Garen Ewing was born in Redhill, England in 1969. As a child, up until six-years-old, he spent a lot of time in the hospital. His mum kept him occupied by providing plenty of comics to read, and pencils and paper to draw with. Naturally, he began making his own comic. He continued to spend most of his spare time lying on the floor drawing.
Ewing began his artistic career in the late 1980s, self-publishing several fanzines. Ewing acquired a £40 a week allowance from a government scheme and launched King Rat Press. Its first publication was Cosmorama, a black and white anthology, which included contributors such as Steve Pugh, David Wyatt, Warren Ellis, Paul H. Birch and Sara Russell.
In the 1990s, he adapted Shakespeare’s The Tempest into comic. He self-published it in 1994 to critical acclaim. The comic is now out of print but a copy is housed at the Shakespeare Library, Stratford-upon-Avon.
In 1997, a three-page preview of The Rainbow Orchid appeared in Cherokee Comics’ Imagineers magazine. However, it was not until five years later, in 2002, that the series really got going in BAM! Adventures of Julius Chancer: The Rainbow Orchid is a mystery adventure story set in the 1920s, where a group of explorers set off to find the mystical Rainbow Orchid. The comic’s style is inspired by Ewing’s childhood favourites, Asterix and Tintin, and uses ligne claire. In 2003, he self-published a black and white collected edition of the strips. They quickly sold out and soon after The Rainbow Orchid began receiving interest from publishers and was picked up by Egmont in 2008. It has since been translated into Dutch, French, Spanish, German and Danish. The series was listed as ‘One of The Observer’s Best Graphic Novels’ ‘One of Lovereading4kids.co.uk Books of the Year’, nominated for a National Comic Award, and won the 2013 Young People’s Comic Award (part of the British Comic Awards).
Ewing was one of the early contributors to The DFC (David Fickling Comic). A weekly British children’s anthology comic, published by David Fickling Books, which launched in 2008. He worked with Philip Pullman to develop John Blake and wrote and drew Charlie Jefferson and the Tomb of Nazaleod. He illustrated two Ben Haggarty stories, The Legend of the Golden Feather and The Bald Boy and the Dervish for The DFC’s successor, The Phoenix. Ewing also released a weekly Julius Chancer adventure in The Phoenix called The Secret of the Samurai.
He was commissioned by JCDecaux to create a comic strip about a little red bird called Arni. Throughout November 2015, daily episodes of Arni’s Epic Adventures were broadcast on huge digital screens in 5 or 6 second bursts. It was the first comic strip to appear on public digital screens, reaching an estimated audience of 30-40 million people. Ewing said this of his work,
I’m very proud to have created the first comic strip designed for digital screens and as an artist this is a powerful platform for my work. I think Arni is a universal story of endurance and triumph over the odds, which will particularly resonate with the travelling and shopping public during the festive period.
You can find more of Garen Ewing’s work on his website and follow him on Twitter. You should also check out these podcasts to hear more about his creative process and career: Make It Then Tell Everybody and Imagination to Print.