In his profile on NoBrow, the publishers of Everything We Miss, Luke mentioned: “Sometimes I say I’m a cartoonist as it sounds more fun and less like someone who just draws the pictures.” The “just” part hardly seems fair when you consider his extraordinary adroitness when it comes to storytelling and pleasing/educating a non-comic crowd. Everything We Miss hovers around the periphery of a failing relationship, imaginatively observed from all angles across space and time, and it’s an open answer to the publisher’s question: “Have you ever wondered what goes on in your life when you’re looking the other way?”
Hi Luke, we wondered whether you missed something important in the past and that’s why you story fixated on what is, but then maybe isn’t, but then could be?
Being the kind of frustratingly avoidant person that I am, I feel like I’ve missed out on a lot of things along the path to adulthood and I’m in a constant state of mourning for those lost experiences. I’ve been looking back with a tinge of regret since I was about 13 and I’ve definitely sacrificed a bit of living for the sake of drawing stuff, so I guess that’s where the roots of the story are. My original idea was that the book would be a series of vignettes focusing on a longing for the past, missed opportunities, miscommunication and the kind of surreal occurrences that could be going on unseen. It still is up to a point, but the break-up story grew very organically out of writing those vignettes.
You and Everything We Miss is going on tour! and, to extend the theme, the comic world is maybe something people miss – are you writing for a specific audience? What can they expect from coming into contact with you and your comic?
I don’t write with a specific audience in mind really. I write stuff for myself with the assumption that the kind of people who like the kind of thing I do will be the ones reading it. I think my audience is probably 50% comic readers and 50% illustrators/illustration students which is perhaps different to some other cartoonists who do similar work to me. I’ve had a few people tell me my comics were the first ones they’ve ever bought which is a really lovely and exciting thing to hear. Hopefully I can turn them on to some way better comics than my own and get more people crossing the illustration/comics divide with success. From coming into contact with me and my comic, people can reasonably expect an awkward conversation with me and a copy of my comic.
We spotted your recent addition in Reverence Library and a number of lovely works with NoBrow – what can you tell us about what you’ve been up to recently and where we can see your work going?
My comic in Reverence Library was actually drawn about a year and a half ago when I was first getting into my stride. My draughtmanship and storytelling has improved since then I think, but there’s some stuff in there that I found really interesting in hindsight and it made me want to get back in touch with the way I was apparently thinking back then. There’s a certain way you have to think when you’re an illustration student which frustrated me at the time but looking back was extremely beneficial. I’m beginning to see comfort zones I could easily slip into so I think it’s useful for me to remember the times when I wasn’t sure what direction I was going to go in.
Currently I’m working on the first in a series of larger Hildafolk books called Hilda and the Midnight Giant. After that I think I’m going to work on a collection of shorter comics. I find the short story format in comics to be one of my favourite, yet most challenging ways to work. I’d love to have a long-form graphic novel to my name at some point in the future but so far the right idea hasn’t presented itself. Beyond that, my only plan is to keep going.