Peter Taylor (he/him) is a 5ft 10inch ape descendant who, forty years ago, had a dream of making a comic book and selling one copy to a stranger. Since realising this dream (just a short thirty-seven years later), he is now writing and ‘arting’ full time. His alternate history series, “Wren,” garnered positive reviews and his current series, “Pioneers: Blood & Stars,” just published its second instalment via Kickstarter. Peter created “Minnesota Gothic” (his first ever anthology submission) to Cohorts in between episodes. Based in Essex UK, he can usually be found at his drawing board, drinking too much coffee with his wife, Stephanie, or under a large pile of grandchildren.
We talked to Peter about giving advice, world travel, and sharing the love.
Tell us about yourself, Peter! How did you come to make comics?
I hope you’re not tired of stories that start with ‘during lockdown,’ but that’s the truth of it! I’ve worked 40 years in IT, but always enjoyed drawing (stuff for the kids, occasional gifts, or posters for clubs and stuff).
So, lockdown: Like all of us, I was searching for something to do in my loft (attic) looking for something new to clean or tidy, when I came across an old art folder—containing twelve A2-size pages of black-and-white comic art (no script, just the art) I remembered drawing in probably 1987/88!
Bizarrely, it was a pandemic story (about 17th-century London’s battle with the plague, great fire and whatnot). So I wrote a new script and sat down to draw the rest, reusing four pages from the original ‘stack’ (no idea where those other eight were going) and a few weeks later—I had a story!
The next bit gets complicated. I found groups like Comics Experience and Tyler James’s ComixLaunch, plus a print shop who’d digitise my enormous pages, and someone who was willing to colour it, and a cheap digital programme that did speech balloons. And a few months later I had a book!
A few months after that, I had a successful Kickstarter (which I’d never heard of six months earlier), and found a wonderful printer, some stiff envelopes, and several new friends! I was hooked. Three years later, I’m still learning, but now I have seven books behind me, and a whole bunch of new friends. Amazing!
What was your inspiration for “Minnesota Gothic,” specifically?
My IT work presented me lots of travel opportunities (not always a good thing when you are as terrified of flying as I am). I’ve spent time in New York, Chicago, Texas, Alabama (never to the west coast unfortunately; I’d love to see it), and of course Minnesota—which has a very special place in my heart. I’ve made some of the best friends I’ve ever had there, and really wanted to write something about their home. And what struck me most—the haunting beauty, and the fraggin’ COLD! Everything needed for a story about magic!
Tell us about some of your other projects.
The book I mentioned above ended up being called “Wren,” after Sir Christopher Wren, the main character. That ran for four episodes, plus a half sized prequel. It’s a bit ’niche,’ but it got some kind praise on websites like World Comic Book Review and Indie Comix Dispatch, and I’m really proud of what I achieved from a ’standing start’ in just a couple of years.
After “Wren” I did sit down and think about writing something a bit more accessible, just to see if my work could be interesting to a broader audience. So in late 2022, I launched “Pioneers: Blood & Stars,” a ‘vampires in space’ story. (‘Cos if you’re gonna write comics, THAT is what you wanna be writing/drawing, right?)
I’m loving it. I just launched episode#2 on Kickstarter, and it seems to be doing really well. It’s really a story about unlikely friendships (and vampires…and space)…and I’m really enjoying it, and get a huge buzz that other people seem to enjoy it too!
What superpower would you want to have?
Is “painting” a superpower? It feels like one, but I guess anything does if you don’t have it. I have no eye for colour and am always in awe of those who do. But if we’re not dishing out new talents, something “timey-wimey” might be fun. I always thought John Lennon & Paul McCartney were likely time travellers. Hoover up all the best songs from history and go back and write them themselves. (LOL I’d write a book about that, but I think someone beat me to it.)
My wife’s talent always impresses me too. Everyone who meets her tells her their life story. It’s incredible.
What is one word of advice you would give readers? (about anything)
Oooh, I’m not big on giving advice. But hopefully mine wouldn’t be different from anyone else’s.
“Be yourself as hard as you can, but don’t hurt anyone else.” Does that count as advice?
Oh, I do have a “things I don’t want to do” pile. Just of stuff that needs doing but I really don’t want to do (a phone call to make, a form to fill in, an application to write; just that kind of stuff). But If you deal with ONE thing off that pile every day/week, it doesn’t grow too large AND you always feel you’ve achieved something. It’s worked for me for 30 years. I recommend it!
Are you a solo creator or do you work with other people?
My collaborations with colourists and guest cover artists are some of the most fun parts of this creator business. I love it. In IT I’ve always worked in large teams, and I play team sports too—hockey (the field kind, which isn’t largely played outside of girls’ colleges in the US, but it’s bigger than you’d think over here).
I would love to bring more collaboration into my books. I’d love to draw someone else’s story, for example. I have my fingers crossed that those opportunities will come.
What does the word “cohorts” mean to you?
‘Shared’! Be it shared experiences, shared problems, shared characteristics. My little “Minnesota Gothic” story fits right in there. A small community, one step removed from our everyday experience, struggling to come to terms with a threat, perhaps not understanding it well enough (or perhaps too well), but trying to deal with it—together.
Who are some creators who inspire you?
Urk, without coming over too schmaltzy…You guys! I learned of Oneshi Press through ComixLaunch, and am so impressed at what you put into your books, these anthologies, your messaging, marketing, support for causes and support for this community. It really is inspiring.
Then comes colourists—Falk Hänsel (who colours “Pioneers”) is a stone-cold genius. Aside from that, given where I’ve come from, I’m in love with everyone who tries to make indie comics happen and am honoured (and still a bit freaked out) to count myself in their number. What a wonderful world!
Would you rather be in the woods or in the mountains? Why?
My London connections make me more of a city boy. I live on the doorstep of ’Shipwrights Woods’ (which I’m gonna write a book about one day), but don’t explore very often. So, I’m gonna say mountains, ‘cos I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen one!
Where can our readers find you online?
I’m not super active online, but I do have a website: www.pottyville.co.uk. I think I’m on FB and Twitter, but frankly the whole ’social media’ thing passed me by. When my kids got accounts (part from basic safety monitoring), I wouldn’t look, as it felt to me like reading their diaries.
I do have a email newsletter, which is kind of fun, as it feels much more like a conversation (as opposed to shouting into a void). If you hit the website you can find a link to join (that will also let you taste my previous work for freeee). Join, write back—I’d love to chat!
Support Peter: Follow the Cohorts Anthology!
And thanks times a zillion to our pal Chris Byers for their help with these interviews!
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