Filed under: Interviews | Tags: Dan Harris, Eagle Awards, Gavin ‘Evo’ Evans, Gavin Mitchell, Jim Bampfield, Kris Carter, Lou Scannon
It’s no secret that the Lou Scannon title from Dan Harris, Kris Carter & Jim Bampfield is a favourite of mine – check out the reviews here: #1 & #2, #3. It’s a sci-fi comedy and more fun that many comics are able to pull-off on their best days. I got the chance to interview the guys and they even sent me through some exclusive preview art from issue #4 – Phazers set to FUN!
What was the inspiration for Lou Scannon?
Dan Harris: Back when we were doing Animation in university, we were encouraged to keep character sketchbooks that we could play around with in our spare time. Designing and then developing characters through the book for potential use in our end of year films. I had a few books back then and was trying to force bizarre ideas onto paper rather than letting it flow. It was different with Lou though. The idea just flowed on to the paper. Then I needed a name. At the time I had been role playing with a couple of guys in Cardiff and one of them had a gift for coming up with ridiculous names on the spot. One was Lou Scannon and it kinda stuck with me. So my third year film was called “Lou Scannon and the Asteroid of Doom”. I’d had the idea that Lou was a Space-Misfit on the run from the law with the aid of his Hover droid Mal Function. There were no other crew members. It would have taken forever to animate if there were. The film was Lou asleep at the Raging Hormones wheel whilst the ship was on a collision course with an Asteroid. I tried to make the cartoon as funny as possible and Jim even did two of the voices for the film as well. Ultimately though, it wasn’t brilliant. I did manage to squeeze a couple of Star Wars gags in there though. After uni I realized that I was no animator. I didn’t have the patience for it. Being a lifelong comic book fan I thought it would be good to try and develop some of the ideas I’d had for short films in to comic books. There are two main ideas I developed. One was obviously Lou and the other is something I have currently put on the back burner for the time being while we concentrate on getting the Scannon story told. I had to develop the crew from Lou and Mal into the crew we know now and that in itself went through a few different changes. Vic was originally a character called Bob who didn’t mutate into a werewolf but had in fact been severely wounded and rebuilt Robocop style. Then I had to really develop the GCPF. Give them a history. Created a galaxy map with systems separated with their inhabited planets broken down in lots of small lists… I had a start, middle, an end but didn’t know where to pick up the story as a good introduction. I’m a self confessed Uber-Geek so in developing the story I was inspired by many different things from Sci-Fi and Fantasy as well as real life. Incorporating all this though I ended up giving myself a writer’s block. That’s where Kris came in…
Kris Carter: I was living in America when Dan first developed Lou Scannon in University. As I recall, I didn’t get to hear about Lou until I moved back home, and immediately saw the potential for the characters and the situations. So I guess in my case, Lou was my inspiration! I asked Dan if he minded me drawing some brief fan-art and small one page comics, and with his blessing, I did just that. I’d not followed much of Dan’s designs or back-story, (I was working mainly from my horrendously cack memory), I was just concerned with telling small, self-contained funny tales. After a few of these and several chats with Dan we began forming the basic ideas to produce a full 22 page story. Things stalled a little at first, and on a long-haul flight back from Australia in June 2010 I thrashed out the bulk of issue #1, ‘The Wolfman of Astrotraz’. I badgered Dan to draw this for a few months, but for whatever reason he couldn’t get the art kicked off, so I figured ‘f$%& it’ and started drawing it myself, referring frequently to Dan to make sure the stand-alone tale I’d prepped sat fairly neatly within his vision, or at least not outright contradicting it. Once Dan saw the art take shape it all began to click, and he ended up drawing four pages and the cover to that first book. One inspiration I had in writing the first issue was the sit-com medium, and I’ve tried to follow a lot of the pacing and plot construction of that medium.
Jim Bampfield: I came into Scannon during the third year of Animation with Dan. We were always working together, sharing ideas, helping each other out. One of Dan’s best qualities is his enthusiasm. You can’t help but get swept up in his boundless energy. I provided moral support and even a couple of voices for the film, including Mal in his very early form. Of course when Kris came back from America and really got the ball rolling with Lou Scannon in comic form I was honoured to be asked to re-join the universe of Lou Scannon. It’s an awesome collaborative process and we all bring something unique to the table. I think my contribution is mostly humour based. I look for the gags, the ways to skew a line of dialogue or an image to make it funnier. Dan is the heart of Lou Scannon, Kris is the brain and I guess I am the funny bone.
How is the work going with issue #4?
DH: The script is nailed down and paced really well (In my opinion) and I’ve made a start on the pencils. I’m two pages in and I know Kris and Jim have already got those bad boys greyed up already. Hopefully we will stay on schedule for a July release. I personally think that those in the know will get a real kick out of this issue. By “In the know” I mean the people who get what the cover is in reference to. The issue itself has its own great story but we certainly give a nod to some of our favourites who have gone before us.
