Creativity Found

Andrew Wildman – from comic iIllustrator for Marvel to storyboarding and creating his own graphic novels

April 11, 2021 Andrew Wildman Season 1 Episode 15
Creativity Found
Andrew Wildman – from comic iIllustrator for Marvel to storyboarding and creating his own graphic novels
Show Notes Transcript

Andrew Wildman loved drawing as a child, and even while studying for a degree in graphic design all he really wanted to do was draw comics.
It wasn't an industry that was easy to get into, so while working as a designer he spent his spare time putting together his portfolio of comic strip art and looking for a way in.
His perseverance paid off and he worked on Transformers, Spider-Man and X-Men comic books, before the industry crashed and Andrew's career plummeted.
Find out how this affected Andrew and how he got through it.

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Music: Day Trips by Ketsa https://ketsa.uk/under Creative Commons License
https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Ketsa/Raising_Frequecy/Day_Trips

Artworks: Emily Portnoi emilyportnoi.co.uk

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Claire Waite Brown:

For this episode, I'm chatting with Andrew Wildman about the highs and lows of making a creative living. Andrew has worked as a graphic designer, Illustrator and storyboard artist. Things haven't always been plain sailing for Andrew, but he's used his life experiences to inform his latest publishing works. Hi, Andrew. Okay. As a youngster, there was a particular field of creativity that interested you, which you have been lucky enough to pursue with some ups and downs in between. Please tell me what it is you do.

Unknown:

A lot of people ask me that. And it's it's an interesting to want to kind of define really so. So what I do as a job is, I'm a storyboard artist for TV and film working in animation and live action. I have been a comic book artist, I've illustrated books. But basically what I describe myself as is a pencil for hire. I'm essentially an illustrator and I've plied my trade in all sorts of different industries. But I draw stuff there we go.

Claire Waite Brown:

Did you have an artistic childhood?

Unknown:

Not not particularly, I mean, I pursued it like many children do. But in terms of my family background, there weren't any artists as such. My my mother was encouraging because she, she always wanted to go to art college. But, you know, back in the dim and distant past, going to college was not something that all that many people did, especially if you came from a kind of a rural background like she did. But she was always interested in drawing. My father was an engineering draughtsman so there were certain skills and use of implements, you know, pencils and rulers and, and that kind of thing, which, which did have an influence on me. So in terms of my childhood and my upbringing, there was something but not not the kind of thing that I ended up doing.

Claire Waite Brown:

And what about it schooled?

Unknown:

school? Yeah, schools is an interesting one. Because, like, you know, like any toddler, I would draw and do a bit of painting. I didn't go to a nursery school. You know, this is the back in the day where I think many people went straight from being at home with their mom, you know, their stay at home, mom or dad went to work. It's all very old fashioned. It's very ladybird book, kind of upbringing. But yeah, so I would I would draw at home, one of my earliest memories of being inspired by creativity. That was very, very close to home. I've got a brother and he's two, two years older than me. So obviously, he went to school, two years before I did, but I can remember him coming back from this strange place that he went to everyday called school he'd made out of clay, Fox, his head, like a ceramic Fox, his head, you know, in a very kind of primary school kind of way. But nevertheless, he was just the head. And I was absolutely fascinated by it. Like it was it was a really well defined show. It's probably better in my memory than it was in real life things self diagnose. To me in my memory, it was perfectly sculpted and painted and absolutely looked like a Foxy said. And I was amazed that somebody that I knew somebody who's that close to me, could create something so amazing. And it wasn't just drawing as well it was it was a three dimensional thing. So I found that incredible. So when I I went to school eventually, as is the way we schools, you know, they regurgitate the lesson year after year after year, so. So we came to the point where we were messing around with clay and making stuff. So I did exactly that it was almost like, Oh, I kind of know what to do here. I think the safest bet for me was to do something that I already knew was going to get a result. So I essentially copied him. I've never told him this, and I'll ring him up after this. You will my early influence. So yeah, so that was the first thing that I remember being inspired by in terms of personal creativity, you know, not seeing something on TV or whatever. But actually seeing something that somebody I knew had made. So that was, that was a very early inspiration. You know, I enjoyed doing the art lessons. And because I enjoyed drawing as a child. I think even before I was at school, family members would say very encouraging things like you do to children. And I took that very much to heart, I felt encouraged, I felt like it was a thing that I was able to do. And I enjoyed it, and other people liked it. So, so the kind of the feedback response, there was a good one. So when I did go to school, I guess in some ways, I was one step ahead of everybody else, because I'd already taken it on as my thing, how I imagined I can draw stuff, you know, as is the way with childhood, everything goes great. And the world is wonderful and life is is you know, it's always sunny. Until it isn't they do say around about the age of four or five, something, something comes up to challenge you and us has you asked your first question about yourself and your identity, you know, that first thought of, there's something wrong, there was a new lad came to school if if memory serves, his name was Kevin. And unfortunately for me, he was really good at drawing so so I can remember I can vividly remember it. It was in the first year of junior school. So I would have been about seven, I guess. And he'd he'd done a drawing and people, you know, other kids who had crowded, crowded around his table, they look at it looking at throwing and they like, Oh, look, this is really good. This new boy, he's really good at drawing. And I was already feeling a little bit confronted by that, because that was my thing. And I can remember somebody turning round to look at me from this little gathering around his table. And they said to me, all looks like you've got competition. And I was just mortified. It's like, this is my manner. You're stealing my thunder. When we made I guess it had a double effect. It was disappointing. It made me realise that nothing is a given, I suppose not that I would have phrased it that way to myself. But you know, in hindsight, it was one of those points where nothing is a given nothing is necessarily as you think it is. things come up, come along and challenge that. So I think what that did to me was have me draw back a bit. I was confronted, so I drew back. But I think at the same time it also had me up my game a little bit. My enjoyment of drawing have been slightly not but it's like I wanted to try harder. And just for myself, not I you know, I wasn't a competitive person. I didn't necessarily want to be better than the other, you know, than the new boy. COVID. But I just wanted to feel that for myself. I was I was doing it. Well. Yeah.

