We had Dan on back in December of 2019 (go listen here) and he’s back to talk about Home Sick Pilots, The Picture of Everything Else, and more!
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Dan Watters –
[00:00:00] Melissa: this is why the country and I’m Melissa searcher. Today.
I’d like to welcome comic book writer known for Lucifer of the salmon universe, limbo, coffin bound, homesick pilot. I am the picture of everything else, mr. Dan waters. Welcome to
Dan Watters: hello. Thanks for having me.
Melissa: Thanks for being here tonight. How are you doing?
Dan Watters: Yeah, not bad. It’s a, it’s pretty late London end, but, that’s the joy of, working on Americans.
Melissa: Oh, wow. See, I wasn’t sure if you were actually in the UK currently or in the States.
Dan Watters: Yeah, no, I’m, I’m, I’m still London based, so we’re all, we’re all locked down at the moment.
But pretty used to running on American time at this point.
Melissa: Okay. Yeah. Well, I really appreciate you being on the show tonight. so I really want to start off by, you know, talking about your, one of your new comic books that are coming out next month, actually.
homesick pilots, it’s that in the nineties. It’s about a girl who’s lead singer of a punk band. She goes [00:01:00] missing, finds herself in a traveling haunted house. what can you tell us about the character and the house without giving away any spoilers?
Dan Watters: Well, I mean, I guess the, the premise of the book is, is pretty much as he laid it out.
It’s so the character is Amie and she’s yeah, she’s the singer and guitarist at the homesick pilots, which are a high school punk band. She’s sort of pissed off. she’s she’s 17. So she’s, she’s all the things that 17 year olds are. there’s definitely a lot of, sort of. Yeah, I definitely drew from more personal experience for that book that I,
I think 17 year olds are horrible people,
but I know I was, yeah, I mean, some of it was some of these, these guys are definitely better than others, but, yeah, the idea there is that is that, The bands are looking for somebody to throw [00:02:00] a gig, illegally. And they end up breaking into this house, which, which turns out to be a, to be a haunted house, which doesn’t quite go the way it normally does.
there’s enough sort of blood shed and stuff to go around, but it’s, the idea that, You find she has a connection to this place. as in she’s on a similar sort of wavelength that, so they, they sort of, they liked each other essentially. and they sort of fairly, blank spaces. so say. It’s kind of where it all goes from there.
Melissa: Okay. Very cool. so music, I’m guessing clearly it plays a big role, in the story. What, what songs did you have on your playlist when you were writing this?
Dan Watters: Oh, man, in Katherine, I actually put together, we’ve put together a playlist, which we need to like actually put out into the world. was it a sincere, I went back and listened to a lot of.
Like the stuff I was just into when I was sort of, 17 was growing it wasn’t all, all, around the [00:03:00] nine 94, but, I guess like a homesick part, it’s like, it’s definitely, I was listening to a lot of Jawbreaker, which sort of seemed, that’s the sort of correct mix between, being punk and also being very sort of melancholy.
which is definitely the, sort of the sort of tone that, that fits the book, the descendants, the Ramones, a lot of that kind of, it definitely, there’s definitely a sort of bubble gum element to the book and Casper sort of leans more on the sort of like grunge stuff that a lot of, a lot of Grimes sort of like ride girls, stuff like that.
Melissa: Nice. Yeah. You can’t have the nineties grunge for sure.
Dan Watters: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. I mean, I find it interesting to sort of, there’s sort of like crossover in scenes and stuff. Back then, because there is, there’s an edge of punk where it can be quite purist, which is, which is a very sort of strange thing for a scene like that, that, where it started out very, you know, very much like we’re going to do whatever the hell we want.
and then it sort of turns [00:04:00] into something where it’s like, well, no, if you listen to metal that sucks. And this sucks and that sucks and, you know, be signed to a bigger label, then that sucks. Which, you know, there’s philosophies behind that, but the, the whole, the whole grunge thing as an extension of punk, or as something that plugs into punk, I find, I find.
