Exclusive Interview: Adrian Smith on Chronicles of HATE
Dark and captivating, Adrian Smith‘s first two volumes of Chronicles of HATE plunged the reader into a world where the sun is frozen and the moon burns. We spoke with Adrian to find out what inspired him to create the series, and to learn more about his upcoming Book 3.
Tell us about how Chronicles of Hate was developed and what we can expect for Book 3.
Chronicles of HATE was and is a passion project. It was one of those ideas that just burned in my head and would not go away. At the time of starting the story, I was lucky enough to be very busy with client work. As I said though, the idea was burning away in the background and just would not go.
I had to do something about it just to get it all out. Most of the graphic novels were done between other jobs which meant I was usually working away from midnight onwards. It grabbed me so hard that it didn’t seem like a chore. Rather than quenching the burning idea, the flame stayed steady and strong to this day. It’s now a project I don’t see an end to and really don’t want to stop. It has spread from comic panels to illustrations to board games and sculptures; and other media beckons it onwards.
Book 1 and 2 were done fast, not so much because of rush it but more because it demanded to be put down hard and fast. Most of the panels in the first two books were me working directly on top of the thumbnails. This was an attempt to keep the life and energy an artist often catches in the thumbnail stage. It has been one of the few projects that have pushed me along in directions I wouldn’t have normally taken. Because the story is actually quite a quiet one, I was totally relying on the atmosphere and imagery to drive it along.
With the third book, all of this still applies, but I have taken more time to complete it. It’s actually quite a different story compared to the first two books even though it is….the same story. What I think I mean by this is the approach is slightly different and that the tone of the story definitely is different. I’m not one who likes spoilers, however small, so I’m not divulging anything specific. I’m very happy with how it turned out and am looking forward to it coming out next year.
How would you describe your creative process when it comes to developing graphic novels?
Chronicles of HATE is not my first comic venture. My first was a comic that didn’t really get anywhere, it had a very small profile and it ended badly. All artists will experience something similar at some points in their career. I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t even remember what it was called. After a few more comic ideas that didn’t really go anywhere, I did a story with a writer friend called War in Heaven loosely based on Milton’s Paradise Lost. It turned out great and I was very happy with it. Madefire Comics snapped it up but unfortunately the company didn’t last and now the comic is consigned to history. For anyone who has seen it, they will see the early beginnings of the HATE‘s style/feel emerging.
Before this, I was lucky enough to fulfill a long-time ambition of working with Pat Mills of 2000 AD fame (and many other things). He was and is an inspiration. I grew up with his stories and would never have dreamed I’d actually work side by side with him on the Broz series. Only ever printed in French, we managed to do three books but the third never got printed because the company started having problems. In answer to the question, you will see looking at these that my comic style varies. I try to let the story/ideas dictate how it should be approached. Whereas Broz was 100% traditional acrylic painting, Chronicles of HATE was a mixture of traditional and digital (though mostly digital to start with). I think I prefer digital for projects like comic work for the speed aspect and the way it makes certain things a lot easier to do.
Well, if you are self-taught then that’s a good sign in itself. It shows you have a drive and ambition. I see a lot of young artists emulating their peers. This is good to a point but when they just end up mimicking another artist, I do wonder what they are actually getting out of it. The line between ‘inspired’ and ‘plagiarism’ seems to have disappeared…anyway, the advice is the same for all including myself. Keep going. Time and doing are the two important ingredients to improving. As far as advice on making a career out of it, the same applies. The hard thing you will encounter is being patient with the art directors you have to deal with sometimes. Patience and a capacity to do what other people want rather than what you know would be better is essential if you want to get paid and pay those bills.
Did you have any favorite comic books growing up?
Yes, I did. My first experience with comics was the old Commando comics and Starblazer. I discovered these on a beach holiday with the family when I was a young lad. Great stuff and I devoured as much of them as I could. This made me look at other comics. I don’t remember any comic stores at that time and I would rely on issues of 2000 AD at the local news agent.
This brings me to one of the artists that really influenced me before I was really drawing myself. Kevin O’Neill was one of the artists responsible for “ABC Warrior”, a 2000 AD story. I could not and cannot get enough of this man’s work. It hits all my buttons. Many other artists have inspired me since. Though if I’m honest, I’m not what you would call a comic collector; I have very few.
“To all the existing HATE fans out there, I’m confident you won’t be disappointed.”
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