Dan Nokes is a small press comics creator whose current effort is a three-issue Western mini-series titled The Pisoleers. The Maryland-based creator’s previous works include The Reptile and Mister Amazing (2002) and the 12-issue maxi-series The Paranormals (2003-2008).
Question 1: When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics for a living?
When I was 15. I had walked into a comic book store for the first time in a couple of years and saw a copy of X-Men penciled by Jim Lee. I fell back in love with comics and the idea of being a comics creator from that point on.
Question 2: Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?
My oldest friend, Tom. He was the first person and for a long time the only person I could be “geeky” with. He was the guy who introduced me to most of my passions in stories, comics, sci-fi and a vast cornucopia of all things pop culture that ate up large chunks of both my childhood and adult lives
Question 3: Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career, and how has that person changed your work?
Will Eisner. I saw him at the SPX in 2000. I was still trying to form what would become 21st Century Sandshark Studios, my one man publishing company and wanted to get a consensus of how to do-it-yourself from other indie artists and creators. So I went to SPX and while there heard that Eisner was doing a one-on-one interview with Jeff Smith. I saw him at the time because, hey, he’s holy trinity territory with Lee and Kirby. So I kinda saw him initially for the same reason I went to see the Rolling Stones — for the opportunity to say I saw the Stones even though they blew asphalt and was the worst concert I ever saw. Fortunately Eisner was anything but! At 83 he blew away my preconceptions of a near senile old dolt recanting prehistory with comics and replaced them with a Socratic philosopher who knew exactly where comics came from, were at, and were heading! I was awed and inspired and am eternally grateful for the hour he gave that changed my life.
Talk with likeminded — and sometimes not likeminded — creative types. I find talking shop gets me exited about what I’m doing
Question 5: Describe your typical work routine.
Try to fit comics and related business between my spare moments — day job, personal life, etc. I draw during my lunch hour and try to edit when I get home from work until 11:00 or midnight, get up at 6:00 AM and repeat.
Question 6: What writing, drawing, or other tools do you use?
Whatever I can get my hands on.
Question 7: What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?
Definitely the idea that I use two different talents, writing and art, to tell a good story, and that others get a kick out of it.
My current project The Pistoleers. It’s stretching me in new directions by trying to craft historical fiction and be somewhat accurate, as well as drawing and crafting things that are completely alien to my repertoire like steam Locomotives, horses, and western backdrops.
Question 9: We’ve all met very talented newcomers who are trying to get their first professional projects. What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard given to a promising new creator?
Grow a thick second skin and be prepared for rejection. Use it to improve yourself and for creative fire to keep yourself going.
Question 10: Time to get philosophical: What’s the most important “big idea” that you’ve learned in life – in or out of comics – and why is it important?
That, in the end, your education in your craft is a lifelong experience. There is always something new to learn.
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