DS: Tell us a bit about yourself, the man behind the comic.
DB: I started drawing comics early, as I imagine a lot of comic artists do. I remember drawing comic strips and creating my first character ‘Black Cat’, which was a shameless rip-off of Batman, while in primary school. I went on to study art through school and after he ended up earning a degree in Illustration and Design. After that, I had a short career as an animator (where I realised drawing the same image over 200 times wasn’t for me), I defected to the ‘Dark Side’ and began working as a graphic designer, which I now do now as a ‘proper’ job.
DS: That’s cool that you are able to work in an artistic field. How does doing graphic design vs working on your comic feel to you? What are the differences/similarities you see?
DB: When I’m doing design work, it’s invariably for someone else. When I’m doing my comic work though, I can do what I want, which is obviously preferable. Obviously, the same rules of design apply. Good design works, bad doesn’t. I can apply my knowledge of print media into my comic work and some skills from ‘comicbooking’ can be used in my design work.
DS: Oooh animation. Any particular piece of animation you’re proud of and would like to share?
DB: All the animation work I did was in Flash and mainly used for animated greetings cards for Hallmark. I might have them on disk somewhere, but I doubt that they could be found anywhere else on the web (thankfully!)
DS: We kind of want to hire someone to animate some things for us. Any good recommendations of people/places to find freelance animators?
DB: I’ve actually been trying to find an animator to work with a friend of mine. All the people I know have now moved on to other things. I have no idea where it’s best to find/hire an animator nowadays.
DS: Tell us a bit about your creative projects.
DB: I’ve worked on a number of comics over the years, including Retake, Death Boy, Heroes Alliance/Unite, Acrobat, OCD Girl and Curse of the Black Terror, among others. My current comic, Vanguard, is my ‘baby’ at the moment. I am gratefully assisted in making it by Gary Cohen, author of ace webcomic, Mallville Rules. What’s Vanguard? I was asked to describe it in one sentence once. Here’s how I answered:
‘In a bleak, dystopian future, a team of disparate government endorsed superheroes battle to foil a Machiavellian scheme bent on Global domination’
The comic is in a transitional state at the moment, and depending when this article goes ‘live’, a vast change in the title will have happened.
DS: Transitional state? Anything you can share?
DB: By the time readers get to read the interview, that change might have already occurred. I cannot reveal more – spoilers, etc. Heh.
DS: Fair enough. That’s a lot of comics you’ve worked on! I’m kind of comic illiterate, so are those print comics or webcomics, personal or corporate projects?
DB: Links to a few of the comics:
Most of the comics listed are webcomics, although I’ve provided various illustrations for books and magazines. Retake was a comic I started years ago to get my skills up to speed. It ran for five issues and can be read in its entirety at the link provided. I’ve drawn for Reynard City and its creator, Will, for years now. Again, that can be read all for free at the link provided. I’ve done a few fill in spots on other webcomics too.
DS: What inspired Vanguard?
DB: The idea for Vanguard came to me when I was working on a different, but related, story. I found as I worked up a back story to that tale, it became apparent that it wasn’t something I wanted to skip over and have as a back story, but to actually explore it further. As I added more and more to the story, it began to take on a life of its own.
It would be a superhero story, but it’d have them being endorsed by and work for the UK Government. That being the case, in reality they’d operate with and alongside the Military. You’d have several departments handling their publicity, media image, and their deployment in the field. In the comic, these roles are filled by several characters (McPhaidon, John Hatcher, General Phelps). In regards to the chosen candidates for ‘super powers’, if the Government were going to pick out half a dozen people to give these abilities to, I’d imagine they’d pick people from Law Enforcement/Military or someone with a proven record of following orders.
DS: What do you enjoy most about doing comics?
DB: I love the whole process, but it’s all about storytelling for me. From writing to drawing, conveying the tale and doing my best to tell it is what I enjoy most. I’m still learning and have made my fair share of slip-ups, but generally the reaction toward the comic is positive.
DS: Are there a lot of British comic makers? Do you have like a club where you gather and drink tea or something horribly stereotypical of me to suggest?
DB: Ha ha, I wish such a thing were true! I would go to that club. There seems to be a lot of us creators whenever I go to one of the larger conventions, but I honestly won’t like to guess at how many of us there actually are.
DS: How has collaborating with other writers, artists and editors gone for you?
DB: Mostly, it’s been an absolute joy. Working with talented people to bring characters to life is something I’ll never get tired of. I can say that I’ve only ever has one real incident where it didn’t work out.
DS: Any cool stories to share? Cons you’ve attended? Crazy fan letters or fan fics?
DB: In reference to the previous question, I was working with a writer a few years ago and I needed to take a break from things, as I was working nearly every free moment I had to produce comics. This didn’t go down so well with them, so they decided to take to Social Media to blacken my name and insult my family. Very childish and unprofessional. I’m glad I got to see what they were like before I sunk anymore time into working with them.
DS: Ok, final closing thoughts? Words of wisdom?
DB: This advice isn’t just for creative pursuits, but I’ll mention it here in reference to comic book work. Personally, I’m always trying to push myself in regards to my art and my writing. Constantly strive to improve what you do, from making your work flow faster to refining your techniques. Look at what others are doing and how you can do and do it better.
DS: Thank you so much, Dan! And good luck on Issue 10 and beyond :D