Bill Nichols’ Prescription:
Comics 10ccs of Dan Davis
What inspires you to create and keeps you going?
Good art; mainly comics, music, movies, and good storytelling. It’s like receiving a booster shot of creativity and then I want to emulate it and try my own thing. I try to create the best thing I can and then top myself the next time.
Do you have a set routine?
I seem to just be in the studio all the time. Not as many late night hauls as I did when I was younger! I start around 7-8 in the morning and keep going until 5-6. Sometimes continuing after dinner if there’s something I’m into working on or need to finish. Weekends I catch up if I’m behind or else work on my own comic book All Luck Comics Adventure.
What kind of output do you try to achieve?
It’s been easier to have a schedule since I’m primarily comic strips vs. the chaotic schedules of comic books. We know exactly how many Garfield and Crankshaft comic strips are coming out, right? One a day come hell or high water. I usually take a day for a Sunday strip and then try to do 2-3 daily strips every day. If I’m lucky I now get a weekend off here and there!
What inspires you WHEN you create? Music? Noise? Silence?
I always have music on. Anything else like talking heads on TV or audio books I only listen to if I’m doing inking or coloring. Writing, Penciling or laying out a strip or page takes a little more concentration so just music then.
Who was the first comic book creator that influenced you to pursue this?
Kirby, Kirby, Kirby. Then Steranko in a big way. It doesn’t always show up in my art but those were the guys. Also Wally Wood. But Kirby was what first caught my eye even though I had seen Superman on TV when I went to the newsstand those comics didn’t look as exciting as what I was seeing from Kirby.
When did you realize you could follow this path yourself?
Naively at 10 years old. I never stopped to think if it was practical. I started drawing my own strips and later comic books, mostly thinly disguised versions of my favorites.
What do you find to be a challenge in creating?
For years I had the goal of doing my own comic book with my own characters and the biggest challenge was to commit to getting it done while also having to make a living. My anthology All Luck Comics Adventure allows me to do this. I wasn’t sure I could get a 65 page graphic novel done, but I knew I could do 10-15 page stories. I drew them all the time for DC Comics Cartoon Network books. And revolving three features in my comic ensures I won’t get restless. I rotate from Captain Luck –Treasure hunters in the Bermuda Triangle, to Spy66–superspies set in the 1960’s, to Blast Carson–On Mars 1,000,000 BC. Nice variety and so far it seems to be working and I’m well into Issue 2 and looking forward to more.
What else do you have to learn?
Turning out a comic book just by myself has been a rewarding challenge. While I had some familiarity with all aspects of comic production it was a real learning experience to write, pencil, ink, letter, and color a complete comic! And then get it published on Comixology and IndyPlanet. The second issue should be a bit easier because there was a lot to figure out the first time!
At this point I’m aiming to keep honing my skills to the point where no one can resist buying my comic book! And then…world domination.
What keeps you motivated to get better?
I think my favorite comic artists/writers keep motivating me. I continue to look at Steranko’s work and try to learn from it and it’s just plain enjoyable to look at and inspires me to do better. I want to do something a tenth that good some day.
Can you turn your brain (creativity) off (and on)?
I think the wheels are always turning. I fall asleep plotting stories and thinking about cool moments I can put my characters into. But you have to have time to just relax, rest your brain, and enjoy what’s going on in life. I wouldn’t say I’m a workaholic, but I enjoy what I do.
What advice do you have for aspiring creators?
One tip I give artists is to take a tracing paper and put it over their favorite comic book art (helps if you blow up the page 150% unless you’re working digitally). Then just draw the basic shapes of the figures. No details, just the ovals, cylinders, and blocks that make up the human figure. You learn how artists are blocking in their characters that way and it helps you get started on your own figures. Forget the surface details until later.
Do you ever worry about running out of ideas?
Not really. For some reason I have to sort out the ideas to find the ones I want to pursue and turn into a story or character I can spend time with.
How do you handle the slow times?
When I absolutely exhausted all possibilities I would often go back to working on samples and investigate other art markets. Children’s books, coloring books, merchandising, signs, local and on the internet. Having multiple sources of work is always a good thing. If one goes away you’ve got something else hopefully.
How do you feel about the industry?
I don’t understand why it isn’t bigger and paying off more for creators. Marketing and business sense are as important as creating comics. I can’t imagine with the success of the characters in the movies these days why comic books aren’t everywhere. Digital comics like Comixology should be on every Smart TV automatically or at least show up in Amazon Prime as a “Channel”!
And do you have a website you would want to direct folks to?
www.dandavisart.com and All Luck Comics Adventure has links there to Comixology and soon IndyPlanet where you can check it out!
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Author, Artist, Editor for ShoutFyre.com
Bill is the creator of Arteest & Ursula comics, writer for Ringtail Cafe, co-creator of Savage Family, writer and inker of HellGirl: Demonseed. Editor for ShoutFyre and Sketch Magazine. Co-author of Camelot Forever novel series.