“If I’d done it alone it would have been printed on a load of paper towels and stuck together with parcel tape” Josh Hicks on Human Garbage and his team up with Good Comics

Josh Hicks delightfully daft Glorious Wrestling Alliance has been one of our favourite books of the last few years, so when we found out he was putting together a collection of short that were being released by the guys at Good Comics we couldn’t wait. With Human Garbage set to debut at the upcoming ELCAF on June 16th, we caught up with Josh to find out why he thought calling his work garbage was a good idea and why his team up with Good Comics can only lead to great things!

“I wanted the book to feel like a band’s first EP or something – where everything is a bit raw and the voice isn’t set in stone yet”

Your new book Human Garbage is a collection of short stories collected into an anthology, can you tell us a little bit about each story, where it came from, has it been published before and why did you choose to include it in this?

Josh Hicks: Human Garbage collects some of my shorter comics work from the last couple of years. There are a few autobio stories that I did for things like Off Life and Dirty Rotten Comics, and then some longer genre pieces that came out as super low-run zines. Waste is a kind of post-apocalyptic poetry comic with some jokes in it, and The Case of the Black Cat is a noir detective thing. Then there’s Escape from Madoka, which is a sci-fi short that I drew and Mikael Lopez wrote. About half the comics were initially black and white, so I’ve coloured those up, too.

I wanted the book to feel like a band’s first EP or something – where everything is a bit raw and the voice isn’t set in stone yet and you can get a sense of them trying new things and working things out. I think there’s a bit of that in there. I also really wanted to just draw a line under all this stuff and finally present it as nicely and satisfyingly as possible.

It’s published by Good Comics, who seem to be developing into a really interesting company, can you tell us a bit about how the relationship came about and why you were persuaded to go with a publisher rather than do it yourself?

JH: It came about directly because of Robin William Scott, whose Every Life I Ever Lived was put out by Good Comics last year. I mentioned to him that I wanted to collect all my short stuff, and at some point he mentioned it to the guys and they got in touch. I said yes straight away, because I liked a lot of the stuff they’d been putting out. Thanks Robin!

Escape from Madoka is written by Mikael Lopez and also appears in Dirty Rotten Comics #10

Everyone there has been amazing. They suggested colouring and remastering some of the strips, and have been a really good sounding board for content. I feel like this is now a proper, full book and a worthwhile reading experience – if I’d done it alone it would have been printed on a load of paper towels and stuck together with parcel tape.

The styles seems to be quite different to the very simple linework of Glorious Wrestling Alliance, were you consciously evolving your style or mixing it up depending on the story type?

JH: Shorts are fun to do because you get to decide on a different approach for every new thing. With Glorious Wrestling Alliance I definitely wanted to strip the lines down so that the reader would be able to focus more on the cartooning or whatever, but I also think veering toward simplicity is something that happens unconsciously when you know you have to do twenty-four consistent pages and get them to hold together. GWA is like my true, natural ‘style’, I think. The shorter stuff in Human Garbage lets me experiment more. The Black Cat story, for example, doesn’t look like anything else in the book, and Waste looks slightly different to the autobio stuff, and so on.

What’s the idea behind the name of the book? Is calling your work garbage a good thing?!

JH: Maybe it wasn’t the best idea. I guess you can read it a couple of ways – I’m not sure if it necessarily means that the work is garbage! I don’t know. I made up a big list of names and everyone liked Human Garbage the most, and it made me laugh, so there we go. Committed forever now. It just felt like it would be a nice thing to see in a really big font.

You’ll be debuting it at ELCAF, will this be your first time releasing a book there, and have you been to the event before as either an exhibitor or punter? If so, what’s it like and what’s the appeal of it?

JH: I’ve never been to ELCAF, so I’m looking forward to it. I’m tabling with Ioan Morris, who I table with at every show, so just being able to sit down and chat and try and hustle comics will be fun. Like BCZF, the appeal for me is that it seems to be a show that’s really focused on comics and art, and it seems to draw creators that are really passionate about making good stuff. It just looks like a vital, creative environment — and some comics shows are not that. Maybe I’m picking them badly, I don’t know.

“Waste is a kind of post-apocalyptic poetry comic with some jokes in it”

It’s also good to get out there and meet other comics people outside of twitter, and there’s a list of things I want to pick up there, too. Hopefully selling a few books will offset the crippling cost of that list. That is the ultimate goal of all this – to fund a disgusting zine habit.

Have you been working on anyother titles since GWA and what are you working on next?

JH: I’m starting work on the second issue of GWA now, and unless I fall ill or we get plunged into nuclear war it’ll be debuting at Thought Bubble in September. It’s been a while since I finished the last one so I feel energised about it, and I’m just enjoying drawing silly wrestlers again. They are all my weird muscle children. This issue is about the cast embarking on a really ill-advised tour. Almost Famous with unitards etc.

What’s the goal for you when it comes to your work? What would be your ideal project to work on? (Apart from this one of course!)

JH: I’ve been sporadically semi-working on a longer, sprawling thing about life in a doomsday cult. That’s the thing I really want to do – it’s just finding the time to get it done. It would take a ton of commitment and probably like, actual research and stuff. I’ve got a proper non-comics job so it’s hard. But it’ll happen one day. That’s the dream.

In terms of the goals of my work, I don’t really have a great answer. I just get sort of obsessive about things I want to do with comics and then I eventually do them. Usually I just want to get a laugh or something, or just to try and translate a feeling, if that doesn’t sound appalling. I want people to enjoy my work. I don’t think I have a thesis or anything! Life is wonderful and terrible, things are funny and horrific, we’re all weirdos. I don’t know if any of that comes through.

And finally if you could sum up your work and style in 5 words, what would they be?

JH: Cash rules everything around me.

You can pre-order Human Garbage from the Good Comics store here and you can pick up Glorious Wrestling Alliance and more of Josh’s work from Big Cartel Store here