“I’m really in love with comics,” Dan Goldman admits in this final part of our interview. The Red Light Properties is a film school graduate, and while he confesses to visualizing comics in that cinematic manner, he tells me that he’s unlikely to leave the medium any time in the foreseeable future—even as he begins to script out his first go at a prose novel.
Do you spend any time drawing in a more traditional manner? Do you practice at all with a pen and paper?
No. Not at all. I doodle, but I don’t doodle to make serious art. I love drawing dirty cartoons. I have a whole other style that I’ve been doing since I’ve been a kid. That has grown with me too. But I don’t put anything out in that style. It’s just kind of fun for me.
I have notebooks and notebooks and notebooks of weird dirty cartoons and mystical drawings. I start off drawing a foot, and the next thing I know, it’s a steam ship that’s powered by farts. I have a lot of that kind of stuff. But, in terms of serious “craftsmanship” practice—no, I don’t have any of that. It just doesn’t appeal to me.
How soon into your time with the tablet did you just stop using pen and paper altogether?
It came in fits and starts. I have, actually, about 15 pages worth of boards where I was drawing <i>Red Ligh</i> freehand with a pencil, and then I scanned them. I tried to use vectors to ink my pencils. My inking is clean, but I just didn’t like the way it looked. It looked too cartoony, and I needed the story to be grounded in real life.
This was, like, 2005. I had been doing reference photo-heavy work for two or three years already, and I was frustrated by it. It’s a lot of work. I would love to be like Frank Quietly and just sit on the couch and be a genius. He’s amazing. There’s a lot of guys in the comics field that are incredible, and I’m not one of them to where I can just do that.
My work reflects the film school, where I come from. I didn’t go to art school. It’s a production, every goddamn chapter. There are steps—it’s a multi-layer process. It’s a pain in the ass, but I like the way it looks when I’m finished. I don’t think it looks like anything else.
So, I wound up doing that, and I tried to break with myself, because I was frustrated. So I ended up doing these pages. I’ve got them somewhere. I think they’re in storage in Florida. That’s a story—that sequence is not in the book. The pencils for it are okay. The layouts are good, the story’s good, but I was never happy with it. I didn’t get the level of realism that I do when I use models.
As someone who really struggled to find you’re style, it’s interesting that you have served as the artist to so many writers—that was the case on [Shooting War and 08]. How did you fall into that?
It was the most frustrating thing in the world [laughs]. I fought tooth and nail on both projects, and I wound up doing a good deal of uncredited writing on both of them. I think I got lucky in that the best ideas that I had for both of those books were not used by either writers. So, for whatever reason, if the books came out and people were like, “those stories really sucked,” my golden pearls were not in there. The blame was not on me.
It was frustrating. I have always considered myself a writer first. <i>Red Light Properties</i> was pitched to Vertigo in 2001. It passed through three different editors’ desks before it passed off into the ages. At that time, I wasn’t drawing seriously. So, I wanted to write the book and have somebody else draw it. my choice, at the time, was Guy Davis. I thought he would have been amazing at it. I’m a big fan of his work on <i>Sandman Mystery Theatre</i>. I love the way he grounded the two leads.
I always considered myself a writer before an artist. I still do. Art is something that I learned to control. Now I can get a handle on it. Before it was something that was just exploding out of me more than the story.
You compared it to filmmaking earlier. Is that something that still interests you?
Yeah, someday. But I’m really in love with comics. I’d love to make a film. Yeah, sure, why not? I actually think that one of the next things I’m gonna do is write a novel. I’m already making notes. But I’m really in love with making comics. I think it’s such a great medium.
There are these editorial and business structures—outside the Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse worlds—that are getting into comics, but they don’t really understand that. So, if you’re working within those spaces or you’re working on the Internet, you can get away with a lot more than you can writing a novel for a book publisher. I think it’s a really free medium.
Comics are in my blood. I learned to read with comics. I don’t see myself ever stopping, but that also doesn’t mean that it’s the only medium that I ever want to work in.