Welcome back my faithful companions! Your Indie Huntress is here once again to save you! I'd like to create a strip revolving around that idea, and have spoken to a few artists regarding it. Indie might just make some comics yet, kids! However, that's on the back burner for now; slowly coming to a boil. BUT this isn't about me. This is about Dan Dougherty. The man, the myth, the legend behind the beard.
I met Dan like so many others, through social media. I can tell you this- he is easily one of the coolest dudes I've met thus far. I've been following him for awhile now, enjoying his posts from the latest strip from Beardo. A strip he created revolving around himself, his wife Meg, a few talking dogs, and what it's really like to be struggling as an illustrator. He keeps it light and humorous, while still showing real life struggle and sucess. He has four collected editions of books out on this strip now, and shows no sign of stopping. In addition to writing this, he also illustrates it himself. Personally, I really enjoy his style of illustrations. Thick lines with an animated sense, that really pulls the story together. The color work is also exquisite. I've enjoyed watching the progression of story from Beardo, regarding him home and work life. I believe that is quite a feat to pull off a comic strip that is not only well rendered, but also tells an ongoing, entertaining story. Comic strips are tricky buisness, having to convey everything in a limited number of panels. Basically, you're telling a short story in a mere 8 sentences, roughly. Hats off to you, Dan- for not only making it work, but doing a damn fine job at it.
Another one of Dan's works is Touching Evil. Oh Dan. If you only knew. I love this comic. So much. To the point where I've been pestering him, "so uhh...when's the next issue, buddy? Can we get a kickstarter for a slick hardcover?" The thing about Dan is, he'll drop hints, but patiently waits for the right time to drop any big news. Building anticipation is key, in my opinion. Not just in the comics, but in the business in general. Creates a sense of excitement and wonder, waiting to see what will happen next.
Touching Evil is comprised of a lot of components: conspiracy, horror, magic, noir, detective, and action. I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to comics; however, every now and then I get really worked up over something. This is one of those times. From the first few pages I read of this comic, until now waiting in anticipation for issue #7, a whopping 32 pages, that will be brining an end to this part of the story arc- I have become obessive over it. We follow the main character, Ada, through her her story of being a lawyer and connected to some notorious cases, and people- leading her to one man, that will give her his gift. A gift that is a curse. She has received the power to kill evil men/women, with the simple touch of her hand. They don't just die, though. They are trapped in purgatory, unable to escape the madness of their minds. Not only has Ada received this curse; she is also being hunted by several people who want to take the curse from her. Destroying her life, her family, and stopping at nothing to track her down. We follow Ada through a series of frightening events, and death- as she tries to save herself and her son.
What I loved about this story, is that it is unlike everything else I've read. It wasn't another superhero story, it wasn't shock and awe, it wasn't cheesecake or just another shot at horror: it was powerful. Poewrful in the sense that it sticks with you for days, not minutes- like so many others. I didn't get into comics until about five years ago. Simply because I lived in northern Michigan, where comic shops were not a staple. It wasn't until I moved to the greater Detroit area in 2010, that I was able to set foot in one for the first time. I wasn't sure where to start, or even what I would enjoy. Thankfully, I quickly became friends with Chris Brown, who runs my favorite shop in Madison Heights: Comics & More. He took me in and was patient with me and my lack of knowledge in comics, and guided me through some books based on my overall tastes for film, music, and novels. I've never been big on the super hero scene, and felt it was pointless, time consuming, and wallet conuming to attempt to catch up on everything from the big two. He introduced me to a handful of titles from Image, and I went from there. Independent/creator owned work, will forever be my love in the comic world. There is something truly special there. I have flipped through some Marvel/DC works, but that's just it. Flipped through it. A lot of it feels mechanical to me, rather than a story I can loose myself in. There is little to no feeling involved anymore. It seems to have become a rat race in pushing out issues every month, opposed to taking the time to build a passionate story. Those are just my personal thoughts.
