Personal Information:
Name: Nigel Dobbyn
Job: Artist
Sonic projects worked on: Sonic the Comic

Interview Date: 19/11/10
Note: You can click on most of the Images for a larger view
Manic Man: First, Thank you for agreeing to this interview and Let's start from the Beginning.. Or at lest, lets start with how did you first get interested in Drawing?
Nigel Dobbyn: My brother and I were bought weekly comics from an early age. I had a Ďstorybookí title I seem to remember (i.e. captions underneath the pictures, a la Rupert the Bear), as I was younger than him, but I always coveted his Ďproperí comic, which was usually the Sparky. I discovered Marvel comics along with my friend Aidan Potts early in primary school (around Ď68, í69) and promptly started (badly) drawing superheroes such as Iron Man and Captain America. Aidan was much better at it than me, which was probably my first mixture of inspiration and inadequacy that all artists experience. Aidan is still working professionally in illustration, writing and drawing some wonderful childrenís books such as ĎUneversaurusí as well as occasional comic strips.

The first Marvel strip I really fell in love with was Lee and Kirbyís Fantastic Four, echoes of which you can see in my, Nigelís and Richardís work for StC.
How did you get involved with Sonic The Comic?
I knew editor Richard Burton from working on 2000AD, but there were doubts as to whether I could fit in with StCís style. Nigel and I developed the Sparkster strip together with the hopes that I would draw it, but it was given to another artist. Thankfully Nigel kept plugging away on my behalf and I eventually got to do a Sonic Summer Special then Knuckles, mainly because Nigel stepped aside from the art duties to let me do it.
It would have been intresting to see you on that strip. I felt it did seam to go a bit far away from the games in terms of look and story, but it was a good one, none the less. It was Keith Page that got the art job in the end.

You mostly worked on the Knuckles strip in the early days, but did a bit of work on the others, later you seamed to be mostly doing Tails and Amy & Tekno strips. Where there characters you preferred to work on, more then others?
The advantage of working on strips written by Nigel Kitching was that there was a lot of collaboration pre-script, so I got to have plenty of input on plots, character designs etc., which I didnít get working with Lew. I also preferred the character of Knuckles as it allowed me to create more moody artwork than with the other characters. The few times I worked on Sonic were not particularly successful either.

My favourite work of all was colouring the linework of Roberto Corona, which was more of a pleasure than I could reasonably expect from a paying job. Iím still very proud of the work we produced together and it was a privilege to work with him.
It seams you enjoyed working with Nigel Kitching. When you say about Input on the plots and stuff, how far did it go? should some of the stories be more a case of co-scriptor or did you keep just under that level, so to speak?
As far as scripting goes, I got a co-writing credit on the Chaotix story involving the four elements. Otherwise, it was a question of Nigel and I hammering things out on the phone or sometimes, as with the story when the four villains take over the floating island, I'd already come up with the characters and Nigel wrote a vehicle for them. I suggested bringing Dr Zachary back as a cyborg because I found him boring to draw and wanted to pay tribute to Marvel's Deathlok character, one of my favourites growing up. I think some of the suggestions for story themes in the quest series were mine, particularly the final talking trees one. Nigel would also ask my opinion if he felt stuck on the script at any point, but he knows me well enough to write to my strengths. We have a lot of common reference points - Nigel had introduced me to Miyazaki's 'Laputa' years before, for instance, which had a strong influence on the design of the guardian robots. I did have to rewrite the script for the final episode of the Spice Maidens Captain Plunder story, as Nigel had gone on holiday and the editor's copy of the script had disappeared before it could be lettered and I'd already chucked mine out (no electronic copies then), so I wrote it out again from memory!
In total you worked on about 88 Stories (Including Multi-part stories individually), Which ones, if any, were your favourite or you were most pleased with?
As far as Knuckles is concerned, the Ďquestí series is one of my favourite stretches, simply because Nigel indulged me in creating different mood pieces. I still like the Hammer Horror ĎVillage of the Damnedí story from that sequence and the western one.
While you mostly did all the art yourself, you also did colouring work for Roberto Corona, one time even for Carl Flint. Did you just colour cause you enjoyed it, or was there another reason that you did just the colouring these times, and not the art?
I did it because I was asked to (the editor at the time, Deborah, was very keen on my colouring style Ė every time Iíve seen her since, she bemoans the fact that I donít paint any more!) As to the enjoyment factor, see above.
Interestingly, You comment on your site about doing colouring for Richard Elson.. There doesn't seam to be any credits in STC for you doing this.. a mistake on your part or were there some missing credits in STC?
I think I was credited. There were two stories I did and a couple of covers. One story involved Tails and Sonic encountering a Minotaur in the fog (actaully a conjoured up illusion by a juvenile god), the other written by Lew I think, featuring Brutus. A couple of the covers were pretty late on when the comic had gone over to reprint.
Ah, yeah, sorry. I just noticed my Records had one major mistake and missed out the two story credits (The Detour from issue 113, and 'Showdown Part 1' from issue 130. As for the Covers, My records sadly don't include the reprint only times but its nice to hear you still had some work there.

