Reston’s Chris is a real Diamond in the world of comic books

Reston comic book artist Chris Kent working on his acclaimed comic Medusa
Reston comic book artist Chris Kent working on his acclaimed comic Medusa

IT’S not every day your designs rub shoulders with graphics from two of the leading lights in the comic book world but that’s exactly what happened to Reston’s Chris Kent recently when his creation ‘Medusa’ was featured alongside works by Marvel and DC in an international publication.

Speaking to ‘The Berwickshire’ last week, Chris was still in a state of shock that his self-published work had been championed by Diamond, the world’s largest comic book distributor.

Acclaimed comic Medusa by Reston comic book artist Chris Kent

Acclaimed comic Medusa by Reston comic book artist Chris Kent

“To see ‘Medusa’ there on the page alongside ‘The Hulk’ and ‘Superman’ was absolutely amazing, particularly given that it was published by my own company, Graphite Fiction, based at my home in Reston,” he commented.

“DC and Marvel have millions to spend to raise the profile of their comics and most independent firms have a much bigger budget than me so to get such recognition is fantastic, not just for me but for the region as well to be on the map with these two huge American firms.”

Receiving the seal of approval from the comic book bible it’s abundantly clear Chris has a real skill in the field although his talents could have taken a rather different direction.

“I actually studied fine art in Newcastle,” he revealed.

“I did a lot of painting and drawing and worked in museums but I was always drawn to comics, largely down to the fact there were such a huge range of titles out there.

“I’ve attended a number of comic book conventions up and down the country and a few years ago I was invited to attend Comic Con - the huge comic convention in San Diego, California, where many famous comic book and movies are launched.

“I have also been running comic book events in libraries and teaching comic book classes in Edinburgh for the last three years.”

Comic books typically conjur up images of superheroes like Superman and Spiderman swinging from rooftops and battling evil but Chris said that they can also deal with more real-life issues.

“‘Medusa’, although using the Greek myth as its premise, is actually a very contemporary story,” he explained.

“It’s about a guy fighting in Iraq who has to return home after his daughter goes missing and his attempts to find her.

“Comic books don’t all have to be superhero fiction; there’s a very famous comic called ‘Maus’ which focuses on life in Nazi Germany.

“Putting something into comic book form doesn’t necessarily take away from the seriousness of it; it’s all about the artist’s choice of images and words.”

‘Medusa’ was recently reprinted in an extended version and Chris, who lists Will Eisner, Dave McKean, Guillermo del Toro and Alfred Hitchcock amongst his influences, is putting the finishing touches to his new comic book ‘The Golem’ which he desribes as “a kind of Victorian hammer horror.”

And it looks like his feature in Diamond might not be the extent of his international recognition.

“Touchwood Pictures got in touch with me last year about doing a comic linked to a movie release.

“I produced artwork, which I revised recently, and this has been taken to production meetings in Hollywood.

“I’m not entirely sure how people get to hear of my work, I’m presuming its from my website; I get a lot of people contacting me on there.

“I’m also on Twitter and had a Tweet not so long ago from a guy who works for Walt Disney giving me some positive feedback.”

Despite not having yet devised his own superhero to feature in a comic strip, Chris hasn’t completely ruled out the idea.

“It’s not something I’ve concentrated on thus far but the different ways things like ‘Batman’ have been done over the yesrs and how the character has changed is something that appeals to me.

“I’m always thinking of new things to do a comic on; my mind changes all the time.”