I knew nothing about Head Lopper when I decided to review it, other than that it looked absolutely kick-ass, had swords and a guy with a giant beard. Other than it being like looking in the mirror, it was an unapologetic heavy metal-like experience, with lots of blood and decapitations. I got the chance to ask Head Lopper creator Andrew MacLean some questions about how he started, his inspirations and what the future might have in store for Norgal and Agatha.
AiPT!: Let’s start with the usual question that I’m required by law to ask all artists – how did you get started, and were you always into the medium of comic art?
Andrew MacLean: Yeah, I’ve always been into comic art. Even when I was very little I would try to draw like the comics I had seen. After college, when I decided I wanted to make comics for a living, I started to self-publish and work with writers who were also self-publishing. I drew and sent pitches to publishers regularly and eventually they started to pay attention, which in time lead to actual work.
AiPT!: Who were the people in your life that helped you become an artist? Parents? Teachers?
MacLean: Honestly, I don’t really recall anyone in particular specifically supporting my art. At school, I was the kid who could draw and I’m guessing that positive attention from friends and classmates probably encouraged me to keep at it. But mostly, I’ve just always really enjoyed drawing.
AiPT!: I think you have a very unique style, a more colorful Mike Mignola-type aesthetic – did you set out to have this very cartoony/exaggerated style, or did you just evolve into it over the years?
MacLean: I’d say it still evolves a little everyday – you try new things out. Some things stick and some things don’t. You just always try to draw a little better than the day before.
AiPT!: Head Lopper – I reviewed the collection, and was a huge fan for both the artwork and pace of the series, and my feeling was that this is a very lived-in land. Has this been something you’ve been thinking about for a long time?
MacLean: I first started thinking of it in 2012 I think – not too long ago. But as I move through the stories, page by page, it kind of fills itself in. I’m not one for coming up with world maps and genealogies on day one, I figure greater-world things out little by little. Otherwise I’d be working from really old ideas and the older an idea gets the less I like it. So I wouldn’t be enjoying myself all that much.
AiPT!: For those out there that didn’t pick up the first book – can you give us a high-level backstory leading into the new issue?
MacLean: Thus far, without spoilers, we met Norgal and Agatha on an island called Barra that was overrun with all kinds of beasts, all of which was orchestrated by I sorcerer who’s been held captive within a bog. Norgal and Agatha were hired to kill the Sorcerer. Some things go right, some things go wrong. In the end, job well done, Norgal and Agatha hop on a pirate vessel along with Zhaania Kota Ka, another adventurer they met along the way.
Now, the group has landed on the beach beneath the Crimson Tower, where Zhaania had first set out to reach before getting waylaid on Barra.
AiPT!: Can you tell me how Norgal and Agatha came about? Were they a slow formation process or doodle turned bigger or did either of them just appear in your head somewhat existing?
MacLean: They were a doodle-turned-bigger. Most of my ideas start with a drawing. If I like a character I get curious about who they might be and what story they might tell. In this case, I had drawn an early version of Norgal with his sword on his shoulder that stabbed through an early version of Agatha. It was a really fun drawing to do and I thought I wouldn’t mind drawing the two of them over and over again.
AiPT!: Is a “Beheading Agatha” prequel going to happen? A less-bearded Norgal, and a full-bodied Witch? If not, can I submit a request for that now?
MacLean: That’s the plan. But its part of a much grander story that unfolds slowly. Though I do hope to tell the Agatha beheading scene sooner rather than later.
AiPT!: If you were not working on your own property – what comic character/pop culture property would you like to take out for a spin?
MacLean: Metroid would be fun.
AiPT!: Deadline is approaching. You’ve got pages to go before you sleep. How do you waste time instead of actually drawing?
MacLean: I’d watch a movie. Probably something from Netflix I know nothing about but it thinks I’d be into.
AiPT!: What are you currently reading and consuming for inspiration?
MacLean: Currently reading The Lord of the Rings. It’s my second time reading it, the first was about 10 years ago. I’m digging it more than I remembered. I’m also in the fourth volume of Akira (first time reading it). Just started reading March: Book One. Just bought Vagabond Vol. 1. And I’ve been looking at a lot of art by GoblinTom on Instagram (super cool, loose pen and marker stuff, sort of french-looking) as well as just digging around the internet for 70s fantasy and sci-fi painters.
AiPT!: Thanks, Andrew. Make sure to check out Head Lopper #5.