Savoy People
Kris Guidio

Kris Guidio



Kris Guidio in civilised conversation with Ann Cispandane for The Print Zone, Canada (reprinted in Meng & Ecker #7)


KRIS GUIDIO, it must be said, looks just the way the artist on a Savoy comic should: dressed all in black and most of it leather, the obligatory skull earring or three—Hell, he even smokes Camel cigarettes without the filter. It seems like a performance in stereotyping, at least until he opens his mouth to talk. An angular, Faust-like apparition such as this is really hardly ever, I've found, either so well spoken or so thoroughly charming. Rule number one, I guess, in dealing with anyone connected with Savoy: believe hackneyed old phrases concerning books, judgement and covers.

AC: How do you feel about the 'sexist' tag on your artwork?

KG: It used to be a problem for me... but I have more things to worry about these days. I suspect that I tend to oversimplify the criticism in my own mind, bringing it right down to basics. If you can remove the finesse and implications in being called something like that, then it becomes less valid and you can answer on an obvious level. I draw women from personal taste... I mean, I like those sorts of figures... I work within a very visual frame, so my preferences come to the fore. It isn't something to stop and analyse, it's just how I work. I don't draw for men, I draw for me. As I said, I probably oversimplify because I'm afraid of looking at it too deeply. Guilt or something unpalatable... I don't honestly know. Every so often Savoy might get a letter from someone who thinks the comics are maybe racist or even anti-Semitic. Now that's probably a much worse accusation but I can deal with it easier. I mean, I know that I have an unqualified hatred of fascists or of fucking neo-Nazis. It's a simple equation: these people are scum and I despise them for being so. It's easy to answer, you see, and I wish I could feel as sure of my answers when it comes to the 'sexist' bit.

AC: So why do you think people mistake the comics for being Right wing-ish?

KC: A couple of reasons, I imagine. It seems a lot of media people can't quite manage to differentiate between the character in a novel and his outlook on things, and the person who actually wrote it. It's an intelligence problem, I guess. The Lord Horror novel could never be called light reading—Nietzsche would have found it taxing—and it's David (Britton) who also writes the comics, too. It's all very lateral stuff, one strange composition on top of another, trading convulsions back and forth. David is like some xenophobic Lautréamont from Manchester, with this absurdist monologue raging inside his head, and sometimes he writes parts down. It couldn't be easy to read under any circumstances. You have to actually work at it, and some people don't. Journalists never do.

AC: How do you feel about the people who say Savoy products should be banned?

KG: I'd be contemptuous towards anyone who wanted to inflict their opinions on anyone else. Really, it's very few people who actually want Savoy products to be banned and they're no one of any relevance: lawyers and magistrates and policemen who claim audible conversations with The Almighty. Forget it! I think Savoy have a hard core of veterans out there who enjoy what they do.

AC: Even the Meng & Ecker comics? They are pretty gross, don't you think?

KG: Sure. Sometimes I offend myself when I'm drawing it. It's vile. Of course it's vile but it's theatrically so, at least. You'd have to be either brain-dead or a police officer to take it seriously. Obviously, I can see why it upsets some people but that comes with the territory. I don't know, maybe you can be crude and frivolous if some kind of motive exists for it. I think David sees Meng & Ecker as products of the dark lands you'd probably find in any big city; two regular sorts who become worse than their own environment, but they keep smiling instead of taking it seriously. If Meng & Ecker ever started turning into characters from Viz or something, I'd stop drawing it.

AC: What kind of audience do you think Savoy Comics attract?

KG: Oh, the sort that hang off chandeliers all day.

AC: What's the story behind Monoshock, Savoy's one-issue surprise?

KG: Well, it was based on something I'd written called God And Sex, which was a kind of therapeutic thing for me. Anyway, Mike (Butterworth) and David read it, decided its audience would be limited to failed Romantics, a couple of consumptives with time on their hands and maybe the odd potential suicide; so they edited it down, changed most of the text, stuck wires all over the main character and called it Monoshock. It still didn't sell.

AC: Are you a romantic person?

KG: Incurably, but I'm working on it. Being of a romantic turn of mind can leave you irresponsible and neurotic, don't you think? You tend to send your brain into exile. Too many Zurgas in the woodpile... God... I hate people who say things like that. Now's a bad time to ask me.

AC: But you do continue to write and illustrate fairy stories, don't you?

KG: Yes, it's somewhere to go. It's a satchel under the pillow, something nice for putrefaction.

AC: What about today's comics, outside of Savoy; any opinions ?

KG: Probably nothing worth printing. I tend to hate comic collectors as a breed...you see them shimmering around with their anoraks and bad skin conditions, only leaving their fucking cocoons to buy the latest issue of Batman or something. I'm too nervous to buy comics any more in case their existence is contagious; you go in a shop to buy The X-Men and come out impotent and ugly. I feel a certain vague affinity to certain European artists, more in terms of content than style; people like Franco Saudelli, Solano Lopez and Milo Manara...and I really like an American artist called The Pizz who does this eugenically weird voodoo stuff. Not much else, I'm afraid.

AC: What next for Savoy ?

KG: Excommunication...more prison terms...the usual. Who knows ? Somewhere in between Dante and superheroes you have the Planet Savoy, and it's a great place to visit—if you can breath the air.

Kris GuidioPrincipal Works:

1970s: Illustrations for Oz magazine and other underground publications.

1981—1982: Tales Of The Cramps in Lindsay Hutton's The Next Big Thing magazine (reprinted in Sinister Legends, Savoy 1988).

1986: The first visualisations of David Britton's Lord Horror and Meng & Ecker for Savoy.

1987: Principal artist for Lord Horror and Meng & Ecker graphic series.

1988: Sinister Legends, Savoy anthology of Guidio art, prose and poetry.

1989—present: Meng & Ecker, La Squab and Lord Horror.

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