In today’s edition of Time And Relative Developments In Stories, I sit down with the very talented artist and writer, Sophie Iles, whose work has appeared in kOZMIC Press’ Children of Time: the Companions of
#DoctorWho, The Time Travel Nexus and multiple charity works.
Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?
The British Part! I grew up in Slough in the United Kingdom, a name those may recognise as the town the Original UK series of The Office was based. I have also lived in Bristol (The location of St. Luke’s University in the more recent Series 10, and where I believe in Big Finish, Alex, Susan’s son lives in The Earthly Child) and quite a few other locations including Cardiff, Aylesbury Milton Keynes and Chesham.
I’m currently back in Bristol and enjoying this artistic and creative part of the UK.
Question 2) When did you become a fan of Doctor Who?
I became a fan of Doctor Who very late. I was 19 when I discovered Doctor Who for what it was. Doctor Who was something in the UK you grow up with, even during its wilderness years. You all know about the Daleks, you all know your parents hid behind the sofa. But in 2005 that became less nostalgia and more prominent to a child’s intake of sci-fi. It just wasn’t something you could easily ignore. Personally, I somehow succeeded in doing into my late teens.
I had been a fan of everything and anything I could get my hands on as a child–Star Wars, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings to name a few. But I didn’t think I was geeky enough for Doctor Who. Boy, was I wrong.
By the time I was at university, I was lovingly nicknamed K-9 by a friend, and curiosity got the better of me. By the end of that year I became a fan just in time to watch David Tennant regenerate, my first episode being The Waters of Mars, and I’ve not looked back since…
Question 3) Who is your Doctor?
I always find this a tough question because there isn’t a Doctor I dislike. I love them all for their own qualities and what they bring to the role.
I think the moment they announced Peter Capaldi, however, I was completely hooked. I loved the idea of Peter playing him. I was reminded of William Hartnell, who seemed cranky and abrasive at first but was soothed by his supportive companions. I hoped this would be the case for his character too, if they went down that route. By the time Peter’s three years were up I didn’t want him to leave.
He had been there for me through four house moves, a family death, and multiple life issues. When I met him in London to sign my Series 9 DVD I able to tell him how important his Doctor meant to me.
He just smiled gratefully and said “Isn’t that what television’s for?”
I will never forget that, and I will always see him as my Doctor because of it.
Question 4) Congratulations on recently being featured in the Doctor Who Magazine! It is unfortunate I cannot get the magazine where I live. How did that opportunity for you come about?
Honestly, It was as much as a surprise to me as anyone! I have been actively drawing scenes and characters from the recent Classic Doctor WhoTwitch, at least one drawing a night. A few weeks ago, I was asked if one of my pieces could be used on the Doctor WhoTV to blog about the wonderful reactions to the Twitch shows. You can find the link here!
I didn’t expect that however to extend to the Magazine itself. I didn’t know if this was due to someone emailing in regards the piece, or if it was the editor’s choice to illustration the Galaxy Forum page. Either way I was beaming from ear to ear when I found out!
Question 5) You have drawn a number of Doctor Who pieces. What has been your favorite and why?
It’s a difficult question, mostly because every recent piece is my favourite. It’s often for different reasons. Sometimes I prefer the original drawing over the finished piece, sometimes it’s the colouring.
I think, just because of the sheer scale, my most recent piece is my favourite. It’s all of the Doctors together. It took considerable time and effort to produce to a high standard (I mean, 14 figures fully drawn isn’t the easiest thing in the world) but it was worth every second.
I also think my London 1965 piece might be my second favourite. I had been trying to simplify my designs for a long while, and it was then I really caught that essence when I drew Ian and Barbara against the brick wall. Luckily in both cases lots of people seem to agree!
Question 6) I always find it intriguing to learn about an artist’s technique. Can you share a bit about what goes into drawing a piece like this? Time frame? Skill? Software used?
