bloomsbury-snow-01It’s been a while since we last brought you a guest, but here’s number 10!

Please welcome the man behind Derek the Sheep…

Mr Gary Northfield.

As always we collared Mr Northfield and forced a few answers from him:

How did you make your big break in comics?

It was 2002 and I’d been making mini comics for a couple of years, little hand made oddball things, about sad monsters, lonely eyeballs, naughty dogs. I’d met quite a few cartoonists on the comic expo circuit (which was pretty much just Bristol back in those days, so not much of a circuit!). And one chap I met, Nick Abadzis (graphic novelist extraordinaire) was an editor on Horrible Histories magazine at the time and we’d become very good friends. He invited me to take over his role on Horrible Histories as he was moving onto another magazine. So, I was thrust into the deep end of a fortnightly magazine drawing illustrations, colouring, re-drawing spreads, coming up with the odd gag. It was the best gig ever. I was only meant to be there for 6 weeks, but I lasted 6 years in the company, working on Horrible Science Magazine, Magical World of Roald Dahl and various other magazines.

How did Derek the Sheep come about?

derek_NEW_coverAfter about a year of working on Horrible Histories, my confidence was riding high and I thought it was about time I spread my wings and found work in other publications. DC Thomson were coming to London for a convention, so I put together a portfolio of my Horrible Histories work, plus other bits and pieces, including a comic strip I’d just drawn for a magazine called Sturgeon White Moss about some sheep. The Beano editor, Euan Kerr, loved the sheep strip and asked me to send him copies. Within a couple of months Derek was appearing on a monthly basis in extra long adventures in the weekly comic. It was a fantastic experience and pretty surreal considering I’d loved the Beano as a kid and my dad had read it in the 50s, so it was a very special gig. Euan the editor helped me fine tune my writing to become more punchier (I used to write steam of conscious stories back then), plus I turned to a chap called Glenn Dakin, a great comic strip writer and TV writer, who also worked on the Horrible Histories magazine and he gave great advice about writing regular comic strips.

You’ve recently finished Teenytinysaurs, can you give us a brief overview of what it’s about and how did you come up with the idea?

fcTeenytinysaurs is about a little gang of dinosaurs growing up and figuring out what the world is about. I have very strong memories of being four or five and being curious about the machinations of the planet and the world around me, so I wondered how dinosaurs coped with such questions. There’s plenty of nonsense and big double page splashes which I had great fun writing and drawing. The great thing about the book is the breadth of space I had to play with, as opposed to the limits of a one or two page story in the Beano or elsewhere.

What can we expect to see from you at NCC?

I’ll have a brand new book out from David Fickling Books, called Gary’s Garden, which collects the first 24 strips from my regular weekly comic strip from The brilliant and awesome Phoenix Comic. I’ll also have big prints of my favourite double page spreads from Teenytinysaurs, as well as copies of Teenytinysaurs, plus copies of the now out of print Derek The Sheep book!

More books and prints for you guys to make sure you pick up this year!!