas on how a panel or a page would work visually different than the initial script and discuss this with the writer over skype (or a pint). I still feel like I’m learning the intricacies of sequential storytelling and my last book and my current book are based on a 9-panel grid layout. This enables me to really focus on the pacing and beats of the story and ensures that it’s easier for the reader to find the “one” moment on each and every page. The “one” moment, is that one panel that the page revolves around.
Who have you worked alongside in the industry?
I was quite fortunate to work with Jim Alexander (2000AD) for the first book I worked on. Since then I have worked with Barry Nugent and Richmond Clements (www.unseenshadows.com)
Growing up, who is your favorite character or team? Who is it now?
My first memory of anything to do with superheroes is the 1970’s version of “The Hulk”, the very first comic I bought was the Marvel UK version of Secret Wars, I remember buying it because “The Hulk” was on the cover. Since then I’ve loved “The Hulk” and still do…including the Ang Lee film; P
Do you have any advice for a new writer/artist who is just getting into the business?
There are a few things I could advise any artist/writer who has always wanted to do comics and that is to quote Shia LaBeouf or Nike “Just do it”. You’re never too old and as long as you have the desire in you to do, then do it. You only have one life, so stop making excuses to yourself about doing it tomorrow, or “As soon as I can draw better, I’ll do it”. The only way you’re going to get better at anything is by doing it. The only person stopping you is you. Sorry, rant over (though I do feel quite passionate about that one).
Other bits of advice would be to not get into comics for money, there isn’t any unless you’re really lucky. The reason to be involved in comics should primarily be to tell stories and entertain. Also have fun, making comics can take a lot of time, it’s important to have fun doing so. People often say “don’t work for free” which in my opinion is rubbish. If you want to get your name out there and want to show you can make comics, then you’ll have to do free work. Fact. There is a subtle line between paid work (otherwise known as exposure/backend) and being taken advantage of. If you’re going to do “free” work, then research the person you’re working with. If they have been going for a while, and have had book published previously (small press) chances are they are in the same boat as yourself and just want to get their work out there.
Where do you see your work taking you?
I honestly have no idea, wherever the fates decide to take me. I’ll keep making comics and hopefully entertain and inspire people in my own right.
What are you up to next?
I’m currently working with Chris Sides on a book for Markosia and a few shorts. After the book with Chris, however, I’m currently on the lookout for the next book to work on, so feel free to message me.
Where do you see the direction of the comic industry heading in 20 years?
I think as technology develops and printing costs and the overheads for self-publishing comics becomes less and less, I predict a continuation of creator-owned books and truly exciting comics coming out that could push the medium.
How can people get a hold of you?
If you wanted to see more of my work I have a website www.plwoodscomics.com an Instagram account https://www.instagram.com/plwoodscomics/ and also a Facebook fan page https://www.facebook.com/plwoodscomics/
Where can we buy and/or see your work?
The latest book I worked on “Chimera Factor” is available from comixology: https://www.comixology.co.uk/Unseen-Shadows-The-Chimera-Factor/digital-comic /574760
Any last words for the industry?
Keep making great comics and entertaining 🙂
A Little Background…
I’ve been working in comics for a few years, mainly within the small press comic scene in the U.K. I’ve had quite a few short stories published in anthologies published through Futurequake press (publisher of the official 2000AD fanzine Zarjaz). I initially wanted to use my full name Pere Woods but discovered that there’s a great comic artist called Pete Woods already, so I have had to use a pen name of “P.L.Woods” so as not to confuse people. I’m currently working on my first Graphic Novel with Markosia due for publication sometime this year.