An DCU:NG Email Interview with Scott McDaniel
Sean: What first got you interested in comics, both as a hobby and as a career?
Scott: I have been drawing for as long as I can remember! As a kid, comic art gave me an opportunity to lose myself into the world of the heroes, sharing in the adventure and action! And these guys were my heroes - I wanted to BE Batman when I grew up! It was a dream of mine to draw comics for a living, but I never, never thought that it'd happen. I didn't really consider comics as a career until freshman year of college. There I met a great friend who loved comics as much as I did, and we started making pretty grandiose plans to take the industry by storm! 6 years later, I barely scraped myself in!
After approximately a year of small back-up story work, and three annuals, I was offered Daredevil. That's when I quit my electrical engineering career to pursue comics full-time! God gives talents to each person, and I consider myself to be one of the lucky few that find their God-given talent, and then find a way to use it in a career! I am very thankful for that gift.
Sean: What was your first professional work in comics?
Scott: My first published work was a "Prowler" back-up story in Spectacular Spider-man Annual #9, written by my college pal Glenn Herdling! Not quite the blazing start we envisioned a few years earlier, but it was a start!
Sean: Since this site focuses on the young heroes of the DCU, let's find out your feelings on some of DC's teen heroes? Robin? Superboy? Impulse? Jurgen's Titans? Damage? Young Justicers like Secret, Wonder Girl, and Arrowette? CM3?
Scott: Although this is going to make me seem very old (but I'm still within the all important 25-34 yr. old demographic!), but I don't really follow the young hero books. My interests lately have been with more non-fiction stuff, typically science oriented or scripture oriented material. Gotta keep the horizons broad, yes?
Sean: Why do you think teen heroes (especially sidekicks) and young heroes (Gen Xers like Dick Grayson and Jack Knight) are becoming popular again?
Scott: I can offer an opinion about Dick Grayson here. He embodies most of the really cool aspects of Batman without the emotional obsessiveness. He is the DC Universe's most gifted natural athlete. He is like the perfect big brother - the girls all think he's cute, the guys all think he's cool, and everyone wants to hang out with him. Who doesn't want to be like that?
Sean: You've got a rather unique art style, not really manga but not "standard" either, with lots of wide angles and high-lens type of frames. Who are you influences and how did you settle in to such a unique style?
Scott: I've worked very hard lately to grow and develop in my own style. I have spent countless hours studying New York City picture books while drawing Nightwing and Daredevil. The technique for drawing the "curvilinear perspective" just sort of all came together after all those hours of staring at those wide angle photographs! I've tried to apply that technique, sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically, to my art to give it a more subconscious sense of movement and energy.
The artists that most influenced me as a young boy were guys like Jim Aparo, Neal Adams, Jim Starlin, Mike Grell, Bernie Wrightson, and lots others. As I got into my teens, my influences were guys like John Byrne, Marc Silvestri, John Romita Jr, Frank Miller, and lots of others. Now, I try very hard NOT to look at other artists! I want to develop in my own direction, and I don't want to be guided, consciously or subconsciously, by the work of others!
Sean: You art definitely conveys a sense of emotion. Is there a certain "feel" you aim for, or does it just "happen"?
Scott: Wow - I'm glad you can see that! I work very hard to draw "emotion," "energy," "atmosphere," as opposed to just being technically perfect and drawing plain old pictures. As an artist, I have license to interpret "reality" to suit my needs, stretching it past normal bounds to make it more exciting. In fact, it's much more exciting and challenging for me as an artist to bring a reader into a little, coherent world that is emotionally engaging than it is to simply draw pictures of people I don't care about doing stuff I don't care about.
Sean: After drawing Nightwing #25, what's your take on the relationship between Dick and Tim?
Scott: These guys are like brothers! Clearly, here are two young guys that share a common bond that is about as unique as you can get - and they can only talk to each other about it! These two guys have gotten closer to Batman than anyone else ever (excepting Alfred of course, but that's ANOTHER story!)! It really takes on a heart-warming big brother/little brother flavor as they talk about life's ups and downs in the Shadow of the Bat.
Sean: Tell us a little bit about Nite-Wing, a.k.a. Tad. What all went on in his creation and how did you come up with a look for him?
Scott: This guy is a nut-case! Tad serves several purposes. One, to show just how dangerous and deadly Nightwing's life really is. Recall Tad's debut - he was out of action in about 5 seconds! Next, he serves to stir the pot a bit. Recall that his unfortunate choice of a name nearly costing him his life! Also, he is going to return to the vigilante biz, complicating matters for himself, the 'Haven law enforcement, and for the real Nightwing!
Sean: Any teasers as to what's coming up in the book in the next few issue or even further down the road?
Scott: Well, #30 is a one-issue story featuring Superman! #31 is a one-issue story featuring Nite-Wing! #32-34 is an arc introducing us to Double-Dare! #35 is the start of......well, you'll have to wait for this bombshell!
Sean: Tell us a little of your idea to flesh Dick out by putting Christian items in his apartment (DC Talk CDs, an New International Version Bible, etc.). Is that something that Chuck and the editors find to be a natural outgrowth of Dick's character? How does that (at the risk of sounding all Moral Majority all the sudden) mesh with Dick's one-night stand with Huntress in the Nightwing/Huntress mini-series?
Scott: Well, the Christian items in Dick's apartment were put there by me. I consider myself to be a conservative Christian man, and I just wanted to subtly remind people to think about God every once in a while. It's not something that was planned out by editorial and by Chuck; I just did it. And there have been no complaints (in fact, Chuck is a Christian too, and he encouraged me to continue). I guess if you are not a Christian, you would not know who DC Talk is, or what the NIV is, so maybe that explains the lack of complaints! By the way, did you notice the "Jesus Saves" spray-painted on the bridge in #28 pg.1? Veeeeeery subtle......
Concerning Dick's one-night stand with the Huntress, first note that this happened outside of the regular series, and Chuck and I had no control or foreknowledge of this. I personally am very disappointed that this had to be played so explicitly, as I think it is more appropriate to leave the intimate details up to the reader's imagination. Also, let's remember that we are all "fallen" in nature, meaning that everyone makes mistakes and does things that are not proper in God's eyes. No matter how "good" we try to be, we all make mistakes. That goes for everyone. You. Me. Christians. Nightwing. So, even if you like to think of Nightwing as a Christian man, that does not mean that he is perfect. He will make mistakes in his life - like sleeping with the Huntress. Does that make him a hypocrite? No. Being a Christian doesn't mean claiming to be perfect - it means aspiring to the perfect standard set by Jesus Christ.
Sean: Which comics or characters would you most like to have a chance to do?
Scott: I think I would love to have a long and exciting run on Batman! OH yeah! I'd also like to eventually return to Daredevil for a short run. And I'd like to eventually do my own material as well.
Sean: Which creators would you most like to have a chance to work with? Who are your faves to work with so far?
Scott: Really, I have loved working with everyone so far! I have been very blessed to work with thoughtful and talented people so far. And there are a lot of others out there that I'd love to work with too. To try to list them all would be unfair as I would undoubtedly forget someone!
Sean: Any future plans or projects we should be looking for?
Scott: Well, hopefully I will have a great run on Nightwing, and a great run on Batman. I want to eventually do Christian comics, but I am in the preparing/praying stage for that right now!
For now, in addition to the Nightwing series, I've been working on the covers for the new Hourman series, and also miscellaneous stuff (like the Young Justice No Man's Land Special cover art, and a piece for the Batman No Man's Land Gallery, and lots of stuff in the Nightwing Secret Files) to make life more fun!