An interesting sort of evolution, because I was sort of like, we’re going to some punk and metal together with a bit of acid rock,
Melissa: right? Yeah. And then I think at some point I can remember correctly, I’m reaching now back to my younger days. I, the Scott kind of came into the picture and was sort of tying into punk a little bit as well.
Dan Watters: I think that was there from the beginning, right? Like the clash of classes like that, that, I mean, if you look at the, the UK side of things, 77 stuff. they were all like massively, like into that stuff, like, the whole sex, the shop sex, which, you know, is where the pistol was started, was on the Kings road.
And that was a massive [00:05:00] sort of like, like a Jamaican community around there. And, Like, I know that they’ve talked a lot about, sort of just going out and buying reggae records and that’s what they were mainly listening to.
Melissa: Yeah. So I have definitely had that influence. You could, you could hear it in their music and then in the sky music as well, you could hear it for punk influences and, and a little bit of metal as well, but I think mostly punk.
Dan Watters: Yeah, for sure. But then it’s weird because then it’s the sort of like generations after that who then sort of. On certain ends, they try and sort of like terrify everything down. And it’s, it’s something that you see like again and again, and that happens across all sorts of donors where they’ll try and go, like, all right, this, this counts and this doesn’t.
so if you do it this way, then you’re doing it properly. And if you’re doing it any other way, then it’s, then it’s wrong. And it just gets dollar and dollar and other as the generations proceed.
Melissa: Yeah. What kind of defeats the purpose of what all forms of rock music really set out to do? You know, it’s not to avoid, you know, avoid labels and, and not be put into a box.
Dan Watters: Yeah. And I have fun. [00:06:00] That’s
Dan Watters: bit which can get forgotten really quickly.
Melissa: Yeah, no, absolutely. well, the nineties was an interesting, you know, decade I lived at, I was a teenager in the nineties. we were sort of clinging to aspects of the eighties still. but at the same time going in like a complete opposite direction, did you have any bits of eighties nostalgia that seeped into this story?
Dan Watters: I mean, I wasn’t there in the eighties. I was born in 91. So, but that said Casper and I, yeah, Casper was very much a sort of a product of age. He’s a little bit older than me. And our first book limbo, which is definitely a, you know, a lot of limo’s DNA is in, is in homesick part is it’s not, it’s not a secret, they’re not set in the same world or anything like that.
But, homesick pilots definitely originated from us, sitting down and thinking about doing, doing a second limbo and then deciding to do this instead. Okay. And [00:07:00] limbo was a very eighties book and Casper and I bonded in the first place overall, love of sort of eighties and nineties. The horror stuff.
Cause I said that’s a wild sort of freedom and a lot of that, especially the sort of films that were coming out, like Brian Neusner and Karrie number. Oh, they still have things like those really good ones. And then also like really awful ones. We both love all of that stuff and, and that’s really what we drew on for, for that.
And yeah, there’s plenty of that. And this like the house phones, that have you seen those, those are like,
Melissa: Sort of, yeah.
Dan Watters: So oscillate between the so good it’s bad and just bad. or if, so yeah, I think I was just, I think the house film started in A’s I’m double guessing myself now. Okay.
Melissa: Yeah. I thought I’m going to say that it did actually.
I think you’re right.
Dan Watters: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So yes, I’m like retirement living bed is obviously is another really big influence. which is a very, very eighties.
Melissa: No, I’m a big George [00:08:00] Romero fan. So, that’s good to hear. I love, I mean, it’s, it’s kind of, I think one of those, he’s one of those writers that.
It’s kind of hard not to be influenced by him if you’re going to write poor, just because he defined such a, a niche, you know, John era with the zombie films that he did. So I definitely think that yeah.
Dan Watters: Will say, like, I think one of the biggest sort of like the way he sort of innovated stuff was, was.
Crazy like th th the nine 11 that hits after court. I think because it took this social angle, which people haven’t seen hard day. I mean, so horror has always had a social. Andrea has always been about tapping into things we’re afraid of, but he sort of got that first when it came to, when it came to the zombie thing.
and he sort of did it again and with, with, with donut dead and this would consumerism. Metaphor in that. but then like other stuff he did as well, which is like [00:09:00] less sort of loaded, but like Martin, which is his way of sort of, is he, isn’t he vampire film where it’s just one of the sort of crazy, crazy teenage Aries, so stabbing people with syringes.
