Quarantine Q&A with Gareth A. Hopkins

Happy Thursday (we think)!

We have another lockdown interview for you all, this time with the creator of Petrichor, Gareth A. Hopkins. Enjoy!


GC: How are you finding lockdown so far? (Especially with school-age kids. Please give us your tips)

GH: Time's been so elastic recently, that it's actually hard to compute how long things have taken but... the first few days/weeks were very intense, but after that, it's been pretty much fine? I've had a few down days, where I can't see the point in anything and I can't look at anyone, but broadly it's been good. Not leaving the house seems to suit everyone in my family perfectly. I've been working from home full-time for my job-job, which has given me routine and purpose, and not commuting four hours a day gives me a bunch of time back to spend doing whatever, the sort of time I've not had since I started working in London a long time ago. On the first weekend of Lockdown, we took the bed out of the spare room and got a second-hand desk and a spare monitor in there and I've got my own little space to hide. I've had it far easier than most, which I fully appreciate.

How are you keeping yourself occupied?

As I said, I'm still working full time, so that's the weekdays. The rest of the time I've been sat at my desk watching True Crime and 'weird side of the web' documentary channels on YouTube (in the past couple of days I've been watching Adam Neely music theory videos too, which I barely understand, but they're fascinating), very slowly working my way through my read-pile and doing a lot of drawing. Other than a handful of larger projects, nearly everything I've made in the past four years has been on my lap, pretty much, or sometimes the dining table, and I was tied down to whatever art materials I could reasonably carry in a pencil case. Having a desk, with storage for paints and space to put them down that isn't balancing on my knee... it's genuinely amazing. I've done some more stuff toward Explosive Sweet Freezer Razors, a few one-page strips for anthologies, a bit of illustration work, but most of my energy has gone into my sketchbook, on my 'lockdown doodles'. Where everyone else seems to be ploughing through films and TV, though... I actually think I'm watching less? Oh, and I'm spending about an hour a day on Enter The Gungeon and getting absolutely nowhere.

Your lockdown doodles are great! Are you finding yourself making more artwork at the moment, or are you usually this incredibly proactive?

Thank you! I like most of them - the idea was if I didn't like something, I'd just keep at it until I did, which has meant some weird choices, and a few big mistakes. It's been fun. I'm doing a lot more artwork now, for sure. I've always been pretty productive, I've always got one or two projects of my own on, and usually someone chasing me up for something I said I'd contribute to. But having the time and space that lockdown has afforded me means I get to do stuff I normally wouldn't, like really experiment with colour - rather than using it as an accent, it's pretty central to how I work now. Oh, and my daughter and I did a big A2 painting by dropping acrylic inks onto the page and then brushing them around, which was outrageously fun.

Have you taken up any new hobbies since lockdown began?

For about a week me and my daughter played tennis in the back garden for an hour or two every day - we were both terrible, but enthusiastic. And then we lost all of the balls over the fence and that was it for tennis. Other than that... oh, I've started a YouTube channel, doing one video a week. It's pretty terrible, I've got to find a way to be more interesting, and a little less long-winded. We tried board games for a while, I joined my wife and son on this Magic The Gathering board game and lost to his cheese moves, which reminded me that I am a terrible loser, which in turn reminded me why I don't play board games.

I (Rozi) believe that everyone is secretly a terrible loser at board games - some of us are just better at hiding it.

It's been over a year since Petrichor came out. Are you planning on bringing out another book once all this settles down? (Ghosts in things, expanded edition?)

I'm working up to a book of short stories called 'Explosive Sweet Freezer Razors' at the moment. In my head I think I'll need 16 strips to have enough to collect, and I've got five done and in the world in one form or another - A Hill To Cry Home, Petalburn, The Bones Of The Sea, nothing and Bullwise. I've got some ideas knocking around for the next part, including titles - 'Thunder Spite', 'Body Farm' and 'Rorschach's Ghost'. If I can make it work, I'd like to take my lockdown sketchbook and turn it into something (hopefully with Erik Blagsvedt, who I did Found Forest Floor with) but that might actually be really difficult because despite warnings from CPUK that the double-page spreads I'd been doing would be a nightmare, I did loads of them...and they don't fit in the scanner. And 'Ghosts In Things'... haha, I don't know. It's just something I did because I had a folded up blank zine on my desk from my kids' schoolwork, and 10 mins to kill, and now I've got people encouraging me to do a bunch more of it. My wife and kids have asked for their own copies of it because they like it so much, and that's absolutely unheard of. So... maybe lol.

Do you have any parting hints or tips for people - creative or otherwise - to help them in this weird time?

I don't know if I've made it obvious, but I'm really enjoying having committed to a single sketchbook, which is something I've not done before. What would usually happen is I'd do some bare-bones drawing I didn't like and leave it, thinking I'd take some lesson from a crap drawing I'd find every time I flicked through the book, but what it actually did is made me feel bad, like: "look at that crap drawing, I'm crap at drawing". That's happened with this book for sure, but if there's been something in there I didn't like, or couldn't develop past it being rubbish, I painted over it. So that's my tip: paint over drawings you don't like. And don't put too much pressure on yourself, nobody knows what 'right' is anymore, just do whatever you can to make yourself happy. I think? That sounds trite, but it feels right. I don't know. Now I'm wracking my brains for some sort of non-trite advice... nothing's come to mind. Drink water, eat vegetables, and secure your Zoom chats.


Thanks Gareth!

You can find out more about Gareth's work on his website, and visit his online store here. Petrichor is still available on the Good Comics shop. You can also follow Gareth's lockdown doodles on Twitter and Instagram.