Darkwülf interrogates comic artist, Stool Pigeon dreamweaver and pop culture iconoclast Krent Able:
BR: Hi Krent, thanks for finding the time to do this. What came first, your love of music or art/drawing?
KA: Maybe drawing. I used to draw a lot as a kid, making my own little comics, drawing monsters and Judge Dredd, then when I was a teenager I started making music as well, using 2 vari-speed tape decks and biscuit tins for drums. If you put coins on top and add a little reverb it sounds like a million dollars. I’ve gone back and forth between drawing and making music ever since‐ it all comes from the same place.
BR: Tell us about the genesis story of the artist known as Krent Able?
KA: Krent came into being as an artist when I decided to have a serious go at drawing comics, around 3 years ago, and started making comics for The Stool Pigeon. I hadn’t drawn any since I was very young, but it’s always been in the back of my head that I’d probably be pretty good at it- I was just putting it off for as long as possible, because I knew it’d be a lot of hard work. I had loads of random, unfinished ideas in sketchbooks, but the Stool Pigeon work gave me the focus I needed to pull my finger out. Deadlines help too. One of my sketchbook ideas was for a comic based on the adventures of a bad doctor, and one morning , while I was taking a shower, I had the brainwave of changing the doctor to Nick Cave. There’s something about being sleepy and wet, or becoming wet, that’s conducive to having nice ideas. Krent Able was the name of my imaginary childhood friend – he used to encourage me to do bad things, unnatural acts etc. so I thought it was fitting that I used his name for the comics. He’s 3 and a half feet tall, has big Spock ears and teeth like a wild boar.
BR: Your art, in my opinion, is of a high standard, however it's the blatant “baws oot” sex and violence I find most attractive. Are you allowed completely off the leash when you are writing/drawing for Stool Pigeon?
KA: So far, I’ve been allowed completely off the leash - they just let me get on with it, and the only limits seem to be my own sense of decency. If I didn’t have complete freedom there’d be no point in doing it. Sometimes I think I might have gone too far, like in the Goldfrapp story, when I drew the editor and art director naked and saggy bollocked, living in a filthy hole and eating faeces, but they didn’t bat an eyelid, just asked me to change an incorrect Oxford comma. There’s just no insulting some people. Mind you, I don’t think you really see that many awful things in my comics- most of it is implied, or out of shot. Sexual stuff often seems to be funnier if you let the reader imagine it, and play around with the boundaries of acceptable behaviour, like they used to have to do in old films. For example, in the Lou Reed story, you don’t actually need to see the tip of Lou’s penis penetrating the monkey’s furry butt. I do enjoy drawing violence though, and I try to get all the details of the brains and intestines correct –I studied drawing anatomy, with corpses as models, in art school. They have the same colour and texture as spring rolls. If only they tasted as good!
BR: How did you get the gig at Stool Pigeon?
KA: I’d been stumbling across The Stool Pigeon for a while, and I’d always been impressed with the design and the general cut of their jib. At that time it resembled a newspaper from 1910 with a pullout comics section in the middle. When they placed an ad looking for comics artists I sent them the aforementioned Doctor Cave, they liked it and printed it. The legend was born.
BR: Your stories never fail to shock me, sometimes I feel I have seen it all, then I see Lou Reed having sex with a monkey. Do you ever giggle so much that you struggle to draw what’s in your head?
KA: It’s not a problem- I draw until I crack up, then I know the picture’s finished. The difference between a laugh and no laugh can be as small as moving a characters eyebrow up or down half a millimetre. It’s very satisfying when I hit that sweet spot. Just ask yo mama.
BR: Tell us about the process where your ideas come from to you actually drawing them, inking etc. Spare no details.
KA: Ok, you asked for it. The process often starts with one little idea, or image, which can be inspired by anything around me. For instance, yesterday I was listening to the Ween song ‘Pink Eye On My Leg’. This made me wonder which of my characters could have a eye on their leg. Perhaps Morrissey? Maybe he could have a mouth on his leg as well. Then it occurred to me that it could be amusing if the mouth demanded to be fed meat. Perhaps human baby meat? There might be a story in the conflicts that could arise from this everyday situation. After I’ve had this basic stupid idea, I keep thinking about it and daydreaming, until some other little ideas come along and attach themselves onto it. Like David Lynch says, it’s a lot like fishing - one idea acts as bait , and if you concentrate on it , other little ideas will come and feed off it, and pretty soon you’ve got a lovely bag of eels. Then you just grab a crowbar and start bashing the fuck out of it.
Once I have the basic shape of the story in my head, I sit down and make a super‐rough version in pencil on a sheet of A4, working out the dialogue, the basic expressions of the characters, their positioning in the panels etc. This involves lots of erasing, re‐editing of dialogue, and jiggling the panels around, and adding and subtracting panels until they flow nicely and fit into the allotted space. When I’m happy with it, I put it in the rough idea pile and try and forget about it. After a month or two I’ll dig it out again and see if it still makes me laugh, and re-edit it. It’s pretty easy to see what’s wrong with it after a break. If I decide to proceed I’ll either start drawing the real thing in HB pencil on A3 Bristol Board paper, or sometimes I’ll draw each panel separately on little bits of tracing paper. With tracing paper I can flip the image over while I’m drawing and keep getting a fresh perspective. I also take a lot of photo references.
