Dan Smith At Long Beach Comic Con

Chris Waterman writes for Bleeding Cool

I had the opportunity this last weekend to walk the Long Beach Comic & Horror Con.  The past 3 years I have attended as a budding young (well old) artist and enjoyed my time in the Artist Alley.  From the veteran creators of the comic industry to the new faces looking to tell their own stories, there is an overall drive of creativity, energy and passion for the comic medium.   The diversity of styles, content, ages and viewpoints just show how much people love comics.   I took this time walking the isle of the Artist Alley to interview a wide range of creators, all of whom are very driven, thoughtful and extremely passionate.

Tell me a little about yourself:

Well, Chris, I have been in and out of the gaming industry for over 15 years, as a graphic designer, illustrator and card game designer. I have been working on my own comic book series BLUE KNIGHTS for awhile when I am not doing freelance creative work.

Creative Work?

Yeah, being a creative type doesn’t pin you down to any specific medium. Recently, I have been scriptwriting for the computer game industry, working on promotional materials and working on a card game engine for a client. I have been doing this freelance for years. You know, they say when you find out what you are good at, do it for a living and it won’t be work, right. That’s what I have done, only it’s not just one thing. I’m like a chimp in a room of stuff to play with.

First passion designing games or creating art?

Art happened early with comic books. I would trace Gil Kane and Jack Kirby comics until I got used to holding the pencil correctly.  Always made comics as a kid but never had the faith that I could really do it. Designing games, I never even doubted my abilities….maybe because there wasn’t such an entrenched system to be awed by, I dunno…

When did you first begin designing games?

It happened one evening while driving home from a 9-5 job. I was wondering how to make a card game where it’s not about destroying the other player or grabbing all of their stuff…

Magic: the Gathering had been out for around a year and all of the other companies followed suit with similar concepts.

I was listening to Back in Black by AC DC on the radio, listening like I was in the front row listening when it hit me: Rock star. Everyone has wanted to be in a band or be the star of one. I quickly scribbled down what should be in it, ran thru the house, kissed the wife… and 2 hours later, the game was 60% finished. A year later of play testing and fiddling about and BATTLE OF THE BANDS was finished.

http://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/10/10510.phtml

Third World Games produced it and it’s expansion BACKSTAGE PASS.  Both were nominated for ORIGIN awards, and then we came out with the PORTABLE ADVENTURES SETS: Lair of the Rat-King and 8th Grade.

That was back in the early 2000’s, right? What are you doing now?

Well, since there was no crowd funding back in the day, I just kept making card games for myself and friends to play. I have made about 12-15 of them and they have been sitting on my computer for the last 10 years. All of that sweat equity just waiting for crowd funding.  And now I am putting out KING OF CRIME.

https://www.facebook.com/#!/KingOfCrimeCardGame

I just did a kickstarter campaign for it that didn’t fund. I went into it using the Battle of the Bands packaging model as my guide, which was unrealistic financially. Battle of the Bands was printed in China, I want to print King of Crime in the USA and the equivalent pricing put me into a high goal level to be funded. I got to 60% of what I needed when it ended. Had I reevaluated that was possible print wise with a smaller amount to be printed, I would have funded the first day. But I have met so many enthusiastic people from this campaign that were a doing just that. Small print run. And then using that as a basis for a 3 month promotional campaign, hitting a reasonable  goal level in February is a no brainer. For me, life is an experiment and if you don’t go for it, you will never know what might happen.

When did you first begin creating comics?

 I hooked up with a band of fellow creatives a few years ago that made me look like I was standing still. And my ego would not allow that. With their moral support, I have been making comic books for a couple of years now. Blue Knights was initially an idea of mine from about 8 years ago. When I told my friend, Karl Altsteatter, he said “Why not try mashing it up with something, like Training Day.” That was it. I have 2 issues out at the moment…Training Day meets Lord of the Rings as screwed up by Dan Smith.

Ha ha ha! And you did all of it?

 Yeah. Writing, drawing, laying it out, coloring, lettering…the whole kit and kaboodle. I’m pretty proud of it.

Would you rather:

Be rich and soulless or poor and creative?

If I became rich and soulless but could still remember being creative, that would be bullet to the noggin time. You can always make money. Maybe not to the Mitt Romney level of soulless, but you can get by. But creative is something you can’t buy. I’m going to quote Gilbert Sheldon, the creator of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers but with out the weed reference: “creativity will get you through times without money better than money with get you through time without creativity.”

That sounded lame.

Ha ha ha. But true.

That’s how I get through life. My brain doesn’t stop. I have to carry around paper and pencil to jot down notes or doodles because they come unexpectedly and unannounced.

First Dungeon and Dragons character?

I had three at one time. Dorian Twinkiehead III, a dwarf fighter, Shintaro, a human samurai, that was before there was a samurai class, so I had to wing it, and an elven thief named…everybody say it together, Legolas!

Ha ha ha.

Everyone had an elf named Legolas back then. When they got so badass, they went to Tartarus, with a bunch of love potions, forced Succubi and type V Demonesses to drink ‘em and then sired half breed demons for game play.

Ha ha ha. Didn’t have a girlfriend, did you?

What? Why did you say that? Ha ha ha. Yeah, I later realized that demonesses like a good sense of humor better than being bought a bogus drink.

Ha ha ha . What is something that you would want people to know about you?

That a three am, when your car brakes down in the bad part of town, you can call me and I’ll come get you. Just sit tight, I’ll be there.

http://www.dansmith-smif.com/

Chris Waterman lives in Southern California.  He is a life long comicbook fan and artist.  You can check out some of his work at:  http://radixrising.deviantart.com/