Interview: Alison Sampson Talks About Her 'Genesis' at Image Comics

One of our writer's (Adam Kelly) had the chance to talk with Alison Sampson about her upcoming release Genesis, a collaboration with writer Nathan Edmondson that's releasing in April from Image Comics.

Adam Kelly) First, can you tell the readers a little bit about yourself and your influences?

Alison Sampson) Sure! I live and work in the UK. This is my first comic of any length, although I've now made shorts for a number of other publishers (for example, Spera, IDW's In The Dark, Image Comics' Outlaw Territory and Solipsistic Pop). I also do commissioned illustrations and technical writing. Influence-wise, there is a lot, most of it not comics. In comics I could name Jacques Tardi, Jorge Zaffino, Tony Salmons, Nate Powell, Glyn Dillon, Emma Rios.. so many people. Out of comics, Robert Rauschenberg, Jeff Wall, Sophie Calle, Brian Wildsmith, Paul Auster. A lifetime of looking at things and a 25 year career of judging them visually.

Kelly) Can you tell everyone a bit about Genesis?

Sampson) Our comic is a story of creations and destruction, plotted and scripted by Nathan Edmondson, made by (and with visual input and ideas from) me and with colours from Jason Wordie and letters from Jon Babcock. It is an enjoyable graphic novel unlike anything else, delivered with love and care and a pile of fantastic guest art. We would like people to buy it. You can get our book from bookshops and comic shops from April 16, and it is best to pre-order: Diamond code FEB140504, ISBN number 978-60706-995-9, price $6.99, or c.£5.

Kelly) You’re an architect, correct? Your artwork in Genesis was very unique in my opinion and I always felt like I was right there with Adam even though what’s going on is indeed ‘wild and trippy’ as the introduction states. How does architecture affect your artwork and vice versa?

Sampson) I wrote a really long answer here and deleted it- it's just impossible to get round all the things. The answer then is 'in so many, many ways'. I'm really glad you said you were there with Adam, that was so much the intent- we always aim to communicate to our clients as well as we can, what the places we are trying to describe mean for them- it is their place, their space and their money, after all. How does my artwork affect my architecture? The comics, I don't know, but there are a lot of buildings around, built off my annotated drawings. There are even some places, where I've managed to improve people's lives, with the books (with words and pictures), that I've made.

genesis_oneshotKelly) How did you end up working with Nathan Edmondson and Image?

Sampson) I made a comic, Nathan saw a page of it on the internet, emailed me, told me his idea, I said yes and made the comic. Image was the best choice for both of us. I've done work for hire for what feels like forever and felt that it was about time I made something that I actually owned. It enables the work to have a properly personal voice. All this sounds very smooth, but it really came down to a coincidence in timing. Nathan had a story for me at the precise moment I was ready to do this, and then Image picked it up. You'd have to ask them about that.

Kelly) What was the most rewarding part about working on a book like this?

Sampson) Getting the script in. Making the artwork. Working with Jason. Building a world and sharing it. Hopefully eventually seeing the book in my hands. Making something for other people to enjoy, and hopefully, them enjoying it. Genuinely owning and being credited for my work (as opposed to merely being responsible).

Kelly) Do you have any tips for other independent artists who are trying to get their foot in the door?

Sampson) That probably depends on which door you mean. I think if someone wants to make comics, they should make comics. You either do or you don't and there are no special resources required. Finishing the comic is good, Participating in the comics community is useful. Looking at people's work (not just the image but the action), showing your own, taking advice on board and keeping drawing are necessary things. Work hard, be nice (and the expansion of that, be professional) seems to be a truth. When I was asked to do this, I was making my own comic anyway. If this had gone down another route, there would still be a comic, and hopefully it would be a good comic. Take the example of what Robert Ball has done. He made Winter's Knight Day One and self published it, his first comic. It won the Best Comic at the British Comic awards this last year, in very stiff competition. He made something he wanted to make, how he wanted to make it. That's all you can do. If you want to work with somebody, ask them.

Kelly) Since this is your first project, do you have anything lined up after Genesis?

Sampson) I always, always have projects. I'm working on a comic a little longer than Genesis which will be announced soon, with a publisher. There is also Think of a City, a fun, slow cooking group world-building project, with a lot of artists, which I set up and (nominally) manage. I have a story in IDW's In The Dark, out a week after Genesis and art in Ordinary, from Titan, which is out in the summer. I want to do more creator owned work (and am working on that), since this is important to me, but am open to approaches. I'll always always keep an open mind and an eye for the right story.

Kelly) Lastly, is there anything we didn’t discuss that you’d like to mention? Where can people find you on the internet?

Sampson) I'd just like to say comics are an amazing medium, which can do and be anything. It would be great for more diverse people to make them, sell them, read them, question them and for them to be used for more diverse purposes. Because comics do not demand more than a paper and pen, time and effort, they are an ideal means for people in creative industries, who are otherwise working on things not their own, to have a voice. It is never too late to make your first comic. Never.

You can see my art and links to my other projects/ web presence on my tumblr, you can talk to me on twitter. 

I can be emailed at alissamp(at)googlemail(dot)com -- Look for Genesis from Image Comics on April 16th!