Comics - Madius, Madness, and Dorito crumbs.

Rob Jones Madius

Steve Taylor-Bryant sat with Rob Jones from Madius and talked comics, showing off, and writing. Warning contains imagery that once read cannot be unseen. Do not drink milk whilst reading this interview...

We are all a little in love with the guys at Madius. They have unleashed a brand of insanity into comics that has made reading fun again and they seem to be having a blast. One of the questions we here at /G-f find ourselves asking a lot is "are they actually mad?" Well let's find out as we talk to Rob Jones.

So the 'award winning' Rob Jones? That must feel pretty special. Tell our readers a little about you and show off about the award?


It was an absolute shock, I'll give you that. I've been lettering comics for just over a year or so now, completely self taught. I always loved design/publisher style stuff and used to make posters for my dad on our old Dell PC back in the day, but I never did anything professional level or any courses. So I started off in Photoshop and then built up to illustrator and I joined some groups on Facebook to share and critique my work. I was showcasing a lot of stuff I did for Tragic Tales of Horrere on one called ASHCAN (Alternative showcase hub for comics and animation) and they decided to do an awards thing for this year. Low and behold, I was short listed alongside some AMAZING talent, such as Taylor Esposito (DC, Marvel, Image, Zenoscope and a BAJILLION OTHERS), Nic J Shaw (Merrick The Elephant Man, Image, Boom) and they picked weirdy, beardy me! My work was likened to Richard Starkings (Comicraft - one of the best lettering houses in comics) which was an AMAZING feeling! So, yeah, that's the award, but I don't just letter comics, I also write them!

I am 1/4 of the UK comic imprint, Madius Comics (alongside Dr The Nick Gonzo, my long suffering co-writer and editor supreme Mike Sambrook and print/design/artist/wizard/prolific hat wear Brad Holman) and we released weird, wacky, quirky, slightly insane comics such as Papercuts and Inkstains, Ramlock Investigates, 50 Signal, Average Joe and Tragic Tales of Horrere. I love writing comics, it's awesome.

You are a prolific writer where do you gain your inspiration? Is it something deep within you or a reaction to the world?

I am supremely fortunate to work with a very talented set of chaps, and out of the lot, I work most closely with Mike (Sambrook). He and I usually set up a google drive document and throw ideas together on there, I mean, we are lucky to have such a digitised world, it helps with writing, as Mike and I can jump on the Google documents we use anywhere, on our phones, tablets, in the bath, on the toilet, during my wedding ceremony...ANYWHERE! It means inspiration can be instantly recorded, and instantly ready to work and mould into a fully formed idea. perhaps with a central theme and then we’ll both add our own “spice” to the mix, until we eliminate the ideas we both feel don’t work and are left with a streamlined, succulent, tender, juicy story with a flavoursome feel. We get our inspiration from each other, the books we’re reading, the conversations we’ve had which have tickled us during the week or stupid dreams and ideas. It helps we are both on the same page 99% of the time, and when we do have disagreements, then we settle them amicably, with swords and muskets.

Some of our items are reactions to the world around us, take “If you go down to the woods” from Horrere, that was actually written as a kind of response to an incident which happened in the autumn of 2014, when a young girl in America killed her shooting instructor with her own Uzi 9mm Machine Gun. It’s a treatise on gun control and the fact that guns are marketed to children. Then there’s “You are what you eat”, also in Horrere, which is actually a little shot at what we put in our processed foods. (However, coming from a fat, bearded man who LOVES a hotdog, its message is probably blunted haha!)

Madius Comics

Do you find it helps or hinders to read a lot of other comics/books? What do you like to read outside your own stuff

I like reading other comics, and generally choose something WILDLY different to the subject matter I’m writing, purely so I don’t end up plagiarizing what I’m reading into the script I’m writing. I can’t speak for Mike on that front, but I do know he is much more widely read when it comes to new comics than I am. I cherry pick titles, mainly Image ones to boot. I also trade wait, as, and this may sound hypocritical since I’m releasing them, I am not a huge fan of single issues. I love Saga, East of West, Deadly Class, Black Science, The Fade Out and ANYTHING from Skottie Young. I do find myself going back to most things written by Warren Ellis, like Transmetropolitan and Fell. I also adore Rick Remender’s stuff, like Fear Agent. I’m a big sci-fi nut and also love a damn good political satire!

You are one of the most approachable folk I know on both a business and personal level but do you find as you become 'bigger' within your chosen field that it is harder to separate both sides of you? I know some writers struggle to be business and some find it helps to remember who they are and mix the two, and some don't really care what 'image' people take of them.

I don’t think I will ever separate the two sides, as to me, there isn't two sides, its all one big bundle of Rob. I try and remain professional in everything I do, I am unashamedly positive about everything, purely because it’s so easy to be negative and dismiss things, however people have taken time, love, energy and passion and put that into a project, the least you can do is be supportive of that and get behind it. Thankfully though, i don’t think I am at that point yet where I will need to be wary of the things I say or do. Yet. If the time comes, perhaps I will have to be more guarded, until then, don’t expect any real changes! Haha!