I feel I really should talk about the two-part story 'Break Out' from STC Summer Special 1996. You did good art work, but it had colouring by one time STC colourist Tim Bollard. The reason i say about this, is one of the most common and annoying Mistake of all time.. Sonic with Blue arms. Is there any kind of feeling to see someone making such a mistake like that on your work, or does it not really bother you?
I did it myself in a sketch recently! Timís a lovely guy and I think he did a decent job on that, blue arms or no. It should have been spotted by editorial though.
As well as working on STC, you worked on Other titles titles like Judge Dread. It does seam to be a thing that everyone that works on 2000AD had to work on STC and visa-versa. Any reason you know of?
Same company, same editor at the beginning. But as I said previously, working on one would often actually be a barrier to working on the other. Iíve certainly never made it back in the other direction!
Well, like said, you worked on other titles like 2000AD, Judge Dredd, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, Digimon & Power Rangers. Can you tell us a bit more about what you have done outside the world of Sonic?
2000AD was the comic I always wanted to work for. I did eight years on that (two of my Strontium Dogs series are just about to be collected with the Judge Dredd Megazine). I would happily have carried on working on that for ever, but the work dried up after a buyout of the company, so it was more circumstance than anything that led to working on Sonic, although it turned out to be one of the happiest periods of work in my career. 2000AD led to some work for DC on their spin off Dredd title Legends of the Law, as well as an issue of The Demon, which Garth Ennis was writing.

After StC I was pretty hard up for work for a long while. The Turtles and Polydor jobs were through an agent, who proved very unreliable and I eventually ended up working in a food factory for several months before getting the Digimon job, which pulled my fat out of the fire temporarily. Sadly, the title didnít last very long.

Since then, itís been a mixture of licensed character work, occasional comic strip work, work through an agency (mainly educational books in various different styles) and design and illustration work in the conservation and wildlife field (my wife works for the local wildlife trust, but I also do work for various councils and wildlife organisations).

Currently, Iím doing artwork for Paniniís Spiderman and Friends, comic strips for Eaglemossí Gogos Crazy Bones Mega Metropolis, design work for Tees Valley Wildlife Trust, London Borough of Bromley and others, as well as working on a series of books for the Polish market. Iím also trying to fit in a strip for the Strontium Dog fanzine Dogbreath and colouring work on a series for Markosia. Bit of a juggling act, but it keeps things varied. I basically try to keep as many plates in the air as possible nowadays, as the marketís too unstable to rely on any one company.
You mostly seam to work on childrenís and young adult titles, but i believe you have also done a number of images for Wildlife books and even stuff for record company, 'Polydor Records'. Can you tell us a bit about these?
The wildlife stuff started early on for a voluntary organisation but has recently been getting me a lot of professional work. Since Ďturning digitalí, Iíve learnt a lot about design, so can combine that with my illustration to produce notice boards, publications etc. The Polydor Records thing was a couple of weird little comic strip inserts for a short-lived boy band called ĎUltimate Kaosí. Other strange stuff Iíve done includes a commission for Eagle Star in the style of Dan Dare, designing an animated whiteboard character, designing icons for the ĎPrawn Sandwichí football website and various wine labels.

Iíve also worked on licensed characters that include Power Rangers, Thunderbirds, the Turtles, My Little Pony, Scooby Doo, Mr. Bean, Fetch the Vet and many others! For awhile, I got a bit lost in other peopleís styles!
For a while, when you were working on TMHT for BBC, you did some writing work as well. This seams to be rare for you, Do you have any interest in getting into writing as well as art?
Until very recently, I have been writing and drawing an annual strip for the Beano Annual (Billy the Cat), which I loved doing. I had plots worked out for the next several years, but quit the strip over an artistic disagreement (they decided to stretch all the artwork for this yearís annual to make it fit the new format pages better).

I also write for fanzines such as Dogbreath and would happily do more (I pitched an idea to 2000AD many years ago, but it fell on deaf ears). I have a project of my own that Iím developing, but itís a question of finding the time to do it. I do love writing, so itís definitely something I want to find an outlet for.
I think that's probably all. Thank you for allowing this interview and I wish you good luck for the Future.
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