Helen Cox is a UK author. She made her on-screen debut in The Krankies in 1990. Given the choice, her Mastermind topic would be Grease 2 and when someone asks her if she is a god she says 'yes.' Oh, you want to know about her books? Best click some of the links below.
When you’re producing a book entitled ‘True Love is Like the Loch Ness Monster’ you need a cover artist unafraid of a challenge. Consequently, I turned to illustrator, and all round nice chap, Alfie Gallagher who I worked with during the New Empress years. As a second edition of my book on film is nigh, I thought it was time for a catch up and grabbed a few minutes with the man who brought my weirdo title to life. The interview is peppered with some of Alfie’s most resplendent illustrations and I think we can all agree, they’re some kind of wonderful.
Helen: When did you first realise you had a talent for artistry?
Alfie: Drawing has always been in my life and probably goes back in time to pre-memory. I have a vague memory of drawing on the wall with toothpaste and mum going mental, so it’s always something I’ve done to some degree in my life. I couldn’t picture my life without the release of drawing, I get antsy and wound up if don’t get a chance to do it for some time.
Helen: Who are your artistic influences and why do you admire those artists?
Alfie: Most of my influences are comic book artists. I’ve had a lifetime of overdosing on comic books, from mainstream superhero guff to oddball indie adventures. Though I’ve taken in and appreciated a number of fine art painters through the years, from Magritte to Edward Hopper and Caravaggio. I like artists that depict surface normality in a fairly realistic manner, then there’s something slightly off-kilter, surreal or unsettling just under the surface.
Helen: What are your favourite movies and have they ever inspired an illustration?
Alfie: I’m a big movie fan and spent my teens/20s taking in a lot of stuff. I suppose filmmaking has influenced my work more subliminally than illustration art. My favourite movies are from directors with their own individual voice and a strong visual flair, things like Kubrick’s ‘Paths of Glory’, Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’, Terence Mailicks ‘Days of Heaven’, Terry Gilliam’s ‘Time Bandits’ and Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘Devils Backbone’, things that can be dreamlike as well as humane. I enjoy films with a touch of darkness and horror and this came through in a comic story I did some time ago called ‘Light and Dust’. It was basically a love letter to cinema and had loads of references to the likes of Nosferatu and Universal horror movies in it.
Helen: What’s the hardest thing about being an illustrator (and what’s the best thing)?
Alfie: Well, the hardest thing for me is coming to terms with not having the time I’d like to draw. I work a a graphic designer during the day so drawing is done in other slivers of time around work and real world adult commitments. The best thing is losing yourself, being completely immersed and engaged in the process of drawing and creating. It can take a few hours of working to get there but that feeling when things start clicking together and taking shape is just priceless.
Helen: What projects are you working on currently?
Alfie: I’m largely chipping away at comic projects and comic pages in some form or another. Have pages appearing soon in 2000AD-fanzine, Zarjaz, it’s going to be an ABC Warriors strip scripted by Lee Robson. Also hoping to have an All Ages comic story coming out next year, scripted by Australian writer Ryan K Lindsay. Have just begun piecing together a long form comic story that takes in old, weird rural Irish customs, folklore, history and myth, scripted by friend Mark Kavanagh. It’s all about the funny books!