For Black History Month, we want to celebrate the people that have helped make the world awesome, like Beano cartoonist, Wayne. Because when it comes to awesome, you don’t get much more awesome than the man who brings all your favourite characters to life!
So to help you be inspired, we’re proud to introduce you to comic cartoonist Wayne Thompson – he’s got some great advice for budding artists and Beano fans out alike!
Who or what inspired you to draw?
I always loved drawing. When I was little my mum used to hold the pencil for me and I would push it around. I remember we were doing history at school one day and I started copying one of the drawings in the textbook. When I’d finished, I couldn’t tell them apart, so I thought I might be pretty good. The thing that really fired my imagination, though, was Batman. I LOVED Batman comics, and I can still remember one cover that just blew my mind! It was Detective Comics No. 355… HOLY COW! I also loved Disney and Hanna Barbera cartoons and I wanted to draw comics in that style.
What made you think you could become a cartoonist?
I just wanted it so much! I went to art college and got a job as a graphic designer and illustrator, but at night I drew comics. I sent them to publishers – lots of them – and eventually, I got some work drawing Conan the Barbarian. I had to do that in my spare time but I was one step closer to my dream.
Did anyone tell you they thought you couldn’t do it?
No. My mum and dad were really supportive. My careers teacher thought it would be hard to get into and might not pay a lot, but I was determined to follow that path. After college, lots of my friends got other jobs, but I only wanted to be an illustrator. My parents kept me buckled down. They knew it wasn’t enough for me to be good at drawing, I had to impress people and reassure them I would do a good job for them. It wasn’t easy but I was like an ambassador for myself.
Your top tip for ‘making it’?
Go full steam ahead and just do it. Don’t be disappointed by setbacks, and always keep trying. Just remember it’s a journey and each step takes you closer to where you want to be.
What’s your fave strip you’ve created or worked on?
I loved drawing Jak and Todd – the style was my own, and I could bring in all my animation influences. Jak was white and Todd was black, but he wasn’t a background character, they were proper co-stars. When I designed Todd, I gave him an afro comb cos I wanted him to have something unique and authentic to his background. I also loved drawing Agent Dog 2-Zero which was about a cat and dog who had these amazing battles. That was fun!
What elements of yourself have you added to your characters?
I’m really into my martial arts, so two strips I drew Joe Jitsu and Shaolin Punx – really let me bring some of me to their characters. My big thing has always been making comics that feel like cartoons, with loads of movement, colour and action.
If you could go back in time and give your 12-year-old self some careers advice, what would it be?
Don’t give up. Listen to advice from people you trust. Hunt down opportunities, because one opportunity leads to another. Work hard. Make your own decisions, and never let anyone make you change course if you don’t have to. If you do have to change course, just think of it as a bit of a detour on the road to where you want to be.