June 15, 2010

Interview with Artist/Writer/Monsterologist Daniel Davis

Since I just featured Monster Commute on shiny webcomic Thursday last week and my review of the printed comic is over at Geek Girls Network today, it seemed a fitting time to put together an interview with Daniel Davis.  Among many talents, Davis of Steam Crow is a monsterologist. No really - you can ask him for any kind of monster advice you need. He'd be happy to help.  Monster abduction is a real thing folks.  You have to be prepared.

Davis is an illustrator and writer with mad skillz.  In addition to the webcomic, he has fantastic books, prints, and monster novelties available at his site.  If nothing else, just click over for a second.  You'll get a taste of his fresh style immediately.  Okay, enough from me, on to the interview (my questions are in bold).

How do you post Monster Commute every weekday?
Routine... there is magic in having a routine. Basically, if you set aside some time every day to do something, and really do it, you'd be surprised what you can accomplish.

I get up at 4:15 am M-F, with the goal of having a good comic done by 6:00 am.

That has to be an insane amount of work.
But yeah, it's not easy. I have to force myself to start just about every time.

Once I begin, I really get into it and enjoy the process. The toughest thing for me is to get motivated enough to start.

They have this interwebnets thing that is always on, and always distracting. The Goog-pages are the worst.

How many strips do you have ready at any given time?
Right now, hip deep in Convention Season©, it's really, really rough. I have a 1 day buffer, down from a week's buffer at the beginning of the season.

What this really means is that there's no room for illness/mistakes or life emergencies. It's really not good. I launched with a 30 strip buffer, but have been riding a week buffer for about a year now.

It is my hope to build this back up. I do have a plan; when this (epic) storyline is over, I'm going to run some guest strips for a week or so, and build up my own buffer too.

If you lived in Monstru, what kind of creature would you most want to be?
That's a tough one. I really like all of the races, including some that you've not even seen yet. (Monstru has *lots* of diverse creatures.)

I like Feratu quite a lot. They're sharp dressers and they look elegant while drinking poison.

Being a Daemon might be nice, as they're emotional, real, and child-like.

Furnace goblins would be bad, because they have to do all of the work for the entire society.

Circus gobins would be fun though, because they're all circusy. (And tough.)

How do you come up with names for your characters?
Chadworth Machine is named after one of my old friends. (Well, the "Chad" part, at least.)

Beastio Wand Agyris is named after one of my other friends characters ("Beastio") from a circus RPG campaign that I ran, years back.

The "Agyris" part is from www.agyris.net, a big old fantasy RPG setting that I wrote.

"Wand" is a name that I just want for myself, really. "Daniel Juan Davis?" No, "Daniel WAND Davis!"

Do you have a favorite part of the illustrating process - the sketching better than the coloring, etc?
I really like seeing character designs come together in a finished illustration the best. It's all fine, but seeing something done, and accomplishing something is my boon.

I've got a lifetime of uncompleted projects, so I've been attempting (since Steam Crow) to actually finish stuff. That's my reward.

But art-wise, character design is something that I really love doing...

Do you take specified breaks from the comics (like stockpile a few days extra of strips) to work on prints?  Where do they fit in?
Well, here and there.

I try to do a new comic M-F to replace the ones that run. On the weekends I shift over to creating new products for Steam Crow. I should also be doing a comic, but it's tough. When I do comics on the weekend, it allows me more time to do more elaborate settings, design new characters, and all of that.

However, I often end up spending 6-8+ hrs on one comic, which is tough. I've got a lot to juggle and that's a lot of time.

In that amount of time I can probably get 2 new prints designed.

What is the most challenging part of getting ready for a convention?
Before a Con, it's not forgetting something, getting all of the correct permits, and getting everything together.

After a Con, it's taxes. I. Hate. Doing. Taxes.

It's all good, but working full-time and then running off to work all weekend at a distant convention can be taxing. Our studio/house becomes a war-zone, which drives my partner/wife Dawna insane. I don't know what to do beyond riding the chaos.
I can't say that I blame Dawna for not liking the war zone, but I'm glad you guys are pushing through.  Steam Crow always has ROCKING exhibits at the conventions.  You can see them at San Diego Comic-Con at booth #4207.


  1. Oooh steampunk comic; I am THERE!

    Now, is monsterology a viable career? I'd be very interested in that... :p

  2. It should be! I suggested to him that he start a School of Monsterology by email. :D

  3. I will sign up for that! XD

  4. Sign up for his newsletter - he justed started monsterology lessons. Hee! :D

  5. I started reading this. It is a pretty good strip. It does take a little while to get started, but don't fret new reader it is just building a mythology.


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