This is the transcript the creator panel for Swansea Comic and Gaming Convention 2021. The video can be found on their Twitch channel. Please consider donating to their chosen charity Wales Ape & Monkey Sanctuary.
Kev Deadstar: Hello, everyone. I’m Kev from Deadstar Publishing, and today I’ve got Dave Clifford and Pete Rogers with me who are some of the authors and artists who work with Deadstar. We’ve been asked to provide a panel for Swansea Comic Con. So before we go much further, I know these guys already, but you two should introduce yourselves.
Pete Rogers: Since it looks like you’re drinking mead, Dave, I think you should go first.
Dave Clifford: It’s Vimto. Product placement there straightaway. I’m Dave Clifford. I’m the artist for Seven Shades and Dexter’s Half Dozen. Yeah. I can’t really think of what else to say there.
Pete Rogers: So far. It’s all been true. So that’s good.
Dave Clifford: That’s good. Yeah, I think I can’t really say I can do anything else. Really? over to you.
Pete Rogers: Thank you, Dave. I’m Pete Rogers, co-creator… and I can’t go as far to say the writer of Seven Shades because it feels like it does David disservice.
Dave Clifford: You do the hard work.
Pete Rogers: I’m the one who helps with the plotting and then makes up the words that go into what the people say. But I guess that’s the writer. But when I guess when we talk about our process a bit more or become more clear why I’m kind of downplaying my part.
Dave Clifford: But yeah, we do have a process on it.
Pete Rogers: We do honest, that’s, that’s me.
Kev Deadstar: So you’ve touched upon Seven Shades a bit. That’s not the only things that you guys do, though. Because Peter, for example, is the writer behind Flux.
Pete Rogers: This is correct.
Kev Deadstar: And Dave is also the artist for another one of our series, which is Dexter’s Half Dozen.
Pete Rogers: So you like numbers, Dave, I’ve just realised actually you like numbers in your titles?
Dave Clifford: Yeah. And I only work with people from Bournemouth as well.
Pete Rogers: That’s also true. Wow.
Dave Clifford: Yeah. It’s a niche.
Kev Deadstar: So Pete, do you want to tell us about Flux, because that’s not one of ours. But I’m trying to promote your your other work as well.
Pete Rogers: Yeah, yes, Flux is a book that came out. I was gonna say last year, but due to the pandemic, I mean, the year before, because last year, it’s kind of been wiped from my mind. Came out 2019, crowdfunded on Kickstarter, co-written with Steve Aryan, and with Maysam Barza as the artist of the first issue in a miniseries. We do plan to crowdfund the second issue. Last March, we had all the campaign everything ready. But let’s say the pandemic kind of hit and we put it on hold. And we’ve never quite got it back up and running because of lots of reasons that I won’t go into just circumstance changes for the people involved in the book, really. But it’s kind of a real world kind of sci fi book bit of a conspiracy theory, kind of angle. It was an idea that Steve, who’s also a fantasy author, very successful one, he pitched to me as an idea to co-write, and we kind of took his initial idea, co-plotted it and then brought Maysam on board as the artists and then managed to successfully kickstart the first issue in 2019.
Kev Deadstar: Congratulations on that, and hopefully we will see more of it at some point in the future.
Pete Rogers: Fingers crossed.
Kev Deadstar: And Dave, you you’ve got Seven Shades, which I’m sure we’ll talk about a bit more in depth as we go on, but Dexter’s Half Dozen, what is it?
Dave Clifford: It’s World War Two horror; you’ve got Sergeant Freeman of newly formed SAS, who has to lead a ragtag bunch of criminals and misfits from British army behind enemy lines to rescue Britain’s top spy from the from Himler’s occult headquarters. Little do they know that when they get there, there’s an ancient vampire Lord. It was reigning over the SS.
Kev Deadstar: So just your bog standard supernatural fare really [sarcasm].
Dave Clifford: Yeah, it’s run of the mill [sarcasm] Yeah. But yeah, Jay, I always tried to do something before that. So, you know. We always try to be original with the stories and the events and random things that the teams seem to get themselves into.
Kev Deadstar: I know who Jay is. And Peter knows who Jay is. But for the audience at home, Jay is Jamie Lambert, who is the the writer for Dexter’s Half Dozen.
Dave Clifford: Yes.
Pete Rogers: Correct.
Kev Deadstar: So we know roughly what you guys have been working on most recently. But how did you both get into comics?
Dave Clifford: I’ll let Pete answer that.
