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Project: Get Known! EVERLAND by Dan Lee

This blog aims to spotlight indie comic book creators and their independent works.

In my quest to discover the relative unknown, I was stopped in my tracks by the vibrancy of a book called Everland, which as of the date of this posting, is days away from ending a successfully funded kickstarter campaign for the second issue.

I was compelled to contact the sole creator, in hopes he would share his journey with me. Get to know Dan Lee

 

Mikey P:

Dan, your art is obviously stunning but by reading a synopsis, this book isn't at all just an excuse to show what can do visually. How do you describe it to inquiring minds?

 

Dan Lee:

Thank you for the kind words! It’s a detective/mystery story set in a walled off, Disney-esque utopian society located somewhere in the middle east.

 

MP:

There is a lot of world building here. How much planning goes into that creation before you actually start working on the comic?

 

DL:

In terms of world building, probably not as much as you’d think. About 4 or 5 years ago when I first came up with the idea I began trying to lock down every aspect of the world before I began writing the story, but I found myself quickly feeling frustrated and claustrophobic. So I scrapped all of that and just began writing the characters and story, deciding to drop hints of the world along the way.

 

MP:

Working on your own is always interesting. Do you write yourself full scripts or work off what you visualize in your head?

DL:

Because I know I’ll be drawing it and have pretty clear visuals in my head, I write a pretty relaxed first draft, focusing mainly on the dialogue and then go straight to layouts and lettering. I do all the re-writing in this stage, rarely returning to the script. When I have the layouts and lettering locked down then I go on to final artwork.

MP:

What are your long term plans for Everland?

DL:

It will be around 50 issues in total, but told in ‘seasons’, taking a break between each arc so I can work on some smaller projects and return to the new arc refreshed. The first arc is 8 issues long and I’ll be collecting those in a nice hardcover volume when it’s done.

 

MP:

Your first issue was well received. How did your “theme park obsessed” brother like your setting?

DL:

Haha, he loved it! He’s like an encyclopedia when it comes to the Disney parks and has always been great to bounce ideas off of. Conversations with him gave me so many ideas for building the world. My sister has also been helping me more recently with some costume design stuff as she’s something of a buff on 40’s, 50’s and 60’s fashion. The pair of them are huge supporters of my work, as are my parents and I’m incredibly grateful for that.

MP:

Your art is completely captivating. Walk us through your page designs. The color choices are so pronounced and robust that they almost feel like they are the central focus of the design. Do you have a tonal direction even in the pencil stage?

DL:

Thanks! My main goal with the layouts is to get the reader to empathise with the emotions of the characters. A lot of it is just working from my gut, trying things out until I feel I’ve visually conveyed the desired emotional tone as best as I can. I lean on my colour palette pretty heavily to help with the tone of the story, but also to try and distract from aspects of my drawing skills that I’m insecure about.

MP:

You have also done freelance work. What background has given you these design skills?

DL:

I worked as an animator in children’s television and a bit of advertising for a few years. I’ve also done bits of graphic design and freelance illustration.

 

MP:

How long have you been creating comics?

 

DL:

I’ve been taking it seriously for the last two years. Before that I always used to talk a big game, about different ideas I had etc. but I was too scared to give it a real go.

 

MP:

What are some of the comics you are currently reading and recommend to people?  Who are some creators that inspired you to create your own work?

DL:

Recently I’ve been reading ‘Headlopper’ by Andrew Maclean which is just tons of fun. You can really tell he loves the shit out of making that book. The same goes for ‘Motro’ by Ulises Farinas, I’ve never read anything quite like that book. I’ve been enjoying ‘Dead Letters’ by Chris Sebela and Chris Visions too (Sebela is also currently running a Kickstarter for ‘Short Order Crooks’!).

Creators who inspire me, that’s a long list! Brian K Vaughan’s series ‘Y: The Last Man’ had a big impact on me when I was young and Michel Fiffe is a big inspiration for his complete DIY process of creating and distributing his series ‘COPRA’.

 

MP:

This is your second successful Kickstarter campaign. What advice would you give anyone considering funding comics through this channel?

DL:

Try to have the book finished before launching the campaign. Or at least the bulk of it.

 

MP:

I noticed you are a Welshman living in Japan. How long have you lived there?

DL:

It’s been about two years.

MP:

Your target audience seems to be outside of Japan. With more conventions and a local comic shop scene overseas, do you find this a big obstacle?

 

DL:

It definitely would be nice to have more creators close by as I always feel really pumped and inspired after a great chat with another writer or artist. I speak with Job Yamen and Storme Smith (both co-creators on some other comics projects) online on a regular basis which always lights a creative fire under my ass.

MP:

What do you typically play in the background when you are working - movies or music?

DL:

Podcasts. Usually ‘Off-Panel’ with David Harper for creator interviews in the morning to get me inspired and then ‘Tell ‘em Steve Dave’ or ‘SModcast’ in the afternoons whilst inking or colouring.

 

MP:

A normal Saturday night, what could we find you doing?

DL:

Usually dinner and a movie with my wife.

 

MP:

Anything else you'd like to share?

DL:

I have another comic series called ‘Gifford’ which is about a mercenary clown who can never die. It’s an action comedy and each issue is made within one week and it’s a fun way to take a break from ‘Everland’ and blow off some steam, but the story is also pretty personal. It’s available through my website and I’d love it if more people would check out the first issue.

 

Thank so much for your time Dan. I know I'm looking forward to seeing the next issue. 

Check out Dan’s Kickstarter within the next two weeks to jump on the current campaign for issue #2 where you can also get rewarded with on the first issue if you missed out.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/danlee/everland-2

 

Keep up with Dan through his internet presence

Website: www.danleecomics.com

Tumblr: https://danleecomics.tumblr.com

Twitter: @_dan_lee_

Instagram: @danleecomics

Project: Get Known! HYPER-SENSE

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