Andy the Illustrator has picked up a mass following for his striking, anime-esque art style - and has cropped up in many a LeftLion magazine over the years. Now he’s produced a zine of his own, Lazarus Lore, stocked with tales and characters from his popular online series The Lost Legends of Lazarus…
A lot of your usual art-style is very much focused on colour and vibrancy, whereas this zine is built around a black-and-white palette. Why did you decide to take this approach?
There were two primary reasons behind my decision to make the inside pages of the book purely black-and-white. The first was due to the type of printing I intended to use - Risograph printing - which prints colours separately, and then overlays them to create a full-colour image. This was a new and unfamiliar method for me, and I didn't want to worry too much about separating colours and structuring layers. Therefore, I opted for simplicity by making the inside pages black-and-white which enabled me to focus more on the illustrations!
The second reason was my preference for the retro manga aesthetic found in old manga books, where the inside pages are all black-and-white, and shading is achieved with stippling. This style appealed to me and provided an excellent opportunity to experiment with something fresh while working in a new way.
You've been telling stories within the Lazarus sphere on your website for quite some time, but for those who haven't ready any for themselves, what can they expect from this world?
The Lost Legends of Lazarus is an ancient book from a fictional world that recounts tales and stories from the kingdom. Although each story is set within the same world, they may be set in different timelines, but are often interconnected. My main objective is to create stories that are relatable and explore core themes around relationships, friendships, love, death, and other experiences that we encounter in our lives.
Despite being set in a magical fantasy world, I want each story to strike a chord with the reader's personal experiences. I aim to provide an enjoyable experience by presenting familiar stories but in a different world.
The characters in here are so fleshed out even just from their designs - and followers of your Instagram will spot some similar faces. How do you go about creating new characters that feel fresh and unique?
In a strange way, I have reached a point in my world-building where I never create a new character entirely from scratch. Each new character that I design is meant to solve a particular problem, be it putting a face to a character for a story I have in mind or fulfilling a particular function within the world: For example, a guard protecting an ancient temple or landmark, or a motorcycle gang leader acting as a protagonist within a region of the map.
Their appearance, attire, and behaviour are all determined by their place within the world and how they interact with the story as a whole. As time has passed, I have developed a visual language for the kingdom, including the type of fashion that exists, the different types of weapons that are available, and the various emblems and symbols that different groups of people wear and display.
It's like having a formula that I apply to each character depending on who they are and where they belong. This approach has been incredibly helpful in creating consistency within the world and giving each character a sense of belonging within the story.
The natural world is a great source of inspiration for me, and when I'm surrounded by it, I can easily transport myself to a time before the world was fully explained, where mythical creatures and beings roamed the earth
As Andy the Illustrator you're largely known for - shock - your illustrations. But your writing is as important to this zine as the visuals, and your Lazarus stories have gained a big following. What makes you want to flex those particular muscles?
Writing has always been a challenging area for me. It's been a big weakness of mine, and I struggled to express my ideas and thoughts coherently in written form. It wasn't until my early twenties that I discovered that I was dyslexic, which explained a lot of my difficulties. In the past, I had the ideas in my mind, but I struggled to translate them into something that I could share with others. Art became my primary means of communication, and I used it to express my thoughts and ideas visually.
However, as I developed the world of The Lost Legends of Lazarus, my ideas for stories became more complex and challenging to convey through a single image or short comic. Many of the ideas I had were better suited for animation, but since I was developing my world alone, the next best option for me was through written stories. Recognising this, I decided to work on my writing skills regularly to get them to a point where I could effectively convey the stories I wanted to tell.
Though it has been a challenging journey, it has been rewarding to see my writing skills improve over time and to be able to share my stories with others.
And what is it about the genre of fantasy that makes you connect with it so strongly?
The genre of fantasy has always captivated me as it allows me to delve into the uncharted territory of the unknown. I'm endlessly intrigued by the possibility of what could exist beyond our tangible reality, and fantasy provides a platform to explore these imaginative realms. The natural world is a great source of inspiration for me, and when I'm surrounded by it, I can easily transport myself to a time before the world was fully explained, where mythical creatures and beings roamed the earth. By incorporating elements of fantasy into nature, it allows me to explore and expand upon the mystery and beauty of the natural world around us. To me, creating and exploring a fantasy world is simply an extension of how I perceive and imagine the natural world in my everyday life.
There's something for everyone within your work - from comic strips and stories to puzzles and recipes. How did you decide on what went in the zine?
My goal was to create something that I myself would find engaging and entertaining. Rather than a single, lengthy comic or story, I wanted each page to offer something unique and enjoyable. I envision the zines as excerpts from The Lost Legends of Lazarus, a fictional book that chronicles all aspects of life in the kingdom.
The zine includes anything from fictional advertisements and popular recipes enjoyed by wizards to puzzles that reveal your fortune. By offering a variety of content, I hope that it contains something that everyone can enjoy.
Where can people pick up a copy for themselves? What are your plans for the piece?
I will have copies for sale on my online shop and I’m currently looking to sell in some physical shops within Nottingham: I'll be posting a list of those on my Instagram and website once they have been confirmed, so check there if you want to pick a copy up in person. I’ll also be taking copies to comic-cons later in the year!
You can now grab a copy of Lazarus Lore from Andy’s website
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