How did Madius come about? From what I can gather via social networks you are all over the country so not based together? How do you even start to make that work?

Madius came about through Nick Gonzo shouting abuse at me over twitter. Then he realised he lived near me, came to my house and offered me out. We duelled for sixteen days, swirling like a maelstrom through the wilds of North Yorkshire and moved south, locked in an epic struggle of magic, witchcraft and calling each other nincompoops. We managed to gather up a hatted Brad Holman into the swirling vortex of death and mild swearing and it veered left towards Cheshire, where little Mike Sambrook was sucked into it. The four of us somehow melded into one person, with eight arms, eight legs and a shared idea to release comics which were strange, quirky, weird, funny and most importantly, done in our own way to our own drum beat.

Thankfully, we are all pretty like minded in our approach to things. We saw a lot of other comic groups doing their things, and decided to mix up our own little thing! I think I was the lynch-pin to the whole thing, as the common theme to us all was a connection through me. That lightning rod allowed Madius to flourish. And it works through a lot of hard work, admin, sharing ideas, sharing responsibility, arguments, disagreements, mutual respect and a brotherly bond between us all. We may not always agree with one another, we may not always get on with one another, but like a band, each has their own thing which they bring to the group which allows us to operate as a whole. In the end it works, it seems to be working really well and hopefully will continue to work until either one of us’s ego wrestles the other into submission and absorbs it into a collective and we become a pulsating mass of comic book egotism...

Madius Profits of Doom

There's quite the mix of subject matter and characters within all the titles. Was this a conscious decision or just how the projects happened? Not many imprints can go from a child's detective title to a horror anthology.

It was indeed a conscious decision. The beauty of comics is diversity and inclusion, so we wanted to make sure we were accessible to all in some way, shape or form. Thus we have ideas which appeal to kids, ideas which appeal to adults and ideas which appeal to the weird bunch of people who are somewhere in between those two ends of the spectrum. We sit right slap bang in the middle of it, manchildren, who love a bit of gore, but also laugh our asses off at the idea of a Goat running into a screen door. Plus, titles like Papercuts allow us to be diverse in subject matter, not just sci-fi, horror and fantasy, we’ve got some heartfelt stuff coming, a 70’s set story of love, loss and Ian Drury.

We’ve got a story which is Jam and Jerusalem meets the Thing. We’ve got a street level revenge story. I like to think Profits of Doom is much more layered than it can appear on the surface, as it’s an exploration of feeling like an outsider, but then also a study of friendships and the lengths it can be stretched to! We need more diversity in comics, and more diversity in what writers do. Get out of your comfort zone and see where it takes you!

Do you have a plan in regards to future titles in say 12, 24, 36 months or is it a case of waiting for inspiration to strike?

Madius output wise, we have everything written for the next 12 months. We are stocked, locked and ready to rock with all that. Which allows the artists we work with ample time to work on it. We have pitches planned, we have a kickstarter planned, collected editions and also we are working on pitches to send out to some publishers and Mike and I have some submissions to other anthologies which we are sending out. Past that, we’re not so sure. We have plans for cons, eight in all so far, and then see where we go after that.

My love for Madius is not just for the fantastic writing but for the art. Everyone involved seems to be too talented. How do you decide which artist gets what title or does the artist and particular comic come as a package because they are a co-creator?

When we write a short for Papercuts, we generally work with an artist before we’ve developed the story. We work to their strengths, creating a story around what they enjoy. It makes the story writing process fun for us as it challenges Mike and myself, then it makes creating the art fun for the artist as it’s a favourite genre, style, etc. Comics are and should be fun, at all stages, from creation to reading. When it comes to that creation being finished, any further stories are then subject to all of us sticking our heads together to make sure we’re all happy to see more of that character, setting etc. There’s more Cast Adrift (Papercuts 2) coming, there’s more Vampire wonderland (Papercuts 3) coming. We have a series which will be ongoing which is called Valkyrie and is batshit crazy. That’s a Jim Lavery project, and he has breathed life and soul into something wacky and a bit strange. We can’t wait for you to see that in Papercuts.

I must add, we’ve been very lucky to work with so many incredible artists with Madius. From Nick and Brad, through to Drew Bristow on Ramlock, the Horrere crew of Neil, Gareth, Al and Alisdair, the huge pool of talent who have been involved in Papercuts and right through to those we are currently working with, nothing could be done without the talent, creative force and drive of those artists involved. They are equally part of Madius, and deserve ALL the praise, recognition and adoration that can be mustered at them. 

Madius comics


Madius release both digital and print copies. Why both formats? I know which format I prefer but presume print must be financially taxing?

