Sunday, June 26, 2016

Backstage Pass June: Daniel Sharp

Hey, Guys! We Got You A Pass!

Let's Go Backstage And Meet Daniel Sharp!

So Dan, tell us about yourself!

Rockwell had it right 
I'm a husband, father, and MD/PhD student (school forever!). In my "spare" time I write our comic, volunteer as the Scoutmaster for the Boy Scout troop my church sponsors. 

Main Project

 The Demon Archives, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi story featuring powered armor and snarky AIs. 

Other Hobbies And Obsessions

 Alongside the classics of reading and video games, I guess, I recently discovered/decided that table top gaming (a la Dungeons and Dragons) is actually a rather enjoyable way to spend time with friends. So I run and play in a couple of games in person and even online with distant friends.

So, tell us about your early experience. How did you fall in love with telling stories in pictures?

  So, first off, I am not an artist. Horribly rendered stick figures are my forte. I am a writer, and work WITH a talented artist, Sebastian Piriz ( to make our comic.
The mighty Seba
We got started when I took a creative writing class from Fantasy author Brandon Sanderson back in my last year of undergrad. My brother and I had been talking about this world/story, so I developed it into a novel. While working on that, I realized that my biggest weakness was in conveying the visual feel and setting of the story, and that it would be cool to have it as a graphic novel. So we ended up contacting and hiring Seba to draw it, and have been posting it online ever since.
The interesting Nick

What media and programs do you work in to produce your project?

This doesn't apply to me as much (Microsoft Word?), but I know that Seba uses Manga Studio and Photoshop for his inks and colors, respectively. We also make use of a site called Basecamp that allows us to coordinate effectively.

Can you tell me about your typical day or strip-creation session? How does your working process flow?

 I can't speak too much for Seba's visual process. Normally what we'll do is I'll plot out the chapter, giving it to him in chunks I think fit about a page. He is better at page and panel plotting than I, so normally he'll draw a quick sketch breaking it down visually. We'll talk about it, and he'll start doing inks while I finalize dialogue. Then he'll do the colors. It's a lot of back and forth.

Can you tell me about your storytelling process? Do you prefer to script your stories, fly by the seat of your pants, or somewhere in between?

In terms of the story planning, I initially wrote a large chunk of the story as a novel. We've since passed that point, and while I know where the story is going and have major plot points plotted out, I'm letting the story and characters grow a bit organically, one chapter at a time, for the most part. It allows me to make adjustments as I see a page, or as a reader makes a comment that makes me rethink something, etc. Plus, Seba often has great ideas for the story and characters.

You explore both the future of technology and the twists and turns of human psychology with amazing skill; your understanding of the concepts is some of the best out there. How do you go about researching ideas you'd like to use in your work?

 A lot of it just started with my brother and me chatting and spitballing about what the future could conceivably be like. While there is a lot of "rule of cool" in our choices, most of it is honestly just me extrapolating off of existing tech and possibilities. I'm rather well educated (school forever!), especially in the ability to read scientific journals and whatnot, and enjoy just thinking about things. I also try to recognize my limitations and look for expert counsel on topics I am unfamiliar with. Some of this is through books, much of it is from connecting with individuals online (in topic-oriented communities like reddit, for example).

Do your ideas grow from your reading, or do you get ideas and then research them?

 A little of both? Sometimes it's "man wouldn't it be cool if Tenzin's suit could do X? Let's look for the science about that!" Sometimes it's "Huh, neat! Scientists made prototype/proof of concept for Y. Given 100 years and some sci-fi, that could totally be Z. Let's give Tenzin Z." On average, probably more of the first variety.

What are some of your most reliable research sources?

Because of my scientific education, I feel rather confident in my ability to weed thru Google and Wikipedia to find good data. Often that means finding some popular science article and then delving past it to the original source material. Similar to how I tell my friends and family to let ME put their symptoms into WebMD, because I am more able to filter out the junk and find the useful tidbits.

What’s the most difficult part of your work?

The most difficult part for me is just making time for everything. Researching, writing, managing the site, the community interaction, advertising, marketing, etc. So much stuff to do for my hobby in my "spare" time not working on my degrees or spent with my family.

How much of a buffer do you like to keep? 

 Personally, I prefer having almost a full chapter of buffer. But a lot of that is out of my hands. Seba is a full time freelance illustrator. We can't pay him enough to work on our stuff full time (plus he'd get bored, and has his own stuff), so sometimes it's hard to keep a buffer going. Lately we've been going week to week.

What message do you hope readers take away from your work?

 Hmm, I'm not sure if I have any particular message I'm trying to get across. I'm mostly just trying to tell a fun story I came up with in what I imagine is a semi-plausible future. If people want to take away something, that's on them and how they engage with the story.

That said, there are definitely some themes I guess that we're trying to hit. Things like what it means to be a person, bodily autonomy, dealing with stress/depression/PTSD, thinking about a potential cybernetic future (iBrain, anyone?), etc. Readers are welcome to take away whatever conclusion and implication they want, I'm just presenting a story with themes and events I like. I often try to actually present multiple sides to these themes, as well.

What keeps you devoted to telling the story you’re telling?

 Can't stop now! If nothing else, I need to finish the current story, and have it all printed up on my shelf someday :)

Rock On, Dan and your awesome team. We look forward to the next big bang in your story!

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