Claire Waite Brown:

Did you have a style? Had you discovered comics by then?

Unknown:

I mean, I read comics right from when I was very, very young. I remember having a comic called play our I can still remember the characters some of the characters in it little Tommy trouble and Barney cuddles the funny bunny who loved eating jam. It's wonderful. So I I liked that I liked I mean, I like to picture books as, as young children do. But there was something about comics that felt a little bit more immediate. It was a lot of pictures and the and the words are very much part of the images. Whereas with picture books, you know, you'll have one picture that then encapsulates quite a lot of the narrative in a way but comics is very much beat by beat very much what I do now images for every beat of the story. And then we have classic British comics like the staple type of football, comics and war comics because you know, to be a real boy, you've got to be interested in football and war. But it wasn't until probably around. Well, certainly the mid 60s, I guess. We went on holiday to Devon So, so we stayed at a caravan site. And in the little shop on the caravan sides, they had a rack with some American comic books in. And I'd never seen American comic books before. So they had, I still have the first one I bought, which was an Avengers, comic Avengers number 44. I think, as spider man and you know, Captain America, well, those kinds of things. And I was absolutely blown away by these things. These were not just comics about football and war, these were comics about real larger than life characters. But there was so much drama. In the end, even though I didn't understand the metaphor at that age, you understood how very, very normal sort of human condition is being played, played out large by superheroes. And I was fast and also fascinated by the drawing style because the difference between American comics and British comics was that British comics were were very illustrated, you know, almost in a classic sense, you know, there's lots of shading pen and ink drawings. Whereas American comic books were very much in line, and shock horror, they were in colour. I mean, we didn't have an awful lot of colouring in and comics, or at life. For America, you know, so America became this, this amazing place, almost like this fairytale land where they had these amazing stories and comics in colour. So that that was when I became absolutely hooked. Absolutely hooked on comics. And that influenced, like, you asked me if I had a drawing style. That was the thing that then defined my drawing style more than anything else. Yeah. It wasn't just in terms of style as well. The other thing that sort of ran alongside that, and kind of reinforced it as well, was that like, like many children, I had a love of cartoons really, really love cartoons, you know, on the TV. So like Disney and those kind of cartoons. My mother has a picture book of lady in the tramp that Disney classic, the images, you know, were taken from the animation, they weren't drawings done by somebody else, or whatever. I used to try and copy them, but I could never get it quite right. So I would trace them back. Because in the house, we didn't have much in the way of art supplies. So I would pinch sheets of greaseproof paper from my mother's kitchen drawer, and trace the characters. I mean, I was doing it because I wanted to do a drawing, they looked exactly like the character. But what was happening that I was possibly not aware of, at the time was that by doing that, it really was creating an understanding of enormous muscle memory as to how lines very, very few lines can be used and constructed to create what you perceive is very complicated characters. Because to make an animation, you have to you have to be really economic with line. Otherwise, you'd never get all the drawings done. So they they really do bear it down to its absolute minimum. And yet, you can create a whole character full of emotion. That was fascinating, and definitely something that I was absorbing. While while doing that, yeah.

