Comprehensive Artist Profile
This is a brief look at the route Tim has taken, which has enabled him to arrive at setting up Wizards Keep today:
From as early as he can remember he read comic books and children's books. His parents were always reading them to him, even before he understood all the words he discovered far away, exotic places, Faerie tales and Mythology.
British comic books and children's annuals and books were his original source of such stories, but his Dad told him of other characters that he had seen as a kid himself. Prince Valiant, Superman, Batman and Little Nemo were some of those names.
His Grandpa had been a cook serving in the army during world war two and had been stationed in France with an American Battalion. There he received copies of American newspapers, which had comic supplements. This was where his Dad had seen the characters he told him about.
His Dad came in one day from work (Tim was around six years old) and gave his Brother Chris and him a handful of Marvel and D.C. comics. Titles like Batman, Superman, Thor, Submariner, Dr. Strange, Captain Marvel.
By the time he was eight years old he had set my course in his head…he was going to draw comics when he grew up.
The rest is history…he was hooked for good…
Early Creative Influences
Jack Kirby's work was a massive influence on his early storytelling.
Over the years he discovered a great many other artists and writers, some of whom would be great influences on his work as an artist and writer.
His course had been set as a young kid and he spent many years scribbling on his text books at junior school and later senior school with comic characters, much to the dismay of his teachers.
During his time at senior school his parents would attend the obligatory parent's evenings to be told on many occasions that kids from a small town like Blackburn couldn't draw comic books…and that they needn't worry he would grow up one day and get a 'real' job…
Tim's parents have always supported him and his brother to the hilt and never tried to dissuade him from fulfilling his Dream…For that he will always be eternally grateful. Early on they would sit with him and draw stuff. He still has one such colour drawing his Mum did for him of Yakky Doodle and a flying saucer and one by his Dad from during the second world war as a young boy.
Two other influences as far as storytellers are concerned were his Grandpa, and his Uncle George who could both tell a great story. His Uncle Bob was also an influence in his formative years, spending many happy hours drawing cartoons with him. Now sadly they are no longer with us, but he would like to think that they are looking at all that has happened to him over the years and realise that they did their bit to get him to this point today.
It was at senior school that he met the best friend anyone could hope to have, a great guy (the best) called Paul Roberts. During the time they spent together at school and at home, Paul and Tim would spend hours searching out new comic books, often walking miles and miles to get their hands on a comic that may be in that shop they hadn't yet visited…or at least hadn't for a while. This was before the advent of comic shops… Wow if only…
They also wrote and drew their own comic books during this time, with Jack Kirby as a major influence...
It was at senior school, a few years later, that he met a teacher who was to prove to be an inspiration to him in his quest to become a comic artist. He was Tim's Art and registration teacher, Mr. Richard Reeves. One Wednesday after morning registration he asked if Tim could stay behind a moment before going to his first lesson. "Gulp!" he thought, swallowing hard, what had he done…?
He left school for pastures new before Tim left school for college, but he will always be thankful for the advice and also the support he received during his tenure there.
Tim continued his education when it came to leaving school in the sixth form where he studied for 'A' Levels. He was determined to enter the world of comic books.
He left the sixth form and armed with a portfolio of comic book samples and fantasy paintings went to Blackpool College of Art and Design, where he met two great friends and fellow artists, Leo and Simon and like him they loved to draw.
It was an exciting and creative time for the three of them and the competition they had as fellow artists was also a source of inspiration to the three of them.
It was during his time as a student that he met a beautiful young girl called Margaret, who was destined for better or worse (ask her) to become his wife.
First Contact with Comic Creators
In 1979 he attended a comic convention, organised by Colin Campbell, at Birmingham NEC's Metropole Hotel. His Brother Chris went with him and they met comic creators for the very first time. Guys like Frank Brunner, Rodney Matthews, Joe Staton, Jim Steranko, Denny O'Neil, Len Wein, John Bolton and others. For the first time he was able to see actual original artwork produced by comic artists and also get a chance to meet them and speak to them. The Conan sketch that Frank Brunner did for him still adorns his studio wall.
1979 has another reason to be remembered fondly; it was on the run up to Christmas that Margaret and Tim became an item.