Pete Rogers: In terms of reading comics, that was from a fairly young age, things like Whizzer and Chips, and kind of like British comics like that. And then I started reading Secret Wars, the Marvel book. Started reading Spider-Man, and then Secret Wars, which made me realise that there were all these like huge universal characters. And then Action Force, which was the British name for GI Joe, I read the whole run of that. And then got really into comics for years. And then kind of in my later teens, I kind of drifted away from it, pretty much. And then years later, I was on my first ever, kind of beach holiday, um, two weeks, and I got taken books with me. And I kind of read all the books, I was a bit bored of just lying in the sun getting redder and redder. So I thought I’d go to the shop and see if there’s any, like they got any books. And then they have the whole stand of Marvel and DC books that were out. This was in kind of the late 90s. And so I grabbed a load and I was like, Well, they’ve really good, they’re really good. And I went back and kind of bought all the seminal stuff like Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns and stuff. And then at the time, I was kind of doing bits of screenwriting, and trying to kind of make it as a filmmaker. But I suddenly thought, well hang on a second, I really enjoy reading these comics. I’ve been reading comics on and off, you know, since a very young age. So I guess someone has to write because as a kid, I was like, I just thought Stan Lee wrote all comics, or the artists just drew whatever they wanted, because I was stupid. But as an adult, I realised that like, I did the thing I always do with stuff, I suppose I got interested in it. And then I just bought a load of books. And I read comics on I think it’s Comics Writers on Comics Writing, I think was the name of the first book that I read by a guy called Mark Salisbury. And that was interviews with loads of writers about their process and stuff. And off the back of that I started writing comic scripts, started pitching to anthologies, got a few things in a couple of American anthologies. And then off the back of that I founded Orangutan Comics, which is still going now part of Marcosia and we started self-publishing an anthology title called 11th Hour, which got nominated for an Eagle Award just in our first thing I’d ever had published, got nominated for Eagle Awards, that was a good start. And then after that did a few more things. Then I did a book called Interactives for Marcosia and I’ve just kind of done various bits and pieces I suppose since really, I kind of fell into it. I think back then it was when the only convention really was Bristol. I live in Cardiff now. I did live in Swansea at one point. I lived in Exeter in between and kind of all those places are not that far from Bristol. So I just made a point of kind of going to Bristol every year, networked with people got to know as many people as I could, asked loads of questions. And thankfully, we live in an age of the internet. So finding artists. Not including Dave Actually, I found Dave in a pub.
Dave Clifford: Yeah…
Pete Rogers: You always find. Dave in a pub. Not notwithstanding Dave. Most of the artists I’ve worked with the people that I found on forums, remember them the forums. So on online, really, and I’ve worked with people from I think I worked out five continents the other day, artists-wise. So yeah, so I was just very lucky really to kind of because I’m quite organised and kind of quite self. What’s the word? Driven, I suppose, because it’s a lot of work especially if you start putting out stuff yourself. Um, so I’ve kind of drifted away from the self publishing a bit apart from when we did Flux for the Kickstarter and then get to work with lovely people like Kev putting books out on my behalf.
Kev Deadstar: Yep, I do try. So that’s a bit of introduction on on Pete. How about Dave, how did you get into comics?
Dave Clifford: Well, like Pete really. Reading Whizzer and Chips. My sister used to have all the old annuals. All the old British Beano and Dandy comics and annuals. So I grew up reading and my next door neighbour was a massive 2000AD Judge Dredd fan. He sort of got me into Judge Dredd and then 2000AD and I sort of went more towards that and then really a bit of Eagle with Doom Lord rather than look towards the Marvel stuff. And then there was always that which interested me more. So yeah, and then when Eastman and Laird did Turtles when I was in school, I got into that before it was a cartoon. So I sort of missed out the whole Marvel DC thing really and just went like the independent straight through. And I think that had a bit of an effect. I think the closest I come through mainstream was like Lobo when that first came out. You know Bisley’s Lobo and all that. So yeah, that’s that’s what I’ve been. That’s, that’s what got me into comics. And then when I was in school, I used to mess around and do like little comics with the mates. Again, when I was in college and uni just doing like little comic strips. And then when I met Jamie, then when he moved in to Wales, he’s an avid comic reader. And at the time he wanted to write a comic. He didn’t know I wanted to draw a comic. And one day, we just just got talking and then we just in the middle of conversation, one of us went “do you want to do a comic?” and the other one said “yeah, alright then.” And we did. And that’s how Dexter’s was born.
Kev Deadstar: So kids at home, if you watch this and think you’ve got an idea, and you’ve got a mate, make something.
Dave Clifford: Yeah, pretty much. Yes. It’s just a matter of seeing if you can do it, and basically just putting yourself out there. And, and, and just doing it really, there’s nothing really stopping you. That’s what I find anyway.
Kev Deadstar: I think that’s how a lot of sort of self taught self published people get into the industry is they want to make something, they don’t really know how to do it. So let’s go ahead and do it. And then 10 years later, all of a sudden, some of them are doing it for a living.
