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QRD #58 - Indie Comic Interview Series Part IV
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about this issue
Indie Comic Creator Interviews:
Heather Nunnelly
Jeremy Baum
Graeme McNee
Michael Neno
Cihan Sesen
Shana Cleveland
Jeremy The Artist
Andrew Taylor
Simon Moreton
GMB Chomichuk
Virginia Shields
Mulele Jarvis
Lars Kramhøft
Josie Pi Grant
Palle Schmidt
Shawn Atkins
Tom Kristensen
Francesca Urbinati
Harold Dean Cupec
Adam Black
Daniel McCloskey
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Daniel McCloskey
Daniel McCloskey
Daniel McCloskey
Indie Comic Creator Interview with Daniel McCloskey
February 2013
Daniel McCloskey
Name: Daniel McCloskey
City: Pittsburgh, PA
Comics: A Film About Billy, Top of the Line, Bears in Space
Websites: danielmccloskey.comcyberpunkapocalypse.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.