Last week we were lucky enough to have Zoom Rockman spend some time with us.
Zoom is an artist, a cartoonist, has his own long-running comic strip magazine, has won awards and been feted by MP's and media, and is an all round interesting chap.
Oh, and Zoom is only 16.
During his week at Hometown, we quizzed him on the world of cartoons, satire, and comics and this is what he had to say:
HT: So, how did you get into comics and cartoons?
ZR: I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember and I was always coming up with funny stories, but it wasn’t until I was 8 that I found a box of old Beano comics at a car boot fair and realised you could mix words and pictures in that way.
HT: What made you decide to create one for yourself?
ZR: I spent the next few days reading through every single one and had a go at drawing some of the characters. Eventually, I had studied it well enough to create my own. After a few weeks I had done so many that I had more than enough to put together a comic of my own (I was literally going to bed with a clipboard and a pen).
HT: Why a comic and not a video for example?
ZR: For a comic all you need is a piece of paper and a pen - that's all the special effects you need, I liked the immediacy of that.
HT: Tell me a little about the magazine, what's it all about?
ZR: The comic is made up of several strips rather than one on going story. The first came out when I was 9 and there have been 12 issues so far. Each reflected my interests and things that were going on at the time. For example, the earliest ones were more silly and had strips about school life; the later ones were about parodying brands and TV shows; and the latest one has a Peter Cook and Dudley Moore sketch in and involves more political satire.
HT: Who does it appeal to and why?
ZR: I think it appeals to lots of different types of people; Younger people who see me as a role model - I’ve done a lot of workshops in schools and at events I get a lot of Beano fans who turn up to see me; Then there’s the self publishing scene which I’ve been involved in since I was nine and they’ve kind of watched me grow up. I think in the beginning most of them probably found me quite annoying as the novelty of being so young made me sell more comics than them, however in recent years I feel like I’ve earned their respect. Quite a few people have said to me that my comics have a very British sense of humour and now I’m older and more into politics I’m going more in the direction of satire - and that brings a whole new audience.
HT: What role do you think comics and cartoons can play today?
ZR: They play a big role in a sociery where people can't be bothered to read a book!
HT: Do you think the art is dying out or coming back?
ZR: Although print media is dying out that isn't to say that people won't buy graphic novels or collectable comics such as 'The Zoom'. My generation certainly is looking for something different, and comics can provide that, a new way at looking at the world.
You can find out more about Zoom and his work at www.thezoom.co.uk.