Dave Clifford: Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
Kev Deadstar: I’m not sure if it was Peter or Dave said about the book on tips. What would you guys recommend? It was you, was it, Dave? No, that’s okay. What would you two recommend for people to look into for how to get into actually making comics these days? Because you’ve mentioned because you had a chat with Jay that means between the two of you, you just started. But for a lot of people who don’t necessarily have that sort of camaraderie in place, are these external tips or these external tools that you could recommend both of you, for people who are wanting to get in but don’t really know where to look?
Dave Clifford: Pete touched on the Bristol Comic Cons. They were amazing, back in the day, but what we found useful, was just going up towards some of the artists and the writers and other creators, you know, independents and mainstream and just having a chat with them and finding out what you know, just basically asking for tips and advice, and what would be the best thing that we could do? Most, the 99% of them were absolutely amazing. And they’d point us in the right direction. The small 1% were far too good for it.
Pete Rogers: It was me.[sarcasm]
Dave Clifford: I knew I knew you from somewhere.
Pete Rogers: Yeah, I’d say the same. I mean, I remember when I first started going to conventions, I did this circuit, you just keep walking around in a circle. And I’m, despite my ability to pretend not to be I’m actually very shy. Cue laughter from Dave, I am very shy. So I was awful. And I was like, “if I make eye contact, they’ll force me to buy their book.” And by the time I’ve done the whole loop, I’ll have spent like 1000 pounds, don’t make eye contact with anybody. And I did the first few times I went, I was very much like that. And then I thought, Oh, you can do this, and get nothing out of it. Apart from some very good things to read. But if you actually want to do this, you’ve actually got to kind of go past that bit and just ask people and yes, there will be a few people that are a little bit standoffish. But comics, in general, people don’t mind giving you a leg up and they’ll be like, “Oh, actually, I know some of that can help,” or “sorry, not really our cup of tea, but someone else” or you know someone will go “Oh, I have an ashcan, because actually I can explain to you how we approach that book” and it’s like that kind of pay it forward thing I suppose as soon as I was then on the other side of the table, I was quite happy and it was only like probably two years after I was doing portfolio reviews for people which was very odd, very odd jump from “how do we do this?” to “Oh, yes, let me look at your art. Let me see if the you know if you’ve got your anatomies right and your perspective and stuff,” but you’ve got to put yourself out there. That’ll be the thing. It’s kind of it’s a weird thing, because creative people tend to be slightly introverted, but particularly if you are putting your own stuff out then you have to be a self marketer and you have to network so you almost have to get out of your comfort zone. I’m sure there are people that are far more talented than me that have never had anything made just because they haven’t taken that leap or they can’t get past themselves, if that makes sense? So I think I’ve just asked and then people are really friendly. I think it’s a bit tougher. For me, it was like buy the books go on forums. But I think one thing I’ll say about online though, everything is so splintered, it’s probably quite, there’s probably not any one good source to go to, I would say go to YouTube. But the challenge you’ve got there is, for every excellent interview or, or talking head that gives you brilliant advice. There’ll be an absolutely terrible one of someone who doesn’t really know what they’re talking about. And it’s very hard to curate that stuff. But yes, I’d say reach out to people. And do that. And I’ve certainly done that a lot more for other things. During the pandemic it’s just saying, “hey, have you got time to do a quick video call?” because certainly last year, people were more available and that did seem to be more helpful.
Kev Deadstar: And hopefully, once we get back to more normal times, things like Swansea Comic Con there’s a big comics village there – I miss the old Bristol convention, I wish the old Bristol convention was still running, but maybe someday it will return. But things like Thought Bubble, up in Yorkshire and MCM with the comics villages, they have there – fantastic place to meet lots of lots of different folks.
Pete Rogers: Yeah, I mean, it’s easy for us to say Bristol was great. And it was the main one because of the time. It was an easy one for us to get to. But actually, the great thing about the fact there are so many conventions now – when I lived in Swansea, there wasn’t a Swansea convention. Otherwise, I’d have been going to that. I think I went to a Comic Mart in the Angel Hotel in Cardiff was the first thing I went to.
Dave Clifford: I remember those
Pete Rogers: I met Mark Buckingham there bought some bizarre, bought a page of his art, so I could ask him about making comics. That was my kind of thought, well, that’s a queue here to get in the queue after buy art, okay, I’ll buy some art. And then while I’m here, I’m going to I’m going to pick his brains. But I think the good thing is the fact well, mixture of things. The fact there are conventions all around the country means more people can be immersed in comics think it’s really good. And actually, things like this, where virtual conventions – I appreciate it’s not the best circumstances for these sort of things to have started. But actually, maybe in the future, all conventions can also do things online, because then no matter where you are, or if you’ve got accessibility issues, or you are too shy or too nervous to go to an event, then everyone can have access to this kind of information. I think that we could democratise the industry a little bit, which I’m a big fan of.
