I've always wanted to tell stories with pictures.
Hi, I'm Robin, the artist in the family. That's what it says on my passport anyway. I've been drawing pictures for many years now and for as long as I can remember I've been trying to tell stories with them. Fortunately for me I found that you can actually make a living doing that... by drawing comicbooks.
My first memories of storytelling are of writing little stories when I was six or seven years old. I can remember my mum helping me to make them into little booklets bound with wool. I can vividly remember taking them into infant school and proudly reading them to the class. I also used to do little pictures to accompany them. Later I used to draw pictures of soldiers and footballers but the little stick figures were always surrounded by dotted lines indicating where they, or the ball, would be moving. I was always trying to tell a story with my pictures.
There were always comics around the house while I was growing up thanks to my older brother, Terry. We both used to get weekly British comics but he also occasionally found American comics. These were little treasures for me, there was almost something magical about these pamphlets with their gaudily coloured superheroes. There were never very many of them around, distribution of US comics in the UK in the sixties and seventies was always erratic at best, but those we had were read again and again. At the time I didn't know anything about the people who created these books or the companies that published them. I was always strangely aware that someone had drawn each of the pictures though. How someone could possibly draw that many pictures and make them all fit together was totally unimaginable though. I was even more impressed by the beautifully painted strip Trigan Empire in the British magazine Look and Learn.
In the mid seventies Marvel Comics started reprinting its classic superhero stories in the UK. I recognized some of these characters, Spider-Man, the X Men, as the same ones I had seen years before. I became an avid collector and found places around my home in Lewes where I could buy US issues on at least a semi regular basis. I also found that not all the heroes I had read about had been published by Marvel, there were also DC comics with Batman and Superman. Of course I knew these characters from their respective tv series but I'd wondered why they weren't in the other comics I'd been buying. As I became more familiar with the comics I began to recognize the work of individual writers and artists. I copied many pictures from comics, trying to emulate the styles of artists who were becoming my favourites such as Neal Adams and Bernie Wrightson. Towards the end of my school years I found a shop in the nearby town of Brighton called Vortex books. They sold fantasy paperbacks and American comics, new and old. I became a regular shopper there and after a while they started displaying my drawings on their walls. I won a competition they held there once for local artists that was judged by Roger Dean, famous for his album cover designs for bands like Yes.
I mostly stopped reading comics while studying graphic design in Eastbourne. I knew by the time I graduated though that I wanted to be a comicbook artist. It took several years but I achieved my goal and my parents supported me every step of the way. Without their encouragement I'd never have been able to realise my dreams. My first regular comicbook work was for Marvel UK. From there I went on to Marvel Comics proper, working on titles I'd read in my youth like Spider-Man and X-Men and spent a couple of years working on the Incredible Hulk. I've been lucky enough to work with some of the artists whose work I grew up reading, such as George Perez. I've since gone on to work for other companies and am presently working for DC Comics where I've had the opportunity to draw other characters remembered from my childhood, like Superman and Batman. I've just finished a run of four and a half years inking Supergirl. I then had the opportunity to work on a couple of issues back at Marvel with my good friend Alan Davis. I'm currently seeking other assignments.
I met my soulmate, Elayne, via the internet. She reviewed one of the comics I'd worked on. At the end of 1998 I moved to the US to marry her. We now make comics together as Soulmate Productions, she writes, I draw. Our first published work together appeared in a comic called No Justice, No Piece, a charity comic to benefit the CBLDF.
Now I have someone to share my storytelling with.