And like, that was again, like, I think just like a really, really interesting take on the, on the vampire, John and I, so he always sort of. Innovative and that’s, I always think that’s the coolest stuff, even if it doesn’t work.
Melissa: Yeah. Just to attempt it and to do some, I mean, it’s still, you’re pulling it off even, you know, it’s all subject to interpretation, I guess, you know?
Dan Watters: Yeah. I mean, I think as long as you put something out into the world that has. Place and like wasn’t there before you you’ve done something, at least you’ve made your presence known.
Melissa: Yeah, exactly. Well, there’s been, a ton of hype, and for homesick pilots and, lots of really positive, early reviews.
one reviewer said [00:10:00] sleek, original horror, mixed with nineties teen drama. Would you say that’s an accurate description?
Dan Watters: yeah, I don’t see why not. there’s a lot of stuff it’s sort of the book definitely sort of transforms as it goes. So we’re throwing a lot of stuff, into it that, that I don’t think people expect, even at this point, even people you’ve seen this the first couple.
Melissa: Okay. And so when you, you reunited with, with CA Casper Winguard, you’ve worked with him on limbo. Yeah. What was it like reuniting and collaborating again?
Dan Watters: I mean, so, so Luma was, for both of us, it was our first sort of creative writing thing. It was a first sort of, presence in the industry. We did that book knowing no one really in comics and.
With no idea how the industry really works. We were flying by the seat of our pants so [00:11:00] much, but we also were doing it with this sort of, and we, we, we, but we weren’t doing it with this sort of network of people around us who were, who were very good and still very good friends. Like Ryan rhino Sullivan were already really close with and working with, who’s, who’s one of the writers in, in white noise, my, my studio, and,
Dan Watters: w we, we didn’t have much of a clue what we were doing, but the book was sorry. Think we really just enjoyed making and we had a real blast with it, and then it led to other things. So both of us, and he kind of got pulled towards mobile. I got kind of pulled towards DC and we ended up not working together for, for a good long while now.
which was, which was always kind of weird. Cause we always kind of considered ourselves a creative team as well.
Melissa: Did you tell me during comic, like doing comics or did you know each other beforehand?
Dan Watters: I mean, we’ve met because we, because we both wanted it to be callings and we both did some work for us, sort of like small micro [00:12:00] publisher.
And from there we, we met each other and we basically, we, we ended up as a creative team because we were the ones who could hold out in the pub longest.
Are these ideas and the part of them. and it turned into limbo.
Melissa: people, I like to know
Dan Watters: we were, we were a bit younger about it. and, yeah, I mean, so coming back together was, was always on the cards. It was always something we talked about and we also talk. Like almost every day, at least sort of through messenger and stuff like that. So, cause you know, we’re good friends say, so we’ve always been, it’s never, it was never sort of thing of like falling out of contact and then just like going like, Oh, Hey, what, what are you doing at the moment?
Like, I’ve always, we’ve always known what each other yeah. Have had on, on, on our plagues. and we’ve always been trying to look for a sort of place and the right sort of place and time to come back together and do something. and like I said, like we thought that was going to be a, another limbo book, [00:13:00] but, we got too excited about homesick pilots.
So we decided to make this
Melissa: yeah. W we call that chasing plot bunnies than the author book novel world. Yeah. The plot bunny is when you’re like shiny new idea. but clearly it’s worked out for you.
Dan Watters: I mean, we chased it all the way to the end. I asked, I think that’s the trick, right? It’s easy. It’s easy to chase them as soon as, as soon as the current one gets difficult.
You guys not sentiment Isabelle.
Melissa: Oh yeah. And then, yeah, before, you know, I’d have, you know, nine unfinished novels.