Kev Deadstar: Yeah, I can’t agree with you more than that. MCM I think have got the Welcome to the Multiverse or something similar to that, as this sort of overarching digital comic con. Swansea is doing a digital Comic Con. Various other places have done some digital comic cons over the year. And I hope that as things continue, they will continue.
Pete Rogers: Yeah, cuz even if I mean it can be a hybrid approach of doing some bits online with things in a venue or you can have your yearly or twice yearly kind of in person, but you could have you could have a smaller things particularly aimed at different areas at different bits; small press or different niches or, or specifically kind of helping people that want to break in. I think there’s and there’s also ways I think different conventions could join forces to do stuff that’s available to everybody. So I think it’s all really good
Dave Clifford: I agree with everything you’ve said, to be honest, I think the things like this are the, you know, the panels and that are going online. I think that’s going to be the way of going forward with that basis.
Pete Rogers: Yeah, it’d be integrated
Kev Deadstar: It also saves on travel costs because every other weekend I used to be 100 miles this way. 100 miles that way. And if you’re going international it’s even harder. While it’s nice to not have to travel so much on the other hand, I miss it.
Dave Clifford: It’s nice to have a little adventure. Yeah.
Pete Rogers: We’ve had a few of those at conventions, Dave.
Dave Clifford: Yeah, hopefully we’ll have some more.
Kev Deadstar: You mentioned earlier picking up the piece of art from Mark. How about some of the other influences? Whose whose work do you look up to? Whose work do you – I don’t want to say copy because you don’t want to copy, you want to have your own slant on things, your own spin on different ideas – but whose work has inspired how you approach your works.
Pete Rogers: C’mon Dave, it’s got to be your turn
Dave Clifford: Ah. Making me want to swear now. Dammit There we go. That’s as close as I’m gonna get. I’m trying to behave. I’ve got to admit I’m freezing up. Storytelling wise, you know, just 2000AD just the old staples, you know? No, see I knew Pete would need to go first for this. Pete, take over.
Kev Deadstar: The Great’s of British creators because there’s a big difference between British creations and American creations, I’ve noticed.
Dave Clifford: Yeah, the American ones they’re all about, you know, I’m not slinging mud. I’m not saying they’re rubbish. I’m just saying that there’s a there is there is a difference between American and British storytelling and with the British storytelling, there’s always that edge. And that’s what I’ve always gone for. And the stories I’ve read over the years. Pat Mills, and people like that, and you know, Alan Moore, you know, I couldn’t forget that. But artists art wise, the ones that have really stood out for me with growing up like Mike McMahon, Kevin O’Neill, Bisley has been a massive influence. I never hope to be in his league. And even you know, even going on to like the old sleazy B movie posters you used to see in the old video shops, of Enzo Sciotti. And fine artists like Julia Calor and Bernie Wrightson. You know, those have been the biggest ones for me.
Pete Rogers: I’m gonna say Brian K. Vaughan by quite a long way, because there’s lots of writers I really like, like Jason Aaron, say, Alan Moore. Frank Miller, there’s people whose work I gravitate towards. But yeah, I pretty much read anything that Brian K. Vaughan does, because I kind of almost, I’m sure I wrote a blog post about this about six years ago called “what would BKV do”. Y: The Last Man is one of my favourite comics of all time. But I’d also mentioned Saga, because what I learned from reading Saga was how you can make the audience care about a character within about two or three pages. And once I realised how good he was doing that, I went back and read all of his books and all of his first issues in particular, because coming up with endings for stories is really hard. I think in comics, in particular, coming up with beginnings of stories is also equally hard, because you’ve got to hit people straight out of the bat visually. And you’ve also got to make the characters compelling. And I think that’s what I’ve tried to take from Brian K. Vaughan is like, emotionally hook the reader as early as you can. Because once you’ve done that, then you can do whatever you want, like a book like Saga does some stuff that even Dave might think was crazy. And there’s things in there just like looking at a giant, naked creature that’s across two pages, why? And then you go, but I care about the character so they can do whatever they want with the world. And they really do. And I think I’ve kind of tried to bring that to Seven Shades because Dave is like an ideas machine. I thought I was good at coming up with stuff quickly and going off in different areas. until I started working with Dave and I was like, I dunno if I’ve got any ideas. I don’t have any at all. The guy literally is like, it’s like a machine gun on ideas. To the point I’ve had to sometimes say, Dave, please stop. Can you just not not say any more ideas at me because I feel my brain is actually going to explode.
Dave Clifford: I think you had to have a day of you just telling me to shut up once.
Pete Rogers: I did, I did. It was a very awkward conversation that well, I guess it’s important with your collaborators. I guess.
Dave Clifford: I took it well.
