Andrew MacLean On the Magic & Mayhem of Head Lopper | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Andrew MacLean On the Magic & Mayhem of Head Lopper

Barbarian At The Gate

Oct 19, 2018 Web Exclusive
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Andrew MacLean is the artist and writer behind the wonderfully kinetic fantasy comic Head Lopper. During the course of our conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, we discussed his comic making process, convention life and what he’s been reading lately. Head Lopper #9 begins a new story arc for Norgal and Agatha and is out now. Go get it! Er, wait. Read the interview then go buy all the Head Lopper you can find.

J. A. Kordosh [Under the Radar]: Each volume of Head Lopper has taken place in a distinct area, with the latest volume set in the city of Venoriah. Is your world of Narschlahn pre-planned or are you creating it as you go along?

Andrew MacLean:
I have a big picture idea of how the world works and a very loose map in my head but I let myself make small changes as I go if I come up with better ideas. I would like to fill in the map at some point as I go along, making Norgal and Agatha visit all the different areas.

What’s the most important aspect of putting together a whole new story arc? Where does your discovery process start?

It usually starts with the setting. I want each volume to have its own unique voice and a big part of that is just what you draw, and changing the setting changes the whole vibe of the book. So I feel out what might make a nice change and then I start figuring out what would be fun to do in that setting. As I figure out a few key events I’m filling in the cast and then you’re off trying to connect all your dots.

I’m always interested in the tools of the trade. What are you currently using to bring Head Lopper to life?

I have a notebook where I scribble everything from loose dialogue ideas to numbered and ordered lists of events. I use this as a guide when I write myself a script. I use the script as reference when I draw small layouts of the pages in a sketchbook. I then draw the layout full-size on 11” x 17” Bristol. I pencil using a 4H pencil lead and ink with a no. 2 Raphael Kolinsky 8408 brush and Dr. PH Martin’s Bombay black india ink. Oh, man. That was so nerdy.

Very nerdy! But also quite insightful. Conan seems to be an obvious influence and you snuck some Fafhrd and Gray Mouser into Crimson Tower. What drew you to these old sword-and-sorcery tales? Did you grow up with them?

I grew up watching fantasy movies like Conan played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ray Harryhausen’s Clash of the Titans, and Krull. That’s what originally made me want to make Head Lopper. I was much older when I started reading Conan or Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser. As a kid, I just loved monsters. Every monster on TV scared the shit out of me but I just loved them.

I know your wife Erin heads up your merchandising company Laser Wolf Attack. What’s your philosophy/approach with marketing your work?

We’ve never really had much of a plan for marketing other than just trying to remain consistent. Posting something on social media frequently just reminds people you’re still around making stuff.

You do incredible sketches at all the conventions you go to. What are the best and worst parts of convention life?

The best part of conventions is the people. Sounds corny. But during the day you hang out with friends and meet other fans of comics. And at night you go out with friends and catch up. The bad part about conventions is they are exhausting. You work a lot, you sleep very little, and on Monday, when you get home you’ve got to get back to drawing because there is always a deadline coming fast.

You did a couple pages on Thor #700. How was that experience? And is there any classic property you’d love to put your spin on?

That was awesome. I don’t usually do superhero stuff, so it was really fun to draw a few iconic characters. I grew up loving the X-Men. I think it would be fun to do a 90’s X-Men book, with all the old costumes. I really love those character designs, they’re really fun to draw.

Do you have any free time to read comics? If so, what are you digging?

I usually have something I’m reading. My favorite two things so far this year were Dark Angels of Darkness by Al Gofa and Anti-Gone by Connor Willumsen. They are both such unique exciting voices. They are some of my favorite new stuff for a while. But I also read some of Kirby’s Devil Dinosaur, I finished Akira straight from beginning to end for the first time which, of course, was pretty spectacular. I’ve been reading a bit from BATMANGA Vol. 1. Before that, I read Junji Ito’s Uzumaki. A long stretch of Lone Wolf and Cub before that. It’s been a pretty good run of comics reading.

Dark Angels of Darkness
was super fun! Any thoughts on expanding Head Lopper to other mediums like video games or pen-and-paper role-playing games?

I think that would be a lot of fun, particularly a side-scroller video game. I think that would be pretty funny. But the comics really take so much of my time I really haven’t tried expanding it.

I’m already a huge fan of Arlen, the Third Sword of Venoriah. Any chance of a spin-off?

Haha. That would be fun. She’s probably my current favorite character. I think she could carry a lot of story by herself but there certainly aren’t any plans for a spinoff.


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January 5th 2019

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