VIDEO: The comic book art of Frazer Irving - the former Seven Kings pupil who took on The Dark Knight
12:12 12 February 2014
“If I say I draw comics, people say superheroes. But if I said I’m a writer, people wouldn’t just say wizards.” It might strike you as odd to meet a prolific comic book artist who openly admits he isn’t a fan of most superheroes, but for Ilford-born Frazer Irving the art form is much more than powers, capes and cities in peril.
Have you read any of Frazer’s work? Here’s a pick of his credits, if not:
Judge Dredd Megazine, 2001-2007
Mary Shelley’s Frankentstein: The Graphic Novel, 2005
Iron Man: Inevitable, 2006
X-Men: Divided We Stand, 2008
Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne, 2010
Masters of the Universe: The Origin of Skeletor, 2012
A pupil at Christchurch Primary School, in Wellesley Road, Ilford, he grew up on a staple diet of X-Men, Superman and the like but found himself drifting away from his childhood heroes as he entered the art world himself.
“I don’t represent superheroes, I represent the art of comics,” he explains. “I come across as a bit of a grinch, but I watched a movie like Avengers Assemble and it’s everything that’s wrong with comic movies.
“I have seen all the comic movies and they are all just people running around and punching people. It’s still only the superheroes getting made.
“Road To Perdition was a comic book, but no one knows because there’s not anyone wearing a cape.”
Frazer’s earliest memory of comics is reaching from his pram to grab a magazine featuring Superman but it wasn’t until he took an interest in girls that he really started to draw with purpose.
He would fill sketch books whilst a pupil at Seven Kings High School, in Ley Street, in the hope that he could better his beau’s efforts – a romantic tactic he has since realised was flawed.
“I fancied a girl in my history class,” he remembers. “She could draw really well, so I decided if I could draw something better than her that it would somehow impress her, which was wrong, obviously.
“I would fill sketchbooks and then there’d be another girl and I’d fill a couple more sketchbooks. I would draw in consistent bursts.”
Having left behind ambitions of becoming an actor, he decided he wanted to be part of a band and after sixth form went on to study at an art school in Portsmouth.
What followed were five years of poverty, says Frazer, who worked inputting data, stacking shelves and guarding artwork at the Royal Academy of Art – a job which he describes as his “lowest point”. Eventually he found his big break when he submitted his artwork to 2000 AD, a British comic that has run since the late 1970s.
He was handed his own story, Necronauts, which put him on the map and well on the way to obtaining the “holy grail”, otherwise known as a gig in America.
“It was unusual for 2000 AD to give a series to someone new. It’s something people work for years towards, so it was a real vote of confidence.
“My initial joy came from not being on the dole anymore. We came out in the 2000 Christmas edition and blew everyone away.”
He has since drawn his interpretations of globally famous characters such as Judge Dredd, Iron Man, the X-Men and the rarest of beasts, Batman, a superhero he still enjoys.
With a collection in the region of 1,000 comics, Frazer has recently given away the bulk of those he has amassed over the past 14 years.
He describes reading comics as a “busman’s holiday”. He adds: “When your hobby becomes your job, get another hobby. I decided in 1996 whether to become a musician or an artist and I chose comics because I couldn’t live without music.”
He is working with American writer Nick Spencer on a sci-fi story Cerulean and a six-part series Annihilator with comics superstar Grant Morrison.
His star is set to predictably rise and he says he’s treating every project as though it will “make millions” and finally buy him his dream boat. “Up until now I have been like Woody Allen, I’ve only ever seen the flaws. The work I’m doing now is the best I have ever done. I actually like it now.”
n To read more about Frazer, or ask him your own questions, visit frazerirving.tumblr.com.