Megaskull: The Interview

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At this year’s SPX, London’s Nobrow Press booth was indeed one of the shining surprises of the weekend. Filled with some of the most artistically intuitive graphic novels and then some, one of the newest highlights was indefinitely Kyle Platt’s MEGASKULL. While not in attendance, MEGASKULL was released at a party in its honor at Beach London. His debut cemented what could be a great step forward for the self-proclaimed slap stick cartoonist. MEGASKULL is chock full of silly and often times horrific gags that are just as thought provoking as they are beautifully illustrated.

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So, just to get things started, your new book is called Megaskull. Is there a backstory for this particular title?
Well Megaskull was originally the name of my blog which I created in Art college. I remember for some reason I was in a hurry to come up with the name so I just stuck two buzz words together, Megaskull! I wish it was a little more cerebral than that but, I suppose it suits the tone of my comics.

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What kind of process did you go through for the book? Did you have any idea of an overall theme that you wanted to accomplish? What do you hope people will get out of Megaskull?

My proccess invloves making lots of notes and developing ideas from observations, weather it be from television or from real life. The overall theme I wanted to acheive is a series or stories that are totally slap stick and silly, but reflect the world we live in. Its important to me that people get something out of the book, even if its that they just find them funny. If people read into the stories and get something else out of them thats great, I dont like to ram my opinions about stuff down people throats but its all there.

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A lot of your work switches between singular images and prints to short comic strips. Do you prefer making prints over comics? Is there a reason why you chose to feature only strips in your book?
 
Prints are good fun because the proccess is much quicker than making comics. Working on a singular image for me requires less consideration and time than comics. However I ultimatly find comics more rewarding, and for consistency I wanted the book to be comics throughout.

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I know you have some history with the skateboarding scene in London. Does the skater’s mentality or lifestyle influence the kind of material you put out? There’s also an abundance of reference to youth culture, like videogames, reality TV, social networking sites, and drug use, all of which make so much of your work a real depiction of youth life today. Do you draw any influence from the London youth scene? 

No not the London youth scene specifically, I think all these themes in the book are universal and thats what I want these comics to be. I have to admit there are a few regional language references, but for the most part I didnt want the content to be exclusive to any particular part of the world. In terms of having been influenced by skatboarding, its the skateboard graphics which have most fed into what I do. Board graphics by Jim Phillips, Sean Cleaver and Mark Mcee have had a great inflence on me. Escpecially the detail and gore of some of Jim Phillip’s images.

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What other outside influences affect the subject of your work? Did you grow up reading comics?
 
I when I was about eleven I got into 2000 AD comics, they apealed to me at the time because they were so violent in comparisson to anything else I had seen. But it was cartoons that influenced my drawing more when I was young, Ren and Stimpy, Beavis and Butthead, the simpsons, south park. As an adult I have lots of outside influences, the Chapman Brothers, Bill Hicks, Keith Haring and John Cooper Clark. I always bang on about punk poet John Cooper Clark in interviews, but the humour in his response to the the melancholic nature of a mundane life in England is very inspiring to me.

Nowadays, blogging websites like Tumblr and Blogspot play such an instrumental role for independent artists, not only in making their work so accessible to the public but also for creating networks for artists themselves. I’ve also noticed you have a strong community of friends that do comics and art as well. What are your thoughts on the web’s role in comics today? Have you found having an active blog helpful for forging relationships with artists in London or even outside the country?
 
I owe alot to my blog and the oppertunity to have an online comic. When I left college I contiributed comics to Mint (online publication) which then lead to being picked up by Nobrow. So I do think the internet is great for givining anyone the oppertunity to put their work out there.

I have found Twitter in particular to be very useful for staying in touch with other artist around the world, as well as being a great way to get in touch with people for the fiest time. There is a slightly more relaxed eticate on Twitter in that you can pretty much strike up a conversation with anyone. I do my best to use it proffessionally, but sometimes find myslef doing food tweets, or having the odd rant about dumb celebrities.
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On that note, if you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be?
If I were to collaborate with anyone it would probably be graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister. It would be the best thing ever if he just came up with one of his brilliant ideas, and it happend to involve my illustration. Or a collaborative skateboard graphic with Jim Phillips, God knows what that would look like.

I really enjoy how you so matter-of-factly illustrate violence. In “Super Space Mega Talent,” I felt like the gore was almost too natural. Where do your thoughts on drawing violence stand? Do you prefer illustrating the grotesque rather than the picaresque? 

When I was young I used to really enjoy drawing violent scenes, in school I loved History because it gave me the chance to draw all these gory battle scenes. Now its actually just a by product of the storys I write. I find certain things funny, like people being in unfortunate situations, this just happens to result in a lot of violent imagery. I do enjoy the picaresque very much, buts its just not as funny.

Let’s talk about the way you illustrate people. The distinction between men and women is pretty blurred to the point that feminine or masculine features don’t really stand out. Even many of the creatures you draw share many of the same characteristics as the humans. I really loved the kind of level field everyone has; ugly men are just as hideous as ugly women. Have you always drawn people this way, or is there a reason you don’t draw a heightened sense of gender?

Its not always been this way, I used to draw in a much more detailed and anatomically correct way. But I noticed that people are not really interested in seeing that, and it was very limiting. Now I try to make characters as funny as possible to look at, this sometimes means them having balls for chins, or funny noses, because of this they always end up looking a little ugly. This way I can be much more creative, I’m not tied down by any kind of logic. Another thing is I have a problem trying to draw attractive women, theres just something about it I find a bit weird.
Finally, what does the future have in store for Kyle Platts?
Thats a very daunting question, but there are lots of things I want to get done this year. Right now I feel that I am ready to start looking for representation by an agency, so I need to get to work on that. I really want to paint and make large one off pieces, I also want to try and make my way in surface pattern design, maybe collaborate with a fashion label. People kept telling me to try and get this done because of the patterns on the cloths of my characters, so I think I’m going to give it a shot, plus I did study fashion in the beginning so it would be good to get something out it all these years later. Of course creating Megaskull 2 is on my mind, I have started to make notes for comics already, thats the kind of thing I cant switch off from, I am always trying to make a funny narrative out of the things I see around me.
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Want to get your hands on MEGASKULL? Then head on right over this way.

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