Q&A with Cartoonist Jeremy Banx, on his latest comedy-horror Family book 'Frankenthing'
By Rana Asfour
Jeremy Banx is an award winning cartoonist. He has contributed to many magazines and newspapers, including the Private Eye, Punch, She, The Week, New Statesman, London Evening Standard and The Mail on Sunday. His strips have appeared in comics such as Oink! and Toxic!
Since 1989 he has been the pocket cartoonist for the Financial Times. In 2008 and 2011, he was voted Pocket Cartoonist of the Year by the Cartoon Art Trust. He has published books, designed floats for the carnival in Nice and made 156 short animated films based on his book ‘The Many Deaths of Norma Spittal’. The Derby winning thoroughbred racehorse Dr. Devious was named after one of his characters. He lives and works in Greenwich, London with his wife Elaine and has four children.
Jeremy recently released his first illustrated e-book entitled ‘Frankenthing’ a funny horror story for adults and children. The plot revolves around ‘Frankenthing’, a creature of ambiguous origins that Dr. Frankenstein brings back to life to serve as a companion for his other creation: mumbling, cat-allergic, Monster. The cast would not be complete without Igor, the castle cat, who has a score to settle with ‘Frankenthing’ and wreaks havoc in his attempts to re-kill him that soon puts the inhabitants of the castle in grave danger.
The book is not only humorous but witty and lighthearted as well, in spite of its abounding scenes of gore, snot and flying body parts. I loved it (For a full review see HERE).
Jeremy took the time out of his very busy schedule to answer a few questions BookFabulous emailed to him regarding his new book. Below is the full interview.
And silly ideas cropped up like making the Monster allergic to cats, which became really useful later on in the story. But there was no one ‘Eureka’ moment. It came in little bits, layer by layer, quite organically, till it started to become a world in which all sorts of ludicrous things could happen.
A good example of a complex one would be the scene were Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory is shaking like ‘…a wheelbarrow full of jellyfish rolling down a cobbled path’. Each element does something to crank up the visual story of just how wobbly the laboratory is. But sometimes I wanted them to be very simple and to the point. Such as when ‘Frankenthing was as scared as a vampire’s lunch.’
But children do need a framework of support. And you have to give them a happy ending, no matter how many dark places you have to go to to get there. Which isn’t to say that everything should go back to how it was at the beginning of the story. I don’t like the status quo to be preserved. I like my characters to be altered by their experiences.
I suppose my favourite character would have to be Frankenthing himself . For some reason I identify with him the most. I worry about his wellbeing. Getting him in and out of predicaments was always great fun. But I like Igor too, even though he is Frankenthing’s predicament for most of the story. He’s horrible but he’s highly motivated. There’s always something funny about characters who obsess.
The Monster is just a great lummox. I enjoyed playing around with his back story, to show there had been a lot more to him, especially as a significant part of it took place in the grave and at the undertakers.
Dr. Frankenstein is probably the character I have the least sympathy for. He’s selfish, thoughtless, egotistical, vain and smug. And he doesn’t have to do all the crazy things he does. He does them because he is fundamentally irresponsible and thinks only of himself and what interests him. He jokes with life. I really enjoyed revealing more and more of that aspect of him as the story progressed because at the beginning he seems quite nice.
My advice to anyone interested in self-publishing is just to do it. There’s plenty of advice on the web and free software. Forums are very useful. It’s nowhere near as hard as it may seem at first.
I think publishing is going towards e-publishing. There can’t be any doubt about it. I don’t think it will do away with traditional books. I think there’s room for both. And it’s ideal for self-publishing.
It was perhaps the most stimulating time I had working on the book. Because once I’d got over that hurdle and pared everything down to the bone and thought up some new ideas, I felt I had a plot that really worked.
And I’ve kept a lot of the stuff I discarded for future Frankenthing stories. That’s why there are references to Dracula’s castle and icons for werewolves in the map in the appendices at the back of the book.
But my next e-book will probably be a collection of stories based loosely (very loosely) on my parenting of my girls. Then there’s a sci-fi book, and then another Frankenthing. Perhaps not in that order.
I’ve got a few books on the go. I’ve just finished reading Daniel Defoe’s ‘Moll Flanders’, which I loved. I’m currently reading Rex Warner’s ‘The Aerodrome’; an odd book about a fascistic air force that takes over a typical English village. It was written in 1941 and it’s subtitled ‘a love story’. I’m also reading a book of Richard Feynman’s lectures on particle physics called ‘Six Easy Pieces’.
To contact Jeremy: twitter -(@banxcartoons) / www.banxcartoons.co.uk / email@example.com
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