Claire Waite Brown:

Do you think that knowing what you were good at and what you enjoy doing? Do you think that informed your secondary education and beyond?

Unknown:

Yeah, I mean, I've having having bought our children myself, I know that when a child becomes a teenager, and then nannies looking at what they're going to pursue in life, you cannot tell them what to do. The only thing that will make a difference to a young person, then moving forward into their own life is for them to find something that inspires them, because then they will apply the energy and the time. You can tell young people what they should be doing. But they are they'll hear it, but they won't take any notice. So and it was the same for me, I think, because I was so interested in drawing. I was on a singular path of wanting to do that. Really. I passed the 11 plus as we used to have it in the old days. So at the end of your primary school years, you do an exam to see which school you'll go to, which then defines what level of education you'll have in secondary school, which is pretty crucial. It's such a such a young Age, for whatever reason I did really well in the 1111 class and I, I got a scholarship. So I went to an all boys school with, to have to quite a large extent a very classic education, not necessarily in the classics. Although we did do Latin in the first two years, I had a very good education. But I didn't do particularly well academically, because the only thing that really interests me was was art. And geography because I liked doing all the diagrams of strata. And so I was, I was already beginning to think what do you have to do to have an art career, I said earlier on about how my mother was always very supportive. I grew up as a as a Methodist. And my parents would go to chapel. And she, she met somebody at chapels, she came up to me and she said, Oh, I made this, this person. And he's a commercial artist, which was the first time that we as we as a family, I guess, or me and a parent have realised that there was a possibility of doing that as a job. Because a job in art or making money in art was always something that was just so far removed from the reality of somebody growing up in a suburb of Bedford, you know, so that that was quite interesting is that so that fed into my, my fantasy of Oh, I might be able to draw comics One day, he was almost like the dream of being a rock star. And it's not going to happen, but you have those dreams, but it just seemed like the maybe there was some possibility. So I was interested in pursuing art. And I was, I was encouraged, not in any way to pursue, the couriers are coming, because their managers not nobody was interested in that at all. But I was encouraged with to do art school got an A for my own level. And I managed to scrape together for our level results. Now to get into the sixth form at the school I went to, you had to get a minimum of five oh levels. But one of the teachers championed me a bit. And he said, I think Andrew do really well, in the sixth form, you know, he was so close to actually getting probably six or levels, but I got, you know, just miss getting the required, see for a couple of them. So they, they decided that I could go and go into the sixth form. So I studied the bizarre combination of math, I think, as mass economics are not always a given because I've got an MA and the other two, I've done really well at Mass bizarrely. So they did that. And then they thought economics would go with sit nice. And alongside that. And for goodness sake, give me more chance of getting a job. So So I did one year of the sixth form. And it wasn't going particularly well. But I can remember, at the end of one of my economics lessons, the economics teacher whose name was Mr. Butler, he said, wildeman because we're all referred to by surnames, there was no first names at that school. I stayed behind at the end of the lesson, I need to talk to you, I was like, Okay. And he said, what you're going to do then? And I said, I'm just going off to my art lesson. And you said, No, not now you're full. What are you gonna do? You can't stay here, you're not good enough. And that's the way he said it. What was the intention behind what he was saying? I will never know how he was hearing himself saying, I will never know. But that's how it landed with me. You can't stay here, you're not good enough. So that was a hell of a blow. So I went off to my art lesson. And a friend of mine, Robin, he was already there. And I said to him, you'll never guess what's just happened. I said, What? And I said, My suppose ID personal tutor, which was Mr. Butler, who I didn't even know was my personal tutor. He just told me that I've got to leave, because I'm not good enough to stay here. And Robbie looked at me and he said, they just told me I've got to leave as well. Well, I said, What are you going to do? And he said, I'm going to go to bonfield College, and I'm going to study graphics. And I say, Wow, it's amazing. So what's graphics? And he? I don't know, I think he's drawing and stuff. Drawing and stuff. That sounds good. I want to go to battlefield college and do drawing and stuff. So I went, I went home and told my parents the news that I you know, I couldn't stay at school because I wasn't good enough. And they were they were fine. Or they were disappointed because they had high hopes for me to be some kind of Oxbridge candidate like a lot of the kids at the school, but clearly that wasn't gonna work out. So my dad told me to barnfield College, talk to the tutor there now this was Very late in the year, just before the summer holidays. So the guy from the graphics department, he, he showed us around. I was like, yeah, this is great. I want to I want to do this. And he said, Well, places are all taken now. We haven't got any any availability. And then he said, Well, where do you live? He was wondering how close to the Coliseum was. And I said, Well, I live in Bedford. So said, Oh, well, why don't you go to Amanda College in in Bedford. I didn't really think that nobody ever mentioned which is ironic, because my dad studied, as did some of his studies at lambda college. But anyway, so I went to Manor college and did a arts foundation course, which is like a course prior to then going on to doing a degree. So you study all various disciplines, which, of course, I wasn't interested in printmaking, or pottery or anything like that I just wanted to draw on comics. But of course, the other thing was, I wouldn't be able to get onto a degree course from there without getting my art a level. So they said you need to do a painting as I okay. And they said, Go into this, this other little side room, a little side studio, there wasn't anybody in and do a painting. So random. Okay, so I can and I literally just took my shoes off, put them on the table, and it is still life painting of, of my shoes. Got my a level. Yeah. And then from there did that did that one year course. And then from there, got a place a list of Polytechnique or De Montfort University as it's known now, and did a degree in graphic design, whoring and stuff.