It is financially taxing, but...it’s worth it. Nothing is better than seeing your work in print, in your hands, in the hands of someone who’s bought it and being loved, poured over and enjoyed. It’s also a good way of ensuring those involved make a decent amount of money, as we work on back end pay with our artists. We purposely run at a loss on most of our comics, purely because artists deserve paying for the work they do. Perhaps its not the most viable of business models haha, but its worth it. I’m not some rich property magnate who has money to sink into a comic book empire, I work as a support worker for adults with learning difficulties, and have a family. There isn’t a lot of spare cash in our household, but the lettering work I do allows us to print comics, and then all of the wonderful people buying them allows us to pay the artists. It’s an economy that works for us.

We also do digital comics because it is so hard getting comics distributed across the pond! (As you know after your fantastic article on comic distribution and the difficulties for indie titles to get in on that!) Therefore, we have a way and means of spreading our sweaty palmed reach across the world! MWAHAHAHAHA! Plus, you know, it allows us to add extras to our comics as well, without the worry of additional print costs.

With so many different stories and titles across many genres do you have a particular favourite? Or perhaps one you wished you hadn't done?

I love Profits of Doom, it’s possibly my favourite to write as it’s mainly all my hang ups, my idiocy and my stupidity put into one handy to read comic. However, I think my favourite script is one nobody has seen yet. It’s a difficult thing to say “This one is my favourite” as that’s like picking your favourite child or shade of beige. I am immensely proud of every title I’ve worked on, every comic I’ve lettered and as such, love them all equally. I don’t regret one of them, everyone has allowed me to move forward, perhaps in the creative process, perhaps in comic timing, delivery of a joke, pacing or otherwise.

Do you think you'll ever do crossovers between titles like perhaps a Marvel might do?

We’ve talked of it, but more in the capacity of cameos rather than an event. There is some rumblings of a little crossover with another comic company, but that it still in its infancy entirely, no logistics or stories worked out, just the idea and a few strokey beard moments. I think a “Madi-Verse” wide crossover wouldn’t particularly be feasible either, at least not in it’s present set up. Besides, everyone is tired of event comics, right? I mean, who even read Marvel’s Original Sin or whatever the last DC one was? We don’t want to do that to people.

Madius Comics

You attended your first comic conventions as a company this year. How was that experience?

Honestly? Can I swear? I will swear...FUCKING INCREDIBLE. Meeting so many like minded people was amazing, having people fanboy/girl over our work was mental, having queues for the majority of the Sunday at Thought Bubble was insane and feeling like we’d “made it” into the comic community was incredible. To us, it was the equivalent of being Aerosmith and walking out on to the stage at Wembley arena. It was unparalleled. The days at both Leeds and Nottingham went by so damn fast, it was insane. We also learnt a lot between cons, what worked with regards to “the sales pitch” and what didn’t, table set ups and what not, so that was also really helpful. Since then, we’ve booked into Digi-Con at Doncaster, Atomic-Con in Hartlepool (Where we are guests) and I’ve been asked to be a guest at Hull Comic Con. We also have our beady eyes set on Glasgow Comic Con, Manchester Comic Con and will definitely be returning to Thought Bubble and Nottingham if they’ll have us, as both were amazing. You could say, we caught a bug! haha!

What next for the Madius team as a whole? And what's next for Rob Jones? Christmas with the new baby must be exciting but do you have more work plans?

Well, like I said before hand, all of our written stuff for 2016 is done. We’ve got 4 issues of Papercuts planned, a follow on to The Kings Leap, Ramlock 2, Horrere 2 & 3, 50 Signal will continue, as will Funk Soul Samurai and Average Joe, plus we also have some new titles comics, Griff Gristle - Here be Monsters, No Love, another children’s comic and a couple of other projects which we are keeping under our hat! So Madius will definitely be making a lot of noise next year. For myself, I have a whole host of lettered projects due for release soon, and I am working on some AMAZING projects which you’ll have to keep your eyes out for. So plenty of work plans, organised around my “actual” job and then spending as much time as possible with the family and the little one!

Sell your wares my friend! Where can folk invest in the future of Madius?

People can invest in the future of Madius through GENEROUS CASH DONATIONS! I take unmarked bills, bonds and jewellery...Failing that, you can go to http://madiuscomics.bigcartel.com and FEAST YOUR EYES on our collective wares. You can pick up Horrere from www.horrere.zone and then if you take your comics in a digital format, you can purchase them from https://payhip.com/madiuscomics. Like I mentioned before hand, we are at a whole heap of conventions, and we also have our stuff in Atomic Comics and Collectibles in Hartlepool and Inter-Comics in Huddersfield, though we do plan on increasing our stockists in the near future.

Cheers for spending time with us.

Thank you kindly, I will add, I’ve been sat in just my pants drinking whisky from a milk jug, eating nothing but stale Doritos. Thought you ought to know!
Average Joe

You can stalk the bearded wonder here...

Images - Madius.