UK artist and teacher Andrew Pawley is currently working on the next installment in his Captain Yeah! cosmic comic series, an original comic based on The Flaming Lips lyrics. In one chapter, which he is close to finishing, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros rescue our hero, Captain Yeah!
Janglin Souls recently conducted a Q & A with Pawley, who talked about his comic series, as well as his love for Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros.
Q: Can you please provide a little background about the comic? When do you hope to have the new chapter completed?
A: I’ve been working on the character for about a year. I started working with The Future Heart on a Flaming Lips-inspired comic. Well, it’s an ongoing narrative called the “Lost in Music Saga,” about a trans-dimensional freakzoid dude called Captain Yeah! who spans all levels of existence and dimensions in spacetime.
In the previous book, Captain Yeah! fought his evil twin Dark Despair to help bring balance back to the universe. In the new book, there appears to be something wrong with the “Universal Harmony” and he’s trying to figure it out. The idea comes from a conversion with a musician friend of mine who is also a physicist. He explained to me the “superstring theory,” where all the subatomic particles are made from a vibrating wave. The trouble is that cosmic frequency has been twisted, and all sorts of problems ensue. Each issue, a different musical outfit helps Captain Yeah! along the way. Next issue, it’ll be ESMZ who come to the rescue.
I should be finished spring time maybe. The ESMZ issue should hopefully be out before Christmas.
Q: Why did you choose Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros to save the day?
A: I think ESMZ are such a good choice for a couple of reasons. Visually, they’re great-looking dudes, particularly in their Big Top outfits. Also, their manifesto based around universal humanity rings true with the same themes I’m interested in. However, they do have drawbacks … there are so many of them to draw!
Q: How did you get into comics?
A: I’ve always read comics and enjoy the narrative qualities that are unique to that format … so I decided to use it as a format to communicate ideas about love and the vastness of the universe (not too pretentious!). I enjoy using humor, but mostly I like working in a stream of consciousness and seeing where things go. I have a rough outline but things always take a turn here or there.
Q: Your sketches of Alex and Jade are amazing. Where did you get the ideas from? Photos of the band or just your own imagination?
A: I did work from photos of the band to start with just to get the ball rolling. My ideas tend to develop slowly through working in different styles. Both the narrative and the visual style come together in my head. It’s my intention that every chapter is different in visual and narrative style. I’ve done this to give interest to the story, but also challenge myself as an artist. To start with, I thought I’d work in a monochrome style, which actually looked really nice but didn’t fit the far-out ideas I’ve got planned for this chapter, so I started working in a more psychedelic manner and I’m finally happy with the way in which it’s going. I did work from photos of the band to start with just to get the ball rolling.
Q: When did you start listening to ESMZ? Why are you a fan? What draws them to you?
A: I started listening to ESMZ when I saw them perform with the Flaming Lips in the Hollywood graveyard (Hollywood Forever Cemetery). It’s such a great clip and a great version of one of my favorite tunes. Alex looked like such a weirdo; I had to investigate more. I love a guy with a vibrating prayer bowl! The first album I bought was “Here,” which is probably my favorite. I immediately snapped up “Up From Below,” which actually is probably my favorite too! That’s the thing — they are so consistently good all the time! I love the new album, particularly Life is Hard, This Life and If I Were Free. Actually, I think those three songs sort some up why I’m a fan. Raw, unsugared lyrics about the beauty and futility or existence yet served up with such joy and enthusiasm. They are a big part of an area of my life that is important to me.
Q: Have you seen ESMZ in concert? Please describe your experience(s).
A: I’ve seen them just once. Living in the UK, you have to leap at the chance when it comes. I saw them perform at the outdoor show at Somerset House, which is a neo-classical building that originally housed the Admiralty. It’s a beautiful venue. I went on my own, which I actually kinda like sometimes. It was at the peak of a heat wave in the summer. I took the train up straight after work and arrived in London nice and early, had a few ciders then headed for the venue. Heard the sound check with Better Days, which was great. The gig itself was awesome! I couldn’t believe how tight they were but could also jam really expressively. The mood was really weird though. I think a lot of people there were media-type getting in on the Summer of Sound, which was being held throughout the summer. However, the fans at the front lapped it up. Standout tracks were Man On Fire, That’s What’s Up, Child and This Life. Just wish Alex wore a belt!
Q: Are you planning to see ESMZ during their upcoming tour to the UK?
A: I intend to go see the band in London but haven’t sorted a ticket yet. I’m really stoked that they’re coming back to the UK, it’d be really good if they could do a larger UK tour, maybe a festival?
Q: What is your background? Where are you from, age, occupation, dreams, aspirations, hobbies, etc.
A: I come from Plymouth, located in the southwest of England, which is a rocking town to be young in. I had a blast from about 15-20 living there. I’m 38 now, and live in Dorset (a county in the south of England). By day, I’m an art teacher in a high school, which is a great job (apart from the government interference). I get to teach children 12-18 painting, drawing, printmaking, ceramics, digital graphics, all sorts. We also cover far-out topics like pre-Columbian pottery, comic books, German Expressionism, the lot! I like to play music during my lessons and even today some of my students were actually digging “Man on Fire!” Future fans maybe!
I’ve always been into art. There is a great Australian artist called Shaun Tan, who finds it bizarre that people ask him when he started drawing. His answer is always, ‘When did you stop?’ Love that. All kids draw. Young kids draw with a freedom and a purity of communication that is so innocent. It’s a real shame when they become self-conscious, and some stop drawing.
I find it difficult to describe my “style.” I think I don’t really have one. Sometimes working to a style is a dead end. I prefer to think about how I can communicate something in an exciting way. I work in mostly digital formats but do sometimes paint. I think my work is absurdist and psychedelic but definitely not surreal. I’m not too into dreams and psychoanalysis. I’m always up for collaboration and would love to hear from like-minded weirdoes!
For more about Pawley’s creative process, check out this interview with TheFutureHeart.com.