In terms of what I draw, some of my favourite artists/designers/creators are listed below. I highly recommend all of these people as inspirations.:
- Quentin Blake
- Ronnie Del Carmen
- Vera Brosgol
- Bill Watterson
- Pete Docter
- Pascal Campion
- Nick Sharratt
- Glen Keane
When it comes to process: both of these pictures were created the same way. There’s a rough I draw. In the case of Ian and Barbara, I drew them in my sketchbook at work, looking at old pictures of the show. Most of my main issues with drawing is posing and gesture and making sure that’s clear. I’m always learning and practicing and understanding so my sketchbooks are incredibly rough. Once that’s done I take a photo and put it into Adobe Photoshop when I get to my computer at home. I’m also fortunate enough to have a Cintiq. This is like a tablet, except is actually a separate screen I can draw straight onto. This way I ink and tidy up my sketches in black, before then using layers to colour behind. I usually colour drop straight from pictures I’m referencing, or if there are some colourisations. Then, adding shadow, lighting (and if necessary a background).
For the Ian and Barbara picture, I didn’t really want to add all the detail of a brick wall, so I decided to use a texture layer and implied it instead, which I think for the style works quite well.
I can draw straight into the computer, but I really like drawing in my sketchbook too as it feels like a more organic process.
Question 7) I understand you are also a writer. When did you start writing?
I have always wanted to be a writer. I actually wrote this statement on a primary school worksheet I had found a few weeks ago, which made me beam with pride. I think it started with my nan. She was a wonderful storyteller who would tell me Greek myths and legends from a very early age, and I would read all of her strange books regarding fables and legends. I’ve always been drawn to storytelling, whether through illustration or writing.
I didn’t really get into writing until I entered my last year of university. I wanted to find a way to make sure my story worked for my animation courses short film module and a friend suggested I join their Drama Society’s creative writing group. I wrote short plays for the university, which were performed. Though it was a slow start from there, I never stopped coming up with ideas for dramas. I just wasn’t very good at completing them.
It was being part of 18th Wall Productions that gave me the courage to start submitting to their short story submissions and getting involved in writing. I love to get involved in creating stories and believable characters, and I love the idea that I get to– as a writer– share emotions and worlds with someone else. Wherever that’s a world we think we already know, or a new one.
Currently I’m working on quite a few writing projects, submissions and some of my first original works, so I can finally truly consider myself a writer.
Question 8) You have written articles about Doctor Who for 18thWall Productions and The Time Travel Nexus. Can you elaborate on what these are and why you chose the subjects you wrote about?
Just under three years ago, I was sort of thrust upon, without knowing at the time, the founders and CEO of 18thWall Productions. It was just a casual chat about Doctor Whoand other interests, but they clearly saw something in me that I hadn’t seen in myself. One of the highlights of last year was being able to meet a lot of those related to 18thWall at LI Who 5, which was almost just as exciting as being in America itself.
Professionally, I was a guest on one of their discussion sections on their podcast The Raconteur Roundtable, which was an amazing experience as it also meant I was able to ask Big Finish’s Scott Handcock questions as part of their team, a link to which you can find here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/raconteurroundtable/2017/06/28/rr-13–the-bard-on-gallifrey–scott-handcock-big-finish-productions
It then led to for a small time helping run their blog, talking with their writers and editing their posts. It was around then they asked that if I had something I wanted to write about they would happily like to know what and see if it would work for them. I offered watching the Classic Doctor Who Series and talking about it as a series of articles, with some fresh perspective as someone who didn’t know the Classic Series very well. They loved the idea.
At the end of last year, The Time Travel Nexus also contacted me and asked if I wanted to write something for Peter Capaldi’s send off, something which I was happy to do and to draw something for it. I don’t think I would be where I am now, writing and drawing so publicly, without their constant support and guidance.
Question 9) What inspired you to create the short story for kOZMIC Press’ Children of Time: The Companions of Doctor Who?
I’ve always wanted to write something for Doctor Who in a way that wasn’t just a review. A few of my friends had mentioned to me that there was someone looking for writers for this charity anthology. Even though all of my favourite companions were already taken, I decided to apply to see if Rigsy was a possibility. Rigsy was the first male companion who’d really felt like part of an adventure since Danny Pink, and even then, I didn’t count Danny as a companion. Rigsy was also the companion to the companion, as Clara played the Doctor’s role in that episode, proving she could handle the adventures on her own without her alien friend. I always felt that more could be done with Rigsy, and I always wanted to know what happened to him. This was my chance to write something!
