If you’re a 2000ad fan you will know his work, for everyone else out there – well if you’ve not heard of Jim Boswell yet I reckon you’re going to real soon. Jim took some time out of what seems like a pretty packed schedule to talk Judge Dredd, his career so far and also to give us a sneak peek at future projects!
David. Hi Jim! Thank you so much for taking time out to do this! You first came to my attention when I saw some 2000ad test samples you posted on your Instagram and I’ve wanted to interview you ever since, at least partly because I didn’t quite know what colouring samples were! So let’s start with an easy one to begin with, what are colouring samples!?
Jim. Hi David! Colouring samples are basically unpublished samples of what I can do, to show editors in the hope of getting some work – just as a prospective artist would draw up a few sample comic pages to show an editor. The only trouble with being a colourist is that you need some good black and white comic pages to colour in the first place!
David. How long have you been in the business? How did you start out and what work are you most proud of so far?
Jim. I’ve been on the fringes of the comic business for a long time, going right back to the early 90s when I used to take my portfolio to all the conventions in the hope of getting work on 2000AD. I was obsessed with painting, and wanted to be the next Glenn Fabry or Simon Bisley! Over the years I’ve done various small press bits and pieces, but my first real published comics work was drawing and colouring Starship Troopers for Markosia. That lead to a full graphic novel with Markosia – Project Luna 1947, written by Martin Hayes. Like an idiot I decided to pencil, ink, colour and letter the whole 88 page book. Working in my spare time, it took me 4 years! I then worked for the kids football magazine Kick!, drawing and colouring a monthly strip for them for three years.
At the end of 2017, I decided to try my hand at colouring other artists’ work. I thought I’d aim high and contact some top British comic artists and ask if they wouldn’t mind sending me some high-res black & white pages for me to colour as samples. I was lucky enough to receive some great pages from PJ Holden, Henry Flint and Sean Phillips. After I’d coloured them, I sent them in to 2000AD and that led to my first published work with them, which was a dream come true. To make matters even better, editor Matt Smith put me straight on to a Judge Dredd strip drawn by PJ Holden, which was especially nice as he had helped me out so much by sending me his pages to colour as samples.
It’s difficult to say which colouring work I am the most proud of. The artist who’s work I have coloured the most is Dan Cornwell – we seem to compliment each other very well, and it’s always a joy to work with him! We’ve done quite a few Judge Dredd strips together now, as well as a 10 part Max Normal series written by Guy Adams for 2000 A.D and I’m proud of all of them to be honest! I’ve also been lucky enough to colour a few covers for 2000 A.D. over such great artists as Cliff Robinson, Staz Johnson and Patrick Goddard. It’s always a proud moment to see your work on the cover of the Galaxies Greatest Comic.
David. Your Instagram profile has you down as a Colourist/Artist/Cartoonist/Illustrator/Guitarist, Gamerist, Mountain Bikerist – for the purpose of allforgeeks.com, which of those first four would you say you most enjoy?
Jim. I can honestly say that I enjoy colouring the most! For most of my life I have been an illustrator, but my favourite part of illustrating was always adding the colours. It really is great to have the drawing part already done by someone else so I can concentrate entirely on the colours. I love receiving new black-and-white pages and envisioning how I’m going to approach colouring them.
David. Your colours on some of the aforementioned 2000ad work REALLY grab the attention, what tools do you use when colouring? Are you photoshop, or old school?
Jim. Thanks! I work entirely digitally these days. I haven’t used old school paints for many years now. I do 90% of my work on an iPad Pro using Procreate and the Apple Pencil. I then move over to Photoshop on the PC, to add the finishing touches. There are some textures and tricks that I can only do with Photoshop, but the iPad really is amazing for what I do. Plus I can take it absolutely anywhere and work!
David. When you are colouring another artist’s work where do you draw the line between respecting the art already laid down and your own? Is a colourist’s role to accompany the existing inks or maybe to improve them?
Jim. I’d say the colourist’s job is to enhance the artist’s work. I make a point of never using solid black, as that would interfere with their lines – I think you should always be able to see the original work above the colours, as it were. Ideally, the artist and colourist should complement each other as much as possible. It isn’t always easy striking the right balance! The joy of working digitally is that if something isn’t going well, you can easily start again with a new approach.
David. What projects are you currently working on and what are you allowed to tell us about them?
Jim. I’ve recently finished a two-part Judge Dredd story with another fantastic artist, Jake Lynch for 2000AD. I’ve also recently done a one-off Judge Anderson story with Jake, for the Megazine. That was another tick on my bucket list, as it was written by Alan Grant, a writer whose work I’ve enjoyed since I was at primary school!
I’ve just begun work with Dan Cornwell on a new four-part Judge Dredd series for 2000AD which is already one of my favourite things I’ve worked on, and we’ve only finished part one so far!
The other current project I’m excited about is my first work for IDW, a new ROM Spaceknight series. I don’t know how much I can give away, but it centres around the Dire Wraiths and the first moon landing! We’re working on book one right now, and it’s going very well.
David. Am I correct in thinking that’s your first work for a US publisher? How did that come about?
Jim. Yes, that’s right – I’ve wanted to work for a US publisher for a while. I saw that Chris Ryall, president of IDW, was going to be at Comics Salopia this year, which is a convention held in Shrewsbury, less than an hour from where I live. I went down there with my ipad full of examples of my work, and managed to get a portfolio review with Chris. Luckily he liked what he saw – the very next day he emailed me from his train and offered me the job of colouring the new ROM: Dire Wraiths series! Needless to say, I was very happy about that. Chris has written it, with lovely artwork from Luca Pizzari. I’ve coloured nine pages so far and it’s going great.
David. The page you’ve shown us looks great, I’m looking forward to see the rest! OK, a, two parter to finish: I’ll often ask artists which character they would most want to draw – I’m going to double that and give it a little twist if I may by asking which character you’d love to colour and secondly which artist?
Jim. Wow, that’s a difficult one – there are so many characters I’d love to work on. 2000AD will always be my first love as I grew up with it, so I’d love to colour Slaine or Strontium Dog… or ABC Warriors – the list is long as they have so many great characters. Dredd is my favourite, and I’ve been lucky to work on quite a few Dredd strips so far. As for artists, I’d love a crack at colouring Mick McMahon on Dredd… or Mike Mignola on Hellboy… or Guy Davis on BPRD… or Brian Bolland on anything… that wasn’t a very definitive answer, was it? There are too many I’d love to work with!
David. To be fair it was a pretty broad question! Thank you so much for your time and be sure to let me know when the ROM: Dire Wraiths series is coming out!
You can find more of Jim’s work at the links below
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