Pete Rogers: To be honest, you did. You were fine after. It’s that thing of like, there’s so many ideas. So part of my role on the book has been to take all these ideas and try and squeeze them together to get a narrative spine I suppose. But also it’s like, Okay, well, we talked about this day when we met. So one of the many times we met in the pub, because that’s where we break the story basically, it’s a great idea. And as I said I took this kind of Brian K. Vaughan approach certainly not at the level he’s out but certainly from this. Okay, how do we make people care about these characters enough that we can bring all Dave’s craziness onto the page and not have it all feel just like someone’s got loads of ideas you want to stick in a story, you know. There’s actually is a reason for it. There’s payoffs in the plot. There’s kind of foreshadowing this kind of stuff where the specific characters, you know, you care about them enough to allow them to fight circus midgets.
Kev Deadstar: Oh, yeah, Seven Shades has a lot of different things in there. In fact, when Dave first pitched Seven Shades to me, and I said, “Yep, that’s a great idea. Let’s run with it.” I was expecting something slightly different to what actually turned up on my desk in the end. Nothing wrong with what turned up on my desk in the end and in fact, I thought of one the copies here. So this… when I was opening it I was thinking “okay, great. So let’s read through it… let’s read through it. When is?? Dave has said that this thing is going…? Is any of the story Dave actually pitched in this book?” Turns out no.
Pete Rogers: No.
Kev Deadstar: You can tell the story on that one.
Pete Rogers: As I write it with him. I understand because Dave, it was at a Cardiff convention. Yeah, it sat in a pub. And Dave went, “Do you fancy, writing a book together?”
We did know each other before this, by the way, we’d met through like the local comic scene and three conventions and stuff. “Do you fancy doing a comic together?” “Oh, yeah. Okay.” I thought this is good because being a writer in independent comics is a bit like being a man in the world of dating, where everyone wants everyone else, but nobody particularly wants you. So you’re fighting for… there’s all these beautiful artists, and everyone wants them. But there’s only there’s only one of you, if that makes sense. So an artist coming to me with an idea is like, “Oh, this might actually get finished. This will get done. I wouldn’t have to pay for it.” All these things go through your head. So I was like, Oh, okay. But equally, I was like, “What’s the idea?” And yeah, the same thing happened to me. Dave pitched me this amazing high concept. And how many, we’ve written seven issues so far. We haven’t even got close. we’re nowhere near it. We will get there.
Dave Clifford: I think I pitched the end to you at first, didn’t I?
Pete Rogers: Well, yeah, it feels like we’re writing the prequel to the book that you told us about. Yeah, it’s been good fun, because I’m hoping we do get there. Although I think the story would work if we never got there. So that’s okay. Yeah.
Kev Deadstar: That’s one of the wonderful things about the method we’ve gone down with this one, because each arc has now become its own thing. So a self contained arc. And in between each arc, we’ve got the the sort of the bookender, which this was the the most recent thing we released. This came out November of 2019.
Dave Clifford: Wasn’t last Thought Bubble, it was Thought Bubble before that.
Pete Rogers: It was before the plague.
Kev Deadstar: There will be more though, with each thing being a self contained piece. Even if we don’t get today’s original story. There’s still plenty of fantastic action. And as you mentioned, to cannibal clown midgets is just one episode.
Dave Clifford: Yeah, they’re only supposed to be in the one issue, but Pete liked them that much. He wrote them back in.
Pete Rogers: That was a spoiler. Or do they?
Dave Clifford: Or do they? Really two issues haven’t come out? Yeah, no, no, no, that didn’t happen. Whoops.
Pete Rogers: Oh no, we have? Yeah. So we we’re two issues ahead of that. I guess we got two issues in, let’s say, in the can, but in more or less done. I think it’s been good. Because there’s, I think if we’d done exactly what Dave had in mind, being brought in as the kind of co-writer with an artist, I probably wouldn’t have had that much to do. But I think because it was like, well, this is what want to do. And I did the thing of like, okay, but why? Why is that person gonna end up there? Because it’s cool. Okay, but why? Why? Apart from being cool, what you know, what else? Who is this person? Tell me more… but having said that Dave-
Dave Clifford: That was a mistake wasn’t it because you?
Pete Rogers: Well, yeah. Because then Dave sent me about 4000 pages worth of backstory for everybody. And then as we knew the backstory, we started trying to weave it in, I was like, “this idea is going to kind of implode.” So one of the good things with the bookends that you mentioned, Kev, is that each four issue arc is driving the full story forward. But each book end is giving you a little bit of kind of background on the characters, while also moving – you could read just the main arcs and not read the book ends. But you shouldn’t do that. But you could do that. But you and I don’t think you could probably read the standalones on their own, maybe not. But it’s that kind of thing. We rewarding the reader with more kind of meatier stuff. And I think, you know, in this world where TV is overtaken film and kind of people used to really good kind of episodic storytelling, we kind of try and do that kind of approach, really. And it’s been the most fun I think I’ve ever had working on a book, because I get to spend time with Dave, which is good. And I’ve had a few drinks every now and then although we haven’t for a very long time now, which is very sad.
