Wednesday, March 24, 2010

David Hughes & Dexter

Who is in the photo at right?

David Hughes: Illustrator. Dexter: Aged 8 years. Wire Haired Fox Terrier.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Routine: When we are at home. One hour/hour and a half walk; country walks, pretty rural; maybe buy a newspaper. Dexter once back will have a mad five minutes zigzagging around the garden as if he's on speed then I wash him down in an outside butler sink.

What's brewing?

Instant. Local supermarket brand Colombian variety. Heaped spoonful, splash of milk.

I read a synopsis of your new graphic novel Walking the Dog [click to enlarge sketches] which said you acquired Dexter to aid you in getting some daily exercise. Any treats for you or Dexter to go with the coffee, or is that incompatible with the exercise regime?

Coffee with two slices of toasted home baked brown bread, butter and honey and a banana. Dexter joins me for some off cuts of toast, after his breakfast of healthy dry biscuits and sliced raw carrot and garlic. In the early days of our relationship I'd often poach us both an egg with a slice of toast, that's been off the menu for a while - this interview has served to remind me.

When we are in London I'll have a strong cappuccino with a chocolate croissant or a double espresso Dexter meanwhile will pop into a pub and order a pint of Guinness.

Exercise? I swim a couple of miles every other day and I run for 40 minutes 4 times a week; is that a regime?

Where did you find Dexter? Was he the kind of dog you hoped to get when you considered your doctor's advice?

Year 2001: I downloaded him.... I found a breeder's website. It was love at first sight. I was a cat man to be honest. It was during a medical that the nurse suggested I was a stressed fat overweight slob and I ought to consider getting a dog - I am a lover of the Wire Haired Fox Terrier. I am not a dog lover. Don't get me wrong, I'd never be cruel to a dog, but most dogs I wouldn't give a house room to. I suppose I quite admire the Airedale as well, but dogs with brown noses give me the creeps. One exception is Monty, a chocolate brown labrador--everything in a canine I find unattractive, but in this case he is such a laid back gentle beast he is forgiven and anyway Dexter likes him. I get the impression you haven't actually read Walking The Dog. But Dexter is more than I ever hoped for. He saved my life.

How did Dexter get his name?

I heard this fantastic record Frontier Psychiatrist by The Avalanches. That record tells you all you need to know.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Postman. Courier. The man from the electric company. Deer. Hares. Squirrel. Moles. But in this case [photo, left] an unfortunate baby bunny crossed Dexter's path.

Frisbee, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Indoors: Squeaky Canada Goose . Outdoors: A Chuck-It loaded with a solid rubber ball.

Is Dexter's favorite walk the same as yours?

Yes. Beach, City, (Liverpool Street Station to Trafalgar Square), Countryside, alongside the River Goyt in Cheshire: depends on our mood.

Who is Dexter's best pet-pal?

These days - I guess it's next doors ginger cat Claude; they have a pretty special relationship. Dexter did have a best canine pal but unfortunately Bertie (a Pointer) [sketch, top left] died a few years ago. He is sorely missed.

What's Dexter's best quality?

Always positive. Great sense of humour.

What's Dexter's proudest moment? His most embarrassing?

Proudest moment? I really couldn't say ... maybe choosing me to be his side-kick?

Most embarrassing? Winning a local summer fair's dog show and having a red rosette pinned to his collar.

Is Dexter likely to appear in your future work?

Yes - Dexter is my muse....

About Walking the Dog, from the publisher:
Hughes’ daily walks with Dexter form the spine of Walking the Dog. We eavesdrop on their encounters with fellow dog-walkers (‘Hello Hector’, ‘Hello Chester’…) and on Hughes’ thoughts as he plods along carrying a plastic bag of poo. He begins to remember moments from his past, dark memories of murder and violence. He explores his own fantasies and obsessions. From the gentle comedy of the early pages, Walking the Dog is transformed into something deeper and more disturbing.

This will be a landmark book in the field of graphic literature. The drawing is sublime, the imagination extraordinary, the ambition unequalled.
Visit the official David Hughes website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue