Phil Elliot has been active in the comic book industry since the mid-’70s. He launched and co-edited the Fast Fiction fanzine in the ‘80s where he introduced Gimbley. Phil was a regular contributor to the influential Escape magazine and his other work includes Illegal Alien and Bluebeard written by James Robinson; Lucifer with Eddie Campbell; writing Absent Friends for Paul Grist; Tupelo with Matt DeGennaro; The Real Ghostbusters and illustrating Glenn Dakin’s Greenhouse Warriors, Mr. Night and The Rockpool Files. This is only a shortlist. A list that will soon Circus DeNiro with writer Michael Powell.  In addition to the projects Michael has worked on with Phil (as we discuss below) he has worked on the adventure strip Matilda Atkins and the Amulet of Destiny with Sarah Millman. Michael has also collaborated with Mike Collins on “I Know the Secret of the Alien”.

Circus DeNiro tells the story of twins, Edgar and Elsa, two children who escape the sinister grip of their evil father, only to find themselves in a strange new world of magic, mystery, and adventure.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1715620850/circus-deniro-a-gothic-adventure

Circus DeNiro ends this Sunday, August 23 2020


Joeseph Simon
Circus DeNiro, A Gothic Adventure is your new project and your 4th Kickstarter. Your first three were in collaboration with Eddie Campbell. This Kickstarter finds you in a collaboration between Michael Powell and yourself. Tell us a little about Michael and how you two came together on Circus DeNiro.

 

Phil Elliot
Michael and I met via Facebook, one thing led to another and he ended up writing “The Dummy” for me that was published in the UK magazine, Comic Scene. Our original intention with Circus DeNiro was to do it as a comic strip but it soon became apparent that it would work better as a prose book with accompanying illustrations…giving me the chance to work on larger images and experiment a bit more.

 

Joe
You have been involved in comics for decades and have developed a variety of art styles. Circus DeNiro is more of a highly illustrated story as opposed to a comic book. Your art style seems more classical in a sense. I’m curious if what choices led to this style?

 

Phil
I was looking back at some of my early comic strips and illustrations and how much I was influenced by the black and white comics I was reading at the time, like Warren’s Creepy and Eerie, and in particular, the work of Bernie Wrightson. I fancied trying to recreate something like that again and Circus DeNiro, with its Gothic themes, was the ideal place to try that. I was also keen to introduce textures, hatching, and in some cases some general “scribbling”!

 

Joe
There’s a lot of offbeat and strange characters throughout the story. Introduce us to some of the cast.

Phil
The main protagonists are twins, Edgar and Elsa. There’s the enigmatic Sylvio DeNiro, the ringmaster of Circus DeNiro, and his ragtag collection of artistes and performers, including The Patchwork Man, Wolfman, and a snake-like contortionist.

 

Joe
Your Kickstarter has already met its goals. People are definitely going to get this Kickstarter. Aside from the great comic you created, what else might one find with the Kickstarter?

 

Phil
Everyone who pledges for a physical copy of the Circus DeNiro will receive a colour print of the comic and they will be entered into a raffle to win one of two original colour paintings by me. There are also rewards to own an original illustration from the book.

 

Joe
You also do music! Tell us more about Phil Elliot the musician (not the man from Def Leppard).

 

Phil
The video that showcases the book features some original music by me that I composed some 25 years ago when I was creating short animations every month for the UK magazine, MacFormat. The animations were featured on the CD that came with the magazine. I had a friend help with most of the music but he inspired me to dabble with various software to create my own soundtracks. It was good fun and while they may not be up there with Morricone or Williams I was quite pleased with my efforts!

 

Joe
To make this interview extra special, I asked Phil to invited Michael Powell to the interview. In addition to other cool things, Michael wrote Circus DeNiro.
You run a Facebook Group called Why I Love Comics. Why do you love comics?

 

Michael Powell
It’s a truly unique form of storytelling. It shares so many similarities with other media such as film but that combination of text and illustration can’t be topped. It’s great fun running the Why I Love Comics group. We’ve got so many legendary creators as members including Bill Sienkiewicz, Brian Bolland, Mike Royer, Stephen Bissette, Don McGregor, Pat Mills, John Wagner and Bob Burden.

 

Joe
You worked on David Lloyds Aces online anthology, the cool Kickstarter debut anthology 77 (with Phil), Comic Scene (again with Phil) along with a lot of other credits. The anthology Aces is online-only, Comic Scene is a magazine and 77 is a cool print anthology paying homage to the great vibe and feel of comics in 1977. Each are very different from the other. How was working in these different formats? Any format you haven’t created that you hope to at some future point in time?

 

Michael
I really enjoyed experimenting with different formats. With the Ace’s Weekly strip Monsters, I was adding dialogue to Alejandro Velasquez pre-existing artwork. With ‘The Last Man’ in The ’77 and the upcoming ‘I Know the Secret of the Alien’ with Mike Collins, also for The ’77, I was very much channeling early 2000AD and Action. I’d like to have a go playing in someone else’s sandbox. I’ve got a great idea for Doomlord!

 

Joe
What inspired Circus DeNiro?

 

Michael
I’ve always enjoyed gothic literature from Poe to Shirley Jackson and the idea’s been bubbling away for a long time. Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing had a major impact and I love gothic horror films like The Wicker Man and Don’t Look Now. I loved TC Eglington’s Thistlebone that came out last year.

 

Joe
The following questions are directed to both, Phil and Michael.
I imagine you both have been to a real circus. What is your favorite part of a circus?

 

Phil
I can vaguely remember going to a circus when I was a kid and being impressed with the animals.

Mike
I live in the West Country and we often have traveling circuses passing through that have clearly seen better days. I quite like the faded glamour, the contradiction between the excitement of the poster and the reality of the circus itself. In Circus DeNiro, it’s the poster that draws Edgar into this strange new world.

 

Joe
There are many circus-related superheroes, villains, and ideas in comics. Which ones stand out in your mind as great? What was disappointing?


Phil

For me, it would have to be Marvel’s RingMaster. And I know it’s not cool but I enjoyed the film, The Greatest Showman.

Mike
Issue 1 of The Avengers. The Hulk is on the run and decides to hide out in a circus disguised as a robot. Despite the fact that he’s seven foot tall and green. Obviously he’s also wearing clown make-up. Somehow Kirby makes it work!

 

Joe
Circus DeNiro is subtitled “A Gothic Adventure. I’m intrigued. Gothic has been used in all sorts of ways. In what way is Circus DeNiro is gothic?

Mike
Settings, characters, and themes. But hopefully, it subverts them a little as well. The ‘monsters’ in the circus are not the creatures in the circus. They become the family that Edgar and Elsa have never had.

 

Joe
During your last collaboration and on Circus DeNiro, what have you learned about the other?

 

Phil
We’ve now created 4 projects together with no problems on either side. Our first strip was “The Dummy”, then “The Last Man” was in the first issue of new UK comic The77, followed by “Father’s Day”, which will be appearing in the ComicScene Christmas annual. Circus DeNiro is the biggest project and so far we haven’t had a falling out.

Mike
I’m consistently impressed with Phil’s versatility. On Circus DeNiro, Phil’s produced beautiful black and white line drawings, paintings and produced a collage which also features new work by Paul Grist, Robert Wells, and Lew Stringer. It’s always a joy to receive a new page of art from Phil!

 

If you are excited by gothic circuses, dark fantasies, and fairy tales you will enjoy this Circus DeNiro, click on the Kickstarter link below.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1715620850/circus-deniro-a-gothic-adventure

Circus DeNiro ends this Sunday, August 23 2020

 

https://www.firstcomicsnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/DeNiro.jpeghttps://www.firstcomicsnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/DeNiro-150x84.jpegJoeseph SimonInterviewsCircus DeNiro,Michael Powell,Phil Elliot
Phil Elliot has been active in the comic book industry since the mid-’70s. He launched and co-edited the Fast Fiction fanzine in the ‘80s where he introduced Gimbley. Phil was a regular contributor to the influential Escape magazine and his other work includes Illegal Alien and Bluebeard written by...