In celebration of Comic Book Month, our first profile is North Shore comic book writer and artist Richard Fairgray, creator of Blastosaurus, I Fight Crime (under the pseudonym Mary-Ann Cotton) and many more. See http://blastosaurus.com/ for a full list...
Richard is unusual in an artist, given that he's legally blind. He only has a tiny bit of sight left in one eye. It's meant he's always seen things in two dimensions, just like a comic book image...However, the world of his comics is a slightly skewed vision.
His best-known work, Blastosaurus, stars a mutated triceratops with human intelligence whose parents are killed by three likewise mutated raptors. All four have been transported into the future through a time tunnel - to Freak Out City. Our saurian hero may look fearsome, but he fights for the good guys, becoming a policeman who specialises in stopping the damage his fellow dinosaurs love to cause. In Richard's own words: "He's a 6' tall, mutant triceratops with a gun from the future and a mission of vengeance. But he mostly gets relegated to doing publicity work for the police department. Yes, he fights raptors and killer robots and he time-travelled, but at the heart of it all he's an ordinary man who just happens to be shaped like a dinosaur."
Can't wait to read it now? We have the graphic novels in our library. See Welcome to Freak Out City and Exhibit B.
"Yes, he fights Raptors and killer robots and he time travelled but at the heart of it all he's an ordinary man who just happens to be shaped like a dinosaur."
Richard regularly jets around the world to comic book conventions and to work with other collaborators, but he's happy enough staying on the Shore. First, because you meet some crraaaaazy people at conventions (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIJ-ssh46J8). And because it lets Richard have control over his own creations.
A deal with American Original, a noted US comic company, didn't go according to plan, so production is definitely back in New Zealand. Richard doesn't elaborate on the reasons, but now says: "I'm always happy to talk with publishers about any of our myriad other books but Blastosaurus will...well, the phrase 'cold dead hands' springs to mind."
Despite this, Richard's comics aren't "New Zealand comics" - for him, it's all about originality, not trying to push a barrow with a big kiwi on it. To other wannabe graphic novelists, he says: "I think why people like our books is that we aren't drawing from a self-filling well. I talk to too many would-be writers who say they only read comic books and I think it shows in the work. People should be reading everything, watching everything, listening to everything before they decide they only like one medium."
I ask: "Do you think Blastosaurus is any weirder than a lot of stuff on the market?"
Richard doesn't have to think about it.
"I'd prefer to think of him as more interesting."