Creator Spotlight 2024 – ANDY FANTON

Tell us a bit about yourself – how did you get started in comics?
I’ve always been a big fan of comics since I was a kid and had my heart set on working on comics from a young age. I did various bits growing up, a comic strip in a local paper, and got a gag printed in the Beano (!) but didn’t really press ahead until around 2004, when I sent a pitch for an animated series to Cosgrove Hall Films (the creators of Danger Mouse and Count Duckula). This was for The Carrotty Kid, a martial arts parody featuring a carrot, which they loved enough to option for a few years. In that time we produced a pilot and had promising meetings, but ultimately it didn’t make it to air. Nonetheless, after rights reverted back to me I continued the character as a webcomic for a while. Around this time I also discovered Jamie Smart’s Slave Labor series BEAR, and was a huge fan. I soon found Jamie online and we got chatting, and a while thereafter Jamie let me know that The Dandy was looking for new writers and artists for an upcoming revamp of the comic in 2010. I pitched George vs Dragon to The Dandy off the back of this, a slapstick take on the St. George and the Dragon legend, and it got picked up for an initial 12-strip run. And since then, I’ve remained working with DC Thomson, producing more of my own comics and going on to write Minnie the Minx, the Bash Street kids and Roger the Dodger for The Beano today. So thank you, Jamie Smart! Bear still slaps. 

What is it, in particular, about comics that you love?
Having both written and drawn comics, the medium often feels like being everything all at once. You’re the writer, the director and even actor, imbuing characters with your performances, so it encompasses so many varied disciplines all at once. It’s such a joyous marriage between words and art, there’s nothing quite like it.

As one of the funniest comic creators in the universe, what do you think is the secret of comedy? (I’m deliberately not asking you this in person as I know you’d shout ‘TIMING!’ halfway through me asking the question!)

TIMIN-oh. Thank you, the fiver is in the post. For me, the secret is character, everything comes down to character. You even see it in something as simple as a Knock, Knock joke – you have an unassuming ‘straight man’ answering the door, and some wacky prankster on the other side. Two characters delivering the joke. Once you have strong enough characters, you can put almost anything into their mouth and it’ll be funny. 

I loved your recent sketch on BBC 4 Extra’s DMs Are open! Is that something you’ve done before and are you looking to expand your influence into the world of radio comedy and beyond?
Thank you! I did write some sketches for BBC 4 Extra’s Newsjack before that, a few years ago, a couple of topical bits. I love comedy in all its forms, so it was a delight to get to write some for a different medium. I would love to do more and maybe try some other things, but we’ll have to see if any of that comes to fruition! 
Who are your comedy heroes?
Oooh, in comics I’d say Leo Baxendale, Tom Paterson and Ken Reid were some of my big influences, and creators whose work can genuinely make me laugh out loud. Same goes for Jamie Smart, of course! Elsewhere, I’ve always loved Morecambe and Wise (thanks to my parents influence!), Peter Cook, Rik Mayall, Sue Townsend, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Richard Pryor, Bill Hicks, French & Saunders, Chris Morris, Steve Coogan, Armando Iannucci, Stewart Lee, The Goons, the Pythons, Eddie Izzard, Norm MacDonald, Conan O’Brien, Eddie Murphy…there’s so many! I’ve taken in a LOT of comedy over the years, and I’m sure their influences have snuck into my work here and there. ARSENAL! 

What are you working on right now / what do you have coming out this year? 
It’s a busy time of year as we start working on the Beano and Dandy annuals for NEXT year, so I’m writing a lot as well as bringing back George vs Dragon for some new adventures, as well as continuing my work on the weekly Beano. I’m also working on reviving The Carrotty Kid for a new comic venture, hopefully more on that in the not-too-distant future!

What will you have for sale at the show?
I’ll be offering sketches, prints and of course comics! I’m always open to commissions too, and can be reached through my website at www.fanton.co.uk