KC: Looking good so far! We’re aiming for a July 2012 release, and Dan needs to bash out about 2 pages a week for the next 11 weeks – Jim and I will then shade it up and get it lettered and assembled. And of course, if anyone wants to send an email in for our letters page, the address is email@example.com. We thrive on nonsense. I’ve been shading the pages in full colour this time around. I don’t know if we’ll actually print in colour yet (cost issues, we’re skint, it looks good in gray, blah blah blah) but it’ll be nice to have the files there ready if we need ’em.
JB: Issue 4 is going very well. It’s all written, except for any changes we may make to the final draft. Dan is drawing at a rate of knots whilst I flat and Kris weaves his shading magic. We are a well oiled, comic producing machine.
Do you have a number of issues in mind for Lou Scannon or will you try and have it as an on-going title?
DH: Like I said, there IS an end to the story but that won’t be for a loooong old time yet. It’s a pretty big story to tell so I wouldn’t want to put an issue count on it but it isn’t one that will just go on indefinitely like some of the mainstream superhero comics. Only a handful of people know the way the story will develop so that way there’s less chance of any spoilers getting out there.
KC: Dan’s general story is a proper space opera – the issues to date are all very introductory, fun-filled fare that will world-build to the big events and landmark moments – but it’ll always be funny. Honestly, the characters are varied enough, this sucker could run and run and run. I’d love it if we could hit 60 issues, that’ d be great. Of course, at the current rate of about 3 issues a year, it’ll take 20 years to do that… so perhaps some hard-hitting and ruthless editing will be in order at some point. Sure Dan will love that, haha!
JB: I think there is enough scope to keep Lou going for a while so fear not Lou fans! I couldn’t possibly say anymore. Spoilers!!
What else are you guys working on?
DH: I currently have a few illustration gigs on the go. I know that our friends on the “Stiffs” crew have said they would like me to pencil a mini story for them but I’m still waiting on a script there. We also have a ten page Lou Scannon story that we’re doing for the next 10thology graphic novel which showcase various different welsh artists, writers, talent, stories etc. That should be out end of the year. I’ve also recently started up an art blog where I do web comics and post some of the things I’ve been working on: http://www.last-frontiersman.blogspot.co.uk/
KC: I’ve a much more traditional sitcom-style story called Spiritated which I’ve been working on for about 12 years. After working out the whole indie-comic-production-process-shenanigans with Scannon, I may try and do Spiritated in a similar fashion at some point. Other than that I’m working on producing digital colours for ‘Team MOBILE’ for ROK Global, and also for ‘The Pride’ for Deadstar Publishing. I’m also working on colours for a graphic novel for BBC books, and have also produced colours for ‘Crucible’, an upcoming segment in ‘Strip Magazine’. Later in the year I’ll also be working on ‘Stiffs’ for Deadstar. And in the meantime, I’ll be typing data into spreadsheets by day.
JB: Other than my Day Job I am also re-working an idea I had during my time on the Animation course.
With Lou Scannon stemming from an Animation project at Uni – are there any plans to make this into an animation?
DH: Hah! It’s funny you should say that. Let’s just say there may be something in the works at the moment but i’m not too sure I should give away any more than that…
KC: What Dan said. We may be pulling in some serious favours…
JB: I think the possibilities for Lou Scannon in other media are huge and I am sure we will explore other ways of enhancing the Lou Scannon experience. We benefit from having dabbled in a number of different media through our art and design education and we are quite savvy to what works. Watch this space.
What titles do you guys read now?
DH: Not as much as when I was working in Forbidden Planet! I can tell you that much! It takes something special to float my boat these days but I’m reading: House of Mystery – I absolutely adore this comic. Many may disagree but I think the storytelling is so much better than in a lot of other titles… The Goon – Consistently high quality in art and story. The Unwritten – I was a big fan of Lucifer by Mike Carey and so I naturally picked up Unwritten – Really bizarre but brilliant. Really captures my imagination at least. Hellboy – Nuff said really. The Boys – I love Garth Ennis. I don’t find the later stories quite as good as the earlier ones though to be honest. I also picked up Blacksad in Hardback. If you’re an artist and want to feel inadequate about yourself, give this a go. It’s stunning. I’m a big Green Lantern fan too (I have Green Lantern figures all over my tattoo studio) but I’m a touch out of the loop there with the comics… far too much to keep up with now.
KC: Like a mechanic who doesn’t drive, this comic-book colourist tends not to read comics for the most part. I have recently started picking up Transformers comics again, after a two year hiatus. I’ve enjoyed all of Preacher, and read a fair chunk of The Boys. Aaaand that’s about it.