Dave Clifford: Yeah, very soon, you’ll be bombared by ideas every five seconds.
Pete Rogers: Now that’s true. It has been actually quite, it’s been quite a nice year off. We get to – it’s quite like breaking a story. And I know we were joking before about doing it in the pub, but actually sitting and doing that with your collaborator having spent years online emailing back and forth and you know, and particularly people who speak English as their second language, sitting with somebody and having that amazing feeling where one of you says something and you go, “Oh, yes.” And then that is almost like improv, this thing of like one of you says something and it sparks an idea. And then because Dave’s an artist, he goes, “hang on,” and then draws what we just talked about, which is even better, and then goes away and does ridiculously complex paintings, which I never asked to be changed
Dave Clifford: Yet.
Kev Deadstar: Because they are really not very easy to… Those of you watching who don’t know, Dave usually uses traditional media. So it’s often sort of ink on paper or paint on paper. Dave isn’t the one for using the computer to draw illustrations. So it really isn’t that easy to change a page once it’s been done.
Dave Clifford: I have changed it because I’ve not liked it before. But yeah, I do everything the hard way. I didn’t know I could paint before this.
Pete Rogers: You’re very good at it. So our process has had to adapt because of that for a number of reasons, really. Because Dave has got so many ideas, because it’s essentially his, he came to me with this idea. So to me, he has kind of, I guess more ownership over this story. And it needs to be how he wants it to be.
Dave Clifford: I don’t know. I may have done initially. But I think you know, you’ve definitely left your mark on it. And it wouldn’t be what it is without what you’ve done to it. In a good way.
Pete Rogers: Right. But what we do is we break each arc, we then go away and kind of – actually Dave is very good to taking notes. I’m really lazy. It sounds like, the way I talk. So he writes, he comes with the idea. He makes the notes and he paints the book, what do I do? I just do these video calls.
Dave Clifford: Panic when you get the call.
Pete Rogers: Yeah, that’s true. So how we work is essentially Marvel style or plot first style. So
Dave Clifford: It’s like a jam session, isn’t it?
Pete Rogers: Kinda. Yeah.
Dave Clifford: And we get to the point that actually being a band working on a comic, I think.
Pete Rogers: Yeah, and that makes total sense for the kind of book it is to he’s kind of we riff off each other, we get a page of kind of notes down. And then essentially, I go away and write a very, very sparse script. Because I needed to give Dave room to do what he does. And to put the little extra little funny moments and stuff in so I’ll write the description of what happens on the page. This is only the second book I’ve done where I’m not writing panel descriptions, aren’t writing everything that happens. Well, what does mean is sometimes Dave will do like 12 panel pages. And obviously Oh, but I’m not. But I didn’t tell him to do that. He chose to do that himself. So he has only himself to blame Yeah, so so that’s what our process is. Basically I write a very sparse plot based script. Dave paints it. Makes that seem really small, but Dave paints it, comes back to me. And then I go through and kind of write the dialogue and the captions and the sound effects and stuff. Sometimes I will change things slightly, because what will often happen is because the art is so good, and so kind of expressive, I’ll actually put in less dialogue than I probably had in my head. I might have had a big speech for someone to make, but it’s just a look or something and then I go, don’t you don’t need that. So then my end script has been quite sparse as well. But yeah, I don’t do anything, I really don’t do anything.
Dave Clifford: So lazy.[sarcasm]
Kev Deadstar: Less dialogue is probably a pro tip there for up and coming creators. If you can manage it in a comic book, less dialogue is more.
Pete Rogers: And a great way to learn is by doing a book this way, because you’ve got the art in front of you.
Dave Clifford: Whereas I’ve never done a book like this. I’ve never done anything Marvel style before. And I’ve always been constrained by what I’ve been given by the writer. And I’ve done it the power which – all very well and good. But this, there’s so much freedom with this. It’s quite a new experience for me. And I used to do animation. So it’s all made me go back to my old animation experiences and draw on that training as well. More than anything else I’ve worked on as well.
Kev Deadstar: You’ve actually preempted my next question entirely. “So how do you two work?” Do you work this way on all the titles you work on? Or is it just this way in this book, and you’ve got different methods for different things?
