Lynsey Hutchinson was first published in the award-winning Burke and Hare, alongside Frank Quitely, Gary Erskine and Rian Hughes. She is one of the all-female artists behind Bayou Arcana Volume One: Songs of Loss and Redemption.
Graphic Scotland: How did you get into comics?
Lynsey Hutchinson: Oh, I think comics got into me! I've been reading them my whole life. From the Beano, Dandy, The Broons, Oor Wullie, Eagle, Tiger, Scream, Tintin and Asterix, I then got into the mighty 2000 AD when I was about 7 years old. The first Dredd story I remember was a Ron Smith strip about a juve with pyro kinetic powers, and I vividly recall reading Brian Bolland's Block Mania strip.
In the early 80s I used to go to Bobby's Bookshop on Easter Road in Edinburgh with my dad and get the DC and Marvel stuff, then discovered the Sci-Fi Bookshop and couldn't believe there was a shop that JUST sold comics! Back then you could come out with a bag of comics for a fiver. Those were the days!
GS: What/who influences your style?
LH: Well, definitely the 2000 AD old guard - Colin MacNeil, Cam Kennedy, John Higgins, Brian Bolland, Brett Ewins, Mike McMahon, Bisley - the guys working through the 80s into the early 90s whose drawings I used to copy in my sketchbooks and my school jotters! In my experience you can ask virtually any established pro artist and they all started off as kids copying other artists. It's what you learn from it and where you take it that matters, and you hopefully begin to develop your own style.
In my teens I was reading Deadline and was really into Jamie Hewlett, and Philip Bond in particular became a favourite. In terms of who influences my drawing style now, I would say most definitely Jim Mahfood. Clean lines and chunky graphic blacks. These days he actually draws nothing like he did when he was doing stuff like Grrl Scouts and the Clerks books, it's all very loose and scratchy now so I think I'm getting away with it! By no means am I attempting to swipe or rip off his style, but he's a huge influence absolutely. I met him at New York Comic Con in 2010 and showed him my portfolio. And he really liked my work!
GS: What do you love to read?
LH: I've usually got at least 2-3 books on the go at once. Something fiction, something fact and whatever comics are around. For example at the moment I'm flitting between Conan Doyle's The Lost World, Charlie Brooker's The Hell of it All, some AL Kennedy short stories and a roughed-out Monkey graphic novel in development by a mate of mine.
My all-time favourite writers are probably Alan Moore, the fucking brilliant Christopher Brookmyre, Mark Gatiss, Grant Morrison, John Wyndham, and of course I adore the Sherlock Holmes stories. I love Victorian Gothic: Doyle, Poe, Wells. I read a lot of books on magic and psychology, like Derren Brown, Richard Wiseman, Peter Lamont and Harry Houdini. I have a large volume of texts on human anatomy and the history of surgery and also a modest occult library. Oh, and Robert Anton Wilson is a writer I want to devote years of my life to!
When it comes to comics, I don't really read a lot of mainstream cape stuff. I find it to be rather impenetrable or samey a lot of the time. How many X or Bat titles does one really need?! Saying that, I have a fuck-ton of Batman and Wolverine at home – those are my boys - but I'm generally more of an indie girl. Depends on the writer/art team, I suppose. I'll always check out a bit of Millar or Miller! Long-time favourite comics include Hellboy, Usagi Yojimbo, Sock Monkey, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Calvin and Hobbes, Judge Dredd/Classic 2000 AD, Grrl Scouts, Lenore, the old Eastman/Laird TMNT. Too many titles and creators to mention, but those are a few of the perennials!
GS: Tell us about your favourite past projects.
LH: My first published work was in 2009 in a splendid graphic novel called Burke & Hare by Martin Conaghan and Will Pickering. I'd met Will at the Hope Street Studios parties and he asked me to join the project as a 'consultant' as I was an, er, enthusiast of the murders and also worked in Surgeons Hall pathology and anatomy museum in Edinburgh which houses various relics and remains from the crimes. I asked the boys if I could contribute an illustration and this, I was later told, gave Martin the idea to have a gallery section of exclusively Scottish artists included in the book. So I did a wee painting and found it being published next to the likes of Frank Quitely, Gary Erskine and Rian Hughes! Not to mention Will's beautiful interior art.
The book was an honour and great pleasure to be a part of and has since won various awards and is now in its second printing with a US publisher after the controversial demise of the company that printed the first edition.
GS: What are your current projects?
LH: I've been writing the script for my full-length graphic novel Sceptic: A Magician Among the Spirits, my creator-owned project which I will subsequently illustrate. Set in nineteenth century Edinburgh, I would describe it a cross between Hellblazer, Inspector McLevy and Deadwood.
Art-wise, I'm working on the aforementioned Monkey – yes, that Monkey – graphic novel with a pal of mine, the sickeningly talented Stuart Beel. I'll be contributing a gallery piece and some inking. Although mainly I'm nagging him to publish full colour instead of the intended black and white, because I want to paint some of his beautiful pages.
GS: Tell us about Bayou Arcana.
LH: Bayou Arcana: Songs of Loss and Redemption (Markosia, 2012) is a Southern Gothic anthology graphic novel, comprising teams of male writers and female artists. The mythos and universe of this arcana is inhabited with runaway slaves, princesses, rednecks, activists, Indian bounty hunters, an alligator of unusual size and a decomposing demonic raccoon!
The project is the brainchild of Jimmy Pearson, a lovely big Aussie guy whom I'd met at various conventions. He approached me with his pitch for BA and I immediately clicked with it, so asked him to write me a story about a Robert Johnson-esque character, a ghosts and the delta blues type thing. And boy, did he deliver, with Grinder Blues, the tale of gifted bluesman Grinder Wells and his trials of manipulation, addiction and redemption.
There are to be several volumes of Arcana. The next, currently at the scripting and creative pairing stage is to be Amazon Arcana. I believe the creative gender split was never intended to be a conscious attempt at addressing gender-bias issues in comics, it's just that Jimmy kept meeting all these wimmin artists at cons, whose work he really liked and figured out a way to work with them all at the same time! But it has received some unexpected media attention, The Guardian covered BA in an article about the new wave of female comic book creators and it has also been covered by the BBC, MTV, and various Australian and NZ papers. It's all been rather exciting and encouraging for everyone involved, and I'm looking forward to volume two and the return of Grinder!
GS: Is there any writer you'd love to work with in the future?
LH: Mark Gatiss, Mark Gatiss, Mark Gatiss! Any of the League of Gentlemen, really. And Christopher Brookmyre.