Claire Waite Brown:

Amazing. I know you worked as a graphic designer, but you continue to seek out illustration work, how did your career progress?

Unknown:

Yeah, I because I'd got a graphic design degree, I'd got that in my pocket. So that was a qualification. But even even through the three year graphic design degree course, I didn't do an awful lot of graphics, to be honest. On the graphics core, she could specialise in like editorial graphics, advertising graphics, you could also specialise in animation, or photography or illustration. And I chose illustration, which was a bit of a in some ways, it was a bit of a flip of a coin for me, because I'd always, as I said earlier, I'd always been interested in comics. But I'd also always been interested in animation and cartoons. I was an avid watcher of a programme, called the Do It Yourself animation show. I think it's a BBC by Bob Godfrey, who did rhubarb and custard. And I loved all of that. And I've got his book. And so I understand I understood all the, you know, the fundamentals of animation from a very early age so, so I did have an interest in it, but not enough of an interest to pursue that. As my specialism. It also sounded like hard work with the illustration course, 70s, I was just so lazy. The illustration course sounded a bit of an easier ride but but I took the word specialised to heart really every illustrator project that I was given, where they tried to get you to engage with different disciplines. So there would be painting and sometimes using watercolour, sometimes using acrylics, sometimes using paper cutouts, all different styles of illustration, because everything that I did looked like a comic book, you know, it was all line and colour. And the other thing was that in the third year, I'd started to take trips into London, where there was gatherings of people who were interested in, in comics, there was something called a comic March, they still do them now they were Westminster Hall, where people would buy and sell comics, they would have some comics professionals there. And in some ways, that was the beginning of the comic conventions, you know, in its own small embryonic way. So I got to, I began to get to know some people in the industry. And then I joined something called the Society of strip illustration, which was mostly professionals, but they did have what they called associate members who were people that were wanting to get into the industry. And this was in the early 80s, so like 82. And so at that age, I was already rubbing shoulders with people who were already working in comics, but we're going to become big players in the comics industry. So that was an ideal way to understand how the industry worked. And also to kind of get criticism of the work that you were doing constructive criticism, but I was in no way good enough. But I was determined so. So in the meantime, I, I worked as a graphic designer, myself and Leslie, my wife, and a photographer, and a guy who was a businessman who worked for timepiece television. We set up a small graphic design company, which ran for three years, and we did some good work. And then that company folded and I went to work for one of our clients, which was a label manufacturing company. I ran this very small Art Department there, where we do all the artwork for labels, mostly like washing labels. But in the meantime, I was beginning to get bits of freelance work from Marvel UK. In London, there was Marvel, UK were publishing, reprint material of stuff from America, so they were reprinting Spider Man, the Avengers, all that kind of stuff. But they were also starting to generate some of their own content. They were doing a thundercats comic, and Real Ghostbusters comic stuff based on TV shows, and they did a Transformers comic, I got an interview with them. And they looked at my portfolio and they gave me some work on the thundercats coming. It was a good one to get an all budding artists liked it because the thundercats characters, and it looks like superheroes. You know, they were they were sort of human looking. But one was a bit like a lion was a bit like a cheater, you know, this kind of thing. But so it felt like cutting your teeth drawing, kind of superheroes. So it was good to have to get input in the portfolio to eventually show to maybe one day Marvel in American. But so sometimes I would post the artwork into London. And sometimes I would take a trip down there if I was going to one of these comic creator meetings in London. So I took the artwork into into the office to the editor, Steve White, handing it over and sitting at the desk next to him, there was another editor and it was the guy that did the Transformers comic. So he kind of peered across and he looked at the work that I'd done. And he was like, nice, nice work. I was I want to thank you. And he said, Do you want to draw some Transformers? So I said, Yes. Now I said, Yes. Because I just needed work. I wanted to kind of earn money, I was still I still working as a graphic designer, and certainly all my evenings and weekends, trying to earn enough money to eventually go as a freelance, you know, artists, so I would say yes to anything. On the inside. I was like, I don't even know what Transformers in. And I said, What is it and he said what it sees he showed me and I was like, Oh my God, this rope I don't want to draw robots, or robots for why I want to do. Of course what I didn't realise it was another one of those seminal moments that you look back on because being involved with Transformers was the thing that gave me my in to marvel us. It was through them recognising the Transformers work that I did for Marvel UK. That had them eventually asked me to do the American Transformers comic, which was the beginning of my, my whole kind of career as a comic book artist

Claire Waite Brown:

may sing. So far, your story has been very positive and creative in your in the right direction and everything sunny and lovely. But there is about to be a change for the worst through no fault of your own. Can you explain what happened and how that affected you both as a person and as an artist? Yeah,

Unknown:

