Talking Psycho Gran With Creator David Leach

Last week I posted a review for Psycho Gran by creator David Leach and published by Titan Comics. This week I had the opportunity to email David some questions about the title so let's get started.

Dustin: With Psycho Gran being around since 1986, what about her character has made her so timeless?

 David: We all have grannies. I think there's something wonderfully exciting, mischievous and dangerous about them, or was that just mine? They're old and they're the mum of your mum, plus they spoil you rotten, but they can also tell you what to do, like your own mum does! That seemed so strange when I was a kid, the idea that they could boss not only you but also your mum or dad around. And I think we're all a little scared of the elderly, no one likes to think that one day they'll be old themselves, I think we resent them for showing us what we're going to become. Psycho works because she looks frail and yet she's super strong and batty. She's the classic sheep in wolf's clothing. And there's something funny about an old granny being lethal and crazy to boot, especially since usually the elderly are portrayed as figures of fun to be mocked and laughed at. 

Dustin: With her design she works across many eras, was that intentionally in her creation?

David: Someone once said that we all reach an age in our lives where we find a style of fashion we like and stick with it. I think the same is true with Psycho Gran. The black dress, I imagine she first wore back in the 1920s, it's modeled on one of Chanel's 'Little Black Dresses' numbers. The heavy, hairy, green Gaberdine coat she picked up in a Oxfam shop back in the early 70s. The tartan shawl keeps her shoulders warm, when there's a nip in the air and the little black pumps are mainly because her feet have swollen so much she can't get them off anymore. Plus there's the surgical stockings she wears to keep her legs warm. I think the reason she works well, visually, is because she seems archetypal.

PsychoGran_Cover copy 2Dustin: What’s the process for when you write a story for Gran, do you take on a particular event that’s happened to you that you think, “I wish I could have handled it like this” and use that for your source material?

David: I'm inspired by things I've read, things I've seen and things I overhear in the street as I'm walking around. Sometimes a film will ignite an idea for her, then I mull it over, working things out until it takes shape in my head. I usually try it out on my wife, either explaining the idea or showing her a scribbled storyboard with quotes. the other day I saw a discarded deck chair and I thought up a story for Psycho on holiday. Sometimes I imagine a situation and think, 'how would PG handle this?' I have a note over my desk that reads: Psycho isn't nice, stop giving her nice stories with twee happy ending! This was a direct message from her, cheesed off when I accidentally started thinking up cute stories for her. She hates those. Sometimes a story idea will take weeks to work through. I'm working on an idea at the moment that's taken a good couple of months to think through, it was the savage punishment she metes out at the end that had me stymied, then I realised all that was missing was a thirty foot long face plant, then the idea worked. 

Dustin: What about Gram is for kids and what about her is for adults?

David: I couldn't tell you. I never write for either in mind, I write to make me laugh and that's it. I try to avoid graphic violence or swearing in Psycho Gran comic strips, I think it would weaken the jokes and also it's too easy to be sweary and crude in humour comics. I think kids like Psycho Gran because she's old, naughty and silly and adults because she's silly, naughty and old, but adults chortle at the social commentary or subtle hidden gags because they're often too grown up to laugh at poo and fart gags, but deep down they remember how naughty it seemed when they were young to say, 'stinky poo-face!' or 'wee-wee, ploppy bum bum.' to their friends.  

I do know that kids love things that are gross, yucky, mad and silly. And luckily those are four areas I excel at.

Dustin: With the digital age and Gran making her big Comixology debut, what’s the response been like from the American market or just the response in general?

David: I've been delighted with the response to be honest! The American's don't like the scatalogical gags, nearly all American reviews have commented on that, which amazed me because there was only one poo jokes and two fart gags, although one of those might have been a fanny fart gag, actually it was, or if any Americans are reading this, a front bottom fart joke. Beyond that, they seemed to compare me to Archie comics and Mad, both of which I humbly accept as high praise indeed! I'm a huge fan of Mad and in awe of the skill of its many creators. 

On the whole, people find her funny, which I have to tell you is a huge relief, the trouble with writing, drawing and colouring a humour strip is that by the time you've finished it, you hate everything you've done and it no longer seems funny to you any more. I was cacking myself when she came out on Comixology that people would hate her and me. 
I'm genuinely delighted and relieved that people seem to like her! I can't wait to start on the next book's worth of stupid Psycho Gran stories, including her origin story, something I swore I'd never do, up until the time I suddenly worked out what it was!
Peas and Lard people, peas and lard.

A big thank you to David and Titan Comics. Be sure to check out Psycho Gran on Comixology, out now!