MRR Comics & Art Issue Artist Q&A with Rudy Leowe
What are the main things you’ve published, including comics, record covers, band shirts, anthologies, etc.?
I just finished a commissioned project about the queer black writer Claude McKay, but other than that my work seems to fall into two categories: work that’s autobiographical and quite often about mental health; and then black history comics. At the moment I am creating a series of black history comics that look at the history of black people in the UK. Although at some point I would be interested in working with communities in other places to make more.
Who are some of your influences as far as art and comics?
Many of my influences come from outside of art. I’m really interested in history. I love Cristy Road’s artwork; I could look at it all day. Ellen Forney created a great book about mental health called Marbles. I would say being part of a QTIPOC community that I love mainly influences me. A friend and very talented artist is Jacob V Joyce, I would highly recommend checking out his stuff. I love finding artists on Tumblr, I feel like there are so many amazing artists on there.
At the moment I’ve been finding lots of afrofuturist playlists. There’s one I really like, you can find it online if you search “My Body Full of Stars.” I like quite a lot of different music, but I would say that the main thread is being interested in what black people are doing in music. Some people whom I’ve been listening to at the minute are FKA Twigs, Death Grips, Ata Kak and this K Boo Legalize It playlist on Soundcloud.
How would you describe your style of drawings?
All my work is hand drawn, which I think comes from drawing being an emotive process for me. Especially when making work that feels close to my heart, sitting down and drawing intensely with ink feels really good. I think that my work is fairly simple in style; the main thing for me is black people being central characters, rather than vehicles for white characters’ narratives.
What other punk projects are you involved with (bands, venues, record labels, etc.)?
I’ve just joined a care collective that are looking to support disabled people who need PAs but don’t want to have to work with people who reinforce oppressive thinking. It’s only in the beginning stages, but I’m glad to be involved. I also work with young people at a local library, facilitating weekly sessions getting them involved in arts activities. It was great during black history month, I got them to make black history zines and they all wanted a copy of this photo of Malcolm X saying BLACK POWER in big letters to use in their zines; that made me super happy.
What’s in the future for you as a cartoonist/artist?
I’m just going to keep drawing, apply for funding to do rad projects. It took me quite a long time to realise that I could make the kinds of work I wanted to make and that there are communities of people who are interested in the same things I am. So that’s what I try to keep in mind when making new work. Also, hopefully working with more QTIPOC artists on awesome projects.
Check out more from Rudy Leowe at rudyloewe.com.