A still from A Garden for All
A still from A Garden for All


08 July 2016

In the run-up to our Graphic Novels edition of Progress Bar in Brighton on 7 July, we’ve asked our line-up of artists to give us a little insight into what they do, their artistic process and what we can expect from them at the event.

David Blandy and Daniel Locke working on their 200-page graphic novel, Out of Nothing, at Lighthouse
David Blandy and Daniel Locke working on their 200-page graphic novel, Out of Nothing, at Lighthouse

Here, Daniel Locke tells us how he got into graphic novels, his artistic process and his current projects. He also discusses the wide array of topics his stories cover and how he finds inspiration from real world issues and people.


How would you describe what you do?
I write stories and then set them to pictures.

What inspired you to become a graphic novelist?
Comics and drawing has always been important to me. Becoming a cartoonist was the defining dream of my childhood. However, I ended up studying fine art, making narrative-based sculpture and videos. It was during my time at the Slade School that I rediscovered comics as a reader. The Slade ended up sending me on a research trip to Japan and it was whilst there, in the most vibrant comics culture on the planet, that I decided to refocus my artistic practice onto comics.

What is your creative process? Do you use specific apps or tools?
I make drawings in pen and paper and finish them in Photoshop. My process is pretty simple and I guess fairly traditional.

As well as collaborating with artist David Blandy and scientist Adam Rutherford on Out of Nothing and Helix, you have also collaborated with visual artist Laura Malacart. Is collaboration important in the graphic novel and comic book world?
Collaboration is certainly central to the American mainstream comics tradition, like, superhero comics, etc. I think the type of cross-discipline collaboration I’ve been involved in is quite different though, and fairly new to comics.

Your work has covered subjects from wildlife, The National Trust’s Gibside estate, autism, mental illness and Europe’s cultural, social and political dynamics. What draws you to these subjects and how do you develop the stories?
I’m drawn to these subjects because of stories. The stories are there, they come first. Comics have for a long time been associated with fantasy and sci-fi, and I’m an absolutely avid reader of all that, but the actual world and actual people are so full of drama and unimaginable beauty and poetry, it’s just irresistible. Sometimes I think I might actually be a reporter who likes comics. We’re currently living through a golden era of discovery in science. Our understanding of who we are and where we are is fundamentally enriching and changing, and we’re living through a period of dramatic change in the natural environment. It’s all just so interesting, who wouldn’t want to be a small part of it?

What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently finishing off my first book, Going Home, which will be published by Nobrow Press. And, of course, I’m still working on Out of Nothing, moving towards the final stages of work on that project. I’ve just had a small book called Pneuma published by Tinto Press in the States – it’s a great read! Finally I’ve been working with the children’s author, Alex Frith on a project about the history and current state of Neurology. This project is being made in collaboration with Chris and Uta Frith, two Noble Prize-winning scientists. It’s been great learning so much about how the human brain works.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to become a graphic novelist?
I really think there is only one worthwhile piece of advice for an aspiring artists working in any medium, and that is, to get on with it (and love it). Certainly don’t wait until you’re ‘good enough’ (I did that for too long), or for someone else to give you permission. Just find a story, find a pen and piece of paper and draw it. Then share it as widely as you can.

How did Out of Nothing come about? And what can we expect from your talk at Progress Bar?
Out of Nothing came directly out of Helix. About a week into working on Helix David and I started talking about a long graphic novel that dealt with some of the ideas that we were encountering. Happily Lighthouse and our funders (the Wellcome Trust) thought a graphic novel would be a good idea, too.

During the Progress Bar I’ll be talking about making comics, finding stories, shifting tectonic plates, life on Mars and the Neanderthal man.

Find out more about the event and book tickets here: Progress Bar: Graphic Novels.
Join the conversation at our Facebook event.



Sign up to our mailing list to receive regular email updates on exhibitions, events and other news.