Saturday, January 1, 2011

Jamie Gambell The Human Shuriken

My first impression of Jamie was that he was a quiet guy. Relaxed. Than I started reading his Comics and hearing his ideas. Behind that quiet exterior is a guy with a ton of interesting and crazy concepts ready to burst out into Comic book form. 
I was also fortunate to have him ride shotgun on the editing duties for Samurai. Although I've said it many times this project would have never got off the ground without his help and dedication to making it happen. 
For those of you chasing your dreams of making Comics, Jamie is a great example of a creator that balances a busy personal life and job with his creative endeavors. Inspirational.
You can read the story Jamie and I did in Samurai The Graphic Novel...which you can pre-order here: Samurai Pre-Order

Happy New Year!
Samurai The Graphic Novel

What was your experience like working on Samurai The Graphic Novel. Was it a challenge?

The greatest challenge for me - probably the greatest challenge for most indie creators - was in balancing a very time-consuming day job, a family life, work on this project, my own projects and my own sanity.

I work in television for my day job, and constantly face 12-14 hour working days, with travel thrown in. I have a two year old son, and was trying to finish off one mini-series and start a new series told across three separate books.

Luckily I've never been the biggest sleeper.

In one word what best describes your style?

Dreamy? I tend to think a lot about any story I'm working on, then quickly sketch down some ideas before writing pretty much full scripts. I like to let the artist have their say, so full scripts for me really only include descriptions of actions from players on a page, and dialogue/sfx.
How many years have you been creating art?

I've always been a sketcher - and I'm one of those kids who used to fold pieces of paper in half an create their own comic books.

Writing, I have some 2000 ad rejection letters from the early nineties, a couple of film scripts earlier this decade.

Omnitarium was my first completed series which saw print, which I started writing in 2009, based on an earlier idea.

What's your biggest influence artistically/story wise?

Pretty much every creator that worked on 2000 ad between 1977-1987. Especially Alan Moore, Pete Milligan and Grant Morrison. 

Moore's Captain Britain and V for Vendetta came at a time in my life when I was very angry at the establishment. My father was in prison, my mother was struggling with two kids and a lousy job, the police in the UK were pig ignorant bullies, and the school I was at was full of racist idiots. It wasn't a good time.

Zenith rewrote super hero story telling for me in a way that no other story had - even more so than Watchmen or Dark Knight.

Milligan is possibly one of the greatest character writers in comics - his Shade series remains one of my all time favourites.

Other comic creators include Giffen and DeMattis', for their Justice League, Sterenko, Sienkiewicz and Paul Grist.

I'm also beginning to "get" Jack Kirby now!

Away from comics, Robert Anton Wilson, John Wyndham and G.K. Chesterton all tell stories with verve and imagination which I wish I could channel for just one sentence.

John Carpenter is also probably my overall hero for story telling - he is a master of misdirection. 

Why do you think the idea and iconography of the Samurai resonate with the imagination? 

The idea of a strong, silent heroic figure. The quest, the mission - it's been with heroes since the start of story telling, and remained in the imagination through out time.

If you were a Samurai what part of Bushido (The Samurai code) best describes you. Pick two: loyalty, honor, obedience, duty, honoring your elders/ancestors, and self-sacrifice.

Loyalty and duty.

The sword was the main weapon of the Samurai. What is your weapon of choice when it comes to art?

My Macbook. That coupled with CS and a simple disposable black pen and scrap paper. The lap-top is the razor sharp blade which finesse the dirty work of the other tools.

When you create an idea what's your first action? Write it out? Do layouts? Character designs?

First things first, a cup of tea and a quiet moment to think about what the idea is. Lots of rumination and meditation, imagining images and directions, character and so forth. Then I will start to do very very rough thumbs for myself, to help feel out the flow, before having a cup of coffee and getting on with the script.

Unless I have something very specific in mind, I let the artist go to town on the idea too. I love comics for the combined creativity - the fact that you are getting two or three unique sides to the same story.

What do you hope readers will get out of  Samurai?


We live in a great time for collaborative projects. Connectivity and the ability to share ideas is so readily available in a way that I never have experienced before.

Social networking has also taken this to a whole new level - the fact that one can get stuck trying to do something, and near instantly share the problem and find a solution with a like minded creator on the other side of the world is astounding.

I hope other creators feel inspired to try the same. And, you know, buy the book, too!

What are your latest projects or projects you are going to be working on in the future?

Omnitarium image - art by J.C. Grande
I finished Omnitarium's mini-series in September ( and it is currently going up on-line, two pages a week. We're about half way through with that.

I'm also planning out a collection of the series, thinking about adding a few things, and perhaps colouring or toning at the very least.

I enjoyed playing around in that universe, and may revisit some of the ideas again in the future.

The big project I'm working on at the moment is called The Hero Code ( I wanted to create a super-hero universe, the chance to have non-linear platform to tell various stories about characters, but at the same time have a clear underlined story about a set of those characters running through it.

It spans various time-frames, and has a "main" book, with various mini-series books branching off from it, offering enclosed tales for people, as well as a traditional on-going book for fans. At the moment I have the series mapped out for 30 issues!
Herocode image - art by Jonathan Rector

Dan Smith helped with character designs for the whole series, and at present I have him working on one of the arcs of the book (working title "Theatre of War") as well as J.C. Grande, the artist I worked with on Omnitarium, and Jonathan Rector. Each artist brings something new and exciting to their story, and I'm really excited about working on it.
I'm also working on an 8 page story entitled Samurai Billy, with the wonderfully talented Andrew Ross MacLean - it's great fun, a high energy mash up, distilling the Japanese take on fifties pop-culture, throwing in mod-ninjas and samurai rock a billies for good measure.

Samurai's Billy, Benny and Bobby - art by Andrew Ross MacLean
Along with this I have a few other ideas ticking over, a couple of possible collaborations with some other fellow Samurai creators... we shall see. 2011 looks to be a busy year!

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