Being a comic book fan and having a young child means looking out for suitable comics we can both read and enjoy together. And, a number of years ago, I came across The Phoenix comic and The Etherington Brothers. Robin writes, while Lorenzo Etherington draws, and to see them both together is like seeing a force of nature in action. They’re energetic, enthusiastic and some of the best ambassadors for children’s comics around today. My daughter’s been brought up on their strips, books, and now, free tutorials on How To Think When You Draw, a must go-to Bible for any budding artist, or even professional, as I learnt when I got to speak with Lorenzo at this past weekend’s Thought Bubble comics festival.
Olly MacNamee: Lorenzo, congratulations on your recent successfully crowdfunded book, How To Think When You Draw. How did this project first come to mind and how did it do as a Kickstarter?
Lorenzo Etherington: The project came about as my reaction to seeing many of the best FREE tutorials and drawing tips on the internet disappear behind paywalls and subscription sites. I wanted to build a MASSIVE new world-class FREE resource for those artists who can’t afford to pay the monthly charges levied by those sites, but who still have a passion for drawing and want to learn and improve without endlessly dipping into their pockets. Although the focus of the series is 100% about building the free permanent resource, there was a portion of our fans who wanted a hardcopy book edition too, so I kickstarted that in March this year. It raised a quarter of a million pounds ($340,000 in dollars) in 28 days, and is the UK’s most successful comics Kickstarter of ALL-TIME.
OM: It’s a very popular book then. Who are the kind of people backing and buying the book?
LE: The backers of the book ranged from beginners, and parents and teachers buying copies for their kids, all the way up to seasoned professionals at the world’s biggest animation and games studios. I sent packages to backers at Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, Blizzard, Ea, Ubisoft etc etc.
OM: Now, not many of our readers in the Colonies will know that you are one part of a dynamic duo, with your brother Robin on writing duties. How did that relationship come about? And, how do you keep from throttling one another?
LE: We’ve always had a joint passion for making – we built Lego together as kids, played music together in our teens, and have created stories and comics together our whole lives. I literally won’t work with any writer other than Robin! He’s the best 🙂
OM: You work has been something of a staple in the British UK weekly, The Phoenix, but am I right in thinking you keep the rights to your creations? That’s still something of a novelty in comics, especially British comics, right?
LE: It all depends on the project, We’ve always been very hot on keeping as many rights as we can, because we’re a very independently-minded creative team. It’s often the case that we can sell our products far better than a publisher can, and so we like to retain as much freedom as we can to make the books we want to make the way we want to make them, and deliver them to our fans in a way which makes them affordable and available for all.
OM: And, finally, you’ve got a new 600 page sketch book out too, launching at The Lakes Comic Art Festival. And, it’s sold out already! Congrats, Lorenzo. When do you ever sleep?
LE: Ha ha! Yes, that’s the third 600 page sketchbook, too 😉 I think the secret to having a high-level of output is to just turn up every day and do a little more, before you know it you have 1,000s of pages completed!
You can catch The Etherington Brothers at The Lakes International Comic Art Festival where he will be launching this third mammoth sketchbook collection, this October or follow them online by reading their informative and entertaining blog here. You’ll be glad you did.