Friday, December 17, 2010

Dan Smith Hacks Up The Samurai

To know Dan Smith is to love him. To see Dan's work is to be amazed by the level of imagination and humor he infuses into his work. Dan is a master of many styles and always seems to have a particualar take on everything he is working on. Whether he is doing realistic illustrations for role playing games or doing sketch cards of obscure characters Dan always brings his unique creative powers to the project.

Read below and learn about Dan's process behind his story for Samurai The Graphic Novel.

You can pre-order Samurai The Graphic Novel here: Samurai Pre-Order

Karl Altstaetter
Samurai The Graphic Novel

In two sentences what is your STGN about?

How everyone influences everyone, no matter if it is positive or negative. What you say and do will have consequences.

Where did your STGN story come from? What were your trying to achieve with the art?
The classic samurai movies were my main impetus for doing "An Honorable Death". Throne of Blood/Kwaidan for the ghost aspect and Harikiri for the winter setting.  The art style was trying to incorporate a slightly anime feel to my normal cartoon style...

What was your experience like working on Samurai The Graphic Novel. Was it a challenge?

It was a challenge. My initial story was 32 pages, and 1/4 of the way through it had to be pared down to 24 pages due to space restrictions...which was good, because it tightened the story into what I believe to be a better read. Second, my collaborators were coming up with such great concepts and art, it forced me to get my A game the end, I am pleased with my results. (Never satisfied, but pleased. ;).)

What was your process for creating your story for STGN? Describe it step by step.
I work in a strange "artist" way (of which I am in the process of NOT doing...) of :
1. Concept-plot and script ideas
2. Layout- breakdowns of the pages
3. Story-text
4. Art-pencil/ink/color
5. Word balloons and final text.

In one word what best describes your style?

How many years have you been creating art?
36 years.

What's your biggest influence artistically/story wise?
No one specifically, although in the future I will probably "use" someone in particular to keep my course more consistant.

Why do you think the idea and iconography of the Samurai resonate with the imagination?
Samurai tales are like western tales as they speak of personal moral issues. And they are visually powerful!

If you were a Samurai what part of Bushido (The Samurai code) best describes you. Pick two: loyalty, honor, obedience, duty, honoring your elders/ancestors, and self-sacrifice.
Loyalty and duty.

The sword was the main weapon of the Samurai. What is your weapon of choice when it comes to art?
A really sharp pencil, its my artistic fetish. (That's why I always carry an electric pencil sharpener.)

When you create an idea what's your first action? Write it out? Do layouts? Character designs?
Character designs/Layouts. I'm very visual when it comes to writing.

What do you hope readers will get out of your story in Samurai?
I hope they will enjoy it and maybe realize the importance of what they do.

What are your latest projects or projects you are going to be working on in the future?
I have finished a preview issue of a space prison opera story called INFERNUS (Think Escape from Alcatraz meets Star Wars with my weirdness thrown in.), I am also working on one arc of Jamie Gambell's HERO CODE series.


  1. Quick and to the point - just like the man and his art. For anyone who doesn't know Dan, he's among the more agile cartoonists I know - kind of like Sergio Aragones with some serious punk rock thrown in there for good measure.

    If you happen to be in his immediate radius at a convention, stop and watch the guy tear up a sketch card. As a matter of fact you will have that chance if you attend Amazing Arizona in January - as he and many of these Samurai creators will be in attendance.

  2. True. Dan is the man at shows. The fastest and coolest sketch artist you will find at any show.

  3. I'm loving the behind the scenes insights and background on the process of an artist. It always grants you a deeper appreciation for the work (and in this case the story).

    best of luck with Samurai! Looking forward to more great posts. I put a link up on my blog!