My interview today is with comic book artist and writer Dan Panosian. I first interviewed Dan back in 2015 for my blog Design Inspiration. The one takeaway I was left with after completing that interview was the enormous wealth of talent this individual possessed, and I knew then that he was one to watch. Enjoy this!
Dan, before we get started, where did the moniker “Urban Barbarian” come from?
A woman I dated years ago called me that as a playful insult. I kinda liked it, so it stuck.
Who were your main artistic influences growing up? And were there any other pop culture related influences that molded who you are today?
It’s funny because it was all John Byrne for me growing up but I read quite a bit of Simonson, Buscema, Kubert and Miller books. In the second phase of my career they all kind of fused. I’m a mess.
John Byrne was a personal favorite of mine as well growing up, when did you know that you wanted to work in comics? And, how did you break into the industry?
I always did. My father was an artist and introduced me to comic books. I was working while in high school for role-playing game companies and small comic book publishers. I bummed around for a few years after high school but a friend of mine, Joseph Naftali gave me an opportunity to come to New York to help him debut a comic book I worked on with him. From there, thanks to a call from Walt Simonson to a Marvel editor, I began working on backups on Captain America and Thor. Soon I was also working for Neal Adam’s Continuity Graphics and DC Comics. It all happened rather quickly.
Out of curiosity, what titles have you worked on in the past, and for whom?
I honestly don’t know. Virtually every one of them at one point or another. Mostly X-Men titles at Marvel and Green Lantern at DC. These days I do a lot of covers for Marvel, DC, and Image.
How would you say your art has progressed and improved over the years?
I always say I could only go up from where I started. So I guess it’s matured quite a bit. My inking helps my penciling a great deal. I started out primarily as an inker. Marvel gave me a few full art chores early on but looking back they were probably just kind gestures more than anything. Later, Rob Liefeld started me on Prophet for Image. I drew 4 issues and later wrote and drew Prophet #0. It was trial by fire. I still burn!!
Tell us a little about your process. What tools do you use? Are you strictly digital these days, or does pencil still meet paper in your creative process?
I pencil roughs, scan them and tighten them up in Photoshop. Then I print them out and ink them by hand. Then it’s back to scanning and coloring in Art Rage and then Photoshop. I do a page a day.
Tell our readers about your current projects, what are you working on? And, which of your projects are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of SLOTS from Skybound/Image Comics. It’s a “creator-owned” labor of love. I’ve never had more fun! Today I’m working on a secret project. I wish I could discuss it but my hands and mouth are tied. [help!]
I know that you’ve got some writing chops under your belt now as well, how did that come about?
Since I was a kid with a dream of working in the business I wanted to write and draw my own comic books. I’ve always written and I’ve worked professionally as a writer in the advertising world and in a very limited fashion for Image back in the early days. Thanks to Robert Kirkman and Sean Mackiewicz I was given a great opportunity.
What would you consider a dream project for yourself?
SLOTS was a dream project but now I’m working on another dream project. I hope it continues that way. I suppose writing and drawing a few Conan or Logan story arcs would be a dream project as well. Bucket list sort of things.
Is there a particular job that you really wanted but sadly slipped through your fingers?
All the time. I missed a big opportunity to stay on the X books when everyone left for Marvel. I got a little spoiled by the quick success and money. But a monthly job working in the X-Office would have been better financially in the long term scheme of things. That said, I was also presented with the opportunities I enjoy today and I’m quite happy with where things are going.
Who are your favorite artists/writers working in the industry today?
I really have too many to mention without feeling bad tomorrow because I missed someone. I’m so inspired by the great art and stories I see on a constant basis. It’s overwhelming. I have a great deal to learn and there’s no shortage of examples of excellence surrounding me.
And finally, I’m going to spring a question that I asked on every Design Inspiration interview, what is the best thing on television today?
Presently, Better Call Saul, and Westworld.
Thanks again Dan, it’s always nice to chat with you. Thank you for your time!
Follow Dan on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.