Friday, September 14, 2007

Dan Brereton: The NOCTURNALS Interview

In yesterday’s View From Flying Colors, OLYMPIAN Publishing’s Tom Negovan set the stage for the return of Daniel Brereton’s NOCTURNALS, with a lavish and handsome hardcover volume soon to hit finer comic shops everywhere.

(Note to interested readers: NOCTURNALS Volume One: Black Planet and Other Stories is listed in the September issue of Diamond Previews with two distinct versions. The Regular Edition Hardcover is ordered with product codes SEP073871 at $29.99 and the Previews Exclusive Edition with an extra sketchbook section has a code of SEP073872 and retails for $39.99 Make sure your retailer reserves a copy or two for you!)

Now let’s talk with the artist --- Daniel Brereton--- as we discuss his work in comics and especially delve into his plans for the NOCTURNALS!


FlyCoJoe: Give us a little background on the NOCTURNALS. What’s the genesis of this series?

Dan Brereton: The NOCTURNALS came together in ‘92. At the time, I had a realization of wanting more out of my comics’ career than simply working on established characters. As much fun as it was illustrating stories with Batman and Superman, there were worlds I’d created myself that I wanted to delve into.

I’d already had a taste of this working with Jim Hudnall on THE PSYCHO. My sketchbooks were full of ideas and characters to play with. One of the most interesting was ‘Halloween Girl’, a young girl who lives in her own world of haunted toys and trick-or-treat costumes. Another was the Gunwitch, an undead gunfighter. I began to see this group of spooky heroes running around in a criminal and supernatural underworld. Then Doc Horror showed up in my sketchbooks--- and I knew I had a character to base a series on. He was mysterious and tough, a bit of a paradox, a lot haunted.

The story came together very rapidly after Doc arrived. The following year there were two publishers interested in NOCTURNALS, and I ended up going with Malibu’s Bravura line. The first mini-series was very well received, and was nominated for an Eisner.

FlyCoJoe: What were your inspirations for combining the genres of horror and
crime fiction?


Dan Brereton: I can’t explain it more than to say I love both--- and somehow they showed up in the same story and it worked for me. Raymond Chandler and H.P. Lovecraft are two authors I feel hugely inspired by. I could also say Ray Bradbury and Dashiell Hammet.

NOCTURNALS straddles both worlds comfortably. Crime fiction is stripped-down, hard-boiled storytelling in a world where the bad guy is as multi-faceted and compelling as the hero. In many stories, the protagonist is the bad guy. Horror is all about fear of the unknown, while being compelled to confront it. The idea that humans aren’t alone, that darkness is an abyss that holds logic-defying terror, is a big theme in NOCTURNALS. Doc Horror and his family of monsters live and face that darkness and they do it with a noir sensibility.

I’m only peripherally aware of this now being a big sub-genre in books and comics, but I swear I couldn’t name anything like NOCTURNALS in comics at the time.

FlyCoJoe: Among devotees of the series, which are the breakout characters from NOCTURNALS---and why?

Evening, (Halloween Girl) and the Gunwitch are the popular mainstays. It’s possible they captivate people in the same way they do for me: Evening is very much the kid we carry around in us: fascinated with the unknown, childlike in her imagination. She remains an innocent despite living in a world of monsters and criminals. The Gunwitch is pure laconic bad-ass, the nightmare in the closet on the side of the good guys. Still, there are many die-hard readers who zero-in on personal favorites within the group.

FlyCoJoe: Knowing you do much of your painting using photos you’ve taken, do
you have a cast in mind for a NOCTURNALS movie? Which actors would you
cast in the various roles?


Dan Brereton: I’m completely open about "dream casting" actors in a movie setting. I honestly don’t dwell on it… ah Hell, how about this: Kurt Russell, Monica Bellucci, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman, Viggo Mortensen… I’ll let you connect the dots.

FlyCoJoe: So....Natalie Portman as Doc Horror, Gary Oldman as Eve....

Dan Brereton: You aren't very good at connecting the dots, are you, Joe?

FlyCoJoe: Can you give us a little insight into this new hardcover edition called NOCTURNALS Volume One: Black Planet & Other Stories?

Dan Brereton: It’s beautiful. I have a printer’s advance copy sitting on the coffee table right now. This is the ultimate NOCTURNALS volume in terms of presentation and production values--- from the over-sized format, to the spider-web embossed end pages, to the faux leather, gold stamped cover. A lot of thought and talent went into the design and it really shows. The book looks like something you’d find in Doc Horror’s own library.


FlyCoJoe: Just a few days before you’ll be here at FLYING COLORS for the debut of the NOCTURNALS Volume One hardcover, there will be more of your work coming from Marvel Comics with the IMMORTAL IRON FIST Annual. How did that come about and what was it like working on that character?

Dan Brereton: Marvel Editor Warren Simons and I had been talking for a year about doing something together when the Iron Fist annual came up. Warren knows about the re-launch of NOCTURNALS and offered me work on the IMMORTAL IRON FIST ANNUAL partly because it was only a few months work, but mostly because he felt the pulp-era style of the sequences fit my style. I pounced on it.


I was a fan of the 70’s Iron Fist, but love the sort of vintage Orson Randall character. It was fun working in an imaginary period, what author Paul Malmont calls "the Pulp Era". I just finished reading his novel, "THE CHINATOWN DEATH CLOUD PERIL" and was inspired. Writers Matt Fraction (CASANOVA) and Ed Brubaker (CAPTAIN AMERICA, DAREDEVIL, CRIMINAL) really nailed the feel of the pulp yarn.

FlyCoJoe: Besides your comics work, you’ve done illustrations for video games
and for CDs, like the ones you did for ROB ZOMBIE and TOTO. Any other Dan Brereton projects we can look forward to soon?


Dan Brereton: Before and since the IRON FIST annual, NOCTURNALS has taken up most of my time, which suits me fine. It’s like the dream project for me, to be able to come back to them.

I’m writing and illustrating BEASTS, a 32-page NOCTURNALS story for Volume II, bridging the first and second NOCTURNALS mini-series. Then there’s the expanded versions of the GUNWITCH miniseries to be colored by series artist Ted Naifeh and a Nocs story called SPECTRES, which will appear in Volume Three.

I should begin illustrating the new NOCTURNALS arc--- THE SINISTER PATH--- in the New Year. When I can squeeze it in, I‘ve been polishing the latest draft of UNDEADLY, a horror-action film I wrote with Jon Bresman we have in development now. I have a couple other projects in the comics’ pipeline I can’t announce yet, but I can say THE PSYCHO film continues its development at Universal, with Chris Morgan writing the screenplay.

FlyCoJoe: Thanks, Dan. We're really looking forward to seeing the book---and also looking forward to having you back to FLYING COLORS for our 19th Anniversary Event on Saturday September 29.

COMING SOON! A trip on the Way-Back Machine as we look at how the beginnings of Daniel Brereton's career and the opening of FLYING COLORS collided back in the late '80s. Incriminating photos may be included!

Until then----
Peace!

FlyCoJoe
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