Tony Daniel's experience drawing his own scripts is coming in handy as he invents the world of Damage as part of the "New Age of DC Heroes" line. Working with writer Robert Venditti, Daniel is drawing the comic book from looser scripts than the norm at DC.
Damage, which kicks off this week with a new #1, is taking a decidedly "big art" approach, as Daniel describes it, complete with "big splashes" and double-page spreads.
That blockbuster style reflects the story, as a young soldier named Ethan Avery is suddenly thrust into the role of being a monstrous, almost unstoppable fighting machine as part of a military program called "Damage." As Venditti explained to Newsarama, Ethan is "a guy who went into the military to become a hero, and instead they made him a monster."
Newsarama talked to Daniel to find out more about his artistic approach to the story, whether he has much input on how the script is drawn, and what readers can expect from Damage.
Newsarama: Tony, Newsarama talked to Robert Venditti, and he told us Damage is a very blockbuster-style comic book, with big art and an action-heavy character introduction. How did that affect your approach to this book?
Tony Daniel: Coming in, I knew that they wanted a lot of big art for this book. They wanted big, double-page spreads, big splashes — they wanted a lot of that. Those were my only real directions. "We want this really big! We want a lot of fights with big spreads, the art to jump off the page."
So I kept that in mind. Maybe normally, I might not have gone as big all the time for another book. But this is a big character, and it's big action.
Of course, the story is more than just action. But when there is action, we want the character to take up as much real estate as possible and have the images be big and bold.
Nrama: We talked to Robert about how there's almost two characters in that one person — Damage and Ethan. I suppose that's reflected in the art as well?
Daniel: Yeah, I have to marry those big and bold action scenes for Damage with some of the quieter moments when we see the human character of Ethan, and of course the part of the story that involves the other characters that make up the story.
I enjoy those quiet moments as well.
Finding the balance is cool.
The first arc is more action-oriented though. So we'll see a lot of action in the beginning.
Nrama: I know you guys are taking a little bit different approach to these "New Age of Heroes" books, with looser scripts and more collaboration. Has that been challenging, or fun?
Daniel: It's both! It's a lot of fun because I get to interpret Robert's page descriptions.
Nrama: Right — the scripts are just kind of plots for each page, right?
Daniel: Yeah, instead of getting a traditional script — you know, panel one: this happens, panel two: this happens — I get a brief description of what's happening on the page and this is what the characters are saying, and then I get to run with it from there.
I've worked with this style script before. This is how I work when I'm writing for myself. I write a page description and I kind of go from there.
Nrama: But there's a lot of freedom when it's your own book. Are you still able to stray at all from the script with Damage?
Daniel: Yeah, I do the same thing to Robert's scripts that I do with mine — I might stray a little. I mean, I try to get the same message across, but I might find a better, more spontaneous image or storytelling angle or something that only comes when you're in the moment. You know?
So yeah, working with a script that's not so rigid is fun.
But it's also challenging, because the blame is on you if people don't understand what's going on. I'm the guy who's responsible for the panel-to-panel storytelling.
I'm not too worried about that, though. I tend to be more conservative with my layouts. I don't go crazy. I try to make it easy on the reader to follow the flow of the page.
These are things in my wheelhouse, so I'm very comfortable working like this. But I can also work with a script as well. I enjoy both.