JB: I’ve just finished Volume 11 of Powers which I am thoroughly enjoying. I am also really into the Marvel Ultimate universe. I have around seven Ultimate related Graphic novels to get through at the moment so plenty to keep me busy.
Are there any writers/artists that you tend to look out for?
DH: Oh absolutely! In terms of writers, there is my favourite writer Neil Gaiman. I read anything by him. The man is a writing genius. There’s also Garth Ennis, Mike Carey and I used to read a lot of Grant Morrison and Mark Millar stuff but not so much lately! Artists I love… Well I have to tip my hat to the late, great Michael Turner. Without him I would never have had the love for comics as an adult that I do now. But that is a whole other story. I love the work of Humberto Ramos, Mike Mignola, Jock and so many more that if I were to list them all we would be here all day. Special mention to Mark Bagley too. When I was a kid in the early 90’s his Spider-man was second to none. His work on the “Maximum Carnage” storyline was untouchable too.
KC: Simon Furman & James Roberts – I’ll read anything written by those guys, fantastic stuff. Art-wise, Geoff Senior, Andrew Wildman and Nick Roche are all people I CRAVE to be able to draw like. Outside of Transformers comics, I admire Steven Moffat, Jimmy McGovern, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett amongst others…
JB: Comics-wise what with my love of Powers and Ultimate Spider-Man I’d have to say Bendis. I also like Garth Ennis’ twisted vision. Dan has introduced me to ‘The Boys’ which I think will be the next series for me to collect. As for other influences…they are vast. I have a deep love of the original Star Wars films not just because they are great, fun films but also the technical advances that they brought about. I am a massive comedy fan and the list is never ending. Monty Python especially appeals to my strange sense of humour. Finding the ridiculous angle in everyday situations is something that never fails to amuse me. Obviously Father Ted and Spaced come into that too. Like Kris I am also a huge fan of Steven Moffat. His work on Doctor Who and Sherlock is genius……plus he is the man who gave us Geoff from Coupling. Nuff said!
Indie/small press titles seem to be thriving just now in the UK, how does it feel to be part of that?
DH: Soooooo good! I have wanted to do the Lou comic now for a long time but to have it so well received and in less than a year? I think that it’s more than any of us could have hoped for really! It seems that the days of going to conventions where the small press titles were comics put together from photocopies at your local spar are long gone! There’s a lot of quality stuff coming out at the moment from some talented people so to be a part of that is quite the honour! We just hope to continue to expand and increase our distribution. We appreciate every person so far to “Take a punt” on us and we hope that they all know that.
KC: It’s very exciting! I feel like we have a lot to prove and that our small little book can provide as much fun and entertainment as the big companies!
JB: It’s a fantastic community to be a part of and the support we receive from fellow artists and writers is greatly appreciated. Plus we like to do our bit to help promote others too. We’ve made a lot of great friends and we all feed each other’s creativity.
Which cons will you be attending this year?
DH: Well we’ve done Cardiff already this year and we will be at the Bristol con in May… We’re not too sure about what the summer will hold overall but we will also be attending the Thought Bubble convention this year for the second time. We had a great time when we launched issue 2 there last year and are really looking forward to going back.
KC: Bristol and Thought Bubble definitely, and I’ll also be a guest at Auto-Assembly in Birmingham in August. Hopefully we can attend some more if funds and time allow.
JB: As many as we can I think. It’s a chance to sell our stuff, make new contacts and meet up with our fellow indie comic creators. Bristol and Leeds are definitely on the cards.
How does it feel to get a well-deserved nomination for this year’s Eagle Awards?
DH: Aw man, I can’t put that in to words! I was surprised when people had first put us forward as a suggestion because at the time issue 2 had not long come out! To make it through that stage though and end up as a finalist up against the likes of Commando and Viz amongst others really knocked us for six! With us running against such big names, we’re certainly not expecting to win but the fact that we’ve got this far when we’re only a small outfit is something we’re incredibly proud of! A big thank you to everyone who has voted for us!
KC: Deeply, deeply chuffed! It was a brilliant surprise, and a great validation of our hard work! I doubt very much we’ll actually win anything, but just getting the nomination was brilliant. We’re indebted to everyone who supported us!
JB: The nomination is mind-blowing and we are truly humbled and grateful for everyone’s votes and support. It’s a great feeling that something that entertains us when we write and draw it connects with other people and we love the feedback we are getting.
Big thanks to the Lou Scannon team for the interview – a great comic in the UK indie world….and one that I hope runs as long as a Space Opera can run.
I’d also like to mention the variant cover artists Gavin Mitchell & Gavin ‘Evo’ Evans…who have made me realize how much of a complete geek I am when I consider buying up EVERY cover that’s out there for Lou Scannon……..
You can catch-up on all things Lou Scannon via their website….and you can buy the comics there too….which you really should have done already:
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