Friday, November 16, 2012

Drop Dead Dangerous: Artist Interview


Horror/Mystery manga from the Philipines with art by Mike Banting.

The Blob Shack is proud to Mike Banting the artist in the creative team behind Drop Dead Dangerous. Earlier this year we were lucky enough to talk to writer Chad Cabrera.

Banting and Cabrera's book is a horror/action manga set in the American Wild West. This current, fresh comic series has many influences including Sukiyaki Western Django (2007), Katshiro Otomo (Akira) and Osamu Tezuka (Astroboy).

There's tragedy and suspense surrounding the lead characters, a strange serial killer hunting them and the tide of fly-covered bodies that pile up between the three of them. Let's get right to the interview with artist Mike Banting.

BS: Hello, Mike. Can you tell me about your title, your team and where you guys are based?

Mike Banting: Drop Dead Dangerous is a murder mystery manga set in the weird, weird west. It tells the story of detective Jack Smith and his newfound partner Alice as they try to figure out the culprit behind the latest string of serial killings.

Oh yeah, the way the victims were murdered share the M.O. of a previous serial killer Jack fought and thought he had killed a year ago. It's got some elements of horror in it, and, being set in the weird west, you never know just what kind of horror to expect!

Chad Cabrera handles the words and I'm in charge of the purdy pictures. We're based in the Philippines!

BS: Your work seems very polished. How long have you been drawing?

MB: Thanks a bunch! I've been drawing since kindergarten, because I watched too much Transformers, Voltes V and Toushou Daimos. I eventually got out of my mecha/giant robot phase and got interested in swords and ninjas in high school.

BS: What techniques and software do you use in your process? Can you talk generally about the time you spend on each part of the process?

MB: I've been drawing digitally for almost three years. I work in Manga Studio for my lineart. For colors and effects, I still use Photoshop.

The way I usually work on a script is to layout the entire story first, that way I can make some adjustments before I tackle the roughs. Since Chad gives me so much liberty for the action scenes in DDD, this method works for me (most of the time, haha), but it's still one of the more time consuming parts of the process. I also plot the letters in this stage.

For the initial roughs/sketches, it takes me 2-3 hours, depending on the page, and quite a bit more if it's an action scene (maybe 3-5 hours). The inking stage is easier because it's now more of a mechanical process than the previous. I can also adjust/correct some things when applicable. Inking can take me between 2-4 hours, with toning/gradients.

Flashback scenes in DDD are colored in grayscale. The coloring process can take 1-3 hours at most.

BS: I'm reminded of Mr. Katsuhiro Otomo of Akira in your work but who do you personally think has the most influence on your finished panels?

MB: Two of my biggest Japanese influences are Osamu Tezuka (Princess Knight, Black Jack, Astroboy) and Nobuhiro Watsuki (Rurouni Kenshin, Busou Renkin). My style has changed a lot over years of exposure to other mangaka, European artists, and super talented people at deviantART. For my work on DDD, personally I think it’s Mr. Watsuki's influence dominating my pages.

BS: The art and story for DDD are sometimes grim and dark (duels, serial killer). Can you talk about what you think about this aspect? What inspires the authentic sense of danger and tension of DDD?

MB: To be honest, this is my first time doing a noir-ish horror story, but it gives me the opportunity to dive into a new genre, and I'm learning a lot as we go!

Though I'm relatively new to horror comics, I always enjoy a good, campy horror/slasher film. The violence in DDD is sometimes B-movie-esque, so to speak. Video games like the Resident Evil, Silent Hill and Fatal Frame series also help me visualize some aspects of DDD. Mortal Kombat is always good, ridiculously gory fun.

BS: Is there a strong comics community in the part of the Philippines you live and work in? Are other Filipino creators finding success in their titles?

MB: The independent komiks community here started small, but with Komikon happening twice a year and with the advent of social media, it's now a lot easier to get connected to other creators and your readers. The recently held Komikon was the largest one yet, and there were a lot of fresh, talented guys and gals with promising titles. It's going to get competitive in the long run, but I think that's a good thing for the local scene to thrive.

Other Filipino creators have found success over the years, like Mr. Gerry Alanguilan's Elmer, Manix Abrera's Kikomachine Komix, and Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo's Trese. Hopefully, the recent Komikon was a good sign that more and more people are getting interested in comics again, and maybe next year we'll be seeing a new independent comic sharing the limelight, in a healthy local komiks scene.

BS: Where have you been promoting this book and what are your plans for national and international circulation?

MB: Aside from Komikon, we have our Facebook page and our official website. We also have copies available at Comic Odyssey if you missed our handsome mugs at conventions. Our international distribution options are digital-only for now. You can find our issues at DriveThru Comics, Graphicly and Balloon'd. Our Exclusive Kindle edition is available in Amazon!

BS: What is the next project that you will be working on?

MB: Currently, we're working hard on DDD #3 to ensure it's the best durn issue after issue #2! I'm also working with another awesome indie komiks writer on a webcomic next year, so please look forward to it, too. When I'm not too busy I sometimes participate in comic/splash page battles in devianART.

That's the interview! Thank you very much to Mike Banting for doing this interview, providing preview pages and to Chad Cabrera for making it all happen so smoothly. Please check out their title, Drop Dead Dangerous.

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