3DTotal:Let’s start with “Thrud” - a character that must remain close to your heart. Could you tell us a little about his evolution and what inspired his creation? Carl: The graphic design tutor at my foundation art college was Bryan Talbot (Luther Arkwright, “The Tale
of One Bad Rat”, and so on) and one of his projects was to produce a comic strip... I was reading Robert E. Howard’s “Conan” books at the time and this lead to my first “Thrud” strip - the first comic strip that I ever drew!
3DTotal:Thrud and Conan are both “Barbarians”, but what is it about this type of character that interests you in terms of a comic strip? Carl: To be honest, the appeal is in the imagery involved - I just like drawing heavily muscled men running around in their under crackers - you got a problem with that? (Note: I HATE drawing suits.)
3DTotal:Could you describe your work on the “Magic: the Gathering” cards and explain to
any unaware readers what they are exactly? Carl:To any readers who don’t know, “Magic: the Gathering” is a Collectable Card Game (CCG), produced by Wizards of the Coast,
with a strong fantasy element. Over the last
few years I’ve produced close to 200 images for different playing cards for the game, as
new sets are released each year. They have mostly been monsters of various
descriptions; many of which can be seen
on my website: www.carlcritchlow.com.
3DTotal:Would you say that fantasy is a genre that suits your personality, being someone who enjoyed the Conan novels, or are there any another topics you would like to explore in more depth? Carl:I’m a big fan of the R. E. Howard Conan stories, but although I enjoy some of the visual elements of the fantasy genre, to be honest I haven’t really read too much else - even though it’s fun to draw!
3DTotal:What was it that initially led you into the world of comics and prompted an interest in this genre? Carl:Until I went to art college I hadn’t really had an interest in comics, although I was a huge Frank Frazetta fan and I knew that was how he’d started his career, so I was interested in finding out more. As I mentioned before Bryan Talbot was my graphics tutor, as well as teaching he was working on the first of his Luther Arkwright stories and it was seeing his work (as well as his comic collection) that led me to realise there was a ton of fantastic stuff out there that I’d previously been unaware of.
3DTotal:What is it essentially about Frazetta’s work that inspires you? Carl:I could go on about this for some time
but in one word it’s the dynamism.
3DTotal:How do you think that comics have changed with the advent of computers and the digital medium? Carl:Apart from making the whole job quicker, cleaner and more accurate (especially colouring and lettering) the main change as I see it is that it is now perfectly possible for an individual creator to produce an entire comic book to a professional standard at home.
3DTotal:What do you think are the skill sets necessary to being a good comic artist, and what do you feel are the greatest challenges? Carl: General draftsmanship (especially figure drawing) is essential, as well as storytelling (very important if you want to make any sort of a living), and speed. The challenges are being able to keep banging the stuff out, whether you’re in a really creative mood and buzzing, or full of cold/hung-over with something that seems much more interesting on the TV: a deadline’s a deadline (or so I’ve been told).