Shadow Character Now I know what you're thinking, punk? Did I ask you eight questions or only three? Well, to tell you the truth, in all of this excitement I kind of lost track myself. So you've got to ask yourself a very simple question. Do you feel lucky, punk? Or alternatively, are you that very nice Punk chap I spoke to only the other day, about his great graphic novel?

The Mysterious Case of Billy's G String

oranges 1) What are your own origins, Punk? Plus what path did you take in life prior to getting to where you are today?   You want to know about my oranges?! Not much different from anyone else’s I suppose, unless you like lemons or even grapefruits. Or all those tangerines that I used to stuff down at Christmas. What’s that all about? You don’t touch them all year, and then for two weeks you eat as many as humanly possible. Anyway. Enough about my oranges. I just noticed it said “origins” (Same difference).

I’ve always wanted to work in music. Punk music was great because you could be a drummer without being able to drum, or even own a drum kit if you made sure someone else on the bill had one you could bash. So I started there. Made the sad discovery that the world didn't think I was a rockstar, so drifted sideways into anything else connected with music. I started working for The Vicar (I think we all know that’s not his real name) by sending him a postcard saying I would work for free. Although he has in fact always paid me (pretty well, considering my initial complete incompetence, but don’t tell him that). 

The Vicar Chronicles
2) How did ‘The Vicar’ come about? It’s ‘secret origin’ so to speak.   I've answered this one already, haven’t I? (Talk about a brilliant interviewee, I can answer questions before you ask them). But, yes, I know you really want to know how 'The Vicar Chronicles' started all those wonderful “semi-fictional” stories. I was working in the studio with The Vicar (not his real name) late one night, and we had just been discussing some juicy mad rip-off or scandal in this beloved music business of ours. So I asked him how come no-one has written whodunits about the music business. After all, it’s so wonderfully corrupt and full of intrigue, and spiced with a bit of star and sex appeal. The Vicar looked me in the eye (I think he was sitting behind me actually) and replied “Because you haven’t written them yet”.

The words that changed my life forever more.

We started with an online diary from the fictional Vicar -- which soon had 10,000 readers. It then became an online book (The Mysterious Case of Billy’s G String), and then became an album (after all, you can’t have a fictional record producer without an album), which then became four hours of videoblogs (me telling the stories live to camera via Youtube) and finally it became a Graphic Novel. Oh yes, and a T-shirt saying “I am The Vicar”. Everyone kept asking “Who is The Vicar?” and it seemed that the right answer was that we are all The Vicar, and we can all have the T-Shirt to prove it. 

The Mysterious Case of Billy's G String
3) Can you tell us a little about your graphic novel, ‘The Mysterious Case of Billy's G String’?   We tried for over four years to find someone to draw the Graphic Novel, and didn’t like any of the submissions. Finally Ben Singleton (son of David Singleton, The Vicar’s manager, or maybe The Vicar himself, who knows) asked to be given a chance. He was fourteen when we first started looking and only eighteen when he drew this one. It’s remarkable. His characterization of The Vicar and his grotty little assistant (yes, that would be me) is perfect. Ben has since drawn the second story and is now drawing the third.

He claims that “The Mysterious Case of Billy’s G String” is slightly less well realized than the later drawings as he was insanely younger when he drew it -- but I love his drawings whatever. There’s so much humour in all the pictures. Take a look. There will be this serious conversation going on and in the background Punk will be doing something utterly bizarre. Genius! (Well, I’m a genius, he’s just a very talented dude who can draw a bit).

4) What song would you say best represents this story and why?   Ooh! Now this is difficult. I really want to choose something by The Smiths. But if I’m going to keep my job, it had better be something from The Vicar album. There are thirteen fantastic tracks on that album, and I’m going to choose the other one -- the fourteenth one (which is a bit odd to be honest). It’s called “That Boy’s Not Cool” (and it’s actually the third track in the running order). But it brilliantly represents the story as the backing music is like the theme tune to The Simpsons (the one where Lisa Simpson ends up playing the sax). If you imagine that kind of cartoon music behind a pop song, you’ll understand why I say it’s more than a little unusual. But also why it’s perfect to represent a graphic novel.

Angelina Jolie
5) If you could get a celebrity – either living or dead – to promote your wares, who would you choose, and why would you want to choose this particular person?   That’s an easy one. Someone hot. And the reason, well, because I would have to be around her a lot. In the second book, I namecheck Angelina Jolie -- but then she’s probably too busy with Brad Pitt. How about Mila Kunis? Oh no. She’s apparently expecting Ashton Kutcher’s baby. Can’t have that! Let’s go with Scarlett Johansson. Even more no’s! She’s got a bump as well. Are there any hot actresses who aren't pregnant?

6) What have you learnt about yourself through this endeavour? And were their any unforeseen obstacles you had to contend with along the way?   What haven’t I learnt?! It all seemed so simple ten years ago. I’d written the first book, and took myself on a trip to Hollywood with a piece of paper, explaining that the story could easily be spun off into a TV series, or an album, or a Graphic Novel (all of the things we have subsequently done). But, of course, no-one was interested (or rather everyone was interested and they kept writing scripts or TV synopsis, but they never got made and never paid any money). So it has taken ten long lonely years to make everything that was on that sheet of paper, without any help from anyone else. So what you learn is that you have to be unbelievably stubborn and simply refuse to give up. Being slightly mad and self-delusional helps, too. 

[ The Mysterious Case of Billy's G String
7) During your time in this field, what is the one thing that has kept you in good stead?   There I go again, answering the question before you've asked it. “The Power to Believe” -- that’s what you need. You have to believe in what you’re doing and keep going regardless, even when no-one else cares a sausage (or even an orange). 

8) If ‘The Vicar’ had a motto, what would it be?   On that first piece of paper, ten years ago, I scribbled “Art plus Truth = Shitloads of money”. Hasn't happened yet, but it would make a pretty good motto.

So there you have it, my friends. My pal Punk and his life a... errr... punk? Anyway. When you've got the time you know what you have to do. Check out his website, facebook page, and twitter stream. Trust me. You be a right orange if you didn't.