Comics Features

INTERVIEW: Glyn Dillon on The Nao of Brown

Written by Davidde Gelmini

Here’s our exclusive interview in which Glyn Dillon talks about his award winning graphic novel The Nao of Brown, which we reviewed earlier today.

What was the inspiration for The Nao of Brown?

My wife, my son, and our washing machine.

Most comics today tend to shift towards the science fiction and fantasy genres, whereas The Nao of Brown is more grounded in reality. Do you think the audience for these kinds of comics will continue to grow?

Absolutely. Comics is a great medium for all genres. In a way I think it’s odd that super heroes have dominated the medium for so long.

Can you tell us a bit about the tone of the book and how readers have responded to it?

Tonally, I think it deals with some serious issues, but it isn’t overly serious throughout. I tried to avoid that black and white thinking, it comes across as more ‘brown’. I’ve received some great responses, for which I’m very grateful, some people have even taken the time to write to me using pen and paper, which felt very special.

Buddhism plays a central theme in The Nao of Brown. Was this something that you decided when you originally came up with the idea for the series or did it come later in the creation process?

It was all happening simultaneously.

As Nao works in a shop selling Japanese memorabilia, did you look at Japanese pop culture as an influence?

I’ve always been interested in Japanese art and culture, not just the pop culture. The shop she works in is more a vinyl designer toy store… These kind of places feature a lot of Japanese stuff, but there’s toys from all over the world usually.

Nao is a character constantly on the verge of the breaking point. Was it a challenge to get inside the mind of such a disturbed character?

Nao has OCD, something that due to my ignorance, like many people, I used to think was a cleanliness issue. But after seeing a few TV programmes on the subject, my wife revealed to me how she suffered with it. This made me want to learn more, in fact the whole reason for doing the book was for me to learn what it was like to have OCD.

What sets The Nao of Brown apart from many other graphic novels are its beautiful watercolour drawings. Was it a challenge to produce the illustrations?

I’d not worked in water colours before but I knew I wanted it to look that way, so I had to learn fast. So yes, it was definitely a challenge but one I really enjoyed.

How did your work as a storyboard artist influence the artwork?

Storyboarding was great training for both drawing and story telling. But often it was a challenge not to think ‘filmically’ and instead try to utilise the medium more appropriately.

And lastly, how did it feel to win Best Book at the British Comic Awards?

It really was a big surprise, it was in there with some amazing books. I was really chuffed. It now occupies a pride of place, in the loo alongside Trondheim’s cat.

You can find out more about The Nao of Brown here or here and get it just in time for Christmas here

About the author

Davidde Gelmini