Okay. so when you’re like first plotting it or conceptualizing it, did you, did you come up with like the setting and the genre first or did the character come to you first or was it kind of both like semiotic. I think
Dan Watters: it was, no, it wasn’t, it, it was definitely the characters actually, because the, so the homesick players, the three of them, which is [00:14:00] a Amie rep and buzz and, and they will, you know, they’ve all got sort of different crap going on in their lives, which would sort of push them towards, towards punk and towards each other as, as a sort of band, but really that they’re a family unit.
and. We talked about bringing in these punk kids for the second limbo and Casper drew them. and it’s the thing which I find happens a lot with sort of, artists is they’ll draw something. And then as a writer really sparks ideas and you see these characters and once they have faces, suddenly they have these, like they, they immediately have these really full fleshed out personalities.
So, so we had these kids which were going to be, you know, a sort of secondary, secondary story. And all of a sudden we sort of looked at them and I know these, these guys are more than that. They, they deserve their own, proper story. So it all kind of came out of that. [00:15:00] I think. Yeah, it’s a strange time because books like this are so collaborative, but.
We spent so long on the phone talking about ideas and things we wanted to do that it’s hard to find those or remember those exact nexus points.
Melissa: Yeah. Those certain like sparks of creativity. Yeah. And so how many issues do you have planned for this series? Is it going to be ongoing or do you have like an end goal?
Dan Watters: I mean, it’s ongoing. You know, the end, which is always the, the ideal way to how long we get that will be sort of defined by, you know, how, how long we can keep doing this and how I’m, how I’m going to keep doing it as well. I’m always very, very in favor of things having ends. I like endings. I feel like there’s a, I feel like there’s a, there’s a stigma about endings in this industry in particular, because things used to run the sort of.
A hundred issues and that’s not really viable anymore, but [00:16:00] also, I don’t know many things. I’m going to get myself in trouble now because someone I know is going to have a really good one and I’m going to have forgotten it. But I don’t, I can’t think of many hundred issues, things that are just good for beginning to end.
Melissa: yeah, it’s hard to keep up with. I mean, Eva, you know, it’s the same with television as well. You know, people always get upset when a season or when a show gets canceled or when the writers choose to end it essentially not get canceled. But, but yeah, the clarified
Dan Watters: counseling, because it’s a, it’s a, it’s a weird, I think there’s a weird expectation or sort of just general assumption that you want to do something forever. Yeah. which, which I, I don’t think is actually the case for. For most storytellers. I’m pretty sure most ecstatic when they finish the book.
Well, I think at some point too, I mean, you know, readers, you know, maybe that, that [00:17:00] don’t know, like they’re not writers, they don’t understand that sometimes you just get burned out on a certain world. if you’re in it too long and then you don’t want the story to suffer for that, you know, you kind of want to end it when things are okay.
It’s still popular and still people are still interested in it and then give it some finality and then you can move on to something else. Right?
Dan Watters: Sure. and also I think January, I mean, you know, there are things that are a little bit more amorphous and flexible, but generally speaking, when you’re telling the story, it’s because you’ve got.
Something you want to explore for yourself and sort of say thesis and I make them stories sound really boring, but it kind of is it’s like you have this sort of idea of, of something or you got like, Oh, what would happen if X, Y, Z, and you kind of want to explore that idea. And once you’ve done that, especially for yourself, once you kind of told yourself that story, Then.
Yeah, I think, I think [00:18:00] he tends to be kind of dumb. It’s, you know, it’s easy to sort of fall in love with the characters and let it sort of churn onwards just for the sake of, of, of spending more time with them. But I don’t think a lot of things benefit from that.
Melissa: Yeah. And, and you can also there’s ways to leave it, you know, open-ended, I guess in a sense where, you know, it’s the end, but.
You can revisit it, you know, especially when you’re writing horror fantasy, you know, you can always go back 10, you know, five, 10 years from now and be like, you know what, I’m going to reopen this and, you know, base it off of a different character or, you know, another character in that universe.
Dan Watters: Yeah. I mean, we, I’ve just wrapped the second volume of coffin band, which is my other image book.
yeah. And that book is one that we’re, we’re very much treating that way. and that we’ve done. Two are we don’t two books in two years, we’ve done two volumes. And I mean, the books called coffin mountain. And [00:19:00] that’s very much the, the premise is that every everybody is about Beth it’s about someone’s death.
