Interview with The Beast

March 27th, 2016

Our very own Dan White (aka The Beast Must Die) has been interviewed by Matt Colegate for The Comics Journal!  Colegate talks to The Most Handsome Mindless* about Terminus, Insomnia, Cindy and Biscuit, writing for this site, and the development of his art style, and it’s all well worth a read if you like what’s best in life.

A teasing excerpt:

When did you start noticing that your style was developing? Was it an incidental discovery or was it something you were working towards?

There’s a hodgepodge of influences that I can see in everything I do, but it’s nice that a style has formed. When I’m doing a brush stroke I’ll be thinking  “the way I’ve drawn those bushes is really Bill Watterson.” The style also came out of admitting that I didn’t have to do figurative art work. I could still tell stories that I liked by using cartoons. I should say that the biggest influence in my life is Chuck Jones. Seeing the Warner Bros. cartoons broke me forever.

So you were quite strict about wanting to be a cartoonist?

I just admitted, y’know, “You’re not going to be Simon Bisley and you’re not going to be able to draw Batman”. Nor would I want to. My uncle was an illustrator and I used to look at his work and the looseness of the brush work used to really appeal to me. When I realized I could tell the stories that I wanted by cartooning, and not being a slave to anatomy and photo-referencing, that was really liberating and I think the style developed there. It was quite organic.

A lot of your work – Terminus for example, which you did weekly for Mindless Ones – consists of single panel pieces. What is it that appeals about that format?

The one panel strip is traditionally used for political cartoons or simple visual gags, but I wanted to explore what you could do. They were like haiku experiments in paring down the text. Doing it on a weekly basis was great – doing anything on a weekly basis is great because it’s a way to refine your style – and I noticed that I was getting much better at paring the words down. I wanted to do something that wasn’t necessarily funny. What about if you had a one-panel comic that just disturbed you, or made you feel a bit sad? Somebody on the internet said “It’s like a fortune cookie that you open up and inside there’s an obituary.” That was the perfect description of what I was trying to do. He didn’t mean it as a compliment but I put it on the back of the first collection anyway. It was about trying to capture something and suggest a whole world in a panel. There was a nerdy element also, because I got to tell a science fiction or horror story simply. Horror is a thing that comes up again and again in my work and Terminus was a good way to flex some of those muscles.

If you’ll forgive me for sliding straight into huckster mode – this is the internet in 2016, after all – I’ll just right ahead and say that if the interview put you in the mood to read/buy Dan’s comics, we can help you out with that!

I mean just look at this sequence, from the most recent Cindy and Biscuit book:




*Aside from Gary Lactus, who is of course the face of bad backs, and also – in his ridiculous stage name of “Fraser Geesin” – Jack of All Polymaths.

**Unless you’re broke, obviously. We don’t actually want to bankrupt you or anything. Or at least, The Beast Must Die doesn’t…

LIFE TURDS have prevented me from finishing my long promised post on Julia Scheele‘s comics, so here’s a quick ramble about the dick-slap aesthetics of Nemesis the Warlock and Marshal Law that I stole from my own twitter account…

Matt Maxwell once asked me if I had any thoughts on NEMESIS THE WARLOCK.  I do, and they’re all blurred by time & distance but here we go!

In Alec – how to be an artist, Eddie Campbell described Mills & O’Neilll’s NEMESIS as “the wicked satire of a rejected Catholic upbringing”. I wouldn’t presume to be able to improve on that description, but it does point towards what’s so good about *O’Neill’s* NEMESIS.

Don’t get me wrong, plenty of good artists have drawn NEMESIS (including Bryan Talbot, for fuck’s sake!) but O’Neill made it look *naughty*. This is what separates his baroque atrocities from similar dystopias (Warhammer 40K, etc): the heavy metal fanfare never obscures the man.

Less is not more – MORE IS MORE!

For London <-|-> From Hell

November 12th, 2015

The following post was written as a response to The London Graphic Novel Network’s discussion of From Hell

Here’s Graphic Novel Network/Kraken bod Joel‘s final flourish, just so you have some idea what I’m arguing against:

when I read [Moore's] stuff I get the feeling is that nothing has been lead to chance and everything is designed for very definite and exact reasons you know? If other comics are a little jelly and playful and “make your own mind up!” – Alan Moore in a labyrinth of cold hard steel: arranged in such a way that the only possible stance you’ll allowed is that of a mouse – desperately trying to find its way to the piece of cheese at the end.

And here’s my response:

Joel, the way you describe Alan Moore’s work there makes it sound hugely unappealing. I don’t think your account of how his art works is fundamentally untrue, mind, but it makes his work sound awful, tyrannical even – “Imagine being held in the iron grip of The World’s Mightiest Beard… FOREVER!”


And yet… the sense of total control is undeniably part of Moore’s appeal, always has been. It’s there in the famous grids of repeating imagery in Watchmen, in From Hell’s attempts to draw together an occult history of murder, in Promethea’s attempt to overlay scientific theories on Judeo-Christian creation myths. It’s even in the carefully synthesised pulp that fuels relatively Thrill Powered works like V for Vendetta and Halo Jones and (why not?!) Crossed 100
It’s also the aspect that can curdle his attempts at humour, the thing that sometimes makes his self-consciously light and playful comics feel like anything but, the… oh shit, is this why he always crams those bloody songs into his comics? Is it the final test of his mastery, the compunction to try and make you hear music in a comic? Will he manage it one day?

Maybe. Or maybe he just read too much Pynchon and smoked a little too much Tolkien before going to bed last night.

“Modern life is rubbish, here’s an 8,000 page novel about my garden.”