At first I was just a placeholder, as they were hoping to get someone else involved in Rigsy’s creation, but I was ecstatic when they asked if I was still interested. I had a month to write something, but as the condition was positivity about the character I just wanted to share ideas on the Rigsy we never got to know. We knew he was engaged and had a daughter, so I decided to look at it from her perspective– a look at someone who loved him dearly. So, with the idea of wanting to commemorate the life of Rigsy and his life’s work, something the Doctor suggested would be great, I had her write the foreword to a book about his life as a famous graffiti artist.
I also offered to draw some illustrations for the book, including illustrating my own. I was very proud of the drawings I gave them. I am particularly fond of an illustration of the Brigadier and his daughter Kate and his grandson Gordon Lethbridge Stewart on a polaroid. It fits the writing (by Hilary Hertzoff) that went with it very well.
Question 10) Do you have an excerpt from any of your writing you’d like to share?
This is from an upcoming release with 18th Wall Productions, in an original anthology from the story “A Single Wolf, Grey and Gaunt.”
He couldn’t really be a ghost, Timmy thought. His form seemed solid, unwavering against the waves as the tide tried to come in. Lancelot didn’t quite seem real. as though you could easily step through him if you looked at him in a different light. Perhaps it was because it was dark. Timmy wasn’t sure.
That hadn’t however stopped him from rushing forward with the stick in his jaws, head held high before placing it at Timmy’s feet.
“You want to go again, huh?”
The dog heeled, his head held high. Not a sound left from him. Timmy laughed, this large boyish sound bubbling from his chest.
It surprised him. When was the last time he’d laughed?
Question 11) You’re currently putting together a Doctor Who fanzine. Can you tell my readers more about this project and how they may be able to participate?
Well, due to the success of Twitch, and the love discovered for Ian and Barbara, I had an idea. I couldn’t help thinking how lovely it would be to share some art and stories about these two much loved companions for everyone to see in a printed format. I put out some feelers to see if anyone was interested in supporting this and it sort of exploded on social media, so I decided to make it official.
So anyone out there reading this who wants to contribute, yes, I’m looking at you! If you love Ian and Barbara and want to share stories or illustrate about what happens to them in their lives, why don’t you submit?
I’m looking for stories and artwork within three major stages of their lives: Life before the TARDIS, the times during their adventures, and then after they get to London 1965. I’m looking for small stories about their lives, or full scale adventures. As for the art, I’m looking for some art to highlight these moments in their lives. Also, it doesn’t have to be shippy, if you see them just as friends that’s more than alright, this is about the characters, not their romance!
We will be donating the funds made to Breast Cancer Now, the UK’s largest breast cancer research charity. The donations will be given in loving memory of Jacqueline Hill, who would have been 89 this year in December.
It’s all very exciting really. I’m looking for submissions from August 15th to close in October 1st.
All of the details you could possibly need can be found here:
Question 12) What can we expect from you in the future?
I have a few plans in the future. When Twitch is over I intend to try and draw as much from the New Series as possible, including the spin offs and any of the Big Finish dramas, as there’s really so much to explore. As well as that there are also other aspects of the Doctor Who extended universe to look into, particularly the works of the wonderful Obverse books, and then delving into Faction Paradox.
One of the exciting projects I can talk about is I’m helping with the cover art, art indents and a short story for a Sarah Jane charity anthology. The official announcement is coming soon!
There’s some other really exciting writing projects I can’t talk about just yet that’s coming up that I want to pitch for / currently writing and drawing for. I’ve been talking to some cool people about some artwork for some more charity anthologies on the way. Lastly there’s two big Doctor Who conventions that I’ll be attending before the end of the year where I will be selling my artwork here in the UK. And I will be continuing to do this throughout the next year.
In other words, watch this space!
Question 13) How can others find out more about you and your work?
I’m on most social media sites these days. Trying to be active on all pages is difficult but I’m mostly found on Twitter with the handle: @sophilestweets
Thank you again, Sophie! Fans, please make sure to check out her social media, art and books! And if you’d like to be part of Time And Relative Developments In Stories, follow the instructions below!
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