Comic capers as Beano illustrator brings summer masterclass to Wales
Kev F Sutherland will be teaching children the art of comic illustration during two workshops in Porthcawl this month. Rhiann Williams speaks to him
Kev F Sutherland has spent his career drawing iconic characters, including the Bash Street Kids, Dennis the Menace and Doctor Who.
Now he will be passing on his tips during two masterclasses aimed at children aged seven and above at the Grand Pavilion in Porthcawl this month.
Kev has been an avid comic reader since he was a child, and said that having grown up in a generation that loved comics, it seemed natural to aspire to be a comic artist.
“It was something many kids wanted to do,” he says. “I was lucky enough to turn my hobby into my job.”
He has worked on a variety of projects during his career, including ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ a full-length seasonal comic featuring Dennis the Menace.
He believes that creating comics is something which any child with a pencil and some paper can achieve.
And as well as being fun he reveals its “a great educational tool” especially for those who struggle with reading.
And he says that those who are disinterested in books, more often young boys, can perfect their reading by picking up a comic instead.
“It’s like telling a 10-year-old to stop watching television and just listen to the radio; things are always more interesting and engaging when there’s with pictures and words.”
He points out that comics filled with brightly coloured pictures where most of the words are in speech bubbles from characters’ mouths can make comics easier to follow than regular picture books.
“Pictures with words makes it a lot easier to understand what’s going on, rather than a wall of words on one side of the page and just one picture on the other,” he says.
Kev also points out the fact that picture books more often than not have to be read to children whereas it’s easier for them to follow a story in a comic by themselves.
The artist has drawn a variety of characters throughout his career and many of them deliver their young readers an important message.
“Obviously some of them just go off into the universe, fight some aliens and then come home the hero, but some characters I like to make points with.”
Taking much of his inspiration from the world, he says some of his storylines and characters can be minor parodies of events and happenings in the real world.
And in some instances, Kev’s work is also ‘pastiche’ whereby he takes situations or characters from older comic strips and incorporates them into new ones. One of his best examples is Miracle Banana who appears as part of a Bananaman script which Kev describes as “lightly satirical”. Miracle Banana is a character based on Miracle Man, formerly known as Marvel Man.
Kev started his masterclasses at Bristol Comic Festival when he was asked to be part of an educational outreach programme for seven to 12 year olds. They went so well that people asked if he would do more and since then he has travelled around schools, art centres and colleges sharing “the wonder of comics”.
Now he is heading to Porthcawl for two classes which are designed so that the children can make their own comic. To begin with, each child creates their own comic character then Kev helps the children to put the characters into a storyline.
Each child contributes a page to the story, and by the end of the class, all of the pages are put together to create a completely unique comic book.
And while the classes are typically aimed at children aged seven to 12 years, they are adult-friendly too...
Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing Pansy Potter in The Beano, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. He's been writing and drawing comics for 25 years, he must know something.