As a fan of process shots, I have been watching the art of Grayham Puttock on Instagram (@GrayhamPuttock) for a while now. For the last two years, he’s been working on a noir comic called Closely, which has just been released and is on sale here. Even more thrilled was I that Grayham took the time to chat with Anglonerd magazine about his art.
Inspired by noir and German expressionism—from Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari to The Maltese Falcon and The Postman Always Rings Twice—Puttock’s Closely is a mostly black-and-white noir detective tale of a new detective in a rainy town investigating a murder that all the townsfolk seem to be trying to cover up. The atmosphere hits you from the first page. Puttock says,
“Shadowy, stylized locations, full of smoke and angles, that whole visual composition. I also love the classic Universal monster movies. In comics, there is of course no one currently doing noir better than Brubaker and Phillips with their Criminal series.”
Like all great detective stories, the crime is secondary to what’s going on with the detective himself. Some noir detectives have a drug habit or a sex addiction or have committed some kind of crime themselves. Detective Inspector Closely’s “elephant in the room” will not disappoint!
Working on the book’s artwork during nights and weekends for just under two years, Puttock started his drawings with a very light scruffy HB pencil, then poured on the heavy black with permanent marker or Sharpie. The final lines were detailed in .05 and 1.00 Faber-Castell pens, and then Letraset Promarkers for the grays. You’ll also find streaks of white for the raindrops and highlights. These were done with a Uniball white pen. Puttock says,
“Some years ago, when I first began creating comics, I believed it was important to have a specific set of tools, that only the correct dip-pen and Indian Ink on industry-recommended paper stood any chance of producing legitimate comic art. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The truth is, it doesn’t matter how you make your marks on the paper, just use whatever you are comfortable with. A quill or a Bic pen. A large stick.”
You may recognize some of the people in Closely. Maybe Pete Postlethwaites or Leo McKern. This is because Closely is photo-realistic, following Puttock’s last comic, Love&Ammunition, which starred Hunter S. Thompson, Yoko Ono, and Geoffrey Hughes, exploring the pop-myth of Paul McCartney’s “death” in 1966. For Closely, instead of having characters that were real people, Puttock “cast” real actors to use as references for the characters, including the actor Kevin Eldon as D.I. Closely. Puttock says,
“Kevin Eldon for the main character was, to be truthful, something of a wild card, chiefly because Closely is a darkly serious tale and Closely is a dead-straight character—not the type of role that Kevin Eldon is known for. However, once the idea of Kevin playing the part had entered my head, I couldn’t let it go. His malleable, highly-expressive face is such a joy to draw. Since the Kevin Eldon likeness would be appearing in the vast majority of panels and on almost every page, it seemed only right to seek his permission. Thankfully, Kevin was quite intrigued by the idea and happy for me to go ahead. To be clear though, this is not a Kevin Eldon book. It is not Closely, starring Kevin Eldon. But Detective Inspector John Closely does look like the actor Kevin Eldon and the actor Kevin Eldon is happy with that.”
Grayham Puttock hopes to take Closely to as many comic conventions in 2017 as he can. In the meantime, you can purchase a copy from his website, where you can also see and purchase more of his artwork. Process shots can be found both on his website and on Instagram.