By Patrick R. McDonough
Dead Head Reviews (DHR): How did you get involved with The Old One And The Sea?
Liam “Pais” Hill (LPH): Lex, the author, got in contact with me and asked me if I wanted to be involved. I did, but rules dictate that if I’m going to work with someone then they have to best me in a challenge of the mind. Lex chose to challenge me to a game of Ker-plunk which he won.
DHR: Ha, well thank god for that. How long have you been an illustrator for?
LPH: When I was like 6 I used to draw a comic about sweet corn. So I suppose since then.
DHR: Who are your influences?
LPH: I love cute simple stuff. Adventure Time has been a massive inspiration for me. Before then maybe things like the Tamagotchi artwork or the simplified versions of things on pre-3D games consoles.
DHR: Haha, I haven’t heard anyone talk about Tamagotchi in so long! Your art matches this story perfectly in both tone and emotion. Were there any challenges to achieve this?
LPH: I had to befriend an eldritch horror and then tried to use my experience to that.
DHR: Hmm…sounds spooky!x Are you a fan of Lovecraft?
LPH: I am, I’ve read a load of his stuff and ended up in quite a few Lovecraft-ish projects. I’ve recently done art for a comic called The Exchange that has similarly Lovecraft vibes (though again, twisted to be quite rather than terrifying).
DHR: Did you go through many drafts on the appearance of our protagonist? For me, his nose is what makes it all perfect.
LPH: I would’ve sketched a load of versions first. I might’ve even sent them by Lex to choose one, I can’t remember.
DHR: To piggyback off of a previous comment, your choice in color and shades gives these stories a pleasant vibe. What went into deciding those two things (the color and shade)?
LPH: I used to be rubbish with colour stuff, so I’ve spent some time researching what looks good and what looks purposely bad. There’s tons more texture in this than my previous stuff as I used paint-brush like brushes on my tablet.
DHR: The results show. When creating Oolu, what did you use for references?
LPH: I took the unthinkable, unseeable horror that is Cthulhu and I made him cute.
DHR: Ha-ha, well, you nailed it. Of the twelve illustrations, which one would you say is your favorite and why?
LPH: The one that ended up as the cover. I had a few passes at that and I’m happy I didn’t settle on an older version. The original I sent to Lex was pink, but he requested that it has a more normal blue sky, which in hindsight was a good idea.
DHR: Is this the first time that you’ve created anything Lovecraft-related?
LPH: I’ve previously mentioned The Exchange, I’ve also done a couple of songs with my band Modern Day Dukes based on his stories (Dagon and Me & St John).
DHR: Now that sounds pretty awesome! Did you and Lex see eye-to-eye on your original concepts?
LPH: Yeah I think he digs it. If he didn’t, he didn’t say, which is a very British move. But yeah, there wasn’t tons in the way of changes he wanted, he seems really happy with the result.
DHR: One of my favorite illustrations was Chapter Seven’s. Where Howie is transformed into a Deep One. He kind of looks like an X-Men character. Was that image something that appeared in your mind right away?
LPH: I normally draw things quite flat. With that one I wanted to make it a bit more action-filled so it has a bit more perspective than the other images. Kind of like a sneak attack in drawing form.
DHR: Chapter eight’s illustration is the same on the cover of the book. Where Oolu is standing in the sea and Howie stands atop a ferries wheel’s cart, while both stare off into the sea. How did you guys decide on using that as the cover?
LPH: I sent it to Lex and he was like ‘that’s the cover’.
DHR: That image absolutely sums up the entirety of the story. What do you typically do artwork for?
LPH: My usual game is comics. This is the first time I’ve done a kids book and I’d like to do some more.
DHR: Do you have any future projects we should keep an eye out for?
LPH: I’m always working on too much. Right now there’s the Slug Café cartoon, the Marg the Butter Warrior choose-your-own-adventure stylebook and a ‘zine of short stories.
DHR: Those sound intriguing! I watched an animation you did on your YouTube page. It made me want to see more of your work. Can we anticipate any more animation from you?
LPH: I have more planned that I have time right now. I’d love to regularly put out animations but it’s very time-consuming, you have to be pretty confident in the joke if you’re going to spend a few weeks animating it.
DHR: That’s a good point. You definitely need to be dedicated to the jokes. Would you like to make a shout-out to anyone?
LPH: Shout out to Liam ‘Pais’ Hill who is me. He’s always got my back.
DHR: Ha. What a swell guy! Thank you for sharing with the world your beautiful art, and letting us know how your mind works.
You can follow Liam on:
FB – /highgreendawn