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Garen Ewing's love of drawing and writing goes back to when he was very young, and had to spend a lot of time in hospital, so his mum supplied him with plenty of comics to read, and pencils and blank paper to draw with, and he's been making comics ever since! Other jobs have included working at a mushroom farm (he's a qualified fork-lift truck driver), an airport hotel, a computer software company and doing loads and loads of illustrations for various books and magazines. He's been the editor of a local entertainments guide (5D) and a comic strip anthology (Cosmorama). He's adapted Shakespeare's The Tempest into a comic and is the writer and artist behind The Rainbow Orchid. He's an expert on the Second Anglo-Afghan War of 1878-1880, he's half Scottish, one-sixteenth Romany Gypsy and plays bass guitar and does karate (though not at the same time).
Below is a Q & A with this author.
What age group is The Rainbow Orchid aimed at?
The only audience I've had in mind all along has been me, and I was in my late twenties when I started writing Orchid, and have continued it on and off, whenever able, throughout my thirties. Having said that, it is totally 'kid friendly' - there's no extreme violence, sex or nudity. The plot has quite a few levels to it, and there is the occassional wordy scene. I'd have loved it when I was 8, and when I was 12, and it's right up my alley as I write this in my late thirties. I get emails from 11 year olds saying they love it, and from 40-somethings saying they love it. I hear from a very pleasing mixture of both male and female readers.
Will there be more Julius Chancer adventures after The Rainbow Orchid?
I hope so. I have many story ideas bouncing around, and if The Rainbow Orchid is a success, then I would certainly like to continue his adventures. The next one already exists as a series of rough notes and a title, and takes place entirely in Britain.
Will Tintin fans enjoy Rainbow Orchid?
I wanted to invoke the atmosphere found in European adventure albums such as Hergé's 'Tintin', Edgar P. Jacobs' 'Blake & Mortimer' and Yves Chaland's 'Freddy Lombard' to name just a few. Most British readers cite Tintin because not many other ligne claire comics have made it over from France and Belgium, but it is an entire school of comic strip storytelling with many creators working in the style, just like Manga has a certain look to it, or the recent popularity of an 'animation' or Disney style in comics. The Rainbow Orchid has also been compared stylistically to Floc'h's 'Trilogie Anglaise' or Jacob's 'La Marque Jaune'. The better you know Tintin, the more apparent the differences, but I don't refute the similarities - it was a conscious decision.
How did Rainbow Orchid take shape as a comic strip with you?
Everyone has their own way of creating a comic strip, but this, generally speaking, is how The Rainbow Orchid takes shape...
Before I start drawing, I need a script, but before I write the script, I need a plot. Story ideas are seldom delivered fully-formed. The rough shape will come first, perhaps as a result of several months' worth of disparate ideas coming together while I'm in the shower, or perhaps because I sit down in front of a notebook with just a single scene in my head, and start conjuring up characters for it to see what they get up to. Often a bit of both.
Even then it will only be a prototype. I find my stories need a few weeks (or months) of slow cooking and problem solving before I can start outlining the plot in any detail. And that's what happens next. By now I'll have accumulated quite a few pages of notes. Handwritten jottings tend to be the work of white flashes of inspiration or some dedicated free-form thinking, but there'll also be an assortment of pages typed up on the computer featuring more solidified ideas in various stages of progress. Gradually, problems are solved and the story takes shape.
If you like your comics full of mystery and adventure and you love the worlds of H. Rider Haggard, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, Edgar P. Jacobs and Hergé, then you'll want to read this. The Rainbow Orchid is traditional adventure at its best. Strong and simple storytelling with attractive and cinematic artwork, it will be enjoyed immensely by readers of all ages and both sexes.
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