I met Dan Gilmore a few years ago, I cannot recall if it was at a local drawing group, or an event where he was selling his comics, but since then, I have had the chance to chat with him from time to time, and watch him at his art.
His design and art skill are apparent in his comics, and his stories are engaging and thought provoking. I had the chance to ask him some questions recently, and this is what we talked about, mostly I just asked questions, and he answered.
(Dan’s comics at ZICS 2015)
- Who are you, and what do you do?
Hi, I’m Dan Gilmore an artist who draws and sometimes writes comics.
- What is your background in comic art?
Like a lot of kids who read comics and watched Saturday morning cartoons, I spent a lot of time drawing superheroes and robots and mutants. From there, I started delving into acting for animation, into storytelling techniques, production and publishing, as well as more traditional avenues into comics art. A comics artist needs to have a solid grasp of acting for their characters to reveal personality. That’s my secret tip.
I started learning about the craft of making comics something like 15 years ago. And for about 8 of those years, I didn’t create anything… just absorbed ideas and techniques. And then I saw Neil Gaiman’s disarmingly simple advice for creators: “Just start”.
It’s staggering how much you can’t grasp about creating art until you actually start creating art. Once I started making a few five-page comics and then moved onto drawing the LUV Comics series, then my art and storytelling skills grew in leaps and bounds.
- Kunghur is one of my favourite books from you – are there plans to create a series?
Thank you, that’s very kind. I want to turn Kunghur into a series. There’s a richness in the characters and the ideas that I would love to explore further.
- What was your inspiration for Kunghur?
Kunghur came from a shared enthusiasm for the joyful yet unashamed merchandising of the old He-Man cartoons and toys. More than that, for me, there’s something valiant about the morality tales in He-Man. Those cartoons had an objective beyond beat-up-the-bad-guys, and beyond sell-more-toys. Kunghur is a platform for me to tell stories which feel good and fun while talking about what it means to be a good person, particularly because our society’s identity is shifting in a fairly seismic way.
For instance, it’s important that there are no straight white cis males in Kunghur’s city. The bad guy is stale pale and male, and that’s a deliberate choice. Everybody deserves to be seen as a hero if they’re making heroic choices.
Kunghur comes from a barbarian village far away. He sees the world with a child-like simplicity. He’s frustrated by people who invent ways to suppress the everyday folk. Kunghur just wants to be done with all the fighting and conflict so he can retire to a farm where he’s got a little wooden cottage and can raise a herd of yithbeests. That’s not accessible to him; innocent people are still in danger, and he has the power to remove some of that danger. He knows he can’t feel free to live the simple life while other people aren’t free to enjoy the same luxury.
- Why do you do what you do?
That’s a great question. I write what I write because it’s my way of imparting the life advice I’d give to my children. I don’t have kids of my own, so this is my way of passing on the values I hold dear.
- What is one thing you could not live without in your art?
Using art to tell stories about characters who feel real emotions in the face of real challenges. As much fun as it is drawing big punch-ups and explosions and dinosaurs and eroding stone cities, the work which makes me feel most satisfied is when I connect emotion and expression.
- How do you come up with your ideas?
The book I’m drawing at the moment came from a friend’s anecdote about his childhood, and how he came to see his dad as his hero. The next couple of stories look at odd-couple relationships in a fantasy world, and how people can transform themselves to become something they never imagined.
- And lastly, if you could have any super-power, what would you choose and why?
The strength of Superman’s ideals, when he’s well-written and noble.
And that’s a wrap!
Dan was kind enough to send through some unlettered pages from Kunghur for us to view!