I was born and raised on a council estate on the southern edge of Leeds. My siblings were both much older than me, so my infant brain was melted in a cauldron that included everything from Andy Pandy to Ziggy Stardust.
I always loved books, comics, and – later – music. By my early teens I was taking everything that came at me, from New Romantic bands on Top of the Pops to Iron Maiden, to The Dickies, The Damned – anything that got my synapses firing. All of that was fed back into the art I was making, inspired by the Marvel Comics I’d inherited from my older brother, the Mad magazines I got from Kirkgate market, and copies of Knave found dumped in the park. Everything went in, with no filter, sensing as I was that one day it could all come in handy as fuel for the fire. At the same time, I liked things like Barry Hines’ Kes, or Rising Damp and Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads. Part of me enjoyed seeing my working class life reflected back at me, and part of me longed to see fantastic things from far beyond my common experience, but I never made a distinction between any of it, except whether or not I thought it was good. I drew all the time, always getting top marks for Art at school, but it never really dawned on me that I could ever make a living from it. By the late 80’s, with teenage hormones subsiding, I began to feel an intense burning need to GO, and started getting serious. By the early 90’s I was seeing my work published in the then-healthy network of zines in the UK and USA. This led to seeing my work in more established independent titles and the first of many collaborations in the comics world. I worked with a sense of purpose that a T-1000 Terminator would struggle to match, and created thousands of drawings, hundreds of comic strip pages, covers, paintings, you name it. I loved it, until I didn’t. By the late 90’s I was burning out. In 1999 I moved with my wife to the South West of England, and kept working, but things were changing. Much to my consternation, I was maturing and felt I should be doing something else, something more personal.
Becoming a father slowed me down for a while, though I still managed to write a half a million words long true crime book that no-one will ever read, and when I hit 40 I bypassed the cliche of the midlife crisis by changing course and trying my hand at the one medium I’d always shied away from: paint. Teaching myself, I saw themes emerging that would be my defining body of work for the next decade or so. They were important steps along the path, but once that path became too familiar I felt the need to stray off into uncharted territory, while there is still time to do it. And that’s where I’m at now, ready to go.