I wanted to know more about how Chris Brown, of Comics & More, came to meet Dan and begin advertising in his comic. I shot him a few messages and spoke to him on the phone this morning. I knew that he had a pretty solid relationship with Dan, as he has been to the shop on multiple occasions for signings. On all of this, Chris tells me:
"I met Dan at the first Detroit Fan-Fare- 2010 2011 in Dearborn. Through my friend Chad. He said, "here I want you to read the first few volumes of Beardo. I'm going to buy it for you and I want you to check it out." So, I met Dan at this convention, and he was a really nice guy. I went home afterwards, and read the Beardo books, and really enjoyed it. I saw him again the next year at Detroit Fanfare comic convention, and we started talking some more after that on Facebook. I began sharing his strips for Beardo on my page. I share his work and others, because social media is a great way to bring more attention to guys like Dan. Instead of posting up the usual morning bickering on politics, why not share a friend's creations instead?
When Touching Evil started, Dan approached me about advertising my comic shop on the back cover of the comic. He was looking for people to sponsor him through advertising. He gave me a price, and I said sure that sounds good to me, and we went from there. Part of the deal was to receive some copies of the book, as part of compensation for advertising. When Dan sent me the copies of the first issue to Touching Evil, and wanted my thoughts- I was nervous. I really enjoyed Beardo, because it's funny and entertaining, I wasn't sure how this new book was going to be. When you're friends with a creator, it's hard to be honest about their work, because you don't want to say anything that is going to damage the relationship. However, when I read the first issue, I was MIND-BLOWN! It was a great read! I took the time to send Dan a lengthy review, expressing my satisfaction with the story. When issue two came out, he approached me again on advertising and I said, yes I'd like to do it again, unless you want to give someone else a shot at that back cover. Dan replied, "why would I take someone else, if I have you?" Since then, I have been advertising on the back page for every issue.
My customers love it. I sell 50 copies every time a new issue comes out. There are some Marvel that I don't even sell 50 issues of! It's roughly a 15-20 minute read, because Dan doesn't fluff it out with action/noise scenes- there is a full, detailed story in every issue. Touching Evil is a great story, whether you know Dan or not. Dan has also become more than just con-family to me, he is also family. Every time he comes into town now, he stays with me. My girlfriend, Kelly also really enjoys his work. Every time a new issue of Touching Evil comes out, she breaks out the old ones and re-reads them, before proceeding to the new one."
Dan will be doing a special release of issue #7 at my shop, along with Dirk Manning: who will be releasing the second installment of the Mr. Rhee TPB. This will be on August 15th, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Comics & More in Madison Heights, MI.
What was your path in becoming an independent creator?
I wish it was something as serene-sounding as a path! Calling it a path implies that someone paved it, when most creators would tell you that it feels like uncharted territory, until you arrive at whatever you would measure as a success. For me, I still don't feel like I've arrived and sometimes I don't even know where I want to go, but I like what I'm doing and I know that is a gift in itself.
On developing"Beardo", this strip appears to essentially be you and your wife, Meg. How has this comic grown over the years and what is in store for it's future?
It's grown so much! Beardo doesn't operate like many strips or cartoons do, the characters all age and grow over the course of the series. Supporting characters have come and gone, whether it's because our lives moved apart or (in some cases) they passed away. The strip just started as a way to express the things I thought were worth talking about in my life, and although it began as a strip primarily focused on my sarcastic take on retail hell- I'm proud that it's developed a more optimistic sense of humor as our relationship has grown. Who says comics aren't a measure of maturity?
Touching Evil" has had a great impact as a horror and psychological thriller. How did this story come into play? Can you tell us what some ideas are for the next arc?
Thank you, Touching Evil has been a dream of mine, that I've managed to bring to life with the help of my amazing fanbase. This book has been a huge leap of faith for me as a storyteller and it has been tremendously encouraging to get the response I've gotten from readers. I've written my share of comics, but this is the series that has made people think of me as a writer first, and an artist second.
I think the story is the result of all that Twilight Zone that's been seeping into my skull since I was a kid. It has all of the Rod Serling-isms embedded in the premise: ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances, social commentary that questions the nature of good and evil, something supernatural as a driving force, and a little playful gallows humor to keep things lively. All that's left is a pack of Chesterfield cigarettes, submitted for your approval, of course.
I'm wrapping up issue seven now, which is like the end of season one for this story. By the time eight rolls around, the survivors of the story (and I won't say who makes it!) are in a radically new setting with higher stakes as they finally start deciding what to do with a curse that can kill evil people with a mere touch of the hand.
You hinted in issue #6 that there may be a kickstarter to launch a trade paper back for issues #1-7 for, "Touching Evil", with the potential possibility of a hard cover book. When do you plan to launch this and can you tell us some of the possible rewards you have in mind?
Yes! I'm in some talks right now to figure out the best way to collect this first arc into a trade. Whether it becomes a hardcover or not depends on what kind of response I can muster, but I'm working on some great angles for incentives, ranging from merch and original art up to getting guest artwork from the heaviest hitters I can curry favor with. We shall see, but I think the biggest incentive is the book itself, which will play best in the long form presentation that graphic novels allow for.
"On the off Chance," is a pretty sleek band. Combining a wide variety of musical genres and styles. Tell me more about how this band formed, your role, and where can I buy this?
Thanks for asking, it's a huge part of who I am that I don't get an opportunity to talk about in the comics world. I really enjoy writing and performing original music, and my band is a mixture of musical pals I've worked with over the years that combine to form a Voltron of vocal harmony and rock and roll.
As a new father, what do you see for the future of your work? Will she be included as a character in the Beardo comics?
I see a lot of sleepless nights. I also feel more inspired and motivated than ever because of my little girl. I want to be a good example to her of what you can do when you put your mind to something. And I'm going to put her in Beardo, and try not to embarrass her too much. Hopefully she'll look back one day and possibly think of her parents as cool, and all those nights of doodling will pay off. And maybe pay for her college.
As someone that is not only an independent creator, self publisher and essentially a one man band in your comics: what would you say are the pros and cons of being your best resource?
It's hard in any artistic endeavor to find people who share your vision AND are reliable enough to follow through. I have some upcoming collaborations that I'm really looking forward to, that I think will excite fans from all parties involved, but I know I am fortunate to be able to work all the angles of making a comic. I take pleasure in meeting people who are also like me in that regard, it's an amazing time for indie comics and I feel proud to be part of that community in whatever capacity. The only downside sometimes is that books take a little longer to get out, but it's the price you pay for artistic freedom.
Lastly, what else is on the horizon for you and where can we find you at any upcoming shows?
I'm doing a dual signing August 15th at Comics and More with the main man himself - Dirk Manning, where I'm debuting Touching Evil 7. Then it's Wizard World Chicago, Cincinnati comic con and Kokomo Con, and a bunch more. Just find me on Facebook under Dan Dougherty or check out my site at www.beardocomics.com
I'm always looking to connect with fans, hit me with your best message!
You can follow Dan for updates on his work via social media here:
Touching Evil Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/TouchingEvil?fref=ts
Beardo Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/BeardoComic?fref=ts
On the Off Chance Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/OnTheOffChanceBand
Dan's Website: http://www.beardocomics.com/
As always, find me all over the place!
Mayhem & Chaos: https://www.facebook.com/groups/mayhemandchaos/ (come share your independent work with us!)
Some cool podcasts to check out!
Basement Fodder: http://www.podcastgarden.com/podcast/basementfodder
Digital Nerdage Network: http://www.digitalnerdage.com/
An Elegant Weapon: http://anelegantweapon.ca/
Drunk Dorks: http://www.drunkdorks.com/
Dave's Nerd Compendium: http://www.podbros.com/podcast/dave's-nerd-compendium#.VcoP8XFViko