Laurence Campbell is a tremendously talented comic book artist hailing from the UK. While initially known for his contributions to the British comics anthology 2000 A.D., Campbell has also lent his skills to the world of Marvel working on characters like the Punisher and Deadpool. We recently had a chance to speak with him about his work in the ‘Mignolaverse’ over at Dark Horse Comics.
All-Comic.com: Mr. Campbell thanks for taking the time to speak with us today! When did you get started in the comic book industry and what was the first major publication you worked on?
Laurence Campbell: I have a number of firsts. The first comic I had published was Something Inside. This was a one shot published by Caliber Comics. It was written by Paul Carstairs and I had drawn, inked and lettered the comic, all new to me. I learnt a lot from doing it. It was at around the time Vertigo started and was very much in the vain of Hellblazer with a dose of teen angst.
After drawing for Caliber comics for a while, my first colour work was with Image on a title called The Disciples. Which was about a team of mystics. I guess The Invisibles meets X-Men was a good way of summing it up. By this time I was on the 2000ad radar and worked with them before starting work at Marvel and then Dark Horse.
You’ve previously contributed to a number of Marvel books; are there any major differences, on the art end of things, working for a big company like Marvel compared to working in the Mignolaverse over at Dark Horse?
Laurence Campbell: I had a great time working at Marvel and Axel Alonso is a good guy who really encouraged me as an artist. There are some differences, Marvel are a bigger company putting out more titles. Working for Dark Horse and in particular the Mignolaverse feels like a tight knit unit, all of us working together for the best of the book. There’s a lot of care and thought that goes into B.P.R.D. Things are well planned well in advance and it shows.
Since working for Mignolaverse you can’t help but be influenced by the quality of artists, so you natually want to raise your game. I’ve found I’ve experimented a little more with my art and have been looking at past masters, some for the first time, and others I’ve revisited with a fresh eye.
Laurence Campbell: John Arcudi got in touch over the net, we started to talk to each other and it really built up from there. I ended up emailing some of my work to Mike Mignola and Scott Allie and things took off. I was a fan of the Mignolaverse before so was pleased when things came together.
Does working with Mike Mignola, who is also a phenomenal artist himself, cause any additional anxiety or hesitance when you are illustrating his world?
Laurence Campbell: Hah! Frankly yes it did and sometimes I still have to pinch myself. I think Mike Mignola has been a huge influence on a large amount of artists over the last 20 years.
Mike, John, Scott and Daniel have all been very encouraging. As an artist I’m endlessly looking to improve and although they’ve mostly left me alone, any advice I have had has always been helpful. Like I said everyone is on top of their game looking to create the best book possible. Everyone is going in the same direction.
Even among the terrific artists involved in the various Hellboy Universe titles, your style is quite distinct with quite a dark, gritty sensibility overall. Are there any other artists that have influenced your work?
Laurence Campbell: I think one of the reason I was invited on board is because my style fits the type of stories we are getting on the Hell on Earth arc. Although the end results are different I think a number of the Mignolaverse artists have similar sensibilities. There’s a similar sense of strong storytelling, shapes and spotting of blacks.
As for other artists: Mazzucchelli, JP Leon, Risso, Toth, Zaffino, Steve Yeowell and Mike himself have all been a huge influence on me.
How do you prefer to illustrate? Pen and paper, digital, both?
Laurence Campbell: Recently I’ve been doing both on Sledgehammer 44. Most of it is still drawn on the paper and then certain parts are finished in Photoshop. I guess I’m a bit ‘old school’ in the way I still like seeing pages of drawn art.
The current Sledgehammer 44 mini-series, Lightning War, has been a fantastic read. How have you enjoyed the opportunity to work on a less-established character from the Mignolaverse? Is there more creative freedom than working with, say, the B.P.R.D.?
Laurence Campbell: First, I’ve had a total blast on drawing Sledgehammer 44. John and Mike had written my dream book. I really enjoyed working on the arc. I was a little worried at the start as Jason Latour had drawn the first arc and had done such a great job but once I started reading the script and doing layouts it really just started to flow.
With B.R.P.D. I get a buzz from the history of the comic. With a number of artist’s working on the title Scott and Daniel are really very good at making sure everything flows.
Your artwork in Lighting War has been stealing the show with each issue! Do you hope to return to this character for another story down the line?
Laurence Campbell: Thanks for the kind words. Have you read the last issue of Sledgehammer 44 Lightning War? I’m saying nothing.
Speaking of returning, can fans expect you to return for another arc of B.P.R.D. in the future?
Laurence Campbell: I’m working on a two part B.P.R.D. at this very moment.
Thanks very much for taking the time to speak with us! Lightning War has been a wild ride and we can’t wait to see how it ends.
Laurence Campbell: Thank you for your questions and supporting Sledgehammer 44.
Be sure to check out the current Sledgehammer 44 mini-series, Lightning War! The finale is coming up next week in issue #3 and we will have a review right here at the Mighty All-Comic!