Name: Carl Flint
Sonic projects worked on: Sonic the Comic
Interview Date: 31/03/10
|Manic Man:||Well, first things first, Mr Flint, How did you get Started as an artist?|
I think I took the fairly well-trodden path of doing an art Foundation course followed by a degree course in graphic design - specialising in illustration. I took my degree at Leeds Polytechnic which is now Leeds Metropolitan University or something like that. Duncan Fegredo, who is now drawing Hellboy, was also on that course. Prior to going to college I had had some work published in fanzines - mostly about the local music scene, I'm from Chesterfield in Derbyshire. Before that I'd had a few bits published in school magazines.
After college I moved to London and began taking my illustration folder around the magazines, publishers and agencies. I worked mostly in editorial illustration, working for everyone from Marxism Today to Marketing Week. My main interest was music and I was very pleased to become a regular illustrator on the NME for a good few years.
My first published comic strip was for the last issue of Escape, the 'English Eccentrics' one. I'm still in touch with Paul Gravett and Peter Stanbury of Escape.
I also did a regular newspaper format strip for Sky Magazine, Disco Inferno for Select, and, after I'd started working for Sonic, I did a number of strips for Fleetway's Red Dwarf magazine.
|How did you get involved with Sonic the Comic in the first place?|
I used to work in the Detonator studio in Shoreditch, East London, with Ed Hillyer, Woodrow Phoenix and Chris Webster. Ed and Woody were beginning to work on Sonic and Chris later worked on the STC Ecco the Dolphin strip, I saw their work and fancied having a crack at it myself. I'd been interested in comics for a long, long time but I think I'd only had a small amount of stuff published and none of that was specifically for the children's market.|
I think the first thing I did was to send some rough cover ideas to Richard Burton, one of those ended up being worked up and used as the cover to STC 6 - the one with Sonic jumping out of a screen.
I later sent him a batch of cover ideas based on classic American comic book covers such as Action Comics 1 or Detective 38 (first Robin) but using Sonic characters and environments in place of Superman or whoever. None of those ideas were used but I think they caught Richard's eye.
|Due to lack of a lot of credit details very early in STC's history, the first piece of known work by you was for issue 12's Story 'Hidden Danger',written by Mark Millar, yet it wasn't until issue 42 (the Story 'Hero Of Mobius' written by Nigel Kitching) that you were seen in a comic strip again, was there any reason for this, did you enjoy doing covers and posters more?|
|It was the editor's decision I guess. I certainly can't remember turning anything away! I was very happy working on the covers anyway, same with posters, although I did a lot more covers than posters.|
|On the topic of missing credits, do you happen to know if you draw the covers for issue 6 (which looks like Sonic breaking through a screen) or issue 8 (Brown Sonic before he turned blue)?|
|In your time at STC, you worked on about 27 Strips (some multi-part and some with John M Burns colouring), 46 covers (issue 132 & 136 with John M Burns Colouring), Back cover for poster Mag 4, Front and giant poster for Poster Mag 6 and who can count how many posters, stickers etc. That's a lot of work in your time, Were any of the projects really Fun to do and maybe, some not so fun?|
I enjoyed pretty much all of it. I preferred working on the covers most though. A good comic cover can have a lot of impact, and it's a good feeling to see them on the racks in the newsagents. I love studying old Marvel and DC covers from the '60s. A good cover will still work when it's reproduced really small, matchbox size, - I hope some of my Sonic covers are bold enough to do that.|
One strange thing about the covers though - at least I found it strange, was that we were never allowed to show Sonic in peril, he always had to look cool, confident and on top of things. I had a few cover ideas rejected because of that. I think it was an order either from Sega or CPL rather than a Fleetway decision. CPL was a copyright enforcing agent and all of our work had to be approved by them before being published. They were a pain.
|John M Burns seamed to be the on-staff colourist, where there any reasons while he would be called in to colour some of your work instead of doing it yourself?|
|I think the most honest answer would be to say that he made a better job of it than I would have. I think he really added a lot to my drawings in terms of texture, rendering and shading. His colours were very vibrant and alive.|
|Speaking of other colourists It comes to a couple of odd matters. The STC #87 Tails story 'Easy Target' (Written by Lew Stringer), showed a lot of the style you use in other work for the backgrounds, but appears to have colouring credits by 'pre-press'. By the looks of it, it was a basic Digital colouring person/group and there are fairly annoying colouring mistakes all through the story. Any reason why someone else was called in and just who or what was 'pre-press'?|
|I think that colour credit is probably an editorial error. I reckon Pre-Press might have been the company that made the proofs for the comic, but that's an educated guess. So I'm afraid I don't know who coloured that one. Unfortunately I don't have copies of any of my Sonic work here in Sweden so I can't check further.|
|It would be stupid of me to forget to say about the infamous 'How can Carl Flint call himself an artist?' letter by one Kati Mason printed in issue #47, a scan of which has even appeared on your site. What were your thoughts when this letter came into the office and shown to you?|
I do think that Kati overestimated how much we were getting paid on STC though, she did go on to say 'You may be sitting in luxury with all that money you're making, Carl, but once in a while concentrate on drawing some decent artwork'. I wasn't living in luxury, but I do promise to try harder in future!
|While there is probably a simple answer, I can't past asking about the 'two-part' poster 'Heroes and Villains'. Did you get any control over which characters to pick? If so, why Pick the character 'The Leaf', who only appeared in 1 single strip?|
I pitched the idea for the poster to Deb and she decided to go with it. I think the characters used were chosen by me - I can't recall any particular editorial input.|
Re. the Leaf - again, I would have chosen him, maybe because I wanted to use a character who was quite different in terms of appearance to the other baddies who were largely humanoid and robotic, maybe I just liked him. Was he a Tails foe? Perhaps I wanted a character that had a similar feel to Tails to sort of balance things up.
It's hard to remember, I haven't drawn any of these characters for ten years until I did the sketch that may accompany this interview.
|As STC went on, they hired Judge Dread Artist Mike McMahon. Nothing against the guy but I have never been a fan of his work and his STC work is just pretty low in my option, but this is never here nor there, what appeared to happen was you got removed from the covers as McMahon did more and more until you were out and he seemed to take the place you used to. How did this really happen and how did you feel about it?|
|I think Mike McMahon is a great comic artist and character designer. I hadn't really thought about it but he did get more work as I got less. No hard feelings though! I think it may have been around the time I was getting more involved in storyboarding and gradually moving away from comics and illustration, everything happened very smoothly. I don't think there was a conspiracy of any kind.|
|Your final STC story was printed in January of 1999 and was in issue #147. The Story was an Amy Rose story called 'Small Talk' and for some odd reason, sees fellow artist Nigel Dobbyn taking up the role as a colourist. Why?|
I never coloured any of my own work on the STC strips over the years. This may have been because I coloured the covers using airbrush and inks, which is fine for big bold shapes but tricky for the small details you'd find in comics panels. I'd colour them in Photoshop if I was doing them today.|
I think Nigel did a great job on the colouring and added a lot of form and weight to the whole thing. I was usually pleasantly surprised to see how my work looked after it had been coloured by someone else. it wasn't a problem for me at all for someone else to do it.
|How well did you get on with different members of staff, were there any people you didn't enjoy working with for any reasons? Or anyone you really enjoyed working with?|
It sounds a bit boring but I actually liked everyone that worked on Sonic that I met. I had a good relationship with editor Debbie Tate, she was assistant editor when I first started. I think it was her idea to credit the writers and artists. And she always gave me a cup of tea when I took my work in.|
Gary Knight was the designer for most of the time while I was working for STC. We finished up sharing a studio together in Clerkenwell and worked on a couple of projects together.
I met Richard Elson, Nigel Kitching and Lew Stringer at a couple of Sonic meetings as well as at the comic conventions. All really nice! I like to think that the comic worked well because there was a good 'family' feeling between the creators. We did signings as a group at one or two conventions, I think they were in Bristol. The signings were really well attended and I was overwhelmed by the young readers' enthusiasm and knowledge about the comic and the characters. I don't think that enough importance is placed on comics for kids, I hope we were able to get some young people interested in the comics medium.
|You talk about getting on well with Debbie Tate. There have been some comments about her that she was very much into 'girl power', and it was her decision to turn Amy from her original form into the Jean wearing crossbow expert that was more interested in fighting Robotnik as a strong fighter in her own right when any love interest in Sonic that she once had, and even lead to the much later untold origin of Amy, which retconned a lot of the Early STC Amy Stories. What was she like in this respect?|
|During your time, you work on the following stories: Hidden Danger - #12, Hero of Mobius - #42, Cybernik Strikes Back - #63-67, Snow Business - #68, Brute Force #69-72, Fox on the Run - #73 -76, Changing Times - #82, New Image - #84, Trooper Trouble - #85-86, Easy Target - #87, Flip Side - #103-104, Channel Hoppers - #112, Weather Beaten - #115, High in the Sky - #117, New Years Twister- #120, Root of all Evil - #122-123, The Lump - #124, Green Envy - #125, Clear as Mud - #129, Cat Trick - #132, Following Suit - #133, The Sky's the Limit - #135, Day of the Puppets - #137, Future Distractions - #139, Bite Back - #139, Skeleton Crew - #141 & Small Talk - #147. Whew... Any favourites among them?|
|That was As Clear as Mud, from Issue 129, written by Lew Stringer. Now, moving on to your work outside of STC, while you were doing Sonic, you met up for writer Ian Carney and started the first of quite a few projects together. How did you to meet?|
|I was introduced to Ian when I was asked by Frank Wynne, who was the editor of Deadline magazine, to illustrate one of Ian's scripts. That strip was Ken Alone, it was the story of what happened to Ken after Barbie leaves him. The story is actually quite an accurate reflection of my own life at the time as I, too, had just split up with girl and wasn't feeling super great. Most of the locations in the strip where around where I lived and the bedsit where Ken lives is where I was living at the time. We did a follow up to Ken Alone which also appeared in Deadline. After that we worked on a few strips for various publishers. Most of Ian's comics work was actually in collaboration with Woodrow Phoenix - they did the comic Sugar Buzz for Slave Labour together.|
|I Wont ask too much into some details of some of the work you have done with him and others because some of it is a little more adult then I like to go into but you have done a lot of work on books, comics adverts etc., is there anything of these that you really enjoyed doing?|
I'd like to carry on with the storyboarding - ideally move into films, and it would be nice to do more comics as well - I have lots of ideas but not much time.
|A bit of a surprise for me, you have done a fair amount of storyboarding work for Channel 4, most seen would be your work on some of the Channel 4 idents where different objects form the classic '4' logo. How did you get involved with Channel 4 and do you just enjoy it enough to keep coming back?|
I knew a couple of people who had contacts at Channel 4, Tracey Waller was a freelance designer who worked for them and I also knew Tony Linkson who was a freelance director. They put me in touch with Channel 4, I'd already done some storyboarding for Bruce Dunlop and Associates on some Sky TV projects so I had work to show.|
Quite soon I was working on the channel idents which you mentioned - it was a privilege to be working on those and the finished idents were really well received. I think they made an impact on channel branding internationally. I'm currently working on the boards for the promo for the final series of Big Brother for Channel 4
Brett Foraker, creative director at Channel 4 put me in touch with Ridley Scott and Associates and I've been freelancing for them off and on for the last few years. I recently drew a B.A.Baracus portrait which will be on the Orange sponsorship trailers for the new A-Team film - it will be stuck on the side of the van, blink and you'll miss it!
I've been drawing quite often for Nickelodeon, it's good to be going children's stuff again. The last batch I did was for Hero Factory which is an upcoming Lego product. Since I moved to Sweden I've been boarding for lots of TV stuff including ads for Volvo, ice cream, fashion, pies, Specsavers, the cutscenes in the Terminator:Salvation game - a range of things. Nothing for Ikea so far though...
|Well, Thank you for this Interview, and I hope things continue to go well for you.|
|Thank you, Man. It's been good to think back to those times. And many thanks for your interest. Good luck with the site!|