Hugh (Shug) Raine Interview
Next up to be interviewed is the Gene Simmons-esque Hugh (Shug) Raine;
1 / Can you introduce yourself?
I’m Hugh Raine, also known as Shug (which is a name I inherited from the Scottish-Australian side of my family).
I’m a professional greetings card illustrator and freelance cartoonist living in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.
I have a very long tongue which I will show you at conventions if you ask nicely and/or buy a badge.
2 / What drew you to comics?
Initially, I went through the same DC Thompson route as everyone else, although they sort of annoyed me — even as a child — with incessant puns and smug self-referencing.
I thought I’d completely “outgrown” comics (although I was still watching a lot of Nickelodeon) until I started picking up UK reprints of Marvel comics. Of course, it wasn’t long before I found comic shops and realised there were other types of books in there that would appeal to the cartoonist in me. I started reading Peter Bagge’s Hate and never looked back.
I studied animation at university (as many of us comic makers did) and since writing a short film and a comic are basically the same, I had sketchbooks full of ideas for both. I knew a bunch of guys who put together a type of comic-‘zine and joined in. Later, I would start my own comic-‘zine called REET!, spawning many of the characters I now use in my longer works.
3 / Who do you count as your influences?
My comic influences are Peter Bagge, Steven Weissman, Pat Moriarty, John Kricfalusi and recently Nicholas Mahler, although I try not to let the comics I like influence me too much since they’re mostly American and I’m trying to embrace my Yorkshire roots. Instead, I favour mediums outside of comics like comedy, television, cartoons, music, film, Hallowe’en, travel, the weather… Or in other words: everything else!
4 / Can you describe your working process?
I let an idea grow unhindered in my head for about a year, occasionally doing the odd sketch while it takes shape. A lot of these early sketches end up in the finished book but I need the story to have evolved on its own enough before I start writing and thumbnailing. I thumbnail the pages on post-it notes in a roughly linear fashion and begin to piece everything together.
With my last project and from now on, I only give myself a rough idea of the dialogue, preferring to type it in one go over the finished artwork. It gives the words more spontaneity and a more conversational feel.
I still work with pencil and paper, and I usually ink using a Pilot V-Sign, which has a nice, soft nib. Lately, I’ve started using a dip pen and ink for occasional projects.
I rarely produce a decent original that I could sell. Instead, I allow myself to make mistakes, knowing that it can all be cleaned up and assembled digitally in Photoshop, where I also do my colouring.
5 / What does your workspace/studio look like?
Nothing like this. I tidied it for this photo. My computer is eight years old but still does the business.
My work desk at the greetings card company looks much cooler… But it has top secret card concepts all over it so you can’t see it!
Other than that, I work on the kitchen table with the door open so I can see through to the TV in the living room, or I draw on my lap on the couch, relegating my wife to the seventies orange armchair and giving myself terrible chest pains that make a loud, deep pop when I stretch it out.
6 / What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just finished my mini-series, Find Comet, Hit Comet, Watch Comet, Sleep, which I’ve collected into a perfect bound book and have been selling through my website and at conventions. I’m touting it around for now but am due to start my next book about a flood, which will be the second of my proposed “disaster trilogy” books! I plan to publish it online for free as an experiment. I can still hear Steve Tillotson’s words ringing in my ears when I offered him a comic to buy on my table at The UK web & Mini Comix Thing: ‘Nah. I read that on your website!’ But I do believe that showing it for free to a larger audience can only help sales in the long run.
I’ve started to soundtrack my work. My comet book is accompanied by sixteen free tracks. I plan to soundtrack most of my comics from now on, basically making the kind of music I enjoy listening to.
I’m also pimping myself out for selected anthologies, along the lines of the recent Paper Science #3.
7 / What are your ambitions for the future?
I’m working towards getting something published. It would be nice to have my comet book published but I’m realistic in knowing that it’s my first full length book and I should work on the next one instead of standing still.
The great thing about self-publishing is that I can always sell my books online should my publishing ambitions never be realised… But it would be really lovely to see one of my books on Amazon marketplace for twenty pence.
I’m also due to start a collaborative webcomic with a bunch of extremely talented chaps that I’m pretty excited about. Our work compliments each others’ very nicely so I’m looking forward to seeing what we come up with. If only we could settle on a title…
Steve Tillotson and I plan to do another Leeds Alternative Comics Fair around late spring. The first one was a mini success!
8 / What advice would you give to an aspiring amateur cartoonist?
Put the hours in as early as possible. I recently stumbled upon some pages of a comic I did when I was about thirteen-years-old. I’d always estimated there were about thirty pages or so. To my absolute shock and horror, I discovered there were seventy-two pages! And we’re talking an average of twenty-eight panels per page. That’s over two thousand panels! I can’t even remember putting all that time in, but I did and it paid off.
If you want to make comics, don’t pollute your mind with comics by other people, (beyond learning the language of comics — but even then, that’s not massively important). Be influenced by everything. A good story is a good story, whatever form it’s presented in. There’s more to life than comics — as brill as they are!
Realise that people on the scene aren’t rude, they’re probably just shy. I’m only just realising this now.
I’d also say that materials do not matter in the slightest. I still use cheap supplies like copy paper and cheap tracing paper. If you know what you’re doing, no amount of bristol board or Rotring pens will help.
9 / What do you think of the health of the UK comics scene at the moment, and what do you think it can do better?
I don’t really have a frame of reference since I used to work on my comics in a sort of artistic bubble before barging onto the convention scene in 2007, but the conventions seem busy, vibrant and occasionally very profitable (if you’re ready to diversify)!
The people are mostly a friendly, welcoming bunch. Mostly.
But I think comic makers (myself included) could do to stay away from Twitter and it’s twee conversations about cereal and do some actual bloody work!
10 / Where is the best place to buy your work?
My website, www.reetcomic.co.uk There’s also a bunch of free music on there ready to download!
Thanks, Shug! As usual, go and click some links, buy some comics and follow Shug on Twitter, although you probably don’t want to engage him in conversation about cereal.