South California college magazine interview (Aug 02)

Dan says: This is an interview I finished – its going to appear in a southern california college magazine this month. [August 2002]

1)What made you want to become a freelance artist?
it was more a decision to first, work in comics, then wanting to be an illustrator- the idea of working freelance just sort of went along with it- its the nature of what illustrators and comic artists do. very few of them are not freelance.

2)You have become a regualr at the SD Con (I know I always see you there!)
What is it about this con in particular that attracts you?
its the mecca of comic book people- fans, editors, artists, writers, publishers. being freelance, you rarely see any of these people regularly and its vital to have face-to-face time with the people who make up this industry and the folks who make it possible by consuming the product. i need the feedback, the contact with fans, and the same goes with editors and fellow pros- many projects have been born out of the interaction from these shows. plus, its like "Comic Book City, USA" for 5 days out of the year, and its a lot of fun.

3) What do you enjoy about comic conventions?What do you least enjoy?
I most enjoy hanging with the friends I dont see often. as far as what I least enjoy? well, there are, unfortunately, a few rude and socially backward attendees- im not talking about "fanboys" or "geeks" because Im just as much a geek as the next comics lover- I mean a few fans and even some pros who just dont know how to behave when they leave their little ponds and come into the big pond. its not rampant at the show, but there are always going to be pushy or inaapropriate folks anywhere you go. the comic con has the least amount Ive seen anywhere else in society, so this is a small criticism. for the most part, fans and pros are warm and friendly people- other wise I wouldnt keep coming back.

4) What type of fans do you meet? HAve you ever had any odd or interesting experiences with comic book fans?
all kinds. almost all of them delightful. from district attorneys, to rock stars, actors to computer software programmers- all walks of society visit these shows. art collectors and comic book readers. costume makers and morticians.wrestling stars and centerfolds. its a wonderful way to meet the most interesting cross section of the population.

last year at the san diego show, a gal approached the table dressed like one of my characters from the Nocturnals- she was carrying a beautiful plush toy based on one of the creatures in a nocturnals story that she and her husband had made at home-the detail and work that went into both just blew me away.

another time, a friendly guy came up to my table and starting talking to me- he seemed vaguely familiar- and then he introduced himself to me as Clive Barker. this was just before Id started working on an adaptation of one of his short stories (DREAD) and he revcealed himself to be a fan. that was a nice surprise. those kinds of things are the reason why San Diego is such a great show. there's surprises around every corner.

5)With the growing success of the Nocturnals, what do you see for their future?
more comics, hopefully. theres always nibbles and bites at them from people in the entertainment media who are interested in the Nocturnals- this is fine by me, but mostly I want to continue doing more stories. Nocturnals started as a comic book and it will always work best as a comic. having said that, I feel it lends itself well to other mediums- because the characters and the atmosphere of the book are really fun and cool. I hope to go as far with the Nocturnals as I can, but in the meantime, my first priority is to the comics.

6) Do you have any interesting collaborations with any writers or artists currently in the works? And if so, who are they and what do they consist of?
right now , Ian Boothby, a Canadian comedy writer and I are doing a Simpsons story for next years Treehouse Of Horror special. its a Lord of the Rings parody. I recently collborated with Steven Grant ( the talented and prolific writer responsible for bringing the Punisher back from obscurity in the mid 80's) on a Birds of Prey issue, and I finished a short Grendel story with Matt Wagnet that will appear in an anthology later this year. Artist Ted Naifeh and I collaborated on a GUNWITCH miniseries last fall thats been collected as a trade called THE GUNWITCH: OUTSKIRTS OF DOOM, and its one of most fun projects Ive ever worked on.

7) Since this is a college newspaper, is there anything you would like to
tell the audience about comicbooks in general or about your work?

ok, you asked, so Im gonna tell you....

I remember that two things really helped get me through my college years- one of them was music. I bought a ton of cd's and spent a lot of time in the record stores because of it. The other love was comics- I went to the comic store ( these days some of the comics and record stores are the same , so thats conveniant) once or twice a week and picked up a half dozen or so books and I remember lying on my bed in the dorm listening to music and reading comics was some of the most restful and enjoyable times of the week for me. comics and music have one thing in common and that is they provide escape hatches from the daily grind. but unlike tv or movies or parties, they excercise the imagination and cause creative thinking to fulmiinate.

mostly though, I love the medium of comics and want them to grow. Iveread and heard Harlan Ellison say many times that comics are one of the few true American art forms ( Jazz is one of them) and Will Eisner say the medium of comics is still in its infancy- because the Superhero genre bogs it down. Lots of lofty discussion about comics happening, and still the readers find their way to the books.and they love whats happening in them, whether the characters wear costumes or not. but the readers discovering comics are doing it slower than Id like it to happen. Its just amazing to me that in Japan comics are the sixze of phone books, cover as many genre or topics as can be found on Cable TV, and selll in the millions every week- and still , in the US, they are completely under the consumer radar. it boggles my mind and make me sad that so many are missing out on something thats not geeky, not jjust for 13 year olds- something that spans a great range of topics and sophistication, and is largely ignored. I ve walked friends in to comic shops and had them ignore all the books on the racks- they arent into comics at all- until they discover one title that they cant leave the stor without and after thet, they're hooked. not on comics in general- I mean, we arent hooked on every tv show on the dial- why should we like all comics? I cant read most of that stuff, but its only because I have tastes that only a certain amount of comics satisfy. On the other hand, a comicseller in Florida I know has sent me copies of HULK and Soider-man and gotten me totally on hooked on what are basically highly entertaining and well-written and drawn stories.

there are a ton of great comics out there- the artists and writers of which are constantly being tapped by television and hollywood and other larger forms of media to work for them and many of the professionals in those media have chosen to spend time working in comics, and not for the money, but for the pure love of what comics offer. I was in the supermarket the other day with my girlfriend, and we had a handful of comics ( amazing spider-man and daredevil) to buy along with the groceries, and some guys in front of us kepty darting looks at the comics we were buying. It felt like they couldnt understand why the two of us would be interested in comic books, I mean, we didnt have any children with us- finally, I looked at one guy who was staring, and smiled, nodded my head and said " hows it going?"

the guy nodded and said " fine." then added, " I used to read daredevil when I was a kid."

"oh yeah?"

" yeah. what was her name- uh, the Black Widow. yeah. his girlfriend."

thats when the other guy piped -up, " elektra. his girlfriend was elektra, and she died."

They both kind of got lost in their own conversation after that, and I dont kinow if they even heard me say they were both right. but I wasnt totally surprised. this happens a lot. comics arent something most people will readily confess to reading or enjoying- i think theres a kiddie stigma or some kind of Seduction of the Innocent residue about them with the mainstream, but either way, I think more people would read them if they knew they wouldnt get ridiculed about it. Even though I do them for a living, I still get a weird feeling when people are staring at one in my hands on a plane or in the supermarket line. thank fully, I dont let it stop me from enjoying a true American art form. and yeah, its still in its infancy- but its an "enfant terrible" that knows no bounds and is growing constantly. Im very proud to be part of comics' upbringing.


questions provided by
Elizabeth Vasquez