Preview: Seeds

Artist Ross Mackintosh tells Joel Meadows how he dealt with bereavement through the medium of a graphic novel

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For the past decade, graphic novels have become more than a simple means of painting superheroes in action packed sequences. Rather they have become a format for communicating deeply personal, sophisticated emotional themes as demonstrated by works such as Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and American Born Chinese by Gene Yang. Now Bradford-based illustrator and graphic designer Ross Mackintosh has decided to add his voice to the wave of heartfelt graphic storytelling in his debut comic Seeds, an autobiographical account of how he lost his father to cancer.

Mackintosh recalls how he approached the look of the 80-page book with his understated, simple style.

“I didn’t intentionally use this style because I thought it would work best for this story. Over time I’ve developed a favourite style of illustration. Black and white appeals to me more than colour, for some reason. I didn’t have other books on hand for reference though – I’m keen to find my own style.”

Inevitably deeply affected by the journey his father went through, Mackintosh originally didn’t intend to commit the experience to paper but at the time he kept a diary of observations and quotations. What makes the comic all the more touching and engaging is the manner in which he captures his father’s wry humour and mickey-taking to great effect.

“I often make notes about ideasI have, new ways of looking at things, phrases and dialogue. In case I have an idea for something else one day, I can refer back to them. I’d therefore made such notes during the events with my dad, but I’d also memorised visual aspects. I didn’t think that just words would do some parts of the story justice. I also like drawing and had a vague idea I’d like to create a graphic novel about something autobiographical,” Mackintosh reveals.

As a fan of graphic novels and with a graphic design background, obviously one of the things that appealed to him was the stark contrast to working to a brief for a commercial project. Even though it feels a very painful read at times, Mackintosh admits it had to be this raw to work for him creatively.

“Because I had no intention of making the book public, I thought it had to be as personal as can be. Not only to release the ideas from my head but because, as I understand it, true art comes from honesty. I should add that it was other people who read it and encouraged me to seek publication.”

Publisher Com.x has become known for superhero projects like Class War and Bazooka Jules. But the London-based company was a perfect fit for Seeds, he recalls.

“I sent Seeds to a few publishers but Com.x wanted to publish it because their hearts were in it; they wanted to make the story known. I admired the quality of their previous publications and thought that if they were willing to break away from their typical style of comic book, then we should work together.”

With the book published this month, his creation is now available for people to judge the project for themselves. But he seems sanguine about this part of the process.

“Now I know that my personal thoughts are going public, I’ll take it as it comes. I’m certainly proud of the book and what it depicts. My real sense of accomplishment came when I’d inked the last page. I regularly execute ideas I have with no thought of monetary gain and I would encourage other creative people to do the same. There’s nothing quite so grand as having made something for yourself. The fact that others like it is a bonus.”

Seeds is available to buy at £6.99 from

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