Pete Rogers: Just this one. The only other time I’ve used Marvel style or plot first style before was on a story called Seniors where I worked with a Tanzanian artist called Azim Akbar Ali I’ve worked with quite a lot before. But again, it was because we decided to go kind of Alex Ross grey scale fully painted. And so we were talking and I started, I think I sent him a full script. He’s like, well it would be better if we did this and I kept getting these notes back and I thought, you know what, just I’ll just do a plot and you just paint it because it’s the amount of time and effort is going into it. And we knew each other. I think that’s the key thing. If you met someone online, you’d never spoken to before. Marvel style could be very risky for both of you. But if you’ve got a relationship and you trust each other, and you’ve really got under the skins of stories together, it works really well. And it kind of works differently. Everything else I do is is fully kind of full script, panel one, panel two, etc. and broken down, I think about things like page turns and kind of get all that worked out. But this has been quite liberating for me, because it’s a different way of working, I suppose. When I first started, coming from screenwriting, I ridiculously over explained things to artists. I think the first issue of the Interactives was 24 pages. I think the script was 60 pages long. Now I would try to do for 24 page book, I tried to do a 24 page script where possible to try and have a bit more discipline on the amount of description I’m putting it. But with the Seven Shades script, it might only be three pages long, which again, makes it sound like a do very little but some of it might be “page five, remember that thing we talked about in the pub and that gag? Do that” Which doesn’t sound like the most efficient way of working, but it works, but also because I’ve spent so much time waiting for artists – so you write an issue and then the artist is working on it and you start writing the next one, the artist is always running behind you. Dave tends to overtake me quite a lot. Which considering
Dave Clifford: I send you pages, don’t I?
Pete Rogers: Yeah, he’s gone “I’ve done the first four pages of the next issue.” And I’m like “I haven’t written it yet!” He said, “I know, you lazy swine. Right, make this into a story.” And in fairness, it’s stuff that we’ve talked about before. But I’ve never had, like, gee, I’m I’m only doing this kind of sparse script. And I can’t keep up with someone who’s doing fully painted art. But it just goes to show kind of how good and I focused Dave is really. I wouldn’t do this with anyone else. And I think I wasn’t sure we were going to work this way. It was only when we started talking more about the project. And I realised kind of how many ideas Dave had. And then he went, “I think I’m gonna paint this book,” and I was like, “Oh, okay. I’ve got an idea for you. And I promise you it’s not because I’m lazy. It’s because it’s gonna work for both of us.”
Dave Clifford: I think it’s brought the best out in both our both our skill sets. And I got that.
Pete Rogers: I’ve certainly never written anything quite like this before. It’s very, it’s not really my voice. If that’s not a cliched way of describing your writing. A couple of people who’ve read it and, you’ve read my other stuff, have gone, “Doesn’t seem like you. This is the Dave influence.” I’m like, “Well, yeah, I guess we were collaborating together.”
Dave Clifford: There’s a lot of people I know who know you and know your stuff who actually come up to me and said, “What have you done to Pete?”
Pete Rogers: I think as soon as we got “This is like a Carry On film written by Satan,” which I think is the best review you can get for anything really? Yeah, as soon as I read that, I was like, Yeah, that makes that makes sense. That makes a lot of sense.
Kev Deadstar: That is definitely an interesting review. Well, I think we’ve wound things up on the Seven Shades side of things, and we also need to find more work for Pete to do… so what do you guys got coming up in the near future?
Pete Rogers: It’s a staring contest now.
Dave Clifford: Well, Pete and I are continuing Seven Shades. We’ve got another two issues left to draw and write for this series, followed by the little book end so we may get that done this year depending on plague. I’m going through another issue of Dexter’s Half Dozen issue ten. And we’re slowly putting together the second trade paperback of Dexter’s Half Dozen. I think I just need to do the cover for that. And there that’s what I’m doing.
Pete Rogers: I have recently scripted the dialogue for the seventh(?) issue of Seven Shades.
Dave Clifford: Yes, it is the seventh issue, Seven Shades.
Pete Rogers: Seventh issue of Seven Shades. And the plan is Seven Shades and Seven trades. That’s the long term goal. Yes, because it rhymes. And because it’s the right thing to do for the story. I’m not doing as much comics as I used to actually, I do have one thing that hopefully will come out this year assuming enough people preorder it (hint hint). So it’s actually a bit of a dream project for me. So my favourite TV show as a young child was Robin of Sherwood and I’ve written a story to go in an annual. So back in the day there were annuals done for the first two series, I think, with Michael Praed, but they never did one for the Jason Connery series. So the idea is that this year, the rights holders are going to put out an annual, with the Jason Connery lead. And I’ve written a story which is currently with an artist who I can’t announce yet. But they basically, it all hinges on pre orders. And actually Dave has also done some artwork that will feature in the annual as well. I don’t know whether I’m supposed to have said that or not.
Dave Clifford: I don’t know. I didn’t mention it. You mentioned it.
Pete Rogers: Yeah, okay. Well, they’ve said it’s going to be in there.
Dave Clifford: I’m not in trouble.
Pete Rogers: We’ll let we’ll let people know when pre orders are available. But essentially, as long as enough people order it, then the book will happen. So yeah,
Dave Clifford: I’m really looking forward to that because Robin of Sherwood was massive influence on me growing up, I still love it to this day,
Pete Rogers: I think to me what you’re saying about, you know, comparing British things to American things like, yes, I would like to, at some point written Batman or something, you know. But actually, this is probably a bigger thing to me. It’s one story in an annual. But if I went back in time and told kind of 10 year old me that one day, I’d be writing a story about my favourite TV show – that was official, I’d first say, “Well, how did you get here, old bald bearded man? Leave me alone.” And then I’d say “I don’t believe you.”
Dave Clifford: So when you asked if I’d do a pinup for it, I’ve got to admit I i squealed like a school girl. I was that excited. So I can relate to that feeling that you just mentioned.
Pete Rogers: Now I still I still can’t quite believe it’s, I won’t believe it’s real, I guess until the book happens. And it’s in my hands. But I was good, enjoying really enjoyed. And they also gave me an excuse to I basically just went and watched some episodes and took loads of notes and… didn’t really need an excuse to dig out the blu rays. But it was good to do. And then I’m also doing kind of more film stuff, but gone back into screenwriting a little bit. Off the back of the pandemic, actually, I kind of I got myself a couple of mentors. And that’s been working really well again, using up people’s time, because they’re available, and they can sit in front of the computer and help me and just try to rebuild my confidence in that area. So I’ve got a short film called Shortest Day, which I’ve written. The original plan was me writing it for someone else to direct, but it looks like I’m going to be directing that myself. And shooting probably September, October time. Yeah, we’re just looking into funding at the moment. So I can’t say too much more other than that. But it’s the script is written. We’ve got a producer. I’ve got a cinematographer on board. And we’re all really excited about doing it. So fingers crossed, hopefully between that and Robin of Sherwood and more issues of seven shades. The end of this year, there should be a lot of stuff with my name around it.
Kev Deadstar: That’s another pro tip for the newer creators out there. Everything takes longer than you think it’s going to take. We’re working now on things that you won’t hear about until next year, end of the year after but keep putting the work in: you will get there.
Dave Clifford: Definitely.
Pete Rogers: Or find an artist who does loads of work, do very little, and you might get there.
Dave Clifford: Just runs themselves into the ground. Get an artist who burns themselves out.
Pete Rogers: He’s only 21
Kev Deadstar: You don’t look a day over 16
Dave Clifford: Excellent. That’s looking good. Yeah, I’ve I’ve also got myself involved in a film which may or may not be made, but that’s still in the early days. But we’re looking to crowdfund that. So once I’ve got a bit more information on that I’ll be plugging the hell out of it.
Kev Deadstar: Fantastic. Thank you both for coming along and helping with this panel for Swansea Comic Con.
Dave Clifford: My apologies.
Kev Deadstar: It’s been great to talk to you on here. And before too much longer hopefully, we can actually see each other in person and do some more in person things. So just before we go, where would be the best place for anyone who wants to follow up from this interview go to? And where would they find your presences online?
Pete Rogers: I can’t remember the seven shades domain name, which is really embarrassing. But my own website…
Dave Clifford: It’s on WordPress, isn’t it?
Pete Rogers: Yeah, but I don’t know the whole URL is.
Dave Clifford: No, I can’t remember either.
Kev Deadstar: I’ll put it in the description.
Pete Rogers: It’s probably slightly out of date as well. Go to the Deadstar Publishing page, would be my first tip because that’s where you’ll find Seven Shades and Dexter’s Half Dozen. Other than that my website is PeteRogers.co.uk, which I update relatively regularly about my comics work and my screenwriting stuff, too. And I’m on Twitter @PeteRogers because I have been on it a very long time, so I got to actually have my own name. On Instagram… I think it’s PeteRogers_Writer. Yeah, that’s the best places to find me.
Kev Deadstar: Anything from Dave?
Dave Clifford: I’m on Instagram, as Dave J. Clifford, which is my name. Surprisingly(!) and Facebook because I’m far too lazy and busy to do a blog or anything else like that, which I should do.
Pete Rogers: I do because while Dave’s painting I need something to do.
Kev Deadstar: Dave spends his time painting. Pete does the words.
Pete Rogers: I think I’ve just destroyed the whole writers/artists thing that everyone always argues about because everyone knows it’s the artists. I’ve actually broken ranks and said it out loud.
Kev Deadstar: As for us: you can find all the Deadstar stuff on Facebook.com/Deadstar.Publishing or online at www.deadstarpublishing.co.uk. So thank you both for coming here. I think that pretty much wraps it up.
Pete Rogers: Thanks very much.
Dave Clifford: Thanks very much. Been a pleasure.
Pete Rogers: Thank you Swansea
Dave Clifford: Thank you.
Kev Deadstar: Thank you Swansea.