So it lets us explore different facets of death, then each volume, but also each volume once done that story’s over. so we can sort of revisit it whenever we want to come back to it, but we’re not sort of beholden to telling the issues of the same story, because it’s just not that.
Melissa: Yeah, no, I read the first issue and, I was like, Oh wow, this is different.
You know? And like in a good way, in a good way, like I just never read anything like that before I loved the vulture as a character, I thought that was really interesting and different. and the character of this, I was actually going to ask you this about, cause you, you actually create really unique, female characters.
Yeah. And so is the in coffin bound, you know, it was a very rough around the [00:20:00] edges, you know, character. And like I said, I read the first issue. So I I’m curious to see how, how it plays out as a, as it goes on. But, you know, how do you, how do you tackle that? You know, as writing these female characters that are so edgy and different and have like layers to them, they’re not the stereotypical female that you tend to see in comic books.
Dan Watters: yeah, so, so Danny would be artists on, on, on coffin band. she, I mean, I think she was winding me up. She asked me, she asked me one time. She asked me one time when we, when we were sort of out and about in New York at one point, and she said to me, do you think you’re good at writing female characters?
and I was like, well, what, what do you think you’re, you’re drawing Izzy at the moment. You know, we creative heads together. do you think, do you think she’s a good female character and she’s thought about it for a bit? And she said she was like, well, like she didn’t need to be a female character.
Like, she’s just, she’s just a character. I was like, yeah, there you go.
[00:21:00] Melissa: Yeah, I like that. That you can literally switch it out. It doesn’t have to be gender specific.
Dan Watters: Yeah, I think it, yeah, I think, I don’t know, just, just treating people like they’re people is the bottom line, I think. Yeah. Letting them. And I think, I think sometimes there’s when, especially writing into sort of universes where you’ve got, you know, loaded plastic, male characters, you know, like the sort of biggest leap of hair or universities, then you end up with sort of one female on, one, one woman on the team.
And, and then there becomes this like sure for them to represent all women kind, and then they have to be kind of perfect and, you know, they, they kick ass and, and do all this kind of stuff. Cause it’s like, look with, with giving a kick-out funeral, but then they actually have no personality because they don’t get to like screw up, like everyone [00:22:00] else.
So I think just avoiding any of that sort of malarkey
Melissa: reminds me of, there was a movie, Oh God, this was like 10 years ago, probably maybe longer. the movie called domino. And it was based on the real life. A lady named domino who was a supermodel who turned bounty Hunter. I think she passed away before the movie came out, but, it was played by Keira Knightley and.
It was such an interesting film because you have this female character who it just kind of defies, like you said, non-gender conforming. And, it was something different that we hadn’t seen in film at the time, I think. But that character kind of reminds me of domino.
Dan Watters: I haven’t seen that
Dan Watters: I mean, I thought, I thought when we started the book, I thought is you was going to be more.
A bit more happier than, than she turned out to be. I thought she was going to be a little bit more, [00:23:00] maybe a little bit more like the Crow, like sort of a little bit more, joy division and she didn’t end up that way at all. and I think a lot of that’s down to Danny, like she, she ended up with a lot of fannies, Sort of design and, obviously she didn’t try to design by then, but, but Donny, like, I, I, I expressed this to Danny as well, and she said that she’d actually based is he physically on one of her friends who is, who is also quite angry and fiery and, and, and stuff.
And so it crept into the writing as well, which I, which I always think is a really interesting thing that can happen without. Any actual conversation.
Melissa: Yeah. Well, that’s really cool. Well, speaking of, dark and angry characters, you’ve also written for Lucifer, the Sandman series. so I’m curious, did you have to, or did you choose to consult with like Neil Gaiman at all?
Is it gaming or Gaiman? I’ve heard it [00:24:00] both ways. Gay men. Okay. I say gay men, but I’ve heard other people say Gaiman. I’m like, I don’t know if that’s right. Oh, nice. Awesome. So you did get to consult with him and talk to him about where he wanted the character to go.
