Love, war and Brooklynite perversions. Plenty of bite in Dan Goldman‘s comics, whether it’s his Iraq graphic novel with Anthony Lappe : ‘Shooting War’ (.com ), or “Kelly”, his ‘damaged romance Craigslist thriller serialized weekly on ACT-I-VATE ( a cool and prolific webcomics collective ). He was also cheerful enough to answer the comic fanboy questions below.
What made you realise you wanted to make Shooting War?
First and foremost, that reading it scared me. Aside from its snarky attitude, the plausibility of our near-future was as awful as it is likely. That and the script was full of things I wasn’t sure I could render as intended. As a rule of thumb, if something scares me… I charge right for it, my Taurean method of meeting conflicts head-on.
What roles and relationships did you have making Shooting War?
Initially, Anthony was to deliver the script in screenplay format and I’d adapt the script into comics. We’d meet early in the week, talk through things, and then I’d chicken-scratch the script into page layouts in my pocket moleskine. Pretty early on, we realized that ideas were coming into the script from these sessions, and the whole project got a lot more collaborative. Having never been in Iraq, I had a lot of questions that were important to me in making this place ring true, as a service to both sides of the conflict… but I’ve been writing/drawing comics for several years and my experience came into play structuring the story, pacing the rise and fall of the conflicts, developing Abu Adallah and weaving the threat of the Sword of Mohammed into what they ultimately become in the final novel. On the credits page, Anthony is the writer and I am the illustrator, but the baby definitely has his eyes and my nose.
What feedback surprised you about it?
How quickly it spread and how many people it resonated with; by the time the third episode hit the web, we’d gotten a glowing full-page review in the Village Voice and it was obvious that it was only the beginning. As happy as I am about all our press for the webcomic, I am twice as excited to see old fans blown away twice when they see the final OGN in their hands.
How do you feel about some of the criticisms from soldiers?
The constructive criticisms have been plugged back into the book version, fixing details that we simply weren’t privvy to during our online run. We were lucky to have a very vocal community spring up around our comic; SHOOTING WAR is by its nature controversial and polarizing, and I’m fine with that, as long as those offended understand the spirit the satire is intended, and how as horrible as the world is/will be, it’s the brighter future we’re all reaching for.
How does public sentiment about the war in Iraq seem to be changing in the states?
The public-opinion puppet show has deemed it OK to criticize the war in 2007, when doing the same in 2002 was a bit more dangerous. Is public opinion changing…? Depends on the media coverage; people have notoriously short attention spans here… and even more are simply tired of hearing about it and change the channel. That’s almost as disheartening as watching the government constantly extending that length of rope it’s supposed to be hanging itself with.
When’ll Shooting War be concluded in print, and will the conclusion eventually be published online also?
SHOOTING WAR will be concluded in print, but the entire print work will be re-cut and re-sequenced to have a more novelistic feel instead of being broken into episodes as it was online. As well, I’ve literally reworked every single panel in the graphic novel to nail the tone just right and best serve Jimmy’s journey. The print version will be previewed online but we’re not planning on concluding the book online for free; I don’t think Grand Central would be amenable to that.
Ze economics of comics. What ways do you see forward, and is there any divide between online and print comic makers?
The techniques, form and medium are all different, and the skills sets needed to create them as well. That said, what binds print and web comics together is the language they use, which is exactly the same glorious visual tongue. Any divide between the two is implied, in my mind; a comic is a comic is a comic to me, and the physical medium the story’s told in is just the container for the dream.
What binds the ACT-I-VATE online community together, and what has inspired about that?
Pure and simple: a love of reading/making comics, learning from each other’s experiments, and pride in the work that we’re all creating side-by-side. We all love what we’re doing over there, free and wild, and the instant gratification of the feedback from our viewers only stokes the ego-flames and keeps us happy as we take our stories closer to the finish line week in after week out.
Favourite non-ACT-I-VATE webcomics?
*A.D. by Josh Neufeld : a nonfiction narrative structured around Josh’s experiences in post-Katrina New Orleans.
*NOWHERE GIRL by Justine Shaw is quite interesting as well; the art is cozy and clean.
*Anything by Derek Kirk Kim; his “Same Difference” made me cry at work and got me thinking about webcomics in a different way (and he’s so goddamned good it hurts). There are literally thousands more for you to check out; planet comics is fit to explode at the seams, it seems.
As a comic artist, do you harbour plans for storyboarding and making animated films?
Someday I’d love to make some films, it’s what I studied in university… but at the moment I’ve got complete creative control over my works, and that’s something nearly unique in the artistic landscape. Wouldn’t trade that for the world.