Barbra J. Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: Congratulations on the upcoming release of Psycho Gran #1! As the series first launched in 1986, what initially inspired you to create the series and its rambunctious protagonist?
David Leach: Why thank you very much. You’ve made an old lady very happy. When Oink! first came out in 1986, I knew I had to be in it. It was a kids' comic like no other I’d ever seen before. I’ve always been keen on humour comics and comics aimed for kids, so it seemed like a match made in Heaven for me; the range of artwork, the irreverent humour, the naughtiness, I LOVED it! I wasn’t long out of art school, and I was working for animation legend Bob Godfrey (Rubarb and Custard, Henry’s Cat, Henry 9-5) as his ghost artist, and I really wanted to be doing my own cartoon characters. I can’t remember where the original idea of Psycho Gran first came from, but I do remember having this idea in my head of an old lady in a mobility cart, mowing people down, and she grew from that. Plus, I’d always loved the granny from the Giles cartoons.
BD: Will fans of the original series find a home in the all-new adventures of Psycho Gran, or are you taking the character in a new direction?
DL: Oh no, I’m sticking to the original formula - silly, violent, surrealist slap-stick - the only things that have changed are some of the stories are longer, they’re better drawn, and they’re all in ghastly vibrant Gran-O-Vision. That said, I’m going to take her somewhere utterly different in issue #2!
BD: Given the target audiences that your previous titles (Wallace and Gromit, Lenore, Adventure Time) have appealed to, do you feel that Psycho Gran will be appropriate for all audiences?
DL: I don’t believe in writing down for kids beyond avoiding swearing, graphic sex, or violence, I believe anything goes. I’ve always written to make me laugh. If I can do that I know I’ll make others laugh, too, particularly kids who love stuff that’s near the knuckle, or gross, or features ‘comic book’ violence. That’s what was so great about Oink! It was filled with near-the-knuckle stuff; it’s only the parents and grown-ups who got shocked. I believe, rightly so, kids want to be reading that sort of thing. Parents, as a rule, are a stuffy bunch. Regarding an age group, I think she’s safe for anyone over the age of 12.
BD: As you have held the roles of editor, writer, and illustrator, which aspect of the creative process did you find most challenging, and why?
DL: I’ll tell you what the most rewarding and exciting part of the whole process is. It’s the initial creation and planning stage of a comic strip. Coming up with an idea, when that story first presents itself and you see it unfurl in your mind. It’s always a thrill! Then, you thumbnail it out, doodling angles and snatches of dialogue, and then shape the whole thing 'till it’s finished. It’s better and more exciting than any drug!
The whole creative process starts with an idea. I never have problems coming up with ideas, they just happen, regardless of location or time of day. Ideas just present themselves and often from the most unusual place. The other day, I came up with a whole Psycho Gran story just from seeing a discarded deck chair on a pile of rubbish.
The writing part is great fun but not as much fun as editing - all that pruning and cutting that goes into making a story or script work, killing your favourite lines - but you have to know when to stop. I agonize over punchlines sometimes for years.
The drawing is the most tiring and tedious, just getting it right, the annoyance of having to start again occasionally.
Colouring is the most satisfying part of the job, because it binds everything together, and since I discovered that the more you use Photoshop, the more you use it – it’s like adding a whole new dimension.
In terms of jobs, I’m never happier then when I’m drawing or writing, but in my day-to-day job, the aspect I get the most pleasure from is script editing, storyboarding, and lettering. Goddamn it! Truth is I just love comics, so getting to create them is always lovely. All that said, the single hardest part of my life is doing my own stuff and staring at that blank piece of dreadful white paper and plucking up the courage to start in the top, left-hand corner and just fill in the rest of the page. Each new page fills me with dread – what if I’ve forgotten what to do? What if everyone hates it? What if I’m no good? This feeling remains with you throughout the entire process until it’s finished, then you really hate what you’ve done and you doubt anyone who say it’s funny.
BD: How often will new issues of Psycho Gran be released?
DL: I’m working on Issue #2 now, and I’m hoping to have it ready by the end of the year! It’s going to be epic! No, seriously, it’s literally going to be EPIC. Beyond that, it’s rather hard to find time to do Psycho, and a full-time job, and be a dad, too. Finding the time is my hardest challenge, especially since I’m doing everything else myself!
BD: Will this be an ongoing series, or you have a certain number of adventures in mind?
DL: It’s not an ongoing series; however, there will be four individual, 28+ page digital comic books, and, should she do well, there’s also the possibility of a printed collection.
With regards to her own ongoing title, I originally wanted to do four books of short gags strips, but in Issue #2 I’m going to try something different. It’s going to be a 28-page single story called WHEN GRANS COLLIDE! And, it’s going to change the world of Psycho Gran forever! Or at least until tea time.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Psycho Gran and your body of work?
DL: I promise never to reveal the real truth behind her shocking, unbelievable origin story no matter how much you beg. In terms of my body of work, well, if you can track it all down, you’re a better man than I, Gunga Din.
That said, in May the first issue of my four-part autobiographical comic, David Leach Conquers the Universe, is getting published by Dead Universe Comics.
PLUS! If you’re a Psycho Gran completionist, there are two other Psycho Gran strips that have appeared in the David Lloyd digital comic, Aces Weekly (Volume 1 – Week 5 and Volume 6 – Week 7). She’s also appeared in the Japanese Tsunami appeal book, Spirit of Hope, in an issue of the Norwegian comic magazine Nemi, where she is known as Psycho Besta and in Issue #3 of Roman Dirge’s Lenore comic!