yeah. So like, I kind of likened working in comics to like being a rock star. So like any budding rock star, it's going to go one way or the other, it can go really well and then you can fall out of favour. My comics career was on it was on an app, the work that I did on Transformers was recognised by other editors. So then they gave me work on a book called GI Joe, which was another toy book, but it was humans essentially. So that was a step in the right direction. I eventually came off of GI Joe, because myself, my wife, we've got young children then, and our little boy, Frankie, he asked me what else I was drawing, and I became aware of the fact that I was drawing people shooting each other. That realisation didn't sit very well with me as a father of young children. So I wanted to move off of GI Joe and I was offered a book called x men adventures, which was incredible, because it was proper Marvel characters. It was an excellent ex member, but it was an easy kind of stepping stone because it was a version of the book that was based on the animated TV show. It wasn't part Have the kind of Marvel's storyline as such. Nevertheless, it was excellent. And so I was absolutely thrilled. Got got notice for doing that, one of the covers that I did issue number six, I did a couple of thumbnails and sent them in. And the editor wasn't sure which one he thought would work. So he asked the guy who was in charge of all the x men books, he came back and he said, cover number two version, he said, do that one. And I said to the editor, you know what, I don't agree with him. And he, I could hear him almost all day. You can't do that to the boss. So I said, I really don't agree. I think cover number one, the other SketchUp down is much better. So can you go and ask him again. And he said, We don't normally do that. The boss's decision is fine. All but he said, this may well backfire on you. But I'll ask him. He was slightly annoyed about it, the the guy in charge of the excellent books, but his word back was? Well, if he's if he seems that determined, then let him do it, but I'm not happy. So anyway, I did that I did that. And the sales fit the sales figures went up with that with that issue. Not only that, but that piece of artwork. It's been used on T shirts and all sorts of different things, and you still see it pop up even today. So it was it was a hell of a boost to my ego. Then I was asked to do a spider man book, which was in proper Marvel, this was you know, I was really, really doing well then. And then I did a venom book, which was amazing. So I felt like I was properly one of the team. We were at the mid 90s by them. And the comics industry went into a massive downturn. They'd had an incredible journey through the through the 80s and early 90s. Because because of the popularity of things like watchmen, that DC published, a lot of collectors started, you know, came in and started collecting comics, not comics fans necessarily but people who were investors investing in issue number ones of things and whatever. So there were a lot of investors coming in. But the bubble in that kind of burst in the mid 90s. And sales figures absolutely plummeted was a huge knock to the industry. So they were cancelling books left, right and centre. One of the books I was going to be doing I was on was going to be cancelled Spider Man 2099. So they took me off of that. I managed to get a I flew over to America a couple of times to talk to different editors. And one of the editors I got on really well with the guy called nel Yom Tov awesome chap. And he said, the only thing I can offer you and he was going to be losing his job as well, editors were being fired as well. He said, I've got one and a half issues of a book called false works, which was, it was essentially one of the Avengers books. And I gave it everything. Like I really upped my game, like I'd never done it before. And to this day, that is still the best mainstream comics work I've ever done. But it was cancelled after that. There, there wasn't anything. And so I was out of work. Just overnight, pretty much probably wasn't actually overnight, it felt like it had gone from hero to zero. Very quickly. I did some UK stuff again. It was great. It was still comics, but it wasn't really, you know, it wasn't when it could have been. And that affected me personally and emotionally very, very deeply because I was born in 1961. Fantastic for number one, which was the first proper Marvel comic came out in 1961. there's a there's a group of people of my generation who worked in comics, they do kind of carry that thing where they were born the same year that Marvel started and ended up working for them. So not only was I out of a job, but I had, I felt like in many ways, being overly dramatic. I know, but my childhood and my destiny taken away from me. And that resulted in a minor breakdown. I mean, literally, a breakdown not I wasn't hospitalised or anything but I ended up having a year of counselling, medication, you know that all that kind of stuff? Because I had to reassess who I was really for myself, you know, as a creative person. The other thing that happened for me personally was that that experience was the beginning of my my own interest in coaching personal development or That kind of transformation thinking, you know, why do people think the way they do? Why does some times things in life work and not work? You know, and how emotionally we feel positive or negative about things, all that kind of stuff. My own counselling involved a lot of work with dream interpretation. She was a Gestalt counsellor, and she, you know, she worked with dream interpretation as well. And I developed a huge interest around that.

Claire Waite Brown:

As you said, you sought help through counselling, and also the landmark forum, which I know you found beneficial. Can you tell me more about those experiences and what they've taught you?

Unknown:

Yeah, sure, um, one of the things that happened with, with the counselling, the one to one counselling that I had, and with the dream interpretation was that I had an idea for a book about a character, sort of, in a dream world, it was like a fantasy story. And I told that story to my counsellor, quite briefly. And she said to me, your to do that as a book, not because it'd be fun as a like a graphic novel, but because it will help other people, you know, who suffer depression the same as you do. That was kind of it that was left there was a bet she planted a seed of a thought then for me, anyway, so life went on, I was working in the games industry, you know, the counselling thing I've done, I felt good, life was good. I left the games company because I was offered a job by a woman who's working for a publishing company, doing a series of children's books, and she needed somebody to work on those. And it was, it was going to be a big run of books. It was always going to be like a job for life. So I left the games company, unless he was going to help me. And we started work on that. And we probably did two books, and then she lost her contract, not literally the woman that had given me the work with them. And I had the rug pulled from under me, you know, because I was basically being subcontracted by her. So I went into another tailspin, another kind of, you know, personal, creative and professional tailspin. What happened at that point was the little office that I was renting. There was somebody in the office next to next to me, and he used to pop his head in door every morning, really cheerful jack, he was like, fully alive. And he'd always say, How am I doing Andrew over? Yeah, great. And we'd get on with our day. Well, that particular morning, he stuck his head in the door, and he's like morning, Andrew, how you doing? I was like, Alright, thanks. And he said, okay, doesn't sound like your normal self was going on. And I said, well, blah, blah, blah, you know, to go home, moan about life and my poor, self, etc, etc. And he listened, and he was great. And he, he said many things, to me that made perfect sense about how maybe I could look at things slightly differently. And I was like, Oh, that's great. That's really helped. And he said, Have you ever heard of the landmark forum? And I said, No. So he told me about it, this seminar in London, where I go to a weekend so the seminar and seminar leader talks to a roomful of people, and you know, you'll have a breakthrough with all these things. So I, I had the typical kind of very British reaction of sounds like a bit of a cult to me. And I thought about some of the things he said, and I thought about how a dead end I was, I thought, I just gonna do it, like, what's the worst that can happen? I went along to, to it, not really knowing what was going to happen. And it was, it was incredible. It really, really was incredible. The whole thing was based on sort of coaching and psychology and psychotherapy distilled down to a way that they sort of deliver it to you just as like a course and you, you know, you talk amongst yourselves and everything where you, you suddenly realise things about yourself, I realised how dramatic I had been about things, how I'd overreacted to circumstances in my life. And, and felt powerless to do anything about it. blamed circumstances for for my life not working out, rather than just finding some inner strength and getting on with it. And all in all, and so many, many, many things. It kind of held a mirror up to me and who I was and how I wasn't dealing with it very powerfully. So as a result of that, I did a couple of their other courses. One of them was a really a really, really good course it was a three month course where you use the things you've learned and you develop a project and most people do like a charity project. The project that I did was to raise money for street children in Cambodia to help give them an education because I just thought we take for granted so much like I used to moan about my privilege education. You know, I still do, I now don't take that for granted. That was that was a gift, you know. So I created this project where I am, I kind of enrolled all the comics creators, I know, to donate a piece of artwork, I then put the word out to the comics, sort of world fanbase, that on one particular day, there was going to be an auction on eBay. And it was amazing. And it was a very, very easy process, and we raised a good amount of money. For the charity for that charity is called every child, we did lots of other kind of projects around that, you know, around that, and the project was called draw the world together. I said, we'll pan there. And we did, we did event to other comic conventions, and in the end, raise 10s of 1000s of pounds for charity, which was, which was amazing, amazing. Anyway, that was one of the things that that I did is result of doing one of the landmark courses because I felt empowered to do to make a difference, you know, my career took off definitely took off after doing those courses, because I just learned about myself, people learn about themselves in all sorts of different ways. The other thing that it did was, I made a commitment Mark while I was there that one day, I would put some of the some of my interpretation of that kind of thinking into a graphic novel, I'd said that I was going to do it around dreams, the many years before when I had my own counselling. And and I did and I I eventually self published it. It's called horizon. It wasn't quite the same story that I'd spoken to my counsellor about. But nevertheless, it's a story that in involves dream interpretation. It has like a layer to it that informs the reader in a way that enables them if they want to, to have breakthroughs in areas of life where they feel stopped or challenge. And I made the protagonist of the book, a 15 year old girl. So me suddenly kind of autobiographical. Sophie was a doing. So did you used to be a 15 year old girl? And it's like No, but I used to be a 15 year old and I know what it is to carry the accent of a 15 year old myself unless you bought up two daughters. And I know what it is to deal with the anger of a 15 year old girl. And it seemed like the perfect character to take the reader through that journey. But I've had plaudits by some amazing people. You know famed watchmen artists, David Givens as I was ready and gave me a wonderful quote, he thought it was great wilcon pert, the BBC arts editor, I did a little radio show with him. And he read it and he, you know, he gave me an allen de Botton, the philosopher, broadcaster and writer. He read it and he just said, beautiful, you know, it's just nice to feel all of that sort of feedback and feed through. So it was in many ways, it was thick, it was just things are lining, it was me, me and the skills I picked up as my years is quite conscious, aligning into something that I'm immensely proud of. And that makes a difference. And it's just nice to use the skills that you have to provide something for other people to providing entertainment, his his, his great fan and a joy but to provide something possibly a little bit more to inspire that he's, you know, he's a real joy.

