Red Herring: Philip Bond interview

Philip Bond, son of a Lancashire preacher man, first came to British hipsters’ attention writing and drawing ‘Wired World‘ in the seminal Deadline magazine. He has since been an irregular Vertigo fan favourite drawing ‘Kill Your Boyfriend‘, ‘The Invisibles‘, ‘Vertigo Pop: London‘, ‘Angel And The Ape‘ and ‘Vimanarama‘. He now lives the romantic ex-pat lifestyle in New Jersey with Vertigo editor Shelly Bond and their young Star Wars obsessed son.

Red Herring is a story that takes a new turn every 10 pages, keeping the reader as off-balance as its reluctant main characters are. Each time the story line seems to settle into something we might recognize, it suddenly takes a completely new direction. It’s unquantifiable, rampant, wild, and just a little bit insane.

Sonia Harris: Philip, thanks for agreeing to talk to me. With the launch of your latest book; Red Herring’, this seems like a great time to catch up and find out a little more about what you’re doing.

First of all, your new book (‘Red Herring’ with David Tischman) is your first creator-owned book in a while, what prompted that decision?

Philip Bond: I spent the last few years as a stay-at-home dad reticent to commit to a big project. I did try to keep things moving with my work on Dark Horse’s ‘The Escapists‘ but I couldn’t keep up and had to leave after only the first issue. Really pretty much my only regular work for a couple of years there was the covers for Vertigo’s ‘Exterminators‘. Finally the kid’s in school so I have time to immerse myself in a creator-owned book.

SH: Lucky us. Hopefully he’s enjoying school as much as we’re enjoying your return to full-time comic books.

‘Red Herring’ is being released under Wildstorm, but the bulk of your previous work in the United States was for Vertigo. What prompted that choice?

PB: The proposal did the rounds for a while, including some months sitting on various Vertigo desks, but when it got to Wildstorm editor Scott Peterson’s desk he was the one who was immediately all ‘yeah, I get this, I can see how this works’.

SH: That makes sense, it’s always more fun to work with people who connect instantly with the work.

I really enjoyed ‘Greatest Hits’, (David Tischman’s recent work). I felt that it had a slightly ‘swinging London’ feel to it, which I think echoes some of the books that you’ve worked on in the past. Did that sensibility have any influence over your decision to work with him?

PB: I don’t know how he pulled off ‘Greatest Hits. Maybe he’s secretly British but can fake a convincing New Jersey accent. That authenticity and flexibility certainly influenced the decision to work with him, but it’s more a reflection of his creativity. And he has a bit of a British sense of humour, a little dry and firmly in the toilet.

SH: Since this is a creator-owned work, how much were you involved in the overall design and aesthetic of the book?

PB: I was about to say it wasn’t so much my decision to work with Tischman. He was the one who came to me with ‘Red Herring‘, the skeleton of a story with just the main characters and a theme. Right from that day we were bouncing ideas back and forth, mostly David coming up with funny names for characters and me picking logic holes in his plotlines. I think it’s been the most collaborative book I’ve worked on.

SH: So has Tischman had any influence on the look of the book? Or is that all you? And how about the logo? Is that your design?

PB: I remember when David first sat on our sofa explaining the idea to me I already knew what the main characters, Red and Maggie, looked like. They just popped into my head fully formed and the rest of their world grew pretty quickly from there. He peppers his scripts with a few visual clues but encourages me to ignore him and go my own way. Actually David’s visual input usually amounts to suggesting a walk-on, one-line character should look like an incidental character that he remembers from some 70’s sitcom. I suspect he hangs out with a crowd of washed up actors in LA and promises them bit parts in his comics.

And the logo is my design, yes. If you scan the barcode that makes up the logo it tells you whodunnit in the last issue.

SH: With David Hahn inking your pencils, ‘Red Herring’ has a distinctly different look from your own inked work. Was this a decision based on expediency, or were you looking ways to alter your usual style with this book?

PB: The first priority was expediency, yes. I’m not the fastest artist and I don’t think there’s an editor out there who’d take a book with me penciling and inking. David Hahn was always the top pick for inker. I don’t see our styles as being so different, we both have quite a pop sensibility and a love of simple clean linework. David had actually helped, uncredited, inking the last issue of ‘Vimanarama‘ and no one could see the join. He also has excellent musical taste, which is something Tischman lacks, so ‘Red Herring‘ needed that too.

SH: I had no idea he worked on Vimanarama with you. You’re right, it was seamless.

‘Red Herring’ seems to be a spy thriller of sorts, an adult story with adult situations. What interested you about working on this kind of story?

PB: Initially I think it was the conspiracy aspect, that’s something I’ve always been interested in. To me it’s modern western society, with all it’s immediate needs taken care of, making up its own myths. We’re taking the chance to add to those myths, twist some, rewrite others. That’s what comic books do, right? Usually with flashy superheroes and magical powers though. We’re doing it with sharp suits and science.

SH: Sounds exciting. And a ton has already happened in this first issue. Can we expect the entire run to be this jam-packed with action and intrigue?

PB: We’re liberally piling on the intrigue and false leads, as should be fitting in a book called ‘Red Herring‘. Don’t expect anyone to be who they say they are. I’m working on the last issue, #6, right now and the payoffs and reveals are coming thick and fast. We’re trying to make sure we’ve tied up the myriad loose ends, and then untie a few new ones.

SH: Combining this genre with the monthly comic book medium certainly enhances the tension here. There have already been quite a few twists, and with issue #2 out this week, I’m looking forward to finding out a little more…

Thanks so much for your time Philip, it’s always a pleasure talking with you.

Sonia Harris is an Londoner who lives and writes in San Francisco. She can attest that the Bond’s are bloody entertaining. You can contact her at


  1. Great interview Sonia, this book grabbed me immediately, and hopefully, it will pick up some new readers from this.

  2. The second issue of this book was even better than the first, which I really liked.

  3. I used to love reading ‘Wired World’. Does that mean I can call myself a hipster? Great interview!

  4. Sweet!

    I was just re-reading The Escapists today @ Lunch. I didn’t know "Red Herring" #2 was coming out this week. Can’t wait till pick it up later. 

  5. wh-what’s this? Wildstorm’s interesting again? *yoink*

  6. Hey, nice intervie, Sonia. 

    Oh man, how am I going to fit this into my comic budget? Oh, to have such wonderful problems!