Every Friday, Stately Beat Mansion invites round a comic creator or two for a cup of tea, complementary Kit Kat, and a chat about their work in The Phoenix. The Phoenix is a UK series which features a range of the best all-ages comics available, from all kinds of wonderful creators – all compiled into a single issue each week! The Phoenix have very kindly commissioned state of the art hoverboards just for this feature, which fly across to The Mansion every week with new creators onboard.

This week sees Daniel Hartwell and Karen Rubins glide on over to tell us about Chatterbox, a story appearing in today’s newest issue. If you want to find out more, then try an issue of The Phoenix for yourself!


Steve: What is Chatterbox about? Who does it star?

Daniel: Chatterbox is about… well it’s about a set of haunted false teeth really.

It stars Sandy, an ordinary little girl who is spending the weekend at her Grandmothers house. She has to stay in a spare room filled with her Grandfathers old junk… including his teeth!

Karen: I have been accused of basing Sandy’s appearance on myself. It’s kind of true. I never had any Batman pyjamas as a kid, though. Her granny is just a nice old lady who loves baking, but has a problem throwing things away.

Steve: What inspired the series?

Karen: Everyone likes to poke about in boxes and attics, sometimes you get more than you bargained for. False teeth have the weirdness factor of being something that should be attached to a person, but aren’t. They have the edge over glass eyes in that they can speak … and bite…

We wanted to make some horror stories for the Phoenix, because we thought the readers were having too much fun, and not being terrified enough.


Daniel: Kids are really nosy. I remember exploring whilst visiting my aunts house when I was little and poking through all the cupboards. I found lots of strange and interesting stuff.

False teeth are just such a personal item aren’t they? They’re really creepy just on their own.

Steve: How is your process with the writing/art of the story? How do you take your ideas and develop them into awesome comics?

Daniel: Karen and I met for a brainstorming session in the British Library. We came up with lots of different ideas for stories including Chatterbox that day. Though the title only hit me on the way home. I texted it to Karen straight away and she loved it.

Once we’d found an idea we both liked. I wrote it up as a script and sent it off to Karen to draw.

Karen: Dan and I work well together coming up with ideas. I think it’s like making a cocktail … a cocktail made from different but equally strange minds being mixed together.

Once I get Dan’s scripts, I draw out thumbnail sketches of how the pages might look, and we discuss them, then I draw, colour and letter the story. I draw the line art by hand, and use the computer for the colours and text.


Steve: What’s your favourite part of this week’s story?

Daniel: …The bit with the pie!

Karen: …Probably the reveal on grandad’s teeth.

Steve: Where else can we find you? What else do you have coming up?

Daniel: Well, hopefully Karen and I will have some more spooky stories in the Phoenix soon.

Karen: I hope so too! There are a lot of scary tales just waiting to be told. You can keep up to date with what I’m doing on my website. I’m also on twitter @kazmantra


Many thanks to Daniel and Karen for their time! You can find Chatterbox in this week’s issue of The Phoenix – issue #84! And many thanks to Liz Payton for grabbing us those hoverboards!

Steve Morris