Claire Waite Brown:

Brilliant, and I know you're planning to do more of that you've got oxygen underway and plans for another one after that. Tell me more about those.

Unknown:

Yeah, so the horizon is very much a comic book style graphic novel, that sort of layout and everything that the art techniques slightly different. It's not one gentle, but I always wanted to do another one. The thing I realised with oxygen was that the people that pick it up and read it, love it. You know people like well, gumpertz industry professionals love it. Fans who pick it up at Comic conventions, come back the following year and say, I really loved it. But what I also know is that it doesn't necessarily instantly appeal to what some people would say is my my kind of obvious fan base which is people who like Transformers in sci fi and that kind of thing. You know, they they'll flick through, but that is not their thing, which is fine. So I thought, Okay, so what if I do the same thing, essentially, but in a different genre, and I settled on sci fi, but like horizon, I wanted to do it in like a very small sci fi sense as in a singular character, with a companion, going through environments, which is how horizon works. And what happens within those environments, creates great breakthroughs for the character. And then there's a, like a denouement at the end, for the reader that makes the adds context and makes sense as to what the story is actually about. So I'm doing that with something called oxygen, which will be a graphic novel, but at the moment, I'm doing it in seven separate comic book issues. The one of the one of the differences with with oxygen is the way that I've done the book. So horizon was drawn, you know, with all these kind of varying panel layouts that you see in comics, it was drawn pencil on paper, which I then scanned in and coloured in the computer. But in the intervening years, I've done a lot of work in TV as a storyboard artist, which is what what I do now, I did it on and off for a few years. But now that's exclusively what I do for animation and for live action. But I wanted to do it as storyboard panels. So like screen shapes during so on each page, rather than an array of five different panels in different shapes. I wanted to do three horizontal panels, top to bottom, it looks like screen shots from animation if you like, I was doing that income paper. But then during lockdown myself and Leslie decamped from our studio in town to home because we had to work from home. And all of the storyboarding that I do now I do on a computer is still drawn, it's drawn on like a, something called a Cintiq. It's essentially a screen but you can draw digitally on it. I thought I can't do any oxygen work during lockdown, which is frustrating, because, you know, my drawing board and my inks and everything are all in the studio in town. And I thought, I'm missing a trick here, I could just use the storyboard software to draw all of the oxygen panels digitally as you can move it around, it's it's quite, it's quite easy, economical in terms of time to be able to do it. So I started rattling through it during lockdown and I did the first two issues quite quickly. That was an interesting kind of merging then of storyboard technique. And comics, which is interesting but also then the merging of all the other sort of coaching transformational thinking content as well so yeah, oxygen is going very well is moving head I will definitely finish it purely because I love the ending have come up with and I so want to draw that and get it down and smear you know and other people to experience that. But But yeah, as it's the way with creative you know, we're so full of ideas. I've already thought of the next one that I want to do after that. So taking the the format of the book and the intention of the book, and kind of like genre hopping so the next one will be will be a horror book. Cool.

Claire Waite Brown:

How can people connect with you?

Unknown:

I have a website, AndrewWildman.art or andr wwildman.net So there's exampl s of some of my storyboarding work, comic book work, nd information about horizon and information about oxygen. You an find me on LinkedIn, and Fa ebook.

Claire Waite Brown:

Thanks ever so much Andrew.