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25th November, 2011

 An Interview with Jeremy Dale

Interview by Bernice Watson

Recently, Liberation Frequency was fortunate to grab a few moments with Jeremy Dale, creator of Skyward and well known comics illustrator… 

Liberation Frequency: It’s obvious from Skyward that you’re a fan of the fantasy genre, what novels or authors would you say inspired you most while you were coming up with the concept for this series?

Jeremy Dale: I’m a huge fan of fantasy, especially when done well. Everything from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings to Robert Asprin’s Myth Adventures, Todd Dezago & Mike Wieringo’s Tellos to Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda inspired what would eventually become Skyward.  Comics like Jeff Smith’s Bone and Bill Watterson’s brilliant Calvin and Hobbes comic strip probably played the largest role. I can’t get enough-- anywhere I can find inspiration, I’m there.

I’m a hopeless sucker for the larger-than-life in literature. 

LF: In writing Skyward you’ve drawn upon some of the great epic narratives in literature. The title of the first issue combines the titles of two books in the Old Testament, there are elements of the classic ‘monomyth’, there’s a boy and his dog, how do you envision Skyward taking these influences and using them to carve its own niche?

JD: At the heart of it, Skyward is about stumbling into the realization of who you are, who you’re meant to be, and why. Every character in the book has a purpose and a journey I’m taking them through. Every influence that you see is there pushing me to raise my game and keep the characters true to who they are, not who I’d like them to be. It’s humbling. 

LF: You chose to render Skyward completely without colour to begin with (although it is now available in full colour), was that a deliberate stylistic choice or more a question of time/cost?

JD: I suppose it’s a bit of both, really. I’m not confident (or quick enough) in my skills to colour it myself at the moment, so the pencils-only edition is a great way to get the story out there, unhindered by any boundaries I might have otherwise.

Also, I have a lot of fans who have asked me if I could release a pencils-only version-- it’s fan service for the “process junkies” like myself who love seeing the stages the book goes through. It’s a showcase for what I can do artistically, and I hope that people are enjoying it so far. 

LF: As someone who’s worked on big name comics, how have you found the experience of producing an independent comic?

JD: It’s incredibly fulfilling creatively-- and can be rough at the same time. While it gives me the chance to exercise an entirely different set of artistic muscles creatively, doing a creator-owned, independent comic is harder to keep the bills paid. I’ve been fortunate in that I have had a significant amount of side work and commissions to keep things working smoothly. 

LF:  Many independent comic producers are now choosing to release their work digitally because of the, sometimes prohibitive, cost of printing. Did you consider this as an option for Skyward? If so, why did you choose print in the end?

JD: I will always have an option in print, but I’m looking into the various options available for a digital release as well. In my mind, the more options available to the reader to discover Skyward the better.

In fact, the Skyward #0 issue, which should be released by the time this interview is published, is available exclusively through www.DoubleFeatureComics.com, a fantastic venue for creators interested in telling short stories in genres that traditionally don’t sell as well in print. From fantasy to sci-fi and beyond, the boys at Double Feature Comics are really putting out some stellar comics, and I’m excited to be a part of it. 

LF: Is Skyward your first crack at the writing side of comics? Have there been any surprises, anything that was more difficult (or easier) than you were expecting?

JD: Actually, no-- I’ve dabbled in self-publishing for years, from my mystery-adventure Trust series to the quirky superhero antics of Absolute Zeroes. I’m primarily an illustrator, but I live for telling my own stories and creating new worlds to explore. Every comic book creator should try it out. 

LF: Can we expect to see you taking on more writing credits in the future? Was writing something you always aspired to as well as being an artist?

JD: Here and there, perhaps. I’ve written several pitches for series with colleagues of mine to illustrate, most notably Carter Kain: Rocket Ranger (which has a preview issue available on www.indyplanet.com if anyone’s interested), which I co-created with artist Nate Lovett. He really knocked it out of the park, and we’d love to get back to that soon, actually.

Writing is something I don’t get to do as often as I’d like, but when I do I really enjoy it. I’ll never claim to be comics’ own Shakespeare, but if I’ve told a story that made you smile, that’s the best reward a guy can get. 

LF: There’s been a fair bit of controversy recently regarding the representation of women in the new DC 52. As a writer and an artist how do you find the line between sexy and slutty in your female characters?

JD: Yeah, I’ve been following some of the controversy. There’s some definite missteps there, and others where I feel people may be overreacting.

Here’s how I see it-- I love reading about all sorts of characters, and they all flesh out fictional worlds into a rich tapestry of reality. Just like men, some girls are saints, some are sinners. All keep your world honest-- the diversity of worldviews contrasts with each other, enriching the entire world we’re creating. If everyone was the same, it’d be a boring world-- I don’t have to agree with the character to respect what he or she brings to the table.

When I’m presenting my characters, I want them to keep it honest-- there’s beauty in the shades in-between.

LF: Quinn’s obviously led a pretty sheltered life up until this point but I get the feeling that he’s about to have his eyes opened. Should we be worried for the little guy?

Yeah, he’s just a kid-- he hasn’t seen a lot of the realities his father has yet, so as this much bigger world begins to unfurl around him, I think it will keep Quinn on his toes. I deliberately kept things a lot more real-world in the first issue-- there’s a big world out there, and a LOT of surprises ahead. I can’t wait to share it. 

LF: When can readers expect issue two, Taking Flight!, to be available and where is the best place for UK fans to get their hands on a copy?

JD: As I write this, issue 4 is nearly done on the drawing front. I’m far enough ahead at this point that it’s pretty difficult NOT to spoil anything coming up.

I’ve been talking to various companies about picking up the series, so that has held back releasing more issues at the moment. Watch my website over at www.jeremy-dale.com for breaking news on that soon enough.

Issue zero should be out as you read this, so head over to DoubleFeatureComics.com and check it out! I’m introducing a few more of the main characters in that tale, and it’s a fun prelude for the Skyward fans. Steve Downer returns to colour the cover for this one, and Dash Martin fills in on colours. I’ve just seen the final pages, and they’re pretty.

Stay tuned!



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