Sneaking & Joking Through WildStorm's RED HERRING w/Bond

In the upcoming series Red Herring from WildStorm, the titular main character and a girl named Maggie McGuffin are trying to get to the bottom of a conspiracy that one of them doubts even exists. Nevertheless, they’re being hunted by others trying to put a stop to them – so they must come to terms with the truth if there’s ever hope of them making it out alive. But this isn’t a straight-up spy book – with names like ‘Red Herring’ and ‘MacGuffin’, you can see there’s more in store than a stoic super spy shoot ‘em up.

Yesterday, we spoke with Red Herring writer David Tischmann, and now we turn to the artistic side of the equation: Philip Bond. Bond is well known in comics circles for his inimitable style – from the same school of art as the likes of Gorillaz & Tank Girl artist Jamie Hewlett. Bond is perhaps best known for his collaborations with Grant Morrison on such titles as Kill Your Boyfriend and  Vinamarama, but now he’s turning his attention to a new sort of comic: secret agent. But while he may be knee-deep in drawing conspiracies and gun battles, it is not without the tongue-in-cheek humor that has been in Bond’s previous work.

For more, we talked with Bond by email.

Newsarama: Let’s start with an easy one – what are you working on today, Philip?

Philip Bond: Trying to pull the last two issues of Red Herring together. It's the point in the series where the lying stops and the twists, reveals and payoffs are coming thick and fast.

NRAMA: How would you describe this book?

BOND: A screwball comedy wrapped up in a caper. Wrapped up in an enigma. Or is it? I think maybe we should end every scene with an "...or is it?" caption.

NRAMA:Why’d you choose to work on this book?

BOND: David (Tischman) was visiting talking about another book we were to be working on. Maybe he could see I wasn't quite with him so he switched tack and started describing this other Red Herring idea he had (or he may have just made it up on the spot) and we were immediately throwing ideas back and forth. The grand themes are all things I've always been interested in and it's run through with a great cast of characters lost in something way bigger than they know, or care to know.

NRAMA: For a majority of your career you’ve worked under the Vertigo umbrella – while this book shows you going over to its sister imprint, WildStorm. Why’s that?

BOND: Through a lengthy and circuitous series of submissions. Actually I don't quite know. We'd been fishing the book around for a while, all the time refining and expanding the story, when one day David (Tischman) called and said "we're with WildStorm".

NRAMA:You’re working with writer David Tischman on this, a previous collaborator from back on Angel & The Ape. How’s that been for you?

BOND: Very rewarding creatively. It's been more of a collaboration than anything I've done before. Early on we were constantly on the phone working out characters and plots. Even working on the finished book we're always calling each other to discuss the minutiae of each panel, how an incidental detail might effect some scene two issues down the line.

NRAMA:You made your name in the British alternative comics scene in the late 80s with work on Atomtan: and Deadline magazine. Can you tell us what pushed you to jump into comics, and why you keep working at it?

BOND: I'd wanted to do comics since a very early age. College was at the point of pushing me more into straight illustration when Jamie Hewlett (Tank Girl, Gorillaz) joined the same course two years below me and suddenly we were only drawing to impress each other. All academic concerns were kicked down the stairs and we just wanted to draw comics again. Twenty years on I find it's all I can do.

NRAMA:A majority of your work for British publishers is now out of print – could you see those titles, such as your strips for Deadline be collected at some point?

BOND: There's talk about collections once every few years but I get sidelined into some other project and my brain doesn't do well thinking about more than one thing at a time. That and I also bounce back and forth between thinking it was valuable work that deserves to be in print, and horrid formative doodlings that should never again see the light of day.  Maybe with a big disclaimer on the cover. And a Smiths CD, because that's what you should listen to when reading it.

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