Originally published in The Bite Mag
Becky caught up with Dan Harris Rhondda based creator, writer and penciller of Sci-Fi comic Lou Scannon. The comic is the product of the twisted minds of Dan, along with his two friends Kris Carter and Jim Bampfield. And it’s well worth a read if you ask us…
So, you are the original creator of the comic Lou Scannon can you tell us about how and why you decided to make your own comic?
I initially developed the idea for a short film back in 2001 as part of my degree in animation. However once the film was done, I started thinking on how I could develop the idea and it grew from there. I knew the idea was too big though for someone in my position to even consider doing as an animated series and I’ve always had a big love for comics so I developed the idea more for that instead. I always intended to do it as a comic book but I ended up creating such a vast universe, I gave myself a writer’s block. I had the past, present and future down but didn’t know exactly at what point in the overall story I should start the comic.
That’s where Kris came in. He had always loved the idea I’d had and wanted and nagged me to do something with it. So when he saw I hadn’t, he asked if he could play around with it. He started with a couple of one page stories and eventually asked if he could do an issue he had had an idea for. I gave him the thumbs up and ended up drawing four pages of the comic itself and the cover whilst taking a more editorial role. Basically saying what would and wouldn’t go within the Louniverse. Issue one really lit a fire within me and from Issue 2 on, Kris, our friend Jim and myself write it. I pencil, Jim flats and Kris does the colouring/greyscaling. Jim was an important addition as his humour is different to mine which is different to Kris’ and it really means we bounce and feed off each other even more.
Issue 2 is out and about now, hopefully it’s selling well for you! Where can our readers pick up their own copy if they want a look?
As it stands right now, the comic is available on our website http://www.louscannon.co.uk, at Orbital Comics on Leicester Square in London, My Tattoo studio in Treforest and at Forbidden Planet in Cardiff. Although we are hoping to expand on this within the new year. We also have a stand at the Cardiff Comic Convention at the end of February 2012. (Sadly The Bite Mag comes out in March after this awesome event will have taken place!)
Issue 3 is due out in the spring, about when our issue of The Bite is released, have you completed it yet?
The real question there is “Have you started it yet?” to which in all honesty I would have to answer “No…”. We’re really pushing ourselves with issue 3 as we haven’t long finished issue 2 but we want 3 ready for the Cardiff Comic Con which means it has to be done by the end of January to be printed in time. The plus side is that for 3 the pencilling duties are being split between Kris and myself so I only have to pencil seventeen of the twentytwo pages.
You have issues pre-planned until winter 2012, does that end the series or are there further plans?
No, there are much bigger plans. Issue six will see the end of the first story arc and will leave it on a sort of cliffhanger which if we have done our jobs correctly, will leave you wanting more and with questions that you want answered. When I planned the comic out originally, I created an entire universe which includes a vast history and even a map of the galaxy so we have a lot of pace to explore. Lou is trying to find out about his past and it leads to much bigger things and we couldn’t do that in six or even twelve issues. This has become a labour of love for the three of us and we don’t want to leave people feeling short changed on the story at all. We might even end up working on it for as long as Jeff Smith worked on Bone. Although hopefully we wont have to continuously self publish for that long…
Would you say Lou is based on yourself in anyway or did you have anyone else in mind when you created the character?
See now I would have to say no but I think that Kris, Jim and any of the other guys that we went to uni with would argue with me there. A lot of the guys think I based Lou on myself. They say that they think he looks like me because he has spikey hair and a goatee (I don’t so much have spikey hair these days but that’s more down to hair thinning out gradually than anything else…), he’s sarcastic, cynical and a bit of a joker. Apparently that’s me too. I DID once tell Kris when he was writing dialogue for Lou and stuck on what to put to think “What would Dan say?”
Who, if anyone, would you cite as being influences for your work?
Well this isn’t so much in the style of which I draw but they have certainly influenced me: Michael Turner – If it hadn’t been for him, I never would have gotten back into comic books at all. He was a big influence on my drawing style in my late teens but as I got older I sort of went into a different direction which was probably influenced by doing an animation degree. His death was a great loss to the world and so young at only 37 too. Without him I don’t think I would be where I am right now as he totally captivated my imagination and made me think “Yeah, comics is something I would love to do.” Jeff Smith – His story telling is phenomenal and inspiring. His comic book “Bone” is sort of like a modern day fairy tale and is one of the best comic books you could ever hope to read. Bruce Timm – Without him, we wouldn’t have had the absolutely incredible “Batman: Animated” series from the early 90’s. Nor would the Batman franchise have ever had the character Harley Quinn. Joe Capobianco – My favourite tattoo artist. His style is “Off the hook” as the kids say. There are a lot more but we would be here all day if I went through them.
