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Spider-Man illustrator spins web of fascination for Scots comic artist

Spider-Man illustrator spins web of fascination for Scots comic artist

From the moment Tom Foster set eyes on the work of Mark Bagley and his portrayal of Spider-Man, he was caught in the web of the comic world.

Aged ten, he suddenly realised the character didn't appear out of thin air and that somebody had brought them to life.

“From that point in, I was locked in,” Tom said. That's what I wanted to do, there was no dissuading me.”

For the last 18 months, Tom has been working on the Judge Dredd Megazine, where he has co-created the character Judge Storm.

  (© 'Storm Warning © 2015 Rebellion A/S. All rights reserved. Www.2000ADonline.com)
via STV via STV

Living out his childhood dream of becoming a comic book artist, the 30-year-old can be found musing over all things comics at Dundee Literary Festival on October 23.

Alongside Mike Collins and Dr Chris Murray, the comic creators will delve into a discussion about the changing face of the comic industry.

“Comics are such a big part of popular culture," he said.

“The UK is home to a solid chunk of the most successful and well known comic book writers and artists in the world.

“Comic conventions are more densely attended than ever before. And there are more of them than ever before. And Comic films are still number one at the box office.It proves that people are interested and invested.”

The October event is part of a series at this year's festival which spans over five days with Dave Gibbons, Sepideh Jodeyri and David Mackenzie on the line-up.

For Tom, the secret to a successful comic book character is to stay ahead of the curve and produce original and new ideas.

“A lot of the more popular comic book characters are always most popular because they got in their first,” he said. “Superman was pretty much the first superhero that there was.

“So then the whole notion of a superhero was something new.

“In the 80s, the big thing was the addition of age and time and recognition that they had a history and their personalities were shaped by that.

“As time goes on, the emphasis is on making comic book characters legitimised by reality.”

For now, Tom’s focus is fully on his character Judge Lillian Storm, who is part of the Judge Dredd universe.

  (© 'Storm Warning © 2015 Rebellion A/S. All rights reserved. Www.2000ADonline.com)
via STV via STV

“I am proud of her because I got an opportunity to design a female character who wasn't defined by her gender in any way,” he said.

“She is defined entirely by her history, personality, abilities and aptitudes. I wanted to give a sense of that visually.

“When it came to body language and all of her physical ticks, I try to veer towards stuff that wasn't gender specific.”

Now working and living in Edinburgh, Tom studied illustrations at Duncan Jordanstone College of Art and says the city, which has been at the heart of Scotland’s considerable comic book scene, is the perfect setting to spark a debate about the future of the industry.

"Asking questions about the industry is very important, particularly at the moment," Tom said. "That's something that goes for the games and comics industry. They have both weathered controversy over the last year or so, particularly [around the] portraying of women.

"That's something for which the comic and games industry need to be more accountable. And now titles are coming out which reflect that debate.

  (© Storm Warning © 2015 Rebellion A/S. All rights reserved. Www.2000ADonline.com)
via STV via STV

“The only way you are going to get a thing people are going to tap into, and enter into willingly, is to cultivate the talent and people who are interested in it and produce material and then something will come out of that.

“Something will come out of that, somebody is going to know what the next big thing is or is going to produce the next big thing.

“The only way to give yourself the best chance of doing that is to promote the creative culture around that and that's what Dundee is doing, which is good.”

Tom Foster will be speaking at the Dundee Literary Festival on October 23.

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