Morning, one and all. We’re back with Daniel Warren Johnson and the very cool, very energetic and frenetic Space-Mullet “about a washed up, Ex-Space Marine trucker named Jonah, and his alien co-pilot, Alphius. Together they do their best (and usually fail) to do good throughout the galaxy.” I’m a serious sucker for well done two-tone comics and I just love the blues and blacks in Space-Mullet. So check out the interview and then fire up the thrusters on your galaxy cruiser and get over to Space-Mullet.
Q1] What are you working on right now, art-wise?
At this moment I’m working on some commissions for the upcoming Wizard World Show here in Chicago, but I would usually be either working on client storyboarding, concept art for my comic, Space-Mullet, or actually drawing the pages. I’m also working on an unannounced 5 page short story coming out soon.
Q2] What is your workflow like?
It really depends, if it’s for creating an entire story structure/world like mine, I usually have to start out really rough, and refine from there. That usually looks like me drawing out thumbnails of “key frames,” visual images and scenes that I know I want to make happen during the course of the story, and it gets me excited for the process. Then I usually write out a first draft, and refine it as I go into the thumbnails. From there it’s just keeping my head down, penciling, and inking! As far as actually creating the page goes, I usually start by thumbnailing in Manga Studio, and then once I have everything planned out (composition/lighting/blacks) I’ll start penciling on an 11 x 17 inch piece of vellum bristol board.
3] Who are your top three influences (any medium)?
Biggest influences? Oh man, so many. I feel like Bill Watterson has been huge in bringing a sense of life into my line work, I never want my art to be static, so there’s that. Sean Murphy’s hard work ethic has really inspired me to push myself to be better, no matter what I’m drawing. I also love anything Joss Whedon does. The way he writes his characters is amazing to me.
Q4] What is the one piece of indispensable advice you would give a comics creator for getting their work out there?
Get it online! I’ve seen a lot of talented people’s artwork never leave their sketchbook. Even if it’s something like Twitter or Instagram, there’s a whole community of people out there looking for new artists to get into. Also, I’d say if you want to draw comics someday, don’t wait until someday! Make a comic and put it on the web for free! People WILL read it, and it’s the only way to get noticed nowadays.
Q5] What do you think your duty is to the reader (if any)?
Probably the most important one would be visual clarity. I really need to make sure the reader knows what’s going on. The art should step out of the way to make room for the story. It’s a weird thing to think about, but it’s true. The art could be beautiful but if it doesn’t tell a story well, it’s no fun to read!
Q6] If you could do one thing better, in regards to graphic storytelling, what would it be?
Everything! I’m trying to get better at composition, spotting my blacks, perspective, making my backgrounds look interesting and lived in, and better anatomy skills. What’s cool about drawing comics, though, is that no matter what kind of story you create, you WILL be put outside your comfort zone, which forces you to get better and think outside the box.
Q7] What, if anything, do you prefer to listen to while you work?
I really like mindless pop when I’m sketching out thumbnails and penciling, but I also love listening to metal during that stage. For inking, I need something peaceful and quiet. Anything from Elliott Smith to Iron and Wine will do the trick. Bach is great too.
Q8] What is the one comic story that has stuck with you throughout the years?
Definitely Bone. So epic and so well done, and beautiful brushwork as well. Also, the Dark Knight Returns. I love how Frank Miller played off of everybody’s conception of the Batman of the time, and used it to catch people by surprise. Half of what makes that comic great is that it’s fresh.
Q9] What do you consider to be the greatest power of graphic storytelling?
SO many things, but one of the biggies I’d say is the only thing from keeping your characters and story from coming to fruition is your work ethic. That’s power right there. For so long I didn’t make comics because I was lazy. But, with comics, you really can do anything. You can make a sci-fi/fantasy story that would cost millions of dollars to make into a movie or a TV show, but in comic form, all it takes for you is time. Also, many story driven art pieces require some sort of collaboration between a group of people. Comics are special in that you can tell your own story, your own way, by yourself. It’s all on you! It’s a huge challenge, but incredibly liberating.
So there you have it, beauts. There’s a real gorgeous sense of action and drama in this work. I’m envious of the way Daniel spots his blacks, can you tell? Space-Mullet is ongoing, so make sure you check it out to sate your yearning for some fun space-faring adventure. And, added bonus, it updates twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays! You can also visit Daniel’s personal site HERE and following his twitterings HERE.