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 a team of huskies just for this feature, which raceacross to The Mansion every week with new creators onboard their sleigh.
This week sees Laura Anderson sled on over to tell us about Evil Emperor Penguin, 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 Evil Emperor Penguin about? Who does it star?
Laura: Well, it says it all in the title really… An Evil Emperor Penguin whose main aim in life is to take over the world!!! MWAHAHAHAAAAAR… Ahem.
* Straightens tie *
But yes, the comic stars a rather tiny Emperor Penguin who never seems to give up hope, even though every world-dominating plan of his seems to go wrong. With the help of his sharply dressed, monocle-wearing octopus sidekick NUMBER 8 and his gang of tiny abominable minions, Evil Emperor Penguin is always coming up with new weird and wonderful ways of conquering the planet; whether it be creating an army of oversized snowmen, or redirecting a meteor to hit Earth.
Steve: What inspired the series?
Laura: The character of Evil Emperor Penguin was originally a small (and at the time, useless) doodle of mine I drew whilst working in a Screen Printing factory to earn some cash during the summer holidays. He was stuck on the shelf for a while, and then disappeared. I was then planning on incorporating him into another comic as a side character to appear in one episode only. I met with the editor of the Phoenix comic to discuss ideas and JUST so happened to print off a picture of Evil Emperor Penguin amongst other things, and he was the star of the show!
I decided it would be fun to have a useless villain instead of the typical comic hero, and this was my chance to make it as silly as possible. I mean, who’s ever heard of a penguin and an octopus working together?! (Well, you have now!)
Steve: How is your process with the writing/art of the story? How do you take your ideas and develop them into awesome comics?
Laura: The initial idea for an episode can pop into my head at ANY time, including 1am in the morning. And I HAVE to write it down. Once the rough outline of the story is in writing, I can start thinking about all the fun parts in-between. I usually create a first draft of the 4-page comic in pencil in a language only I can understand. I then neaten it up, and draw the rough panels out including speech bubbles onto the computer using a Cintiq tablet. That way, everything is in Photoshop ready to be inked and coloured when given the go ahead by the editor. I do everything digitally as it is a lot quicker and flexible, especially when time is tight!
Steve: What’s your favourite part of this week’s story?
Laura: This was a particularly fun episode as it’s mainly Evil Emperor Penguin (EEP) trying to find NUMBER 8. Nobody knows where he is… What I enjoyed especially about this also, is that it provided a good opportunity for some character building. I find I can now predict exactly how EEP will react to something NUMBER 8 or the minions might say.
Playing on the ‘cuteness’ of the minions in the episode was especially fun, and I think my favourite part was being able to fill a whole comic panel with nothing but minions all coming up with their own silly theories of where NUMBER 8 might be.
Steve: Where else can we find you? What else do you have coming up?
Laura: You can often find me lurking in a local Starbucks sipping on a Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino.
Oh, you mean as in WORK?! Okay. Well, aside from the lovely Phoenix, I am a children’s book illustrator. And I LOVE it. My debut picture book ‘Snowflakes’ will be out on September 5th 2013, published by Scholastic. HUZZAH.
I’m also working with other wonderful publishers such as Bloomsbury, Orchard, Oxford University Press and Little Tiger Press.
There will be many more Evil Emperor Penguin treats to come, including a puzzle spread SOON, where there will be the chance to win Evil Emperor Penguin badges!
Many thanks to Laura for her time! You can find Evil Emperor Penguin in this week’s issue of The Phoenix – issue #86! And many thanks to Liz Payton for training the dogs!