‘I couldn’t have dreamed it’ - Former Norwich Aviva worker, 36, launches career as comic book creator
06:30 09 August 2014
As a childhood fan of Superman and Batman, he always dreamed of creating his own comic books.
But Shaun Speight put all this on hold as life got in the way, and it was not until he lost his his nine-to-five job at Aviva that things began to happen - and fast.
The 36-year-old, who had honed his drawing skills over years of evenings and weekends, found an American comic writer who needed an illustrator on a website for freelance artists.
One thing led to another, and now his first comic has been displayed at the biggest comic book convention in the world - Comic-Con in San Diego.
The comic was called Dead Last - about a race where half the runners are human and half are zombies - and he hopes there will be interest from major comic book companies.
Mr Speight, of Consitution Hill, Norwich, was made redundant in May and Comic-Con was this month.
“When I lost my job at Aviva I couldn’t have dreamed that in a couple of months I would have my work at the biggest comic convention in the world,” he beamed. “It’s just bizarre, but we’re used to things like that in my house.”
He had been drawing since the age of four, when his dad would teach him by copying pictures from magazines.
Mr Speight said he had never considered drawing as a career and did not go to university, instead working at a company that made display cabinets, occasionally drawing some of their designs.
He kept up his efforts in his free-time over the years, and his wife Holly, 36, encouraged him to take his hobby further.
After losing his job he met comic book writer Stephanie Joyce, from Phoenix, Arizona, online.
Her company Bad Apple had made a short zombie film, and after seeing emailed samples of Mr Speight’s work decided he was the man to draw the pictures for their comic book.
Dead Last was displayed at a convention in Phoenix before the big event in San Diego, and Mr Speight hopes it could be the first of many projects.
“It would just be perfect to do a job that’s also my hobby, and it’s the one thing I’m truly good at doing,” he said. “It’s just something I’ve loved since I was a kid and it’s a natural progression.”
He is currently working unpaid, and admitted: “You have to do a lot of work for free before you get recognised enough to be paid.”
But he is starting his own business called Shaun Speight Illustrations, and is taking on private commissions such as artwork for children’s birthdays as well as comics.
The 20-page Dead Last is included on Comixology - the comic book world’s equivalent of Amazon - and he hopes to grow a fanbase to download further comics in the series.
One of his future projects will be to create a graphic novel with singer-songwriter Kevin Pearce, together with London-based comic company Markosia.
To see more of Mr Speight’s work, see facebook.com/shaunspeightillustrations or behance.net/speightartist
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