In-house editor ELLIE EGLETON speaks with the creator of Captain Fishbeard, TOM SPARKE, about UK comic conventions and creating comics!
To kick start this interview, can you please share with us how you became interested in creating comics?
As a child I loved comics, I’d get everything from the Beano to Garfield and consumed anything with a fun character inside. Over the years I’ve loved funny books and it was only a matter of time until I was making my own.
Judging by your Instagram (@captfishbeard), you attend a lot of UK comic conventions! What is your favourite thing about tabling at a con?
I LOVE Cons! There’s so much to like but chatting with comic fans is the best bit. Talking with anyone about their passions is fantastic but comics people are always lovely so it’s great to catch up with old and new friends.
If you can share just one comic convention memory with the world, what would it be?
I guess my most important con moment in recent years was tabling next to Chris McCoy (aka the super-funny Safely Endangered Comic) and him encouraging me to take Captain Fishbeard to a Weekly webcomic. That was the birth of the books right there!
You describe CAPTAIN FISHBEARD as “the adventures of a very silly fish-man”. In your mind, when did you first meet Captain Fishbeard?
I started drawing CF probably back in 2010 but he looked quite different back then, his beard was black and he was kind of doe-eyed. More innocent-looking than today’s crazy guy! He started out as a character to complete puzzles with.
One thing we love about CAPTAIN FISHBEARD is that he’s just like an ordinary guy. He attempts the gym, takes trips to the opticians and leaves his Christmas planning to the very last second. However, what makes him so extraordinary is that CAPTAIN FISHBEARD spends time with all kinds of fishy creatures, including a mermaid! Where do you draw the inspiration for such a character and his very funny tales?
It’s just life! Mostly it’s my experiences in various situations but some of it is drawn from my friends’ experiences and things that make me laugh.
You not only write CAPTAIN FISHBEARD but you also illustrate! What tips can you give to aspiring writers/artists?
You have to love what you’re doing. If it’s good you’ll work in it a long time and often at times when you don’t feel like doing it so you have to find that love and use it to push you to keep going! I find writing hard but it is satisfying.
Although it must be hard to choose, do you have an all-time favourite CAPTAIN FISHBEARD strip?
I think my favourite one might be ‘Spy’. The little fish spy character is trying so hard to be a super secret agent but he keeps messing up! He’s so cute!
The second volume of CAPTAIN FISHBEARD is soon to be published! Do you have plans for a third volume?
Each book represents about 6 months of weekly comics but I’m taking a little break right now to work on other projects. I’m sure he’ll be back but I’m not sure quite when yet!
Aquaman and Mera attempt to meet with Captain Fishbeard to discuss the future of Atlantis. What does Captain Fishbeard do?
Probably go to the wrong place, turn up late and accidentally insult them! He would want the best for everybody though, his heart is in the right place.
Outside of comics, you also dabble in trading cards. What do you enjoy about creating these top-trump style games?
I think character creation is the most fun so thinking up funny heroes is great – I’ll definitely do more of these. I really hope people like them.
Is there anyone who you would like to thank for encouraging and supporting your work?
Naturally Chris McCoy, but also my lovely wife and all of the Beardos, which is the name for Captain Fishbeard fans. They have been so lovely every week and they’re wonderful people.
Where can fans follow you and your work?
Twitter – @sparkeface
Insta – @captfishbeard
Facebook – @captainfishbeard
Patreon – TomSparke
The legend that is Captain Fishbeard is back with all your favourite sea-friends in this giant 74 page A5 second volume. Up-Anchor and let’s sail!