Young, talented artist and creator Jamie Coe has only recently put out his first full-length graphic novel, Art Schooled, but he’s already becoming a distinctive and exciting comics creator. He joins us to talk about his autobiographical inspirations, characters with “questionable” morals and – of course – his upcoming contribution to the Broken Frontier Anthology.
Jamie Coe is contributing to the Broken Frontier Anthology, created to celebrate the magic of creator-owned comics. Check our Kickstarter campaign and please share it with your friends on social media using #BFanthology. You can find Jamie on Twitter @jamiecoeart.
Your debut novel Art Schooled, about a small-town guy struggling to become an artist in the Big Smoke, is a warm and witty exploration of a young artist’s pivotal years. But how much of the book is autobiographical? And is it the work you’re most proud of so far?
Thanks. It’s autobiographical in the sense that a lot of the experiences that happen to my protagonist are in some way roughly based on things that happened to me (and maybe a lot of art students!), but there are lots of fictional elements to the story.
For example, I don’t necessarily see myself as Daniel Stope, and I think that having a distance from the characters (as opposed to them being real people) allowed me to write a story with characters that are often questionable in their moral stance, and to create a more satisfying beginning, middle and end.
Yeah, it’s probably my favourite bit of work I’ve done so far (modest, aren’t I?). It was my first full-length story, so it took a while to do and was a huge learning curve for me, so I can’t wait to start future projects –including the Broken Frontier Anthology, of course!
Although your work is quite diverse, there’s a strong personal style – especially in the way you often use small, organised square panels. How did you go about developing your own artistic style?
In terms of storytelling and page layouts, I think the main things are to make sure they communicate something about the pace, emotion, dynamism or atmosphere of the story. Every project is different, though.
You’ve also done political cartoons and longer-form political comics (such as Inflation Nation). Do you think that politicism influences your fictional works as well?
Yeah, maybe. I like having some sort of socio-political topic in a story, whether it’s at the forefront or in the background, and direct or abstract. I haven’t done a more directly political comic in a while, but maybe some time soon, I just don’t want to force it.
From ‘Inflation Nation’
What sort of things might we be seeing in your story for the Broken Frontier Anthology? No spoilers though!
I’ll try my best! My story will be a modern-day sci-fi fable about the idea of regrets, and how making mistakes and failing is better than never taking risks. That sounds really artsy and lame, but I think it will be quite a fun read.
Do you approach writing for an anthology differently to writing your own projects? And if so, what are the good bits and bad bits in coming up with a story specifically for an anthology like ours?
Hmm, Good question. I do approach the two differently at the conceptual stage, because the length of the story has a huge effect on what happens and how you tell it (like, you wouldn’t try and tell an epic Lord of the Rings-type story; you can tell a more concise and punchy story in an anthology).
I think it’s awesome that comics – maybe more than other mediums – utilise their range in story length. I find that doing anthology comics is usually quite special, in that they give the author an opportunity to do something different and to experiment with ideas that maybe don’t translate into longer-form work.
‘False Perception’, a short story for Smoke Signal magazine (Desert Island/Nobrow)
Apart from your role in the Broken Frontier Anthology, do you have any other projects on at the moment that you’re really excited about?
I’m currently making a sci-fi western book called Red Sand that will be the beginning of a series. It’s a story that has been stewing in my head for a few years now, and I can’t wait to get started on the interiors.
I’ll post some artwork on Twitter soon, so make sure you follow @jamiecoeart! Thanks!