Artist Spotlight: Karl David Hewitt
The United Kingdom has been the origin of many of the comic industry’s greatest artists, like Brian Bolland, Dave Gibbons and Jamie Hewlett. New generations of great cartoonists are coming from Europe each day, with some of them being influenced by the work of American creators as well.
Karl David Hewitt is a British artist and painter whose credits include working in the graphic novel “Hoody the Sympathetic Murderer”, receiving great praise for his cartoony style and ability to portray ultra-violence in a comedic way. As a classic cartoonist, his sense of humor is a mix of English sarcasm, punk rock mentality and internet meme culture. His line art reminds me of Skottie Young's work, with some reminiscents of Justin Roiland, presenting a science fiction aesthetic that fits well with the general focus of European comics.
I got together with him to discuss his beginnings as an artist, influences, work and future projects.
1- Where do you come from and how did that influence you as a creator?
I come from a small town located in North Wales. It’s not the best place in the world but it’s home. Being Welsh I’m often mistaken for being from Liverpool which is the home city of the Beatles. I’m not far from there but I’m just over the border in Wales. I can’t say it influenced me much to become an artist. I was more drawn towards the internet in discovering myself as an artist. I’ve always drew or doodled throughout my life but these last 10 years I have been super focused on getting my work out there.
2- What are some of your biggest influences?
Man, growing up I used to just draw from comics or little bits of newspaper illustrations. When my family got internet installed, I don’t know how or why but I stumbled upon a forum made by artists. Looking through the artwork I was amazed at some of the work. I started downloading all the best I could find and copying their work. One artist stood out the most because he took animals and gave them human anatomy. It was like nothing I had ever seen so I was hooked on his work. I started to study his characters and how he portrayed them. He was truly amazing, and I don’t know whatever happened to him. His websites shut down one day and that was that.
I also used to collect Spider-Man comics. It was like every 2 weeks I got an issue. I missed 2 issues and was gutted so I went to the ever-growing internet (this was 2004 so I was straight out of high school) I couldn’t find the issue I was looking for, but I stumbled upon a Spider-Man comic like no other. The artwork was an instant hit with me, so I ordered it. It was by the amazing Skottie Young and the comic was Legend of the Spider Clan. To say I was obsessed with him would be an understatement. I got all 5 issues of that series and then started looking for more of his work. I found a website he was running called Led Heavy. I just couldn’t believe how good he was. Truly talented and with an amazing imagination.
If I was to choose who my biggest influence is it would be Skottie Young by a long shot, but I like all kinds of weird stuff from Tim Burton to Tank Girl. In high school I liked drawing robots and weird animals, so my art teacher introduced me to the work of H. R. Giger. That guy was responsible for the alien series. Truly amazing and super strange work.
3- You are a classic cartoonist. Do you feel the genre is in a golden age with short comics shared in social media like Instagram?
Classic cartoons are here forever man. They’re just like music, they won’t ever go out of existence. I always watched those animations growing up and read the old Looney Tunes books. With how the world is today, totally dependent on the internet and social media being a key thing in everyone’s life, it’s the perfect time for old vibe cartoons to be around. You naturally scroll through social media without thinking. Something bright, colorful and sketched makes you stop to see it, then you read the speech bubbles and voilá... you’re reading a comic. Perfect time for classic cartoonists to get out there. I just need to pull my finger out and do one... you don’t know any good writers, do you? Preferably with long black wavy hair and from Cuba (laughter).
4- You have worked in comics like Hoody the Sympathetic Murderer. How was your experience with independent American comics and what are some differences you see compared to the British market?
Hoody the sympathetic murderer was a great project. I connected with Chris Johnson through social media. I posted a few sketches back in 2016 and he approached me asking if I would be willing to do a project with him. He sent me a 5-page script and I loved it. I had never seen this side of the comic world, so I agreed. He had an artist bail out on him after 2 pages so after studying the artwork I decided to do my spin on it and the little mad guy that’s Hoody was born. I worked on that project for 3 years and the book ended up being 40 pages. It was an awesome project and got very good reviews. I never thought I’d ever do a comic so to achieve this was a massive accomplishment for me.
Working with him was great. We threw ideas at each other and it ended up being a great project to work on. I get a lot of scripts sent from people in the states. Only one person from the U.K. has sent me a script so I feel the American market for comics is much more in demand than Britain. Maybe I should move to the States?
5- You work as a painter, creating beautiful murals in several places. What do you think about this art and how were you drawn (no pun intended) to it?
Being a full-time mural artist is an amazing occupation. I never thought growing up that I would have anything to do with art. I never did very well in school, so I didn’t have the best grades leaving. I just went straight into factory work just to earn some money. It was my wife that pushed me to do something with my art. I started painting murals back in 2011, on and off throughout the years, but it wasn’t until 2016 that I decided to do it full-time. Funny that I never really used a paint brush or paint before. I did a project back in 2003 in a youth center and I hated it. In 2011 my wife suggested I do a project at my workplace at the time, so she was the one who pushed me into my current job. She’s great. Hello to Facebook! I started putting adverts there and the rest is history.
6- You’re freaking hilarious mate, and comedy seems to be a central theme of your work. Is that one of your objectives as a creator?
Ha! I’m about as funny as stepping in dog poo. Yeah, growing up watching so many cartoons and British sitcoms I think it just morphed me into the person I am today. I don’t really take anything seriously. I’m always playing pranks on my friends and family. The one sitcom I watched and still watch today is called “Bottom” it was about 2 friends who lived together. They don’t work and they’re always just trying to get through life. They were always fighting, and their fight scenes are something straight out of a cartoon. Sexual humor and downright just hilarious. It would never be allowed to air on TV today due to the violence and sexual references. It hit the screen in the early 90s and I think they ended up releasing 18 episodes and doing 5 or 6 live stage shows. It was the best!!!
7- What can we expect from your work in the future?
At the moment I’m working with an amazing writer on a new project. I’m looking forward in getting that into production. Murals will keep happening if people keep hiring me. I have been drawing all sorts of things during the lockdown. Expect plenty more from me my mate. No virus is stopping me!
You can follow Karl David Hewitt’s work on Instagram at @noo_design_murals.
Daniel D. Calvo is a Cuban writer, translator, editor and comics journalist currently based in Pennsylvania, USA. He was born in Havana, Cuba in 1999. At age 13, he published his first short story in an anthology. Two years later, he translated his first book “Tunnel to Eternity” by Leon S. Rhodes from English to Spanish, which was released and distributed in Latin America. After many years of non-stop writing and creating, he moved to the USA on a full scholarship for a Liberal Arts Major at Bryn Athyn College. He has joined Konkret Comics LLC as Editor-In-Chief, working on titles such as “Akolyte”, “Absolver” and “Odina”. He also acts as the head blogger of Konkret Spotlight, featuring professional reviews and interviews with several figures from the indie comic world and other mediums. Among other ventures, his first creator-owned comic “Andy Starboy” is set to launch on 2020.