Dan Berry is a comics creator and artist we’ve long admired here on the blog, but he is also a lecturer at the North Wales School of Art & Design at Glyndwr University(where he is the Senior Lecturer in Visual Communication, lecturing on the BA (hons) Illustration, Graphic Novels and Children’s Books degree), helping the next generation of creators to hone their skills and find their voice in the medium. Any artform needs not only established, experienced creators, it requires a constant infusion of new talent, fresh blood, to keep the medium invigorated, and one of the pleasures of working on this blog isn’t just looking forward to new work from the writers and artists we know and love already, it’s coming across interesting new talent. To that end Dan has been kind enough to collaborate with us on a very special themed set of Director’s Commentary guest posts; we put a set of questions to Dan’s students, and over the next few days they will be talking to us about their work, and hopefully this will be just the first time we hear from some of these creators, and we’ll see them back in the future with more work. You can read the first guest post in the series with Tom Harley here. and the second with Andrew Thomas is online; today we welcome Brian Burke – you can find out more about his work via Brian’s blog and his Twitter:
FPI: What drew you to wanting to make comics?
Brian: I’ve always wanted to have a career that involved drawing or doodling from when I was young. Comics was one of my earliest influences when it came to wanting to tell stories, even though at the time I could barely read. In my teen years I began getting back into comics again and discovered graphic novels such as V for Vendetta and Hellboy which showed me the effective techniques of sequential storytelling and how it is unique from any other media. What I also like about comics is that it has really benefited from the medium of the internet in the past few years and that there are alternative routes you can take towards building an independent business online, compared to the past when it was merely through big companies. This encourages diversity and growth which I find very appealing in comics these days.
FPI: What was your experience of the course?
Brian: I found the course to be incredibly resourceful. In terms of comics every factor was covered – narrative, design, type and style ; through talks, lectures and source materials provided by Dan who had an extensive library of information regarding comics. It was really encouraging at times when I was stuck and was encouraged by Dan to look at artists that tried different approaches to something I wouldn’t of been exposed to otherwise. As well as artistic resources, it also gave me a lot of information on business and practical resources which I had very little experience in. Being around very talented classmates helped too!
FPI: What are you working on now?
Brian: At the moment I’m working on strengthening my portfolio and getting out to conventions and businesses in Dublin that might be interested in freelance work. I’m also going to plan some outlines to comics and determine what genre I want to aim for right now.
FPI: What are your ambitions?
Brian: Long term – Do comics/ illustration as a full time job.
Short term – Publish a comic, make some contacts within the industry,get some freelance work going.
FPI: Explain your working process.
Brian: Once I have the concept and the story done, I begin thumbnailing the layout of the pages.
I then edit pages/panels I don’t need and work on full compositions on pencilling.
In this stage, I make sure continuity is current and when I’m done with that, I pencil in speech bubbles and lettering. Everything is then inked bar the lettering which still needs to be formatted correctly and when that’s done I then colour it using watercolour paints.
Once finished, I scan it into photoshop to clean it up and that’s a page!