Friends of the Fiend 7: Kevin "KES" Smith.
Kes. Hi Cartoon fiend.
CF. Okay, what are your current projects, anything exciting in the pipeline - that you can tell us about?
Kes. I'm still drawing and sending gags to the usual magazines and newspapers.
Hopefully, I'll be putting together a couple of books of my cartoons, one will be a compilation of my single panel gags similar to my first book; Enchanted Crocodiles. I haven't decided on a title yet but it'll probably be something to do with crocodiles and the other will be a collection of Skidlid Sid strips. Also, I recently published a children's book.
CF. Did you always want to be a cartoonist, and set out to become one, or was it a gradual process?
Kes. I was one of "Maggie's (Thatcher's) millions", and I spent a great deal of my enforced free time in the local libraries. It was here that I discovered an old "How to be a professional cartoonist" book. I'm not sure if that was the actual title, but I remember it was an American book and the information was well out of date, for example it suggested that if you wanted to add grey shading to your cartoons you should indicate this to the typesetter by using blue watercolour or pencil. However, finding this book was the catalyst to my cartooning career and it did inspire me to seek out other "How to" books (most of which are useless). I didn't manage to get any of my cartoons published for about four years though, probably 'cause they weren't funny.
CF. The work you do at the moment, can you tell us something about the process?
Kes. I sit down with a wad of paper and start thinking. If I do this I can usually come up with plenty of ideas and if I'm lucky about five or six of them will be good. I tend to let anything drift in to my head; Cowboys, witches, superheroes etc, and then I'll put them in an alien environment e.g a cowboy being interviewed for an executive position, what are his references like? What kind of c.v. does he have (maybe it's written on the back of a wanted poster)? Or a superhero abusing his x-ray vision, sexual harassment in the office etc. Once I get into this kind of mind-set I'm away.
CF. I know you've been asked this a million times, butwhat tools do you use, and what format do you work to?
Kes. I always tend to go back to using the old fashioned steel nib and India ink, but I also use papermate and rotring technical pens. I'm intrigued by these koh-i-noor pens that I keep hearing about, so maybe I'll give them a try too. The paper I use is usually a good quality typing paper, cartridge paper and ivory board.
CF. Is the cartoonist a proper artist? I mean, does cartooning have the same cultural impact as some other art forms, in your opinion?
Kes. I'm not sure I know what a proper artist is, but Beryl Cook's art looks very cartoon-like doesn't it?
CF. Is there any other area of cartooning you'd like to work in, if you can find the time?
Kes. I'd like to work on the Simpsons... Failing that, animation of any kind. I'd also like to have a go at a graphic novel, and possibly do more comic strip work.
CF. Who were your major artistic influences?
Kes. Christopher Wood, Marc Chagall, Sidney Nolan, Vincent van Gough, Robert Crumb, Garry Larson.
CF. Who was/is your favourite cartoonist/writer, of all time?
Kes. For the way he draws Robert Crumb, but for the humour Gary Larson.
CF. There's a lot of talk about a new 'paper-less future' and 'newdigital reading habits', do you think this will affect cartooning, at some point.
Kes. Probably at some point, but I can't see people's reading habits going completely digital for some time, if at all.
See more of Kes's work at his website.
CF. If you had the time, and you were helicoptered in to work on anything you chose, any publication, strip, panel, character, book, show, what would you like to work on?
Kes. I pre-empted this question didn't I? The Simpsons.
CF. Is there anything you'd rather be?
Kes. A lottery jackpot winner.
CF. Thank you for visiting with us.