When I’m happy with the pencil version of the comic, I ink it, using Speedball Super Black ink, a size 3 sable brush, a Hunt 102 dip pen, and a Micron pigma pen for the lettering. Once I’ve inked it and fixed the many mistakes with white acrylic paint, I scan the B&W art into Photoshop, push the contrast and levels, and tidy it up with the brush tool. Next up is the fun part‐colouring it in. With photoshop you can muck around to your hearts content, trying out different lighting and stuff which can make the story a lot funnier or scarier. For instance, for something that I wanted to be a bit disturbing, like Lou Reed raping the monkey, I’ll use a Dario Argento ‘Suspiria’ inspired lighting affect, making the whole scene more nightmarish. The tricky thing with comics is that each panel has to work compositionally on it’s own as well as part of the whole page, like a painting. If you have a load of red in one panel it might unbalance the whole page. So, that’s pretty much it I think…hope that wasn’t too mind-numbing.
BR: What music & artists inspired a young Krent Able to go into the world and unleash his art upon us?
KA: Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel’s ‘Nail’ album made a big impression on me at an early age; listening to it while looking at the sleeve was like entering a fully formed world. It’s very cinematic, sick and clever. Catchy as hell, too. I also remember being blown way by Pere Ubu’s ‘Terminal Tower’, with the mighty ‘Final Solution’, and Talking Heads ‘Remain In Light’. I guess my first exposure to art was in books of Walt Disney animation and reading 2000AD, marvelling at the work of Bolland, McMahon and O’Neill. When I was a bit older I got into Francis Bacon, Max Ernst, Hans Bellmer, Impressionism and other fine art stuff, as well as comics like ‘Ed The Happy Clown’ and ‘Eightball’.
BR: Your art style reminds me of Dave Gibbons. Why weren't you approached for these terrible prequel Watchmen comics?
KA: I really don’t know. I seem like such an obvious choice..it’s really quite upsetting to be snubbed like this, especially by such radge wee cunts.
BR: What has been, in your opinion, your finest work to date?
KA: It’s hard to choose – I love ‘em all. It’s all like one big piece of work to me, or the same world viewed from different angles. Though, if you put a gun to my head I might choose this panel from ‘Don’t Fuck With The Frapp’. It’s just wrong.
BR: When reading your work, I can see influences from literature and film. Tell us what books and movies have warped your mind to create these magnificent comic strips.
KA: Some of my favourite mind-warping directors would be Cronenberg, Bunuel, David Lynch, Takashi Miike, Joon‐ho Bong, Terry Gilliam, Dario Argento, Sam Raimi and Sergio Leone. I’m influenced by anything from Ealing Comedies to poncey European arthouse to Cannibal Holocaust. I’m a big fan of The Simpsons too. At the moment I’m going through a Weird Western phase ‐ I love ‘The White Buffalo’, ‘Shadow Of Chikara’ and ‘The Legend Of Hillbilly John’, all dreamy, atmospheric movies. I liked ‘Kill List’ a lot too, a British film from last year. Some of the books I’ve enjoyed are The Magus, Under The Skin (soon to be watered down in a movie starring Scarlett Johansson, bizarrely) Tim Willocks’ insanely gory historical adventure The Religion, The Stand, The Tin Drum, A Confederacy of Dunces…I get through a lot of books, and I nick little bits from all of them.
BR: Have you had any negative feedback from any of the artists featured in your comics? Have Kraftwerk sent you death threats, for example?
KA: Not a sausage, unfortunately. Nick Cave refused to write the foreword to my forthcoming book though, if that’s any good… C’mon, Nick, there’s still time to change your mind! Don’t be a git.
BR: Any plans for a full length Graphic Novel?
KA: I’ve got a few ideas and characters and ideas knocking about, but first I’ve got a bit of a backlog of music based comics to plow through.
BR: Favourite album of all time?
KA: Today I’ll choose Pavement’s ‘Wowee Zowee’.
BR: Does Iggy Pop have the best rock n roll cock?
KA: Yes, but his balls are like chickpeas.
BR: Fave beard in music?
KA: Brian Wilson’s, in the 70’s. You can’t go wrong with a beard with bits of sand, drool and health food in it, teamed up with a spunk‐stained dressing gown. Patti Smith has got a pretty good 'tache, too.
BR: If you could play in any band ever, what band would it be?
KA: I’d be the bass player in The Fall, playing I Spy with Mark E. Smith on the tour bus, chipping in with suggestions for lyrics, travelling the world..like one long jolly holiday.
BR: Plans for the future? Anything exciting in store?
KA: I’ve got a book coming out in October, ‘Krent Able’s Big Book Of Mischief’, published by Knockabout. It’s a compilation of all my Stool Pigeon comics, plus a few other related bits and bobs. Please buy it.
BR: Will we ever see a Danger Squad TV series?
KA: It’s inevitable. I’m in talks with Josh Brolin to play The Sarge, and my people are talking to Michael Fassbender’s people, for the role of Agent Nostril. Fassbender’s so hot right now.
BR: Have you ever, or do you ever intend to do album art for bands?
KA: I did some record sleeves for the hideous band I used to be in, Rumpelforeskin, but that was a while ago. I’m not really that interested in making album art at the moment, I’m more into doing comics--‐ there’s more freedom. There’s always a lot of freedom when you’re making bugger all money. Besides, I imagine I’d have the record company on my ass, bugging me to keep changing things and getting on my nerves. Ugh. I’d be up for doing art for skateboards though. I like the shape.
BR: Will Rocco Siffredi ever appear in your art?
KA: Er..who? OK, I’ve just googled him…Arf. Maybe Doctor Cave will meet him in a dark alley, if Nick doesn’t write that foreword.
Posted: Fri 22 June 2012