Laurence Campbell Interview

by Nick Devonald on May 20, 2020

Hi Laurence, Thanks for taking the time to talk to Comics: The Gathering. I was first introduced to your work in the pages of B.P.R.D. and have been a big fan ever since. I even have a couple of prints of your work.

That’s great. Thank you.

Old Haunts is an incredibly stylised comic. The layout of the panels on the page comes across almost cinematic thanks to the use of wide, short panels, and is incredibly effective. I’d love to know what prompted you to draw the comic like this?

Pretty early on we decided to draw Old Haunts in widescreen style. I’d first worked like this on Punisher Max with Axel Alonso as my editor a number of years ago. The widescreen panels seem to fit the cinematic tone we were looking for on Old Haunts. As the book continues and things go out of control we got to experiment with some design elements with the book, which was fun.

When working on a creator owned project like this how much freedom do you get when it comes to designing the characters? Do Rob Williams and Ollie Masters give you a very general description, or are they quite specific in their designs?

It’s been great working with Rob and Ollie, both good guys. I had a lot of freedom on the whole of the book. Rob and Ollie sent me character descriptions and backgrounds at the start, which is always very helpful. I added little design features to make them stand out from the crowd. When drawing a comic in modern times with no superheroes you need to find a way the main characters stand out from other characters. This can be done with clothes, haircuts, facial hair etc.

The bright lights of Los Angeles contrast brilliantly with your heavy inks. Lee Loughridge colours coupled with your heavy inks is a match made in heaven. When you saw the coloured pages were they what you were expecting?

Lee has done magic with Old Haunts. We love what he has done colouring the book. It perfectly fits with the look of the book we wanted. At the start I sent Lee a selection images with the feel I was thinking for the book. Lee came back with the colours of the cover to the first issues and we were all blown away. Lee totally nailed what we were looking for. Lee brings the city to life with haunting glows.

I’m a big fan of AWA’s solutions to the current crisis in the world of comics. Releasing them online for free has been a stroke of genius. The only drawback to this is Old Haunts loses a bit of the cinematic feel that it has on the page. I’m curious whether knowing the web format it’ll be released in if this impacts on how you plan out future issues, or if you just focus on how it’ll look on the page?

When  drawing Old Haunts I was totally focused on the storytelling to be read as a comic or graphic novel. Releasing it online for free was a nice idea during the pandemic but I’m looking forward to it being released as planned in comic form.

You had an excellent run drawing B.P.R.D., working on the final act in the Mignolaverse no less. How did it feel completing something so iconic?

Amazing. I spent around 7 years working on BPRD and had a total blast. When I was asked if I’d be interested in drawing BPRD to the end, I was blown away with what they had planned. Yet when it came to the end it was still a surprise to me. It’s something I won’t forget.

Is there added pressure drawing a character like Hellboy who’s built up a loyal fanbase over the years?

Mike Mignola is a big influence on me. I was also a big fan of Hellboy before I started drawing BPRD so it was a mixture of real pleasure and a sense of pressure on getting this right.

You’ve worked on some incredibly iconic characters over the years, Hellboy, Punisher, Wolverine, Judge Dredd, to name a few. Are there any characters you would really like to draw and haven’t had a chance to yet?

I would like to draw a Batman comic if given the opportunity as he’s a character I’ve never drawn professionally. I’d also like to revisit Judge Dredd again sometime in the future and I’d be happy to revisit the Mignolaverse anytime.

Carrying on the theme of drawing iconic characters. Do you have a preference for drawing the more iconic ones or do you prefer your own creations?

Old haunts is the first time I’ve done something creator owned professionally. I’ve really enjoyed the whole experience and would certainly do it again. I also really enjoy drawing the Iconic characters so a balance of both would be good.

It’s notoriously difficult to become a comic book artist. How did your career start?

I’ve always been into comics and art since a kid. Leaving school I started work as a junior graphic designer, working there for 7 years. I was also going life drawing classes and the London Cartoon Centre once week.  I left my job and went to art collage as a mature student were I was drawing a comic in the evening and weekends which was later published by Caliber Press. Caliber gave me some more projects while I was still at Art College. I went on to draw a mini series for Image before working for 2000ad and then Marvel and on to Dark Horse and AWA. So it snowballed over time.

While most of the world is in lockdown are there any comics you’ve worked on that you would recommend to escape the boredom or as a bit of escapism for our readers?

I’d suggest BPRD and the Hellboy books from the start to the very end if you’ve never done so. Trust me you won’t regret it. Also can I recommend all the new AWA titles. Myself I’ve been reading The Smell of Starving Boys by Frederik Peeters and Loo Hui Phang and The Golden Age by Roxanne Moreil and Cyril Pedrosa.

How much has the current global crisis impacted on your work?

I’d finished Old Haunts just before the lockdown and the next project I was about to start was put on hold so I’ve used that time draw some commissions. It’s something I’ve not had the chance to do for a while and I’ve been enjoying it.

I've enjoyed looking at the commissions you've put on twitter, a little jealously I might add. Check them out on Laurence's official twitter @getcampbell. You can also check out the first issue of Old Haunts for free right here on CTG. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to CTG. See below for some of the commissions he's done: