The Wolf an interview with Daniel Dowsing and Steve Wilson

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Posted April 11, 2014 by Oscar Russell in Comic Books

We The Nerdy got to chat to Daniel Dowsing and Steve Wilson about their upcoming graphic novella The Wolf (which you can check out and back on Kickstarter here), we also get talking all sorts of stuff from the fantasy elements of the book to whole Kickstarter experience and the comic industry.

We The Nerdy: So, what can we expect from The Wolf?

Daniel Dowsing: The Wolf is a graphic novella about a small, isolated town in the Arctic tundra which finds itself under siege from a large pack of wolves. The story follows our main character, Stieg, as he attempts to rescue his friend Antov from the wolf attack whilst trying to discover why, exactly, the wolves have descended on the town.

WTN: The art in the preview pages looks gorgeous and has a Tolkien-esque feel to it, was black and white always how you had envisioned this book?

DD: The story is purposefully set in the Arctic tundra – a place where for many months of the year the landscape doesn’t see sunlight – so for me I always visualised the story in stark black and white. I think it adds a cool, crispness to the scenes and having seen some of Steve’s previous black and white work I knew he could effectively create the images. As for being Tolkien-esque I hadn’t actually thought about the artwork that way but now you mention it I guess there is a magical/dreamlike quality to the story and the art can only help to enhance that. I love the way Steve illustrates the snow on the grown – it looks very sinewy and organic.

SW: As an artist, I normally work with a lot of colour but the  artwork for “The Wolf” has been an interesting brief so far. It is quite a challenge to capture the right amount of light, texture and movement with a set of reduced media, in this case mainly drawing pens.

WTN: Where did the inspiration come from for the book, your Kickstarter mentions that it is based on a true events…can you explain that more?1ca3a212119015354eb3ab9a872d9d50_large

DD: I love to read Fortean Times magazine for all its weird and wonderful stories about ghosts, UFOs and strange goings on. In one issue they covered a story about a town in Siberia that was plagued by a ‘super pack’ of around 400 wolves! The reports didn’t mention anyone being hurt but rather the wolves attacking local livestock. It was just the strangeness of an army of animals descending on a town that caught my attention and lead me to thinking of reasons why such things would happen. I’m a huge fan of Hayao Miyazaki’s films with Princess Mononoke being a particular favourite so that might have influenced my response to the news story too.

SW: I felt largely inspired to draw upon some of the techniques of classic artists like Gustave Dore and John Tenniel while utilising some of my own methods for a more contemporary result. Largely I am a pedant for real and involved art and I strive for a finish that is timeless and that might capture the imagination of the audience.
Due to the nature of this style, it takes a long time to produce (about a week’s work per page) hence often the style is used in limited amounts in the likes of fantasy books. However, to produce something truly unique it is worth setting the bar high and hopefully the end result should justify the effort!

WTN: How did you and Steve Wilson get together as a team, what drew you to his work?

DD: Steve and I are both members of our local writing group – the Bangor Cellar Writing Group (www.bangorcellarwritinggroup.co.uk) – and have known each other for sometime. Steve’s also a talented writer himself with a skill at turning a dark-comedy eye onto classic children’s stories an fairytales. This element of magic and wonder is apparent in his art work and so I knew it would work with my story for The Wolf.

SW: I met Daniel through my local creative writing group, which he was chairing at the time when I joined. What drew me to Daniel’s writing style was his effective ability to use dark and fantastical imagery narrated in a way that might capture a modern audience. There is a lot of depth to his work, mood and momentum!
I felt that my own work would complement Daniel’s quite naturally, so when Daniel approached me over combining our efforts with “The Wolf” I gladly accepted and haven’t looked back since!

WTN: The Wolf was originally planned as a short story, what made you change your mind and go for the graphic novel approach?

DD: I’ve written quite a few short stories but only four of them I’ve actually ‘completed’ and willingly share: The Wolf is one of these. I enjoy writing prose short stories – you can really play with language in a prose format – but I find the writing process for them quite slow and frustrating. The graphic novel/comic book format is, for me, a much more dynamic and faster style to write in. Also, being a fan of comics and graphic novels I simply wanted to try writing my own. I found using an existing story I had written helped to ease me into this new writing format.

e9f8945af3707b4e3aa11f430376ad06_largeWTN: How has the whole Kickstarter experience been so far?

DD: Exciting and frustrating! Building the pitch, making the video, working out rewards and costs is exhilarating and fun. Seeing a project come to life is quite something! Once we launched it was still exciting to see people backing us but also frustrating that it wasn’t happening as quickly as I hoped – other Kickstarter projects make it look so easy! There’s also the risk of doubt creeping in – ‘oh dear, no one is backing us, our project must suck’ kind of thing.

SW: The Kickstarter experience so far has been a real eye-opener! The skill of combining social media tools in an effectively friendly but promotional way is imperative to its success. So far through the process, we have made new friends, revisited old contacts and brought everyone together under our united goal, to see “The Wolf” in print. We would highly recommend to anybody interested in Kickstarter to take the plunge and explore the exciting possibilities it holds!

WTN: Any tips for aspiring artists and writers and artists?

DD: For writers you’ve just got to keep writing – write something every day even if it’s just a ten word sentence. Keep making contacts both socially and professionally, keep believing in yourself and your work. Don’t be embarrassed to share your work; write a blog, create a website to display your work, join a writing group. Don’t be afraid to receive criticism. Above all – and this one has really got me through some tough times – keep inspired. Read lots, watch lots, play lots. The people who create the things we love all started from somewhere: even Shakespeare was a first time writer!

SW: Tips for up and coming artists and writers is always going to be the golden question! When undergoing a major creative project there are a number of helpful things to keep in mind. With the amount of creative energy channelled into the work, it is easy to get emotional about the outcome but the fact of the matter is that publishing world is a “rather hard nut to crack”. So I would advise the following, be flexible to the approach yet uncompromising to the resolve of your project. Be patient, yet persevering and you may surprise yourself at what may be achieved!

WTN: This is your first printed publication, has it been a steep learning curve, any obstacles you have had to overcome that you hadn’t planned for?

DD: I’ve been writing for years and yet to be published as a writer – though I have been published as a writer for two computer games. The ultimate learning curve is learning to deal with rejection, picking yourself up again and trying again. I’ve found a lot of publishers/agents will make you jump through hoops to get their attention – we approached one publisher about The Wolf whose submission process was to simply send ‘a small sample of work’. We sent them the first completed six pages of the book at which point they replied that the sample wasn’t big enough! It’s frustrating and can be soul breaking but if you want something you’ll get back on the horse and keep trying!

706e0a187c902a151c6bf5981c95cf57_large f1345ec514cc092c818c5f6bc1f79d37_largeWTN: Steve – This isn’t your first published book, how has this differed from previous publications, and has the fact it is a KS project played a difference in that?

SW: The Kickstarter approach to producing a book has played out in quite a different way to my prior work. I think that what what is most different about it is the amount of interaction with your potential audience during the creation process. While normally I might quietly lock myself away with my work, it is much more important to share what  I am doing as I am doing it with Kickstarter. That way, your potential backers might feel much more in touch with and part of the process. It really is quite an organic relationship with people who might ultimately become your networking friends.

WTN:What has you main method for getting the word out their been for people to back the project, and are you involved with the British Indie Comic scene at all?

DD: Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr are the obvious ones we’ve used. Personally I’ve found Twitter to be the best for spreading word of your project but the specialised Facebook groups better for creating a fan base. We’ve been in contact with our local newspapers who are about to run a story on us – my advice is to approach them with a ‘local community’’ vibe e.g. local writer and artist need your help! I’ve also been in touch with my university who are running a story on us on their website and social media. Different slant this time – Alumni needs your help! You can’t just sit and hope for people to notice (though in the case of We The Nerdy that was the case!) your Kickstarter so approaching specialist outlets is a good idea. I wrote a press release for The Wolf and sent it to loads of online comic/graphic novel websites and blogs. Just keep making a lot of noise is the best advice. As for the British Indie Comic scene I’m completely new to it but Steve and I are planning to visit comic cons to display The Wolf once it is printed.

You can find more about the Kickstarter project here and also follow Daniel Dowsing on twitter @D_Dowsing to keep up to date. We The Nerdy wishes the guys luck with the project which ends on April 22nd.

 


About the Author

Oscar Russell

Comics Editor for WTN, and co-host of the All New Comics Dash Podcast. I like comics and tabletop gaming!