with Daniel McCloskey
Name: Daniel McCloskey
City: Pittsburgh, PA
Comics: A Film About Billy, Top of the Line, Bears in Space
Websites: danielmccloskey.com, cyberpunkapocalypse.com
QRD – How old were you when you first got into comics & did you always stick with them or did you come back to them?
Daniel – I might have been ten when my older sister & the neighbor girls all got seriously into Elfquest. I wanted to be part of the club & read all of the big color trade paperbacks. But after that I didn’t read any comics until a friend of the family handed me a copy of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. By that time I was thirteen & into animation. Any comics I made were basically brainstorming for animations & were heavily Johnny influenced. Some of the ones I made with Flash are still on the internet: http://danmccloskey.newgrounds.com/
QRD – What was the first comic book you ever bought?
Daniel – Ganges by Kevin Huizenga from Copacetic Comics in Pittsburgh.
QRD – How old were you when you put out your first comic?
Daniel – I had comic strips in the college paper when I was 19 & made my first zines when I was 20, but the first time I printed a full comic zine wasn’t until I was 23. By that time I was already getting printed in little anthologies & I was 70 comic pages into my hybrid novel (A Film About Billy), which didn’t come out until this year.
QRD – What decade do you think produced the best comics?
Daniel – My favorite comics all come from this decade, but I’m a newbie.
QRD – Why comics instead of just writing or drawing?
Daniel – I only really care about story. I started seriously drawing comics because a novel I was writing needed them. I had some basic drawing & design skill just from growing up in a family of artists. My sister & I would watch my dad grade illustrations, marking problem areas with a red felt tipped pen on velum overlays. With that kind of background, drawing comics seriously didn’t seem like much of a stretch. Once I started putting stuff out, I realized that people liked my comics more than my prose writing. So I figured screw it, give people the story in the format they respond to.
QRD – Do you see mini-comics & indie comics as paths to mainstream comics or as their own unique media?
Daniel – It’s a back & forth kinda thing these days. It seems like everybody wants to get signed to a major label just to build an audience for the Kickstarter on the next project. But format matters for a story. Some projects want a couple staples & spray-paint on the cover; others would do better with square binding & a glossy dust-jacket. The story should dictate the form in my opinion.
QRD – How many copies of your comic do you print in your first run?
Daniel – 200.
QRD – How much do you think comics should cost?
Daniel – Three times the cost of materials. If that is under 5 dollars use whole numbers as your price & if it’s over 5 round to the nearest 95 cents.
QRD – How many books do you produce a year & how many would you like to?
Daniel – I’m averaging around 6 books per annum, though a number of those are collaborative & most of them are under 40 pages. 6 seems good. I’d like to keep that pace, though I think I’m planning on doing 11 in 2013. 8 of those are a series however & each issue will only be 20 or 30 pages.
QRD – Do you think stories should be serialized or delivered as complete works?
Daniel – That is up to the story, but any serial should be comprised of complete works. Ideally a reader should be able to pick up a comic anywhere in a series & feel satisfied when they put it down.
QRD – How are comic strips different than comic books & which medium do you prefer?
Daniel – They are totally different - almost not comparable. Either can be garbage & either can be brilliant. I tend to gravitate toward long-form narratives though, so I’m going to go with comic books as preferred.
QRD – How long is it from when you start a comic until it’s printed?
Daniel – Anywhere between a week & 7 years.
QRD – What do you do better with your comics now than when you first started?
Daniel – Everything. My old work is garbage bag.
QRD – Do you do thumbnails?
Daniel – Yeah, but even my thumbnails are actually about the size of the final printed work usually. I do them on 8.5x11 sheets. I find them useful partially because the fast loose pencils sometimes create a cool character or expression by accident & often have a better composition than the work I do on the final page. I often find myself erasing & trying to replicate a doodle I did in the thumbnails.
QRD – At what size do you draw?
Daniel – Usually 11x17 these days.
QRD – What kind of pens do you use?
Daniel – 0 brush, soft nib pen, & a fountain pen or Rapidograph (when I haven’t lost them). For my most recent project I’m using the Faber-Castell grey brush-pens that unfortunately loose steam kind of fast. I’m using Chinese brush ink right now, but I’ll use any garbage. If I don’t like the consistency I’ll mix it with something else. I color digitally or with watercolor that I enhance in Gimp.
QRD – What does your workstation look like?
Daniel – Right now I have a stack of crap on a drawing board that sits on my dog’s crate. When I want to work I scoop it up & go wherever. My room is a mess. There’s no heat or electricity & water comes in through the ceiling, but it’s mine. At any rate I have to be careful because everything I care about is made of paper & the leaks move around each time it rains.
QRD – At what point in the artistic process do you work digitally?
Daniel – At first it was kind of random. I’d do roughs digitally, print them out, trace them, & then shade digitally. But that was only for a couple of pages on my book while I was figuring shit out. If I’m doing color, I do that digitally often. Mostly I do some additional shading & frame the panels in post, though I’m thinking of nixing almost all digital aspects of my process in hopes I can sell my originals easier if they look finished before I scan them.
