Droid Interrogation: An Exclusive Interview with Frazer Irving on Gutsville, Batman & Robin, Days Missing… and More!



Frazer Irving

Frazer Irving is a British comic book artist who first came to public attention in 2001 with the 2000 AD series Necronauts, written by Gordon Rennie. Irving has worked on many 2000 AD comics over the last few years, including Storming Heaven, with Gordon Rennie; Judge Death, with John Wagner; The Simping Detective with Simon Spurrier; and Button Man: “The Hitman’s Daughter”, with John Wagner.

In the U.S. Comic industry Irving’s debut work was on Authority: Scorched Earth but he first came to real public attention on Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers: Klarion the Witch boy miniseries. Frazer then went on to find further work, including Ironman: Inevitable, Hellblazer, Civil War: Frontline, Swallow, Robin, Inhumans: Silent War, Ultimate Fantastic Four, X-Men: Divided We Stand, Timestorm: 2009-2099 X-men, War of Kings: Divided we Stand, The Darkness, Azrael: Death’s Dark Knight, and his latest project Days Missing.


Necronauts TPB Cover

Frazer has also has done illustration work for RPG companies like Wizards of the Coast, Hogshead Publishing and Guardians of Order, as well as work for small press publications like The End Is Nigh. Irving is also responsible for the artwork on the Tertiary, Quandary and Quintessential phase CD release of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series adaptation. In addition, Frazer Irving also plays bass in a band called Atom Heart Brother, and also provides artwork for the band’s releases.

Irving’s artwork is heavily stylized, and it has been said that hiss style owes something to the art of Bernie Wrightson, but with a computer-driven edge. In fact Irving now works in a completely digital format, using an Apple Mac, and a Wacom Cintiq interactive pen display, which allows the artist the ability to drawn with a stylus directly on an interactive display that displays pen strokes below the users hand as they are made.


Klarion #1 Cover

Irving’s first creator owned comic was Gutsville, written by Simon Spurrier and first released through Image Comics in May 2007. Gutsville is set in 1850 aboard the British naval barque Daphne, bound for Australia; crammed with colonial passengers, aristo-adventurers and frothing missionaries. Four days from Sydney the waves become wreathed in sparks, the sky runs like quicksilver, and the very sea seems to open wide and swallows. The story then cuts to 2007, where the descendants of the Daphne’s passengers eke out a desperate life in Gutsville: a shanty-city held together with mucal slime and weed. They live in the belly of a great beast whose exterior none have seen and whose innards are all they’ve ever known. Here in the dark, lit by methane lamps, harvesting moulds from pus-polyps set into the viscera of an impossible being, a new culture has arisen: a mongrel-society of Victorian values, religious doggerel, and survivalist justice… And always the question – whispered in secret gatherings beyond the eyes of the watchful Jonahkin priests: What is the beast..?


Darkness #77 Cover

Gutsville was released to great critical respect, and had very good sales for a creator owned comic. In fact, issue #1 of the series even got a third reprinting! However, as the series progressed the gaps between issues got larger, and since the release of Gutsville #4 in March 2008, fans have been waiting impatiently to see what is in store for Albert, Mary, and the other inhabitants of Gutsville.

In July 2009 Image Comics officially canceled all preorders of Gutsville issues #4-#6, leaving many fans wondering about the future of this amazing series. Back in July Bleedingcool.com interviewed writer Simon Spurrier about what happened to Gutsville, and after reading that interview I decided to follow it up with some questions to artist Frazer Irving… well, it been a month, but I just got Frazer’s replies. He’s a busy man you know, and I am very appreciative of him for taking time out to do this. So, here you go… MAKE IT PUKE!


Hi Frazer, and welcome to Hypergeek! I’m a huge fan of your work, and really appreciate the opportunity to interview you. This is actually the first artist interview that I have done on Hypergeek, but don’t let that give you a big head

Let’s start off by addressing the Elephant in the room… I’m talking of course of Gutsville, the Image Comic that you co-created with Simon Spurrier….

  • Now, I imagine that you have read the interview that Si did over at BleedingCool.com. Rich had noticed that the final three issues of Gutsville had been canceled by Image, and so decided to ask Si what went wrong. Si responded by saying that “… that it’s a question which – in a perfect world – would be being answered by someone else, the artist… so whatever I say is going to be skewed by my own POV. I won’t try to second-guess him, but I’ll tell you what I know”… So I decided to come to you and ask for your take on the story… So, what did go wrong?

