Dan Brereton: The Spookiest Guy In Comics

By Jason Brice and Park Cooper
[First published at Silver Bullet Comics]

Let us start out by thanking Dan Brereton, who is both a gentleman and a scholar, and who saved our bacon when it looked like we wouldn't have a feature article this week! We're sure you'll all have as much fun reading it as we did putting it together.

Park Cooper: Will 7 Caskets (your new JLA project) be part of regular DC continuity? I mean, have the words "hypertime" or "elseworlds" been mentioned?

Dan Brereton: No. My editor (Dan Raspler) hates elseworlds and we both felt the story didn't warrant the elseworlds logo. So it's a continuity story.

Jason Brice: In commenting on 7 Caskets on your website, you said that you were trying to go for a less Morrison, more-60's type of feel for the JLA. Does this mean we will see some of the flavor of artists like Mike Sekowsky in your work on this project?

DB: Hmm. I wish. I will say that I'm trying to make them as simple, heroic and iconographic as possible. I love the simplicity and fun-ness of the early stuff. I don't intentionally plan to pepper the work with an artist's flavor, but if it turns up in there, I'd be pleased. Mostly, I'm just trying to be true to the characters themselves, get into their heads and portray them effectively. Its fun so far, but it's also a lot of work. I'm used to working loosely and from the hip more when I paint, and it just doesn't work that way with JLA. It's a learning experience I'm grateful for, though.

PC: What's it like to draw Supes and Batman again after Legends of the World's Finest?

DB: Pure fun. I'm older and hopefully a little more mature than when I did LOTWF, and I tend to want to portray them as real veterans. Superman is a character I feel I understand so much better now. I'm equally loving doing Green Lantern, Aquaman and of course, Wonder Woman. I think she's my current favorite right now, actually.

JB: What tools do you use in your work? Do you prefer a particular brand of brushes or paints, for example?

DB: Windsor-newton watercolors and brushes. I recently started using Holbein watercolors and I like them too. Some water color dyes, some acrylic gesso, a small amount of colored pencil and acrylic. Robert Simmons brushes are good.

I cover all this on the Technique page of my website.

JB: You say in your website that you alternate between doing commercially oriented projects, and those of a less commercial nature. Did you deliberately set up this process, or was it just a pattern you fell into?

DB: I fell into it. In some ways it's completely necessary in order for my fan base to grow, to help promote sales of stuff like Nocturnals and Giantkiller, and when I do more commercial work, my publishers feel more confident when I want to do something more personal or creator-owned. Plus, it's just plain fun.

JB: Is there any difference in the way you approach the more-commercial jobs? Does the involvement of other people have much
of an impact?

DB: I tend to adopt the characters I don't own,when I'm working with them, whereas the characters I create are like my flesh and blood. I have a built-in love for them, whereas I tend to learn to love the characters I work on I don't own; Buffy, Superman, Batgirl, etc. I also have to factor in that licensed characters have owners I am accountable to, and they've trusted me with their product so you have to respect that.

JB: How did you get involved with Steve Grant's @Venture? What do you hope to gain from it as a whole? Wider acceptance of you as a prose writer, or simply as a tool to hone your skills?

DB: Steven (nobody calls him Steve : ) and I have been friends for years and have a long history of bouncing ideas back and forth and we both love crime fiction. I've always given him my support when he's asked for it, and the @venture.com idea is a great one. Readers of comics and other medium should find the site a real joy; there just aren't enough slots open for creators to fill in comics and being able to take a short story I wrote and publish it on the web is a hell of a sight better than letting it sit forgotten (although there are some that might argue that my story deserves to go unread) on your hardrive, unread, unseen. Here are people out there who want these stories and now we can give them to them with a minimum of fuss, without having to switch career gears and peddle the work to publishers I personally wouldn't know how to get interested, let alone publish me. And if along the way, something comes of a story on the web zine, all the better.

I see it as the return of the pulp. An online pulp magazine, if that doesn't sound like something worth doing, I don't know what is.

PC: I noticed from your site you are, like myself, big on the concept of Big Old Primeval Evil... as portrayed in movies like EYES OF FIRE or even, in a way, BLAIR WITCH... as William Lee said in NAKED LUNCH: "There's an evil there, gentlemen, that was there before the arrival of the pilgrims... it was there before the arrival of the Indians..." Any comments on this concept?

DB: The idea of not just ancient evil, but forces or races beyond our knowledge or understanding existing outside our influence and our time is a fascinating subject for stories. The earth is so damn old. We can't ever know what has transpired in pre-human history. The fossils and remains we do have don't even come close to explaining earth's mysteries, and leave us debating and scratching our heads...I love that! It means I have room to imagine things that might have been. Cosmic truths that may only exist in a story but are fascinating
nonetheless.

It's why I love Lovecraft and Robert E Howard, and why organized fundamentalist religions bore me-- bore me because of the lame-ass verison of history and the limitation and destruction of possbilities that it promotes. There's a line in the the old testament about there being giants in the earth in those days, etc.. and that line says it all, because it alludes to wonder and mystery and things beyond our understanding. There are crazy wild stories in the Bible that perfectly point out the same sense of wonder in any Lovecraft yarn. but the fact that western religion seeks to undo the mystery and the magic and the darkness in the bible sends me packing. It ruins it.

I saw the 13th Warrior last summer, I have it on DVD now. I love this movie; it's a better Conan movie that either of the two Conan films. It really tapped into, for me, the idea of this ancient ancient planet and all the races, peoples, civilizations that have conquered and populated it. Vikings versus neanderthals! What an awesome concept.

PC: Can you give any further comment on Howard and Lovecraft? For
example, how you feel about other people's visual interpretations of their works or the 'feel' thereof, visual or otherwise?

DB: Lovecraft and Howard were just as influenced in their work as the writers and artists who are inspired by them today. its a cycle of stories and ideas that are as old as history, and when they're done well I love them. When they are done well, they're great. I love seeing the Lovecraft influence in a piece of work, whether it's a Superman cartoon, a Mark Frost novel, Hellboy. I'm just surprised that Hollywood hasnt latched onto Lovecraft's work more. Maybe that wave is coming and if it does come, I'll be waiting in anticipaiton because it hasn't been done well yet. The Mouth of Madness scratched the surface and none of the Lovecraft-based (for lack of better description) works have been any good. I'm still waiting for that ultimate Lovecraft trip on the big screen...