Zona Negativa interviews Guy Davis

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David Fernández.- After The Realm (your first professional project), you had the chance to create Baker Street, alongside Gary Reed. A very personal book that not only manifests your connection with the punk movement, but also served as a homage to the Sherlock Holmes mythology and the perfect “stage” to appreciate your evolution: the first issues still had traces of manga influence -you usually highlight the impact of Katsuhiro Otomo’s work-, but in later issues the influence of European authors like François Schuiten, Regis Loisel, and specially Jacques Tardi was more tangible…

Guy Davis.- The European artists were a huge influence to my current style, the earlier japanese animation sort of style I was doing on The Realm just didn’t work for the type of stories I wanted to tell with Baker Street.

The Realm, Baker Street and Sandman Mindnight Theatre interior art.
(click over the image for a bigger size)

David Fernández.- After that, you had the opportunity to work alongside Matt Wagner and Steven T. Seagle in Sandman Mystery Theatre, a series that seem to be tailor-made for your previous interests due to its strong roots with the pulp tradition. There, your unstoppable progression was more evident than ever, and we could sense that drawing the numerous scenes of “talking heads” must be quite a challenge. Which ideas did you come up with in order to avoid making this kind of sequences boring and what artistic benefits did you get from this experience?

Guy Davis.- The “talking heads” were never really a problem, it just boiled down to pacing out the scene and dialogue between the characters and I tried to treat it as cinematic as possible with the different beats and panel breaks. I learned a lot working on that series with Matt and Steve, especially with the tight deadlines that made me make quick decisions on panel and page layout and final art.

David Fernández.- The Marquis might be classified as a landmark in your professional career, since it’s a self-made project done during your maturity, when you were able to reflect your very own imagination regarding monsters and pulp influence with total freedom. What did the creation of Vol de Galle meant to you?

Guy Davis.- The Marquis pretty much came about from putting together lots of things I always wanted to draw but never got the chance with the different work for hire jobs I was getting at the time. So it was just pure self expression and having fun telling the stories I wanted to tell outside of a company or collaboration.

The Marquis, or Vol de Galle adventures, protector of Venisalle
(click over the images for a bigger size)

David Fernández.- Obviously, another landmark in your career was to make the most of the chance to be a part of B.P.R.D.’s creative team, a result of the inevitable expansion of the Hellboy universe, but also a sum of Mike Mignola and John Arcudi wills to work with you. Do you think this chemistry, this special connection, is one of the keys to explain the huge reception of this book?

Guy Davis.- I think so, we were all friends at the start of that series and knew each other before hand and that probably made for an comfortable collaboration.

David Fernández.- According to what you said at different interviews, Mike Mignola reviewed each different stage of the creative process, to the point where you used to interchange sketches about the design of the characters: it looks like you both come from similar artistic sensibilities, but how do you think the adaptation process influenced your own style? Apparently, using massive masses of black is one of the most significant changes…

Guy Davis.- I’m sure there was a little give and take that we both got out of that design collaboration, but since we had similar tastes in monster designs there’s a blurring point were they both meet. But then there’s also the different ends of the spectrum where Mike’s goes more to superhero Kirby than what I would naturally do and my style gets more obscene with the creatures like I did with The Marquis.

B.P.R.D. wallpaper.: The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense
(click over the image for a bigger size)

David Fernández.- Regarding the previous question, you are very well known for your capacity to create monsters that could be born in the worst nightmare. How does the design change, depending on whether you’re working on The Marquis or B.P.R.D. (where you might have to adapt your style to a concrete “fictional universe” with its own aesthetic)?

Guy Davis.- That’s pretty much it, for BPRD I try to design for Mikes world and aesthetic, while with the Marquis I’m designing for that world. And that goes for any other book or conceptual design I’m doing. I hope that each creature is unique for the world it would be set in.

David Fernández.- Not only in BPRD, but also in other works, we can appreciate that your level of detail and care regarding architecture (viewpoints,perspectives…) has always been quite remarkable. Both aspects are linked to how concerned you are when working on backgrounds (an aspect that you consider as important as the character design) and the storytelling. Are these aspects of your work the ones that give you more headaches? Where does this interest towards architecture and fantastic (while at the same time feasible and coherent) locations and objects come from?

Guy Davis.- I’ve always love looking at architecture and that probably just crossed over into wanting to draw it. I’m sure lots of it gave me headaches over the years, but I always thought the setting of a story is as important as the characters in making the book feel whole.

David Fernández.- Regarding the inking, apparently you’re incorporating brushes instead of using felt-tip pens and nibs. What chances have you undergone when inking and which are your goals?

Guy Davis.- No, I pretty much still use nibs for everything with some brush mixed in. I like the look of brush when I see others using it, but I never had much hand for it so I always use it after the nib work.

Some monsters design, by Guy Davis. More, on CBR.
(haced click sobre la imagen para ampliarla)

David Fernández.- Taking on account that BPRD was one of your more succesful works, the way it suited to your own personal tastes, and the chemistry between the creative team, was it hard to take the decission of leaving the series? What did you feel when drawing your last BPRD page?

Guy Davis.- It was a hard decision, but after 8 years and around 56 issues it felt like it was tme. To be honest I can’t remember what I felt when I finished the last page, but I think it felt weird to know I was finally done.

David Fernández.- Could you explain us what are you working on right now, and what are your future plans, after leaving BPRD?

Guy Davis.- I’m pretty much just focusing on the Marquis for my comic work and telling the rest of the stories I want to tell with that character. The plan is to do the remaining books as original graphic novels through Dark Horse starting with Dark Horse, comenzando con The Marquis and the Midwife. Aside from the comic work, I’ve also been doing more conceptual design for film and video games too.

David Fernández.- That’s all on our part. We just want to thank you for your time, patience and kindness. Best of lucks for every present and future projects.

Links


 Guy Davis’ official website.
 Author’s blog, focused on The Marquis.
 Spanish and english Wikipedia entries for Guy Davis.
 Guy Davis interviews, published on Comics Bulletin, Saint James, CBR, Shelfari, Zombie Reporting Center, Geek! (MTV), Thick, The Heroes Online Blog, Comic Monsters and Newsarama.

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