Monday, May 9, 2011

[AS Exclusive] Ain't Afraid of No Ghosts: Interview w/ "Dapper" Dan Schoening

His style is among the most recognizable in the online illustration community today, especially when it comes to depicting a quartet of ghost-busting bad-*sses and their supporting cast of ghouls, spooks, and fiends. His name is Dan Schoening or, as you might better know him online, Dapper Dan and he's got his sights set on this particular fanboy's dream assignment.

As is turns out, Schoening's love of nostalgia extends much further than GB. In fact, he's also pretty keen on Dragon's Lair, The Six Million Dollar Man, and The Great American Hero. Along with AS member, Christine Larsen, his work was recently featured in Ape Entertainment's Kung Fu Panda: The Art of Balance and he's just signed on with IDW for an ongoing Ghostbusters comic book gig. Without further ado, let's get this very first AS Exclusive Interview started!

Can you tell us about Dragon's Lair-- specifically what role it played in your decision to became an illustrator?

I think with Dragon's Lair, and most of Don Bluth's early work, I found the character designs very engaging and expressive, from the Giddy Goons to Singe. Dirk the Daring never speaks, but the acting says it all. It's really a great example of letting the actions speak louder than words. I think even now I can see little bits of that style (Bluth Animation) in mine.

Have you begun to pass any of this love for cartoons and comics onto your daughter?

YES! I think it's only natural to share what you love with the ones you love. She loves to color, and is way above and beyond where I was at 6.

You have to be one of the biggest Ghostbusters art geeks I've ever seen. What started this love affair with the ghost chasing quartet of paranormal exterminators?

LOL, thank you! It all started when I saw the movie in the theaters back in 84. My mom took me, and we ended up at the movie 15 mins into the show. It was just at the part when the librarian turns into the beastly ghost, and needless to say I was a bit freaked out. After that, the cartoon was a huge inspiration for me. The first few seasons had some excellent scripts. I also still really dig Ghostbusters 2.

It was recently announced that IDW would be releasing a monthly Ghostbusters title this September with you at the art helm. Is this a dream project for you or what?

I'm honored to be a part of anything Ghostbusters! Getting the opportunity to create art with an amazing team; Erik, Luis, Tristan and Tom is nothing short of amazing. I will be putting in 110% to the comic, and hope that love shows through in the art.

Is there anything you can reveal to us about the upcoming storyline?

Hmm, there aren't any migrating sponges. I think if I did say anything, Darth Vader would come down from the Planet Vulcan and fry my brain... oh wait that's another movie... [hahaha].

Who's your favorite character from the GB universe?

Wow, that is a tough one! I feel I relate to Ray the most out of the four Ghostbusters. I find he's open minded and continues to stay positive in dire times. I could see him watching cartoons still too. From a drawing perspective, [though], I love drawing Slimer.

Your art was also used as an inspiration for the Ghostbusters Wii, but under far less amicable circumstances. What knowledge did you walk away from that experience with that you can share to other artists?

I feel it's good for artists to speak up for themselves when it is appropriate. I'm very pleased to say that I keep in touch with the developers, and they are an extremely nice and talented group of people. We have all grown positively from that experience.

You do a lot of the finishing touches in Flash, isn't that right? What's the advantage for you versus other programs like Photoshop or Illustrator?

I do about 80% of my coloring in Flash. It starts there right after the sketch, and after Flash I add the EFX and lighting in Photoshop 8. I still use Flash 8 actually-- I find the more they update the programs, the less compatible and user friendly they are.

Hero versus hero, who do you think would win in a fight between The Greatest American Hero and The Six Million Dollar Man?

Huzzah! Lee Majors is awesome, and I liked him in the Fall Guy. However, I don't think a cyborg could compete with an alien super suit. Even if Ralph bumbles on occassion, he always managed to figure it out in the end.

I never cared too much for the GAH theme song personally, but the storyline was pretty cool. I heard you got to meet the star of the show once, William Katt-- what was that like?

I did indeed! My daughter, mom and I caught up with William when he was in town a few years back. He is one of the most humble, honest and kind people I have ever met. Very gracious and answered all my questions. I was pleased to hear we both liked the episode, The Beast in Black, the best. He also signed a photo for my daughter. It read, "Believe it or not, you are so beautiful." That was awesome!

For whatever reason, The Six Million Dollar Man intro sorta reminds me of Quantum Leap (or vice versa)-- did you ever watch that show?

Yeah, I really liked Quantum Leap. Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell rocked it out. The premise of going into different lives was a pretty cool concept for the time.

Right-- back on track. You were one of the founding member of the now defunct SketchTavern. What purpose did the Tavern serve and how did your involvement benefit you as an artist?

The Sketch Tavern was an amazing experience. I feel the greatest thing that came from that were all the great friendships that developed. It was also a great place to learn from others. The critiques were quite well thought out and encouraged everyone to practice and grow in the craft. The Mega Time Tournament was great fun as well.

Are you currently a member of any other art organizations?

Nothing like the Sketch Tavern. I do share art on DeviantArt,, Illustration Friday and a few other places though.

Looking ahead, what projects do you have in the pipeline that you're most looking forward to?

For now, it's all Ghostbusters! I do have a few cool Green Lantern early reader books coming out in August, as well as some cool Superfriends books hitting the book stores. One in particular, a DC Superfriends Golden book that I'm quite pleased with. I would also love to be a part of an animated Ghostbusters cartoon if one ever gets the ol' green light!


Chogrin said...

Oh man, this is going to be good!

pw! said...

hell yeah! love Dapper Dan's work

Paula said...

Dapper Dan ROCKS! Great interview! I love my Big Heros Little Golden book... so talented! XOP

pw! said...

hell yeah! big fan of Dapper Dan!!!