Professional and Married Life to Margaret Begins
In 1980 he left college to enter the real art world…
He was going to change the world, as is a student's want. He began his early career as a Graphic Designer, but never took his eye off the dream of becoming a comic artist.
He spent a few years sending off work to the British comic companies, receiving his first rejection letters… But his resolve was unmoved.
Margaret and Tim became Man and Wife on the 3rd of July 1982, the day before "Independence Day" in the states…yeah he knows.
Co-creation #1: Daughter Joanne is Born
The following year on the 12th of June he saw the birth of his Daughter Joanne, the first of his best ever co-creations.
More Comic Creators
Tim attended a few conventions after leaving college and at one in Birmingham met John Ridgway for the first time. He was able to see some of John's original work that he had been following in Dez Skinn's Warrior comic magazine. It was beautifully rendered artwork. He spoke briefly with John, who was a gentleman and he kindly looked at his portfolio of work. He gave him a critique and told him good luck and to keep on trying to break into the comics business.
Tim then replied to a Marvel UK advert in their comic The Mighty World of Marvel, which was asking for any aspiring artists and writers to submit a short comic to be considered for publication in the comic.
Tim thought his friend Paul was joking when he told him he had seen his story, 'Metempsychosis' advertised in the latest issue of Fantasy Advertiser and that it would be in the next Mighty World of Marvel.
And that's how he got through the door. He received a complimentary copy of the comic with his work in it and a compliment slip with from the guys down at the Marvel UK offices asking if he would like to show his portfolio of work…Where they joking? There was no if about it…
Whilst at the Marvel UK offices he met Barry Kitson, who was working on the British version of the Spiderman comic. He asked Tim if he would like to try inking his pencil work. Tim inked some of his sample work and sent it in to Marvel, who gave him a great response, but no work. He collaborated with Barry another couple of times and got the same response, "Great stuff Tim", but still no work.
First Marvel UK Professional Work - Transformers
About six months after meeting Barry at Marvel he received another call from him asking could he help him out on some inking on an issue of Transformers that he was late on deadline with.
Marvel UK - Zoids
The response from Marvel this time was a cheque for the work and the start of regular work, first Transformers with Barry, then Zoids with Kev Hopgood and then the rest is history.
Now low and behold, like his teachers at school had predicted, he had grown up…and guess what? He had become a comic artist.
He received a phone call from the guys down at the Marvel UK offices asking if he would be up for another assignment from them? It was to work on Dr Who…inking John Ridgway. Now he is not sure whether he was ready for this or not, but he was given the green light. John was brilliant with him during this time and he learnt a lot from him. Over the years John and Tim have become great friends and John has helped him out more times than he cares to remember. His thanks go out to John a true gentleman and friend.
Thundercats - Co-creation #2 Son Simon is Born
On the 18th of April 1987, inking a page of Thundercats next to his wife as she lay in the maternity ward bed in the early stages of labour, he saw the birth of his Son Simon, the second of his best ever co-creations.
More Comic Companies Added to Client List
He started working for other UK companies and then managed to get some work from the USA for Marvel and D.C.
Jim Shooter's Defiant Comics
It was during a convention in Glasgow in 1993 that luck struck again. He was about to leave the convention with a couple of friends when ex-Editor-in-Chief of Marvel US, Jim Shooter and Designer/Colourist Janet (JayJay) Jackson sat at the hotel table across from them.
Jim remembered Tim from his days at Marvel UK, where they had met during a seminar on creating comics that Jim had given at the Marvel UK offices, during the late eighties. He showed Jim his portfolio of work and was hired on the spot. He had just set up Defiant comics.
Five months later Tim was on a plane bound for New York and he couldn't believe it. He worked in New York between August and Christmas 1993 and then again between January and March 1994. Those nine months were a Dream come true for him, the only downside being he had to leave his young family behind in England.
His first job for them at the offices was to paint the colour for the front cover of the Dark Dominion Card Set drawn by Superstar-Comic-Creator Steve Ditko; he had produced some colour work on the card set before leaving England. It was here at the bullpen that he met and worked alongside such people as Alan Weiss, Len Wein, Joe James, Charles Yoakum, Bob Downs, and the like.
The mid nineties saw the implosion of the comic scene in America. Defiant were a victim of this and shut their doors for a final time during the latter stages of 1994. A lot of good people from lots of different comics companies were affected by the implosion, some of whom he knew.
It was during this time that he sat down with Paul and fleshed out a concept Paul had spoken to him of before. The concept was called Dark Crusade and they worked up the plot and Tim drew the pages to which Paul then added the dialogue and captions, much in the way early Marvel comics were produced with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
A new publisher approached them; they said they wanted to publish it over here in England. Nothing happened and the concept has lain dormant ever since waiting for a chance to arise from the ashes again.
Deciding to not let the dream die Paul and Tim decided to go to print with the first issue. Pultiam Press published a limited print run of the comic in 1995.
Over here in England that same shrinking effect that was now hitting the American market in adventure comics had begun some years previously, but in a more subtle way.
During the mid to late nineties a lot of people left the comic business for pastures new, some left the art world altogether out of necessity.
In March 1999 after speaking to fellow creators at a comic convention, Tim decided to see if it was possible to start a new comic company. Of course John Ridgway was amongst those he asked on board along with fellow stalwarts Jon Haward and Alan Grant. Other creators followed, amongst them the late Art Wetherall. It wasn't to be and along with other factors he had become disenchanted with the state of the comic business, especially in this country. He was no longer really being allowed to be creative and decided it was time for a change of direction.
That change came from the world of theme parks. The first two weeks spent designing and illustrating conceptual ideas and art for the theme park industry were the strangest and possibly hardest to come to terms with of his career up to that date. It had been so long since he had been allowed to create in this way, as the constraints of the comic book world forced the individuality out of his style of work. Now suddenly he was being asked to fully use his imagination and be as creative and adventurous as he could be. He soon settled after that short period and produced work for lots of different theme parks all over the world. He was stretching himself creatively during this time and becoming more and more loose with his ideas. It was like being back at college, when simply anything went. The only limits being your imagination.
The time spent in this arena prepared him, far better than the cramped and stifled one that he had found comics becoming for him, for his next career move. He had the opportunity to enter the world of Feature Animation. A chance he jumped at. For the first time he was not only drawing and painting, but also he was writing. Something he had only really done in the main as a bit of fun or in the form of plotting sessions with other creators, other than working with Paul.
Back to his Roots for a While
Following a break after a big animation job he received a phone call from an editor, out of the blue, asking whether he would like to produce some illustrations and this lead by accident to him returning to the comic business producing some comic work for Toontastic. He had worked with James Hill on many occasions, with James working as writer originally, then as Editor and then Editor-in-Chief. He coaxed him back to comics for a while and it was during this time that he hatched the plan to finally start up Wizards Keep, something he had planned since his days at college, even down to the company name.
Wizards Keep Ltd:
Which brings us at last to today. Tim hopes that the worlds you will visit, over time here at Wizards Keep will serve to entertain you.
And now a thank you from Tim to his wife Margaret:
"They say that behind every great man is an even greater woman...Well I may not be a great man, but Margaret my wife is a great woman and my rock. She has always stood by me and backed me to the hilt...sometimes I question her sanity for this...but never have I doubted her support. I wouldn't be here today but for all the help she provides for me in the background, an unsung heroine. This is my opportunity to publicly say thanks for all her support all these years."
Tim looks forward to hearing back from anyone that wishes to contact him via email.
He is more excited about the projects he is presently working on than any others he has worked on in the past. Here he is able to tell the stories he has always wanted to tell in the way he thinks that they need to be told in. He hopes you like what you will see over the coming months.
The shop serves as an introduction to his new work and also as a way for people to purchase some of the work he has been asked to supply prints of by a great many people over the years. You have been his inspiration here.
You can also buy original pages from his past work from Marvel, D.C. Defiant, 2000 A.D., London Editions, Newsstand, Toontastic amongst others.
Over time original artwork from his Graphic Novel series' will become available to buy.
There is also an opportunity to commission Tim to produce one off, original pieces of artwork to your specifications.
Tim wishes to thank you all again for visiting his site and taking the time to look at the worlds within.