Interview with Dan Cornwell – Artist on Rom of the Reds by John Wagner & Alan Grant

RomP1cropBack in November I reviewed The Heather Ale by Jack Lothian & Alan Brown. In that review I mentioned the news that a new comic had been announced by the publisher Black Hearted Press. That title was Rom of The Reds written by John Wagner & Alan Grant and illustrated by Dan Cornwell.

The comic will be colour, here is what it looks like in ink.

John Grant and Alan Wagner are giants of the UK Comic industry. Two of the finest. Dan Cornwell is a lesser known name, he is from small press background and I only know his work from Dogbreath, a 2000AD fanzine.

Dogbreath is dedicated to the story Strontium Dog, created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra. Dan illustrated a story in Dogbreath 28 and Dogbreath 29.

I had interviews with John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra published in Dogbreath 28, I’ve since published them on this blog.

So you can imagine the excitement of the Dogbreath team and those of us that read it and/or have also contributed to it.

You can see more of Dan’s art and read about his journey on his blog at WordPress.

Semple: I first saw your art in Dogbreath, how did that come about?

Dan: I was asked by Dave Evans if I would be interested in the Wirehead Rex script but there was a ‘clause’ if you like, as it also involved drawing two stories as he wanted the same artist and look for the character in both stories. As it was a new character I could see his point. Getting a new character out there, there has to be some continuity and having the same artist on both would give that I guess. It was at that point the longest story I had done. 20ish pages combined was a great challenge and a lot of fun.

Semple: Have you had other stories published before you worked on Wirehead Rex?

Dan: Yeah, that’s how I got the Wirehead gig. I’ve had a few stories published in Futurequake. One called The Price written by Derek Hamill, then A Soldiers Guilt by Ollie Masters (who’s going great guns with The Kitchen) and in the same issue there was Perks of the Job by Robert Lefebvre. I was spoilt that issue. I’ve also had a story called Area 101 by Chris Redfern in an anthology that got published but for some reason hasn’t seen the light of day yet. God knows why. It might be about to find a new home.

Semple: As I mentioned in the intro you got a rather cool gig through your work in Dogbreath. How did you first hear about the fact John Wagner was interested in working with you?

Dan: I was actually at my day job when I was Facebook messaged by the man himself! I thought it was some sort of joke if I’m honest. It isn’t something that happens every day now is it. He’s someone I’ve followed for years. I’ve collected 2000AD since ’88 and loved everything he’s done, so to get messaged by him blew me away.

Semple: Has Carlos seen your Dogbreath work?

I’m not sure. You’d have to ask him. I doubt it though, unless John has shown him.

Semple: John Wagner, Alan Grant, Carlos Ezquerra. That’s a nice set of folk to be mentioned alongside. I imagine it won’t really feel 100% till after it is in print. Have you met up with John and Alan in person yet?

Dan: Oh, I still have to pinch myself. As you say, until it’s in print it’s still just a dream. One that’s slowly becoming true though.
Every time I receive an email from John or Alan I want to stop people in the street and show them. Look at who I’m in contact with! Amazing really. I haven’t met them yet but that’ll happen soon enough. Over a few pints I’m hoping, to calm the nerves.

Semple: The comic will be launched at Glasgow Comic Con on 7th July. The guys from Black Hearted Press organise that Con. So I assume you’ll be there signing with the Writers?

Dan: Unfortunately the comic has been pushed back till early next year. This is so things aren’t rushed and the quality doesn’t drop. It has to be right and if that takes just a little bit longer then fair enough. We want the book to have a regular release and not one that’s comes out sporadically. Quality is very important. We’ll get a load of books behind us before release.

This also means I won’t be a guest at Glasgow Comic Con as there’s no book release. Shame as it would have been my first as a guest. The guys at BHP have said that I should still pop along and meet everyone anyway which would be nice.

Semple: How much input have you had in character design?

Dan: Quite a lot really. I pumped out a few designs after John explained what he was looking for and we then decided what fitted best.

Semple: The scripts from John and Alan are well-known for leaving a lot to the artist, especially John’s. Have you found it that way or have they given you more guidance on what they want?

Dan: It’s great to work that way, there’s so much freedom in your work when you’ve not got so many barriers. He’s rarely had a issue with what I’ve drawn despite me constantly asking if there’s anything he wants me to improve. When he’s worked with most of the biggest and best comic artists around your always going to be worried if your own work is up to scratch. But they have both been great with me.

Semple: This is a six-part US Format series. Is this the longest story you’ve worked on so far?

Dan: By far. It’s a great challenge. Over 120 pages, so it’s 100 more than I’ve done before (I can do maths too). It should be collected into a graphic novel too at some point in the future.

Semple: How different has it been approaching this series compared to other work you’ve done?

Dan: Every story or series is different. This is a lot more in-depth as far as characters and design. I’ve spent more time on that side of it then I would on a six pager. Just because of scale. Designing kits and the like to space ships and alien cities. It’s been great fun designing Rom and all that he comes into contact with, wherever that maybe.

Semple: Have you anything else in the pipeline with John or Alan?

Dan: Nothing at the moment. Rom is taking up most of my free time. But who knows in the future? If there was another Dredd mega epic or Dredd v Batman I might give it a look. See how busy I am. Haha. No really, I’d be very happy to work with them again. It’s been a buzz.

Semple: Has Tharg been in touch yet?

Dan: Unfortunately not. I’m guessing he’s lost my number. When/if he does everyone will know about it as I’ll be screaming it from roof tops.


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