1) First of all, who are you and how did you get on this blog?
DAN: I’m Dan Hipp… and I create the Amazing Joy Buzzards with you. Did you forget your crazy pills again today?
MARK: Yes, that’s right, I seem to remember you now. It’s all becoming clear for me now.
2) Tell the readers about yourself Dan.
I was born in the Age between Episodes Four and Five to the noble House of Hipp. I grew up as your average nerd, in love with Monsters and Comics, which probably contributed to my adolescent chubby phase. I dreamed the dream of nerds that someday I might have my cake and eat it too, making the sweet pages of illustrated timber and ink, but I made a ten year detour playing water polo in high school and college. After graduating, my love for the funny books was rekindled and I gave up practicing the sport at the national level to re-capture my dreams of old. SO here I am, drawing and writing comics, but coaching on the side to make sure I talk to more people during the week than myself and my lovely lady. I have no regrets, but find myself behind on the skills I would have liked to have at this point in my career. So, do you hear that, kids?! Live your life, but KEEP DRAWING!!!
3) How tall are you? I’m 6 foot and that’s a good height but when I stand next to you at shows I hate it because you make me look so short but I’m not. Personally I find your height to be offensive, I’ll be standing next to you at a show and people will say “Hey, who’s the dwarf?”. Have you ever tried not to be so tall?
Yes, I’m a small giant I suppose, standing at six feet and seven inches. I find it rather convenient when the need arises to frighten small children, or wrestle giraffes, but rather inconvenient when I’m sick (as I am right now) and have a runny nose full of slime that everyone gets to see, or feel, should I be in a drippy state (as I am right now). Though it does make peering over fences, or masquerading as a tree quite easy. I have not personally ever tried to not be so tall, and in truth I never shall. I merely give thanks to my mother for bearing such a behemoth boy. HIGH FIVES, MOM! Ulp, she can’t reach. Low fives!
4) Tell me about your workflow and process. Your water coloring and painting is jaw dropping? How do you go about it?
I majored in Art at university and picked up some painting skill along the way, but my general technique involves pretty much everything and the kitchen sink. I’m mostly using gouasch these days for painting, but love throwing colored pencil and cel vinyl paint in the mix when I can. I’ll work on water color paper, which has a wonderful texture to it, loosely laying down the pencils before starting the layering wash process using gouasch (a lovely watercolor like medium, which allows for a lot of control, or looseness, depending on what you’re going for. LOVE IT!). Pretty soon things start splattering, I’ll throw some white colored pencil hatches on and I’m done. Or starting over. For regular illustration, I’ll loosely put down the pencils first, figuring out the composition, before diving in with the inks. I ink everything with a Micron .005 and some garbage brush I have for the big black areas. One of these days I’ll figure out that inking that way is ridiculous and pick up a proper brush like everyone else, but for now I’m actually enjoying my process.
5) What’s your art background? How did you start out drawing?
I was one of those jerk kids that could naturally draw, but I didn’t have much of a reason too. Then I discovered comic books and suddenly I realized how much I sucked and needed to improve. So first I started trying to draw like Art Adams, then Jim Lee and eventually Mike Mignola. An interesting moment for me was when I took some Hellboy pages I had drawn to Comic Con to show Mignola. He was really sweet about it (peach of a man) and I worked up the sand to show Scott Allie (Hellboy Editor). He glanced at the pages and told me bluntly that they already had a Mike Mignola. Now, in all fairness, I totally had hijacked him at the Dark Horse booth and shoved the pages down his throat. They TOTALLY tell you NOT to do that in all the “HOW TO MAKE IT IN THE COMIC INDUSTRY” books out there! WHAT WAS I THINKING?!!!! But in reality, it was the best thing he could have told me. Soon after, I graduated college and I ended up teaching a high school art class. Going back to the basics of art, and drawing all day on the board for students reminded me that I was an adequate artist on my own, without the influences. So I started drawing THE AMAZING JOY BUZZARDS for buzzard-buddy Mark Smith, and the rest, as they, is…wait, what do they say? Screw it, here we are.
6) Can you tell us about the New Amazing Joy Buzzards Volume One trade that’s out on May 7th? Give the premise and tell readers about the Amazing Joy Buzzards.
Quite simply, THE AMAZING JOY BUZZARDS is the world’s greatest rock and roll, super-natural, adventure band, with a mythical Mexican Wrestler. It REALLY is that simple. But should that NOT be enough, I shall entice you with some behind the scenes features! For this new Volume One, we took all of the existing Smith/Hipp material and re-lettered, re-edited, re-formatted and re-packaged it. THIS is the Director’s Cut version, with an entirely new framing sequence, streamlining the reading, so that the whole package is it’s own graphic novel. I’m really proud of how it all came together and how it’s all setting up the next volume. I’d actually say that even if you weren’t a fan the first time around, you might want to reconsider it with this new version. It is a water balloon of funtastic adventure and laughs, but instead of water there’s funtastic adventure and laughs, so it’s really a funtastic adventure and laughs balloon (I think maybe we should put that on the back of the book, Mark. Not the quote, I mean an ACTUAL funtastic adventure and laughs balloon. Just sayin’…).
