Neill Cameron: Panels to Draw and Worlds to Build, Part 2

In this two-part interview, I’m joined by the British comics creator Neill Cameron, whose comics for children include Pirates of Pangea, Tamsin of the Deep, Mo-Bot High, How To Make Awesome Comics, and three volumes of Mega Robo Bros – as well as an ongoing daily webcomic for older readers, X365, which has been appearing throughout 2020.

In the first instalment, we talked about Neill’s acclaimed Mega Robo Bros, and how he went about building their future London. Now we turn our attention to his panel-a-day comic for 2020, X365.

This comic features “A cyborg detective in a dark futuristic city. A stressed-out freelancer coping with COVID-19, deadlines and a new baby. A lone swordswoman in a ruined, monster-filled world”, each living parallel lives, yet mysteriously connected. But the pandemic pulled the comic off course from Neill’s original intent.

Insofar as I had an idea for X365 before starting it, it came from the idea that 2020 had been a fictional year that loomed large in my childhood imaginary universe. I thought it would be fun to honour that, or mark the occasion, by making a story built on the contrasts between the 2020 we were not promised, but strongly led to believe would arrive in our childhood reading — and the one that arrived.

I was a 2000AD kid and also a fan of other things like Marvel UK’s output, Sleeze Brothers, and Death’s Head, and at least some of these comics were set in the year 2020. There was a general late-80s, early-90s cyberpunky future which permeated our consciousness through anime and comics, and yet 2020 didn’t seem that far away. You were thinking, are we really all going to have cyborg eyes by this point?

Given where we are, it felt like an opportunity to reflect on the future we’d been shown, and where we’ve ended up.

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Neill Cameron: Panels to Draw and Worlds to Build, Part 1

In this interview, I’m joined by the British comics creator Neill Cameron, whose books for young readers include Pirates of Pangea, Tamsin of the Deep, Mo-Bot High, How To Make Awesome Comics, and three volumes of the acclaimed Mega Robo Bros – as well as an ongoing daily webcomic for older readers, X365, which has been appearing throughout 2020.

We talked about creating convincing future and fantasy worlds, getting to know imagined places by drawing them, and the contrasts between the vision of 2020 we were promised as children – and the turbulent realities of the year as we’re experiencing it.

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Write and Draw Your Own Comics

Usborne Write and Draw Your Own Comics by Louie Stowell

Earlier this year, I was a consultant on Write and Draw Your Own Comics, a book created by the talented Louie Stowell, plus a range of brilliant artists, for the children’s publisher Usborne. I’m very pleased to announce that Write and Draw Your Own Comics is now available for purchase. In the UK, you can pick up a copy from Amazon or other outlets; in Australia and New Zealand try Booktopia, Dymocks, and Paperplus.

Tracy Dawson of Parkes High School Library has already linked Write and Draw Your Own Comics to the Aussie curriculum, too – click the link in the tweet below to find out more.

https://twitter.com/ParkeshsLibrary/status/522541449439494145

Neill Cameron’s How To Make Awesome Comics goes together with Louie’s book, to quote Grease, “like rama lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong”. You can get it from Neill’s own site and the Book Depository might be your best bet for international orders. You can also get a taste of Neill’s approach to visual literacy via the worksheets which he kindly shared on this very site.

How To Make Awesome Comics by Neill Cameron

Give both Louie and Neill’s books to a child for Christmas, and you will be remembered forever, as shoobop sha wadda wadda yippity boom de boom.

More exciting comics news – advanced level comic bookery!

Unflattening by Nick Sousanis

Further exciting comics news! Nick SousanisUnflattening, “an experiment in visual thinking”, weaves together allusions, allegories, and visual references in an extended comic-book essay on how we perceive and engage with the world. Unflattening is out in March next year, so bookmark the Unflattening product page at Harvard University Press and be ready to place an order. There’s really nothing quite like it. In the meantime, you can also go check out Nick’s website, Spin, Weave, and Cut.

Chang chang changitty chang shoobop. That’s the way it should be….

Neill Cameron and Daisy Johnson – Transformers Podcast

Something different here at my website today. A podcast instead of a blog post. A podcast discussing that most profound of subjects… TRANSFORMERS!

What can giant fighting robots teach us about stories? What can they teach us about love? Are glorified toy commercials of interest to anyone other than kids, scholars, and nostalgics?

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Today’s discussion takes us from 1984 and the origins of the Transformers brand through cartoons, toys, and movies to the latest comics published by IDW. Daisy and Neill also discuss the mythic resonance of children’s television, the medium of comics, and the way pop culture shapes and is shaped by our own relationships with others. It runs for just under 30 minutes and you can find it below.

Daisy’s currently researching her doctorate in literary tourism and children’s literature at the University of York. She’s @chaletfan on Twitter, and you can also find her at Did You Ever Stop to Think.

Neill’s new book How To Make Awesome Comics is available now – you can find him on twitter as @neillcameron, and also at his own website, neillcameron.com.