Frazer: Well to be honest, I ignored Image’s suggestion that we get 3 books nailed before soliciting the first one because at that point I had been extremely productive on other jobs and was confident that I could handle the workload of another monthly book. This is the folly of arrogance. What I hadn’t taken into consideration was the fact that Gutsville was (and still is) a far more engaging and time consuming work than the Work For Hire jobs I’d been doing at that time, which put additional stress on my Art muscle. Initially this didn’t affect me, but by the time issue #3 was being made I had noticed that I was slowly losing funds (due to having a girlfriend in Canada and the increased costs of visiting) and I was being sorely tempted by other Work For Hire gigs. I figured I could probably take some of those on to fund Gutsville, and tho there may be a few small delays, ultimately it wouldn’t affect the release of the book.


Azrael #1 Cover

Then my mother needed an operation which meant she relied upon me to do her shopping and other stuff for a few months. Again I didn’t think this would be such a big deal, but by december 2007 I had noticed that the WFH gigs and my constant distractions from the drawing board had slowed down the output of Gutsville pages…which is when the stress kicked in. Issue #4 was being drawn as of early 2008 and though the pages were looking great, they were taking 3 times as long, and it seemed this had filtered over to my WFH gigs as well, which meant I was putting more of myself into the art than I had done before. This made for great art but the pressure on the Art muscle was building, and then when my relationship with Canadian Woman ended a month or so later, it all snapped. I experienced a proper full-on burn-out. I know many artists go through these phases in their careers if they’re not careful, but I didn’t expect it to hit me quite as hard or last so long. Si was very accommodating at first, but before I knew it it was August and not only had I drawn no more than 5 pages of Guts, I had again eaten away at my pool of funds and was finding myself without any form of income. And the burnout hadn’t ended yet either.

It’s hard to explain how deeply such a burn out affects ones productivity…I mean I physically found it almost impossible to sit at the Mac and actually draw. I couldn’t visualize anything in my head, the lines weren’t forming on the screen, and all I wanted to do was Something Else, which had the knock-on effect of making me even rustier and less involved in the whole thing. I did a few European conventions that autumn in the hopes that it would revive my spirits, but I was also aware that by January I’d be bankrupt if I didn’t get a decent gig very soon, and aside from the offers I’d already turned down for the sake of the Gut, there was nothing on offer from anyone.

ARK Reborn1

Arkham Reborn #1 Cover

When DC came back to me in December and offered me Azrael, it was a godsend ‘cos it was good money and a good sized gig, so by March I was saved from bankruptcy but the Gut had been delayed even further. Those DC deadlines (and the Marvel/Archaia ones that followed it) were extremely tight. I was given about 4 weeks to do each book, and this is after accumulating much artistic rust on the Art Muscle, and also having this new benchmark of quality that all projects had to measure up to. So 2009 kinda flew past me without me even so much as touching the Gut at all.

I wasn’t surprised that Diamond canceled the last 3 issues, ‘cos they clearly weren’t coming anytime soon tho I do fear that this may be misconstrued as the Creators canceling the book, which is far from the truth. In fact, thanks to the WFH jobs done this year and the upcoming Batman and Conan gigs next year I can now actually properly afford to take the rest of this year to focus solely on Gutsville and get it done to the standard it deserves. Simon doesn’t believe me, my girlfriend doesn’t believe me, the entire comic industry probably doesn’t believe me, but that’s never stopped me before It’s just nice to be out of the creative rut that made 2008 such a sucky year.

Ed: I believe you Fraze, and now you’ve publicly stated it, that means that we can all prod you with a pointy stick until new issues begin to appear I’m very sorry to hear of the conditions that got you into a rut, I can see how your circumstances would lead to the state in which you found yourself. To be honest, I would say that I am at a very similar point of my life right now. My Mother is constantly in and out of the hospital with complications due to cancer, and always being told she has days to live. I can’t even afford to fly to the UK to visit her, and it has really effected my work and personal life…. leading to me losing my current job… enough about me though…moving on…

  • Have you produced many Gutsville pages since the release of issue #3?

Frazer: Like I sayeth above, Issue #4 is all done and looks better than the previous issues.

  • Do you have any art you wouldn’t mind sharing? Just to whet the appetite?

Frazer: Maaaaybe…

Ed: Oh you tease!

Images from Gutsville #4:

Guts-Amelia-731184 guts-boobs-731254

  • How far off are you from finishing another issue? Are you working on them in a linear basis, IE. #4, then #5… or are you working on different scenes from the remaining issues as your muse commands?

Frazer: I have the last 2 issues to draw, though issue #6 will be double sized. I work chronologically on everything so that I don’t get confused, and that also allows me to engage with the narrative as I draw it.

  • What does Image officially canceling the title mean for the comic? Is that just a formality, and will they still put out the following issues when they are complete? Or will you have to renegotiate or something like that? If worst comes to it would you just save up all the art and put out the comic as a complete collection, marketed as a graphic novel?

Frazer: Well Si told me that Image were perfectly happy to re-solicit when the issues are done, which is nice. We had a few other people jump in and make a grab for the collected edition but I personally have no intention of ditching the last 3 floppies for the sake of a rushed graphic novel. The collection will be a different beast anyway. Not sure how it’ll differ aside from a few panels/pages being redrawn to fix stuff in earlier issues, but I want the comics and the TPB to be equal in terms of collectability and artistic merit. To go straight to collection now would be a cop out, and at least one chap I met in SDCC this year told me he only collects the comics, so I have to release them if only for his sake I always finish what I start, so the full #6 issues of Gutsville will be released and the trade will be be a separate beast. No corner cutting, no backing out.

- Good to hear! Also, for further news on Gutsville make sure to bookmark Gutsville.com, or join up to the unofficial Gutsville Facebook page. I can’t speak for the official page, but as soon as more issues are solicited anyone who signs up on Facebook will receive a ‘direct message’ informing them when more issues are solicited (I run the page).

Gutsville #4 Cover

Gutsville #4 Cover


Gutsville #5 Cover

Gutsville #6 Cover

Gutsville #6 Cover

Moving on from Gutsville

  • You recently wrapped up work on the three-part miniseries Azrael: Death’s Dark Knight, with writer Fabian Nicieza for DC Comics. This ‘Battle of the Cowl’ tie-in series established a completely new version of Azreal, with a completely new look. How involved were you with the redesign of this classic character?

Frazer: I almost totally redesigned him due to my naivety regarding previous incarnations. I liked the idea that giving him standard urban clothing reflects a more honest side to his rebirth, though I did get the mask wrong at first ‘cos no-one told me it had to be a specific design. That was fixed easily though. I’m flattered that the subsequent artists haven’t changed or “fixed” the design. I like the hiking boots and cargo pants

The incorrect mask sequence to which Frazer was referring:





  • The mini-series, which was a ‘Battle for the Cowl’ tie-in, left the character set up to be a force in Gotham City. I have heard rumours of a new ongoing series, penned by Fabien Nicieza. Is this something you have been approached about, continuing your run from the previous mini?

Frazer: Nope. I did a variant cover [Ed note: Not yet solicited] , but I think they wanted someone else to have a stab at it, possibly because I now have this rep as being the 3-issue guy and having me on a monthly would terrify the pants off any editor. Despite the fact that I did each issue in the 4 week slot allocated, they were skin-of-teeth times so I don’t blame em.

[Please note: Since this interview was conducted it has been revealed that the story of Azrael will be continued in Batman Annual #27, followed by Detective Comics Annual #11, which will lead in to the new ongoing series beginning in October with Azrael #1]

Let’s move on to your upcoming Archaia/Roddenberry comic Days Missing, with writer Phil Hester…

[Please note, the following questions were asked before much information had been released about the title. The First issue of the comic has actually now been released at should be available to buy from all good Comic Stores]

  • How did you become involved with this title? And can you tell us what is it about?

Frazer: It’s sci fi, about some dude who has been the Guardian or Steward of life on earth since the beginning of time. Each issue is a stand alone story that explores how this guy has affected the path of human history. I got involved cos editor Rob Levin asked me, and he’s a decent chap (now with a few extra grey hairs) so I said yes.

  • The way this book is set up is a little bit different from the norm. You and Phil Hester are doing the first and final issues together, but every issue in-between is set to have a different creative team. How does that work? Are your issues sort of like bookends, with the tales in-between being separate stories that link together, or is it one large story?

Frazer: Our issues are indeed like bookends, in that issue #1 introduces him [The Steward] very generally, and issue #5 kinda resolves some issues and sets it up for continuation with a whole bunch of added elements. I have no other interaction with the other creative teams though, so I’ll probably have to buy copies of their issues.