BUT, if that STILL doesn’t entice you, take a look at these behind the scenes pictures!
First off, take a look at this original panel! EWW, YUCKY!!! What were we thinking?! Who would have wanted to read that?!! Using space age technology, and the most current motion capture techniques, we re-shot the scenes, frame by frame to get the perfect action and expression that we had wanted from the start. Then, using a state of the art, maybe top-secret, computer program, we were able to lay each page out the way we had always intended! Thank Crumbs that technology has FINALLY caught up with our original vision!
And there you have it! THE AMAZING JOY BUZZARDS: VOLUME ONE- HERE COME THE SPIDERS!!! Available for pre-order NOW!!!!
(Side effects may include popularity, awesomeness and in some cases, fragrant diarrhea. Consult your doctor before pre-ordering. Or screw it, DON’T! You’re sooo punk rock!)
7) What excites you the most about the Amazing Joy Buzzards?
THE AMAZING JOY BUZZARDS is pretty much the most awesome book in AwesomeTown to work on. I spend all day drawing monsters, James Bond sequences, and general sexiness! I’m literally laughing as I’m drawing it, figuring out new gags to throw in, monsters to put in the background, logos to create on shirts, etc., etc. and also etc.. It’s just pure fun to be a part of.
Amazing Joy Buzzards Monsterlove is the next book in the series but we skipped the trades and went straight to original graphic novel with all new material. What do you think about this format versus the single issues?
I LOVE IT! Don’t get me wrong, I think that single issues are fantastic, but the graphic novel is more condusive to how we are telling the Joy Buzzards story. We can stretch the beats, be excessive, overly indulgent, or whatever! I’m sorry to any AJB fans that have been made to wait this long, but I can say that it makes for a much radder, awesome, funtastic adventure and laughs balloon, so it will be worth the wait.
9) Is there more space to pace the story much more? Do you like working in this format more?
If reading the single issues was like watching the AJB TV show, then this will very much be like watching the AJB movie. The drama is enhanced, the action is expanded, and it sits alone as one incredible package. I’m still working on it right now, but I’m really excited to see it all done. It should fit perfectly next to the new version of Volume One that comes out next month. While I would love to work on a monthly book again, in terms of how I personally like to tell stories, this is a much better format for me.
10) What can readers expect from Monsterlove?
MONSTERLOVE is where everything starts to happen and we see some actual consequences. By the end of the book, the status quo will have changed forever and readers will be pulling out their hair trying to figure out where we’re going from there. Pulling out your hair doesn’t sound fun, but in this case it’ll TOTALLY be pleasurable (come on, you needed a haircut anyway)! So far, the best way I can describe it is James Bond meets Citizen Kane, meets Miyazaki, meets The Clash. So yeah, pretty much an amalgam of all the things we think are cool in pop culture.
11) Can you show us the cover you did recently to SCUD #22?
TA-DA! Without the logo elements…
12) You do some of the best covers in comics. What is your approach to laying out and designing a cover?
THANKS! I love doing covers. I’d be pretty happy doing covers to a book forever. It relies so heavily on design, that my design sense goes crazy-happy when I get to work on one. In terms of how I approach it, so far I pretty much just pick a couple colors that look good together, pick an eye catching composition and throw it together. It doesn’t always work, but when it does you just know it, often before you even put it together. I’ll get an idea in my head and just go for it. Thank Crumbs that you (Mark) have been trusting on that front, because sometimes I let my instinct get the better of me (shame on you, instinct!).
13) Tell us about your Tokyopop book GYAKUSHU! and share some of the art. This is in the OGN format as well and you do a lot of painting. It’s an excellent, excellent book.
YAY! Well, AJB is fantastic to work on, but it’s so fun and filled with laughs (much like a funtastic adventure and laughs balloon), that I wanted to try and see if I could do the opposite: A serious, bloody, adventure, REVENGE saga, told out of sequence. I’ve been so pleased with the result and am working on the last book of that series now. GYAKUSHU! means REVENGE, and the story, though told out of sequence, with many characters, pretty much boils down to one man’s quest for vengeance. It’s a familiar story, but I’ve tried to give it my own spin, setting it on a world of ice, blood, swords and DEATH! Also there are giant fish that will eat you, and lots of cannibals. HOORAY FOR CANNIBALS! The big trick in telling the story was to be patient and know that it was going to be three books before I could tell everything that happens (as the book was originally planned for three volumes). But I do get to draw some great action sequences too! I didn’t realize how much I loved to draw action sequences until I drew Stevo’s race from AJB, so I knew my next book would have to be action-centric. There are lots of decapitations, bites, scars, and even a broken heart or two (tear!). Volumes One and Two are in stores now!
14) When can we expect the Amazing Joy Buzzards Volume 2: Monsterlove and can you share with us some preview pages?
MONSTERLOVE should be out this fall! I really can’t wait to have the new Volume One sitting on the shelf next to the new Volume Two: MONSTERLOVE. PREVIEW’D!!