Writing

Matt Chats: Shawn Daley on Samurai Grandpa, Ogre, and Learning From Every Creation – Comics Beat

I’ve been very vocal about how much I love Shawn Daley’s work, I even hired him to do my profile portrait. His collection of fantasy stories TerraQuill moved me more than any other comic in recent memory, and I really enjoyed discussing it with him for the site a couple of years ago. Since then he’s been extremely busy making several books with Source Point Press. I had the chance to chat with Shawn again, this time about collaborating with writers, his career trajectory, and how he takes everything he can from each experience.

How did you get involved with Ogre and Samurai Grandpa?

In both instances, I was connected by the respective writer for each book on Twitter. Social media has been a great way to meet creative partners and other amazing artists.

Were you involved with the scripts and story direction of the projects?

I was for both projects. While learning how to draw comics, I was also learning how to write them. The two aspects go hand-in-hand in this medium, and understanding both, to an extent, is necessary. Eastin and Bob each passed ideas my way during the process, and while I always trusted their scripts and decisions, I was given the freedom to contribute or suggest changes. Both projects were true collaborations.

Samurai Grandpa reminded me a lot of the stories you write and draw yourself. How did that similarity in writing styles (if you also see it) affect you as the artist?

That similarity was one of the elements which cemented my decision to draw the script. The sentimentality and use of “quiet” (no dialogue) panels and pages certainly grabbed my attention, appealing to my personal storytelling sensibilities. Eastin’s ability to write wickedly delightful action scenes really seemed to contrast the affectionate, contemplative pages, in the best way possible.

How is the art process different when you’re drawing from someone else’s script?

I tend to, often inimically, restrain myself from over-experimental processes while working on others’ scripts. It’s almost a “better safe than sorry” mentality that I’m trying to work around. I want to give the writer exactly what they’re looking for, drawing a page true to their original vision. That can be tricky when I feel like taking creative liberties with layouts or alternative compositional choices, so finding a happy medium is important.

Samurai Grandpa was originally slated to be published by Alterna Comics. Was stepping away after their controversial expectations for creators a difficult decision?

Not so much. Eastin and I agreed pretty quickly that we would prefer to take the book elsewhere, and we’re both happy with our decision.

Do you pitch your own comics to publishers?

I don’t. Although, if I did, I would pitch them to Source Point Press first, who is publishing Samurai Grandpa and TerraQuill in single issue format. They’ve been amazing to work with.

What’s the status of your sequel to TerraQuill?

It’s in the works! I’ll be releasing a full graphic novel called The Bridgebuilders’ Creed, which is a 120+ page story that takes place in TerraQuill, building on the world explored in TerraQuill Collected. After that, I’ve got ten new short comics written for another collected volume. So there’s lots of TerraQuill still to traverse.

Now that you’ve started working with larger publishers like Source Point Press, do you feel like your career is on an upwards trajectory?

Not necessarily, but it’s not something I think about. As long as there’s a project to complete, wether it’s drawing a book or making one from scratch, I’ll be looking towards the future and setting my sights on completing that goal. If that advances my career, then great! If not, I’ll hopefully be able to, at the very least, say that I released a book that I’m happy with.

What’s the ultimate goal for you? You’re already making a living as an artist, but what do you still want to accomplish as a creator

My personal goal is to learn something new one each book I contribute to. Whether it’s a single issue, a graphic novel, a pinup, or a cover, there’s always a new technique to test or to practice. There’s always a new direction to explore, and room to improve. It would be nice to do some teaching some day down the road.

You seem to have unlimited energy. What’s your secret, beyond a passion to create?

That unlimited energy is definitely an illusion! I make lots of time for hobbies, friends, family, and sleep. I’ve got an enjoyable, active life outside of comics, which is very important to maintaining productivity. When I work, I work hard and efficiently so that I can take time away from comics. If there IS a secret at all, it’s treating comics (and your process) like a job, which it most certainly is. It just happens to also be an enjoyable and rewarding one!

You can follow Shawn on Twitter @shawndaley and through his website. You can check out Samurai Grandpa, Ogre, and TerraQuill through Source Point Press.

Matt Chats is an interview series featuring discussions with a creator or player in comics, diving deep into industry, process, and creative topics. Find its author, Matt O’Keefe, on Twitter and Tumblr. Email him with questions, comments, complaints, or whatever else is on your mind at matt@mattwritesstuff.com.

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