  • How much were you involved with the creation of the characters and concepts in this book?

Days Missing #1 Variant Cover

Frazer:Well Dale Keown designed the main dude, I designed the library and all the other interior elements remain exclusive to that issue so I guess most of the designs only last 22 pages. I did design the Frankenstein’s monster for issue #2 (because I’m doing a set of covers for each issue and they needed my art before Chris Burnham started the interiors) but that wasn’t such a big creative leap [ED note: Make sure to check out the Graphic Novel adaptation of Frankenstein that Frazer drew a couple of years ago, available thorough Penguin books - Highly recommended!]. I just designed the antagonist for issue #5 (which I’m also doing the interiors for) and that was a bit tricky ‘cos the idea is very generic, yet the task was to make the character look more unique and special.

  • Do you and the other artists working on the project have to work in a certain style, to give it a similar feel throughout, or is everyone just bringing their own styles to their issues?

Frazer: No, Archaia and Roddenberry were good in the respect that they see the value of having variety in artistic styles, so the series will hum with vibrancy.

Now Looking ahead at your future work…
“I know Frazer Irving’s coming on to do an arc and I’m very excited about working with him again. I’ve been dreaming of how the Frazer Irving Batman could look since we first worked together”

- Grant Morrison
  • I have heard that you are going to be doing art for an upcoming arc of Batman & Robin, taking over duties from Frank Quitely? Is there any more you can tell us about this? Or is it all still under wraps?

Frazer: All I can say is that I am pencilled in to do issues #10-#12. No more can I say.

  • What is it like working with Grant Morrison again? I believe that this is the first time you have worked together since completing Klarion the Witch Boy.

Frazer: It is, but I haven’t started working on it yet so I don’t know how this will differ

  • I have to ask, following on from Frank Quitely must be quite a daunting prospect, have you got anything extra special in store on the art front?

Frazer: Well I’m following someone else in fact. But yeah, I spent most of SDCC drunkenly babbling about how all the artists on board need to bring their A-games to this. I certainly have ideas in my head, but it all depends on the story …

[Please Note: The September & October solicitations recently revealed that Phillip Tan is set to illustrate Batman & Robin #4 - #5. DC seem to be playing this one close to their chest, but I am going to assume that their plan is to bring in different artists for 2-3 issue arcs while Quitely gets another run complete]

  • Do you have any other things on the horizon that you can talk about? It’s been a couple of years since your art appeared in 2000 AD, are you planning a return to The Galaxy’s Greatest, or are you solely pursuing work in the States right now

Frazer: Right now I am nose into the Gut, then I have Batman & Robin, then a possible Conan mini at Dark Horse, and that will take me till this time next year and I never plan that far ahead. I’d like to do more stuff in 2000 AD but I won’t have time for aaages now. Many, many ambitions have yet to be achieved as well, so I have secret projects being brewed…

- Fair enough, well, I’m sure all 2000 AD fans will be glad to see you back at some point, and Tharg’s punishments won’t be too brutal… oh who am I kidding

Frazer: Thanks very much for taking the time out of your hectic schedule to do this interview, it is greatly appreciated.

Fans wishing to keep up on Frazer’s latest goings on should make sure to bookmark or subscribe to Frazerirving.com. Frazer’s amazing artwork can currently be seen in Days Missing #1, which should be on stands right now. He will also be providing variant covers for issue #2 - #4 of the series, before again assuming art duties on issue #5. Frazer is also providing covers for the upcoming DC comics 3-part mini series Arkham Reborn, by David Hine & Jeremy Haun.

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4 Responses to “Droid Interrogation: An Exclusive Interview with Frazer Irving on Gutsville, Batman & Robin, Days Missing… and More!”
  1. Hypergeek says:

    Busy on the job hunt, but in case you missed the Frazer Irving Interview … http://www.hypergeek.ca/2009/08/droid-in... Its had 1000 readers in 12 hours!

  2. Chris_Hunter says:

    @Hypergeek Way to go, dude! Good luck on the job hunt!


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  1. [...] I am going to assume that he will be illustration issue #7-#9, becasue Frazer Irving told me in a recent interview that he is scheduled to illustrate issues [...]

  2. [...] Irving would be drawing an arc of Grant Morrison’s fantastic Batman & Robin Series (see my interview with Fraze). However, DC confirmed today that he is set to take the artistic reigns on the title with issue [...]

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