We recently interviewed Andy Luke, a very talented comic artist, who has been writing comics from long time now. He’s hosted a TV show as well. And now his debut novel is released. So meet this real multi talent and enjoy a light mood conversation with him.
Pro Media Mag: Please introduce yourself to the readers and how and when did you first get into creating comics?
Andy Luke: Hello reader. Well, I live in Belfast, Northern Ireland. I’m a new prose fiction author, but I’ve come there through making about twenty self-published comics, and writing about them a lot! I’d been making comics since 1996 when the underground comics in Britain were really peaking, and I learned to draw so I could produce quickly from my scripts.
Pro Media Mag: What is your favorite part about being in this industry?
Andy Luke: It was a friendly vibrant community back then, with people writing fan letters and mailing books to each other. Even fifteen years later, folk were still being supportive, and meeting for drinks so I was probably cartooning longer than I’d planned. The nature of comics is collaborative, whereas in writing prose I have to be left alone and take responsibility for everything: the background; the lighting; the characters…that’s all me. Writing prose has less gatekeepers and a bigger budget. I’ve benefitted immensely from a writing group led by Joan Carberry. On my first book, working with co-creator Richard Barr was a joy, and especially, Andrew Gallagher. Andrew edited the book sending regular notes for changes to the manuscript. He was very critical, but fair, and it helped immensely that he’s a fan. The book has been made twice as strong with Andrew on board.
Pro Media Mag: You recently released your debut Novel “Axel America and the U.S. Election Race”. Tell us about that?
Andy Luke: It’s a love letter from Richard and I to conspiracy theorists, and a melodramatic break-up, particularly were mainstream news actually become conspiracy. We wondered what it might be like to be part of a family were the head was an over the top figure like Alex Jones, Glenn Beck or Bill O’ Reilly, and devised a sort of sitcom from there. Donald Trump falls into a similar category and when he announced he was running, we thought he’d make the perfect foil. So while Axel America is ranting about the Illuminati New World Order and dragging his family to Burger King to protest their endorsement of the monarchy, Morgan Rump sees Axel’s cult following and plans to use it for votes. He’s joined by a few familiar faces at Faux News, several CIA agents and an ex-Nazi scientist. Axel’s children, Martha and Constitution have had enough of their father’s absurdities and run into a trap set by Rump.
Pro Media Mag: What are your expectations from the Novel?
Andy Luke: Ten billion copies, muhahahaha. I know it will make readers laugh. If they are laughing uncontrollably in public places, then it’s going to catch on. It’s been pointed out there’s great questions the novel brings up: the validity of free elections versus the corporate elite’s global agenda. The content of ‘news’ and the purpose it serves. Certainly readers will find empathy for their legitimate anger against these structures, though I do take the mickey. There’s references to the Bilderberg Group and Operation Paperclip, things most people are at least aware of. Axel America also stands well as a thriller and I hope they’re getting value for their time and money. Interested millionaires should definitely buy ten billion copies.
Pro Media Mag: If anyone wants to buy your Novel, where will it be available?
Andy Luke: Kindle, Smashwords, Amazon in print, or in print from AGPublishings.
We’ve a competition to win a free signed mailed copy on Twitter and Facebook. I’ll also be selling those to people in Belfast at our launch party in The Black Box on the evening of September 5th, and at the Game of Thrones festival, Titancon, later in September.
Pro Media Mag: Tell us about your experience as Host and co-producer of “‘The Invisible Artist’ ?
Andy Luke: It began with refreshing confidence when Northern Visions TV picked up the pitch. Carl Boyle was the co-producer and steered me through some of the pitfalls of professional television and went out of his way to direct essential segments. He stepped in on full edits when I’d other work commitments, and did a bang-up job. We were fortunate to speak to key figures in the Northern Irish scene: PJ Holden, John Farrelly, Paddy Brown. We had some we couldn’t reach, like Will Simpson, but that’s excusable as he was storyboarding Game of Thrones at the time. The documentary turned out really well and everyone associated should be proud of it.
Pro Media Mag: What’s your most favorite Comic you created?
Andy Luke: There’s an activity called ’24 hour comics’, when cartoonists draw 24 pages only within 24 consecutive hours: extreme cartooning. My grandmother passed away a few days before I was due to take part. I couldn’t get home for the funeral so chose to make a comic about her. It was an immensely valuable experience in grief therapy and many readers have told me it’s dear to their hearts. ‘Gran: a 24 hour comic’ can be downloaded for free on Internet Archive.
Pro Media Mag: Are you working on any new project?
Andy Luke: I have about twenty shorts to redraft and a second novel I’m really keen on, but it’ll be a few years. In the meantime, I’m promoting Axel America with a ‘Podcast Election Tour’. It’s a chance to talk about different things, meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends. After locking myself away for the last year, it’ll be a refreshing change.
Pro Media Mag: What’s the biggest achievement in your career so far?
Andy Luke: Absence: a comic about epilepsy, which I created with Stephen Downey and UnLtd. It’s a valuable educational comic, but never at the expense of an interesting story. I was also project manager on the book and made sure it went out to 1 in 18 people in Northern Ireland and tens of thousands online.
Runner up has to be the double Eisner nomination for the graphic novel ‘To End All Wars’. It’s an accolade I share with thirty other creatives on a book about World War One. I worked very hard on my piece in that anthology and being nominated for those is a huge deal.
Pro Media Mag: Are you on social media? Readers of our magazine would like to follow you?
Andy Luke: They certainly may! I can be found at @andrewluke on Twitter and for those who fancy a taste of the novel the protagonist has his own tweets at @TheAxelAmerica. Ten billion copies, muhahahaha!