Have you always been a comic fan or did you come to the genre later in life?
My Dad once told me that I was into comics before I could even read. I loved the imagery. So I guess I’ve always been a comic book fan! There was a period of time in secondary school where I was bullied when people found out that I still read things like Spider-man so I stopped for a couple of years. Then I went to college and met a lot more mature people who still read comics and I realised I wasn’t a freak or weirdo for doing so. That’s when I was introduced to the work of Michael Turner on the “Witchblade” series which in my late teens I absolutely adored.
How do you feel about movie adaptations of comics?
For the most part I think it’s a good thing. As someone who was picked on in school for reading things like X-Men I think if it promotes it in a way that the masses generally accept it, it might help deter bullying in the future. It seems Britain is a bit different to America with comic books. At least it was when I was in school. When I was in school, comics were just for kids and it wasn’t cool if you were over Eleven years old and still reading them (Although I’m open to the possibility that it was just the kids in my school who looked on it like that). We all know now that that is absolute crap and I think film adaptations help show that to people.
My favourite comic adaptation of the moment is probably “Scott Pilgrim”. I also think it makes for a great Indie styled film. It’s also closer to the comic than probably any other adaptation I can think of at this moment in time.
My most despised comic adaptation… Well I guess I would go with “Batman and Robin” as that is not only the worst comic adaptation but also probably one of the worst films ever made too. I’ve had turds that were more appealing to watch than that pile of absolute horse wank. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn if, to convey the accurate amount of insanity as the Joker in “The Dark Knight”, Heath Ledger had spent two weeks straight locked in a white room forcing himself to watch that film over and over again whilst Hansons “Mmbop” was simultaneously played on repeat through wall mounted speakers.
Web comics seem to be increasing in popularity, do you see them as a threat to traditional comics or an added bonus?
Web comics rock! I think they are a great way for talent that would normally remain undiscovered to get out there and noticed! I used to do one myself called “Retail” which you can still view on my deviantart page http://www.griftersart.deviantart.com. I have a few favourites myself! There’s Jump-Leads by Ben Paddon and Jjar which is a fun sci-fi romp! Dead Days is a great one you can find that runs on deviantart. Sometimes webcomics end up being so popular as well that they end up being published by one of the big companies in a hard copy format anyways. Like “PVP” for example.
Mainstreaming of the comic genre is a hot topic, with people having pretty strong views, any thoughts?
There’s always part of you that thinks “No! This is mine! Don’t take it to the masses!” but overall I only see it as a good thing. How can comics survive if people aren’t made aware of all the great things there are out there to read? Neil Gaimans Sandman. Garth Ennis’ Preacher. Mike Carey’s Lucifer. Grant Morrisons run on New X-Men. These are all great reads and if more people know about them and enjoy them, maybe then people wont be so quick to judge people for being “Geeks” and wont class them as losers. I used to work for a big comic book/toy store and have seen how some people look at the folks we had coming in. Although it seems that these days being a geek is the new cool. Which is cool.
And finally the question we all want to know… How do you feel about the DC reboot??!
Personally I don’t like it. Totally rebooting some aspects but keeping other bits as a continuation of how it was before?.. I was mainly interested in Green Lantern as I’m a massive, lifelong fan and with that, everything that had happened before the reboot still applied. Yet in Superman, Clark Kent isn’t married to Lois anymore and all the costume changes seemed a tad unnecessary as the ones they already had were pretty iconic in my opinion. I know that the argument has been used that it is a good idea to bring in new readers. Start it all over and more people will be interested. Superman was created in 1932. Batman was created in 1939. Green Lantern started in 1940. Wonder Woman in 1941. I was born in 1981. I still managed to get on board. People find a way to get on board if it is something that appeals to them in the first place.
I was talking with a member of staff in a comic shop in London one day about the reboot and I asked him how it had gone. He told me that it had gone really well and all the issue ones had pretty much sold out but that they had already halved their orders for all the issue twos as the knew that people would all scramble for the issue ones (Possibly hoping they will become valuable) but not so many would stick with the series afterwards. Maybe I’m just a bit out of the loop these days and I SHOULD find it awesome… I don’t know.
Words by Becky Beynon Lewis