July 8, 2016


Exclusive Interview: Brian Gorman. Greetings, Spy Vibers! I'll be away on a special mission during July to visit many filming locations from The Prisoner, The Avengers, The Saint, etc, as well as to meet up with a number of UK collectors about my upcoming SPY VIBE book (more news about that later!). Stay tuned for photos from the trip! Speaking of The Prisoner, the Spy Vibe lair recent got a visit from Brian Gorman, a performer, writer, and artist who just published a graphic novel about Patrick McGoohan! We sat down for a chat to share a bit about his projects with you. Brian, welcome to Spy Vibe! 

Congratulations on the completion of your new book, Everyman. What is the book about? Is it in graphic novel form?

It’s the life of Patrick McGoohan, up to the making of "The Prisoner" in 1967. Essentially, it’s a forensic examination of the elements in McGoohan’s life that led him to create ‘The Prisoner’. It is a graphic novel, written and drawn by myself.

What aspects of Patrick McGoohan's life and work were you most interested in covering?

I am fascinated by psychology, what makes people tick, and why they do the things they do. I was convinced that ‘The Prisoner’ was such a unique creation, that it must have been a very personal work for McGoohan. Once I began to research his life, everything fell in to place; he was destined to create the ground-breaking television series.

Interesting! Did you have to edit out much material for the sake of the book's narrative and length?

Yes. The book is adapted from the one-man stage play, which I have performed over the last 6 years, and which runs for just under an hour. In a graphic novel, I am able to illustrate a lot of what McGoohan talks about (in the stage play), and therefore there is less need for dialogue.

Tell us about your background as an artist and writer. What sort of projects interest you?

I grew up in absolute poverty, and was discouraged from a career in the arts. Over the years, I worked in a variety of menial jobs, but eventually got the courage to aim higher. I was an amateur actor for 20 years, and gained a lot of confidence from that. I dabbled in comic book art for a long time, but it was only a few years ago that I decided to make a concerted effort to break into comics/illustration professionally. The McGoohan play was very close to my heart, and creating a graphic novel from it was an absolute dream. I love the world of theatre, film, television, and comics, and have specialised in biographical works. I would love to adapt films into graphic novels (the James Bond movies would be wonderful to do!), as well as books, stage plays, etc. I love to get a realistic, film-like look in my artwork, and Richard Piers Rayner is a huge inspiration. He drew the book that the film ‘Road To Perdition’ was based on.

What was your first experience seeing McGoohan's Danger Man and The Prisoner? Can you remember what intrigued you?

I was lucky to see a lot of the old 1960s ITC shows when I was a young teen-ager, and really saw "The Prisoner" when it was repeated on the UK’s new tv channel, Channel Four, in 1982. I loved McGoohan’s no nonsense style, and the surreal atmosphere of the show. He stretched the boundaries of what could be achieved in a peak time, expensive, action-adventure show, and was way ahead of his time.

Was it a challenge to capture McGoohan's intensity as an actor in your drawings?

Not really! I find it far easier to draw serious faces than happy ones! Also, I love black and white, and a film noir atmosphere, and McGoohan’s brooding intensity was a joy to illustrate.

How about The Village?

The Village is only referenced towards the end of the book, and takes second place to what’s happening in McGoohan’s mind. I have an expanded edition of the book in mind, for the 50th anniversary in 2017, where I will explore the filming of "The Prisoner" in Portmeirion, and much more of The Village will be explored.

Can't wait! Are you a fan of other spy-style shows and films? Doctor Who? What are your favourites?

A big fan! I loved The Man From UNCLE, the Bond movies, the ITC shows (Randall & Hopkirk, The Champions, Man In A Suitcase, etc). I liked the 60s style, the exciting music, elegant fashions, and the often camp humour. My all-time favourites are The Prisoner, The Professionals, Callan, Quatermass, Sapphire & Steel, and Robin Of Sherwood (!). Modern favourites include Spooks, Edge Of Darkness (classic 1985 BBC drama), Breaking Bad, and the Bond/Bourne films.

As an actor, I’ve also had the pleasure of working with a few heroes, including Martin Shaw (from The Professionals) on a BBC drama called Apparitions. I also met David Tennant once, when he agreed to play The Doctor for me back in 2005, for a short film I was making – then, of course, he couldn’t do it as the BBC asked him! There was also William Gaunt (from The Champions) when I worked in the theatre he was appearing at.

That's so great you got to connect with those guys. Did you collect books or memorabilia growing up?

Yes, up until around 25 years of age. I had hundreds of comics, photos from films, etc. In the modern age, though, I find that everything is available electronically (films, tv shows, photos, etc), and I like to travel light. I’m not a collector.

Do you have favourite artists and designers from the world of thriller fiction and media? What are some of your favourite images or works?

Nigel Kneale (Quatermass) is a genius, and his BBC drama The Stone Tape is a terrifying masterpiece! The artist Arthur Ranson is a big favourite, and I loved his photo realistic artwork in the 2000AD comics, and the 1970s UK magazine ‘Look-In’. Comics writer/artist Bryan Talbot is another huge influence, and we’re actually from the same town, Wigan (in the UK). Ranson’s Button Man, and Talbot’s Luther Arkwright are my biggest influences in writing and art style.

How is Everyman doing so far? You plan to have copies at an upcoming Prisoner festival in Portmeirion? I'll be there in July (sorry to have missed your event!).

Selling well! I did a signing and presentation at Portmeirion for the Six Of One society in April, and it’s had rave reviews from Starburst Magazine and many top names in the business.

Where can Spy Vibers purchase the book? Will there be additional printings or editions?

FBS Publishing! Order direct from them and get signed copies of paperbacks, or the special, limited edition, hardback. Facebook page here. There will be an expanded 50th anniversary edition in 2017. My next graphic novel is due out this summer. ‘BORDERLINERS: True Realities’ is a fast-moving espionage/sci-fi adventure story with elements of The Prisoner, Sapphire & Steel, and Luther Arkwright. Available from Invisible Six Ltd.

Thank you, Brian. Best wishes from me at Spy Vibe on your many terrific projects!

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