The Author of Jesus & Mo today gave an interview to the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.
Could you tell us a little about your influences as a cartoonist and stylist, and in a wider sense, who influenced you in terms of your sense of playfulness towards the conceits of religion, and your satirical sensibility?
I'm still a bit reluctant to call myself a 'cartoonist' even after 8 years of making Jesus & Mo. I think cartoonists need to be able to draw, and that is not a skill I would claim for myself.
That said, as a child I read a lot of Peanuts - had a load of Charlie Brown paperbacks which I'd read and reread. I still do. I love the gentle tone of Peanuts, the mixture of innocence and worldliness, the lightly worn wisdom. Schulz was a great artist - much too good for me to declare him an "influence" in any way other than the fact that he instilled in me a love of the 4-panel form.
How long does it take between an idea for a cartoon coming to you and its completion on the page? Does the actual drawing take long?
Most of the drawing is already done. I'm a lazy copy-paster. Most of the time is taken up with writing a script, then chiseling it down. I usually devote Wednesday morning to it.
Your cartoons often are very topical. Do your ideas mostly come to you spontaneously? Are you always switched on and looking for an angle on these issues in the news and elsewhere?
I carry a notebook around, and keep online notes, too. When something happens in the news, often the irony jumps out at you. I get a lot of mileage out of religious people saying funny things - sometimes all I need to do is transcribe them (credit is always given to these unknowing guest scriptwriters). Other times I just sit down and tap away until something funny-ish comes out. Or not, as the case may be.
Interview continues at the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain