[Interview originally conducted for Cartoons Dammit! Superblog 22.5.08]
JAMES MCLEAN: What research did you do to generate such a classic comic strip template for Captain Luck?
DAN DAVIS: Well a lot of it is just ingrained up in my head from years of reading strips and comic strip reprints. I've kind of absorbed the story pacing of a daily comic strip and it seemed natural to write Captain Luck that way.
I did analyze a few styles in particular including Tintin, Terry, Annie, Dick Tracy, Captain Easy and Alley Oop. I wanted Captain Luck to kind of slot in there on the funny pages with a familiar yet new look. In particular I wanted to use "cartoon eyes" for Cap and Wink to ground them firmly in that comic strip tradition and it seems to be one of the first things people notice.
MCLEAN: How did you approach the design of the characters?
DAVIS: I wanted Cap to be the hero type, but with a little bit of a tussled hair look. He's a good guy who might get knocked down on his seat at times, but will figure out a way to win in the end. Wink's the nervous tech guy, a little smarter with that stuff than Cap is but Cap's got him beat on practical horse sense. They work well together.
MCLEAN: Your website features a video that shows Dan Davis hard at work on an entirely digital set-up! Can you give us a little technical detail to your new digital entourage of tools?
DAVIS: I had been sliding towards digital for the last 5 or 6 years and went all digital with a Wacom tablet about two years ago. But recently I was able to get a Cintiq drawing monitor and can draw right on the screen. It really feels like drawing on paper now, more than when I used a tablet, and I'm completely happy with it, except I don't have any more original art (sigh).
MCLEAN: I notice on the video you are left handed - did that ever cause any problems with smudging before going digital?
DAVIS: I would adjust on paper by inking the right side of the page first and as most inkers do working on two or three pages at a time to let ink dry. Because you're constantly rotating the page around I think it's about the same as working right handed and both ways can result in smudges and accidents.
But early on I learned Milt Caniff drew left handed, so I never worried about it after that!
MCLEAN: How long does it take you to finish a single news strip page for Captain Luck, and has switching to digital decreased the time it takes to finish a piece of art?
DAVIS: Digital is definitely faster. No erasing and filling in blacks and corrections are a breeze! A Captain Luck page takes me about 2 days which is really a good chunk of my work week, but I'm expecting it to go faster as I do more of them (Subtle hint to vote for Captain Luck to see more!).
MCLEAN: What problems have you suffered with digital? Are there any cons?
DAVIS: As I mentioned, no more original art. In every other way it has been perfect for me.
MCLEAN: Do you think more comic artists will be following your footsteps to an entirely digital set-up?
DAVIS: I hear from guys everyday who want to get a Cintiq and are close to taking the plunge so I expect they'll become much more common. And I expect like all tech stuff the prices will drop. I should be a salesman for them!
MCLEAN: Who's sexier, Rita Castro from the Captain Luck or Supergirl?
DAVIS: Rita of course, she has a bit of the bad girl in her!