QRD – What do you think of digital comics & webcomics?
Daniel – Some of them rule. It’s a great cheap way of publication & distribution. I don’t have much experience with it, but I post process shots all the time while I’m working.
QRD – Do you prefer working in color or black & white?
Daniel – Color looks awesome, but it feels like a waste of time. Plus it increases the cost of the physical item, which sucks.
QRD – How many different people should work on a comic & what should their jobs be?
Daniel – However many people want to & can work together might as well. My roommate & I recently pitched a comic that we wrote & illustrated together. Our buddy Pat Kain did the coloring for it, making a grand total of 3 individuals on the team. That’s the biggest group I’ve worked with & it was awesome. If I could have someone else doing the production, distribution, & promotion that would be cool too. I think, again there is no should or shouldn’t here, there’s just a lot of options. Go with your gut; go with what works or what’s practical. Most of the time I’m the only one that cares about a project until it’s done. When that’s the situation you’ve got a team of 1, & that’s fine.
QRD – How do you find collaborators?
Daniel – I invite them to live with me.
QRD – How tight do you think a script should be as far as telling the artist what to draw?
Daniel – I’ve never written a script without pictures & I don’t think I’d ever work from someone else’s script unless it was short, I was bored, & they were awesome. But I imagine the less input you got the more fun it would be.
QRD – What comic book person would you be most flattered to be compared to?
Daniel – Uhhh... Goku?
QRD – What do your friends & family think of your comics?
Daniel – Some people seem to like them. Others not so much. But I think there’s a general respect for work amongst my relatives & friends, no matter what the product is. If I’m working hard that tends to be enough for a lot of people.
QRD – What do you think of superheroes?
Daniel – They’re really awesome, & they can do cool stuff.
QRD – Marvel or DC?
Daniel – I don’t know enough about them to really say. I liked the Avengers movie, which wouldn’t exist without Marvel. I also like Googling “Superman vs. Goku” which would not exist without DC.
QRD – What comic characters other than your own would you like to work with?
Daniel – I’d like to do an Elfquest/Ork Stain mashup. That would be dope. I’d also like to do a comic like an episode of SWAT Kats in a world of Michael DeForge characters.
QRD – Ideally would you self-publish?
Daniel – Yeah, but I’d like someone else to distro & book my tours.
QRD – What conventions do you try to attend & why?
Daniel – SPACE in Columbus & Pix in Pittsburgh. Those are the only ones I’ve been to since I started making comics because they’re so close & because friends invited me. Since my first time I’ve found that there’s an awesome comic community crossover thing happening in our two cities. I recommend checking either convention out.
QRD – What do you do to promote your books?
Daniel – All sorts of crap. I could do better, but bear minimum I’ll put something about them on the internet & throw them to a couple stores. I’m pretty lazy with promotion, but I go on a reading tour every year & that helps.
QRD – Do you think your comics are well suited to comic shops or would sell better elsewhere?
Daniel – Some of them are better suited than others, but I think you always sell better when you’re surrounded by other (non-comic) stuff. If I could sell my comics at Hot Topic or Starbucks, I sure as hell would (if you know anybody in the upper echelons of either of those fine establishments, please do get in touch).
QRD – What other medium would you like to see some of your comics made into (television, film, games, action figures, etc.)?
Daniel – That’s some serious daydreaming, but I guess I’m into the whole bag. I was living in Tokyo when I first started putting comics in my book & out there stories that start as a blog will become a novel & a comic & a TV series. I remember thinking that was really cool & it made me think I could put comics in a prose novel. I like stories & I’m not that particular about the format, though if I had to pick it I’d like it if my collected works were turned into a musical.
QRD – Do you consider yourself a comic collector or a comic reader or both?
Daniel – I’m definitely not a collector. I rarely buy comics. When I do purchase a comic I read it once & give it away (usually to my roommate/comic conspirator Nate McDonough). I read comics, but not a ton of them.
QRD – What do you see as the most viable mediums for comics distribution 10 years from now?
Daniel – Ten years? Cats that have skin which changes texture & color like a cuttlefish? Could be. Maybe stone tablets. One of the two.
QRD – What would you like to see more people doing with comics?
Daniel – It may be a lot to ask, but I want to see more indie epics. I want to read huge tomes by all my favorite artists. Akira length graphic works by Deforge & Huizanga. I want Orc Stain to keep going & going. It would be cool to see kids serialize seriously -doing Kickstarter for a trade paperback that collects issues 1-10 of a project & allowing people to subscribe to the next ten issues at the same time.
QRD – Anything else?
Daniel – Yeah. Shout outs 2 PGH & C-BUS. Grixly - read it. Everything Jeremy Baum puts out. Andromeda Quarterly. American Barbarian, Brain Rot, look at all the shit Jim Rugg is doing - rulz. PB Kain & Curk McGurk. Gnarly as I Wanna Be sells my shit. Buy it if you have the urge.