A chat with the creators of “The Royals: Prince Harry”

comic panel of Prince Harry in war

(Originally published August 11, 2011.)

On August 24, Prince Harry’s joining the long list of celebrities with colorful biographies. This isn’t a tell-all but rather a new comic book published by Bluewater Productions. Artist Justin Currie and author C.W. Cooke were kind enough to answer my comic-newbie questions about their work on our favorite prince of the realm.

Justin Currie, artist

What kind of prep work is involved with a project like this? Do you spend a lot of time studying the person’s photo or researching their background?

Haha, yes, I spent far too many nights staring at pictures of Prince Harry, although I did have a lot of fun with the project, I’m glad we can now spend some time apart. Besides scouring the internet for pictures, I really didn’t do too much reading on the royals – the comic script really told me everything I needed to know, and I had no interest reading into some of the more negative royal stories that seemed to keep popping up. I really liked how the script kept things in a positive light.

sample artist sketch of Prince Harry

“Fun hair to draw!” (Click to enlarge Justin’s test art.)

The first pages I saw struck me as having almost an anime-style. Is this one of your influences?

I would say it’s more Disney-influenced then anime. But I find work with a bit more of a cartoony feel has much more character than photo-realistic illustration. I figured that at this point, people must be getting a bit tired of seeing photos of the royals, so I really wanted to have fun with the comic, rather than worry too much about getting exact likenesses of the royals.

My big illustration influences would have to be Bill Watterson (Calvin+Hobbes) and Glen Keane (Disney’s Little Mermaid, Tangled, etc.)

There has already been criticism online of one of the covers (which I know you didn’t illustrate) with some saying Harry looks more like George W Bush. What would you say to critics who might question your rendition of the Royals?

I fully expect a bit of criticism regarding my style with the Royals. I would be shocked if my first dive into comics didn’t result in a couple of hiccups – and especially because this is a celebrity comic, it’s almost definitely going to attract more scrutiny than usual.

This will be my first published comic, most of my experience has been with children’s books, and videogame concept art. My work is a bit more sci-fi and fantasy, so I took it as a real challenge to draw the Royals comic.

comic panel showing princess diana holding a baby harry

This project was quite a style jump for me, I’ve never really tackled illustration like this before, and had such tight deadlines that I didn’t have much time to second guess things… I hope most people enjoy it

Were you a royal fan before and if not, are you now?

I’m sure they are all very nice and normal people, wish ‘em all the best, and thank them for getting me a freelance comic gig!

The press has made much lately over three ladies in Harry’s life: Chelsy, Pippa and “Flee”. Who’d you rather draw?

Tough question, they are all quite stunning. Chelsy would probably be the most fun to draw, she looks like she’s got a bit of attitude, and she would be great in a piece with a bit of humor mixed in. But Pippa would have to be my pick. I’m a big fan of drawing beautiful women in elegant flowing dresses.

chelsy davy, pippa middleton, and florence brudnell-bruce

You can view more of Justin’s work at Deviant Art.

C.W. Cooke, author

I see you’ve written several titles for Bluewater. How does this one compare with some of the others you’ve written? Are modern day royals any different than pop stars?

It is pretty much on par with the others. I’m always very fair when I tell someone’s life story, whether they be a royal or a pop star or an actor or a politician. And I treat everyone like real people, never seeing them as anything other than that.

When you’re writing a biographical comic how do you vet out what to include in the story? What type of research is involved?

Depending on the person, it can be extremely difficult to decide what goes in and what stays out. A comic book is strictly 22 pages (though sometimes I cheat and put in 24 pages) and there can be a ton of information to cram in about someone’s life. I do online research, go to the library, check out bios written about people, watch biographies about them if they’re out there, read interviews for small tidbits about the person that may have been missed. The research is the most difficult part, because as I research, I write and cut at the same time.

How was writing the Will and Kate comic helpful with Harry’s?

Immensely helpful. Getting to write Harry’s life story after writing Will’s and Kate’s was different as Will is the older brother and the first in line, but there was a lot of overlap in the research on Will and Harry, so a lot of the work was already done. But beyond that, the overlap only takes up about two pages of the comic. Writing the Will and Kate comic influenced the voice of the comic for Harry, so it helped a lot as writing Will’s and Kate’s book started very slowly.

How did you handle the more notorious, negative events in his life?

Fairly. Nothing is presented in a negative light. No fingers are pointed. There’s no bias in my words in the comic. It’s all there, warts and all, and the comic doesn’t shy away from it. He’s the Wild Child, and that will get shown in the pages of this comic.

If Harry were a superhero, what powers do you think he would have?

He’s kind of a superhero at times now as it is. He pilots helicopters, he travels the Arctic Ocean, he volunteers and helps the unfortunate, I mean, he’s traveled the world and helped numerous people out on various continents. It’s amazing, but it’s most likely from good upbringing.

Have you done any non-comic writing?

A lot. I’ve written screenplays (shorts and full-length, all unproduced so far), I&rsquo’m working on a novel or seven, I’ve written poetry and short stories and a little bit of everything. I’ve done blogging, movie and music reviews, you name it, I’ve probably tried my hand at writing it.

Anything else you can share about the book?

Nothing that hasn’t been said or already presented, but I will say this: I hope everyone loves it. It’s great fun to write comics and it’s great fun to see and hear what people think of those comics, so I hope you love it as much as I loved making it.

Thanks to both Justin, C.W. as well as Darren at Bluewater Productions for helping us out. Be sure to pre-order the graphic novel and find the single-issue comic at your local comic store.

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