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Interview: Dan Harris, Creator of Druid Investigations

Posted by Sian, June 2016. Attic Studios owns rights to cartoon imagery on this page.

Coming across Dan Harris and his Druid Investigations stand in comic village at MCM Comic Con London (May 2016) was a real treat. It's particularly interesting when you can actually come across creators for comics you recognise from Twitter, in person. Meeting Dan really helped me understand what it was like to create a comic by yourself for the first time, which would seem pretty scary at first. This has also helped me understand Dan's passion and energy behind creating comics, like Druid Investigations. 

Feel free to read more about Dan's story below...


Once you have read Dan's interview, you may be interested to read my review for Druid Creations #1

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What has it been like to create and produce your own comic for the first time?

Dan: Well, Druid is actually my second comic book. Lou Scannon was my first comic book, but I did that with two of my best friends, Attic Studios co-founders, Jim Bampfield and Kris Carter. Druid is the first time I've gone solo though. It's been a lot of fun but a lot more hard work than when there's a team of you picking up each others slack!
That said, there's something incredibly rewarding in being able to look at what you've produced and know that it's all you. That you ARE capable of doing something after all!

What inspired you to create Druid Investigations?

Dan: I've always had an interest in Myths and Legends from all over the world but I find the British stuff particularly interesting. Particularly as so little of it has survived until now. There have been so many different versions of the Arthurian legend passed around over the years as the story moves from one country to another, that there is an absolute wealth of things to work from. I've tried to approach this from a more... Pre-Christian sort of view, as I find that more interesting. Working in other cultures magics and myths appeals to me too.

I came up with this idea that revolved around Merlin living in the modern day but walking older, more magical paths. It originally didn't involve Killian at all but I thought it would be good to have an anchor to the standard, more mundane, real world and so he was born. With Lou Scannon being quite popular and going strong, I always wondered if I was capable of producing one of my ideas on my own without the input of the other Attic Studios guys. Druid Investigations was that idea.

Do you have a keen interest in legends of Arthur and Merlin and which aspects did you feel you wished to bring to Druid Investigations?

Dan: Haha I think I got a bit carried away with the last question and partially answered this one there! I have a very keen interest in it. I have a lot of reference materials for them which includes the Mabinogion and Sir Thomas Malory. I'll be using other characters from Welsh myths and Celtic myths in general as ways of world building too. Characters like Bran the Blessed will be referred to in future issues and I'm not against using other icons of British folklore like Spring-Heeled Jack.

Why did you choose to set your comic in South Wales?

Dan: The story would be contained to South Wales, it's my hope that it will explore all of Britain in some form . I want it to feel like a British adventure... BUT that said, I'm from Wales. Born and Raised. They always say to "write what you know" and issue one involved Killian going for a night out and getting drunk and walking through streets that needed to feel familiar. I've been on nights out in Cardiff, gotten drunk and am familiar with the streets there... So it made sense to me. Plus, Merlin is rooted in Welsh culture.

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Would you explain a little more about your other projects which have involved with? E.g. Attic Studios and Lou Scannon

Well, back in 2001, I created Lou Scannon and then went on to make a short film featuring him for my animation degree. I always loved the character and thought he would work really well in his own comic book. So I started developing the idea of Lou and then built an entire universe around him. I created his crew, knew the history of the universe and how the story would eventually end, who would live, die etc. I even created a map of the galaxy that was broken down by solar systems and then listed which planets were inhabitable within each solar system.

Then I gave myself writers block.

I couldn't figure out where I should start for issue 1 of the comic. That's where Kris came in. Kris had an idea for an issue of Scannon and he came to me and asked me if he could do it. I said yes, but I would need to read over and edit it. I even drew the cover for the first printing, along with 4 pages of the interior that Kris then drew over in his style to maintain consistency for the issue. From there, we knew exactly where we wanted to go, so we had a start point. That's where Jim Bampfield came in. Jim is incredibly clever and witty and we knew straight off that we wanted him involved from there on out. So "Team Scannon" as we came to be known, was born.

From there we made a lot of friends within the UK small press scene. We worked on different titles for other people. We always had other ideas that we wanted to work on too though. I decided I wanted to move forward with Druid, Kris and Jim decided they wanted to move forward with another character title we had created- "Bruce Outback"

With three different titles under our belt, we figured it would make more sense to have them all under one roof rather than a load of different websites that would feel rather detached from each other. When we all did animation together, we were first situated in an attic at the University of Glamorgan. To this day, Kris has a home office that is based within his attic... and so the name Attic Studios was born. If you were to go to our website, you would be able to buy all our titles in physical and digital format in the one place. All our future titles (One of which I am writing in my spare time but won't be drawing) will be available through this website!

Latest on Druid Investigations !

Do you have any plans to launch Druid Investigations: Part Two
later this year?

Dan: I don't want to jinx it... but touch wood, yes. I'm currently drawing and inking issue 8 of Lou Scannon as well as working as a freelance illustrator full time too. My plan is to get all of Scannon 8 done, then start on Druid 2 straight away. The one difference with doing Druid though, is that I write, pencil, ink and colour the entire thing myself so it is a bit of a lengthier process than Scannon is where I get to send the pages off to Kris and Jim to colour.

The only bit of Druid I don't do is the lettering, which is tackled by pro-letterer HdE. The man is a legend. My lettering is awful so he really saves my butt in that respect. Issue 2 of Druid is written though and ready to go so I'm REALLY excited to get started on that now!