The BSB Q&A is a continuing series of interviews with the people who make the books that we publish at Blank Slate, delving into some of the creative mysteries they solve every day, asking those nosey and impertinent questions that we wonder about and you probably do too.
Today’s interviewee is the ever-interesting Joe Decie who gifts us with a few choice chunks of Decie wisdom. Read on!
Do you draw every day?
Yes it’s my job to draw, although I don’t earn much money.
Do you keep a sketchbook?
I use sketchbooks sporadically. In the past I have been guilty of sketchbook-a-phobia, the fear of ruining a book with one bad drawing, and then it becoming this ridiculous precious item, that’s not fun to work in. I’ve seen, on the internet, people who produce these immaculate sketchbooks with page after beautiful page of brilliant drawings. I suppose the thing that has cured me of this is living with a small boy. No sketchbook is sacred anymore as I share them all with him. On long train journeys or trips to the pub they are invaluable for keeping him entertained.
I doodle ideas and notes, do a lot of life drawing (which is often incorporated into my comics) I play with trying new drawing styles. Shopping lists.
Describe your daily routine – do you need a special place to work, what do you need to have around you?
I take my boy to school, then I come home, make a cup of tea and work through until lunch time (half eleven) I eat a lunch of cold leftovers whilst standing up in the kitchen. Then I draw some more until it’s time to collect my son from school. I draw again in the evening most nights after dinner. Not always, sometimes I criticise whatever my wife is watching on TV instead.
I work in our bedroom, I keep a very messy workspace with papers everywhere. I’d like to be neat and organised, I doubt I ever will. Maybe if I bought a load of that lovely office stuff from Muji, maybe then.
Do you think of ideas anywhere or in some specific location?
Mostly ideas come when I am brushing my teeth at night, it must be something to do with drifting consciousness. Also I have ideas when I am busy living my life and interacting with people. Also I steal my ideas when people tell me great stories. Life influences me mostly.
What do you hate drawing most (and what do you like drawing most)?
I like drawing houses and bookshelves and stuff. I like drawing hands and feet. I don’t hate drawing anything, how can you hate it? I suppose you could find it difficult. I find drawing bicycles difficult, but fun to draw too. I find drawing chins a challenge. I am not very good at colouring, I wish I could use colour better. I enjoy writing, just letters, graffiti letters, I could do that all day.
What is your motivation for making your work?
I am good at it and it’s fun to do. I want to have a job I enjoy. I used to be manager of a care home. I didn’t really like being a manager. I was good at it, but I didn’t enjoy the authority. I used to be a cleaner whilst I was at art college, that job I loved most. Get a real sense of achievement from doing a job well. And the results are there to see. But anyway, motivation with my comics? I guess to tell all my stories as best I can and to convince the world that I am good and great.
How much of your stories are planned and how much just happens on the page?
I plan mostly, but the narration can change as the page gets drawn. I always have pretty much the full story in my head and on various scraps of paper when I start. Sometimes the end doesn’t materialise until the dying minutes, but it always does come.
Does it always happen in the same way?
What do you think your books say about you?
Well, they are not me. They are autobiographical, but I am choosing what to show you. It’s all fiction, even the real stuff; just by the way I tell it, it can’t be non-fiction once it’s relayed on the page. So what I present to the reader is a version of me, a slightly surreal version of me. But what do the books say about me? I don’t think I can answer, you’d have to ask a reader.
Do you feel guilty when you aren’t working?
When I was regularly updating on the web, yes, I’d feel awful if I didn’t update. Now that I’m working on something longer-form, I’ve learnt not to obsess over that kind of thing. But I do work all the time. I feel guilty when I waste hour after hour looking at the bloody internet. I hate the internet because it steals my time.
Do you wish you were working in another medium?
No, because, surely I would if I wanted it that much?
If you were given a million pounds tomorrow, would you stop making comics?
No, I’d still make them. I’d make more! I’d also buy a riso and start printing other people’s, and spend money promoting the comics I love through exhibitions etc. I’d also get the damp in this house sorted and buy a new oven.