Dan Watters: Yeah, but he wasn’t interested in where he wanted it to go, which was nice.
yeah. When, when we sort of started the whole salmon universe, we, we, we met up with new and new Orleans places and it was, I can’t do, I can’t do, Fahrenheit, but it was minus seven degrees Celsius. Okay. And you Williams, which is very cold. and I don’t think it has hit that lower temperature, before that.
interesting. So, so it was snowing.
Melissa: Well, that’s crazy.
Dan Watters: so yeah, that was, that was a whole thing. And we, and we went out and spent, a few days with him just like breaking story and stuff. And his, he, he. Entirely came in and said, I want to [00:25:00] see what you guys can do with these characters. I want to see what you guys want to take them.
and so just gave, gave us permission to break with his toys, which is, which is, which is exactly what you want to hear as a writer as well.
Melissa: Absolutely. Yeah, because I was going to ask you, did you feel any pressure, you know, upholding, you know, the original character, but like while still putting your own spin on it.
Dan Watters: Yeah. I mean, I, I guess my sort of reaction to that, any of that kind of pressure is to just kick very hard in my own direction. because I love salmon. I love carries loose. I’ve read those books since I was a teenager. You know, it’s a sort of, I think tatted all the time with a lot of comic readers, And I sort of found out a comics in my early teens and came back in through my late teens, through books like Santa and Lucifer and these, you know, the sort of vertigo stuff.
so, so that stuff was always very [00:26:00] dear to me, which is why I sort of looked at. Them. And when all, I don’t want to go anywhere near any of it, and I don’t want to do any of that stuff again. I don’t want to repeat any of it. I don’t want to, I don’t want my Lucifer to feel like my Carey’s Lucifer because it’s just pointless.
Like those, those books are so good. I’m not gonna improve on them. So I’ll just do something entirely different.
Melissa: Do your own version of it. And were you just like ecstatic when you got the thumbs up from him? Like after you submitted, you know, your first issue for him? Was that, did it go over well?
Dan Watters: Oh yeah, for sure.
Like it, it’s definitely a relief. I think the first emotion that comes in. but yeah, it was, it, it, I mean, I loved, I loved writing that book. It was, it was so fun. Like. Spend I spent two years or an issue that every month, two years, and that’s spending a lot of time with the devil.
[00:27:00] Melissa: Well, and it’s nice to see the different interpretations.
I think, like you said, like, you know, the TV show is it’s very campy and it’s, it’s, got a lot of humor in it. And I like that version too, because it’s, it’s kind of light and obviously I think they had to. Do it that way because for audiences to digest it, you know, on
Dan Watters: television
Melissa: yeah. Budget. Yeah, exactly.
But 23 episodes
Dan Watters: set in pain at the moment with the bankrupts, any studio ethic,
Melissa: right. Game of Thrones all over again. I D I didn’t notice there is, you know, there’s a dark undercurrent that flows through a lot of your comic books. have you, so you’ve always been a horror fan. Like, are you attracted to like the darker stuff?
Dan Watters: Yeah. Yeah. I love horror. I always have, I’m more, I’m way more of a horror fan than, Simon, the CEO of sci-fi fan, really. no, I don’t. I love all sorts of stuff. at the moment though, I mean, I’ve just written two issues [00:28:00] of, Superman wonder woman, which I was, for the, for the future state stuff, which is coming out in January and February.
and that I was really, really pleased and I sort of told them as well, I told DC, I was like really pleased with you guys. Hit me up for this stuff, because I’ve done so many minutes. This is really, it was really cool to just to do something really the other end of that. I just wanted to do something really optimistic and just really fun and yeah.
And light. but I do, my natural spaces is, is definitely in the horror stuff. And I’ve always been, I was always that kid as well, but I think, I think my mum just made Halloween’s too fun. Yeah. She’s the back of the house out and like cotton wool, cobwebs and spiders and sort of six foot, which decorations and all this kind of stuff.
And I don’t think I ever looked back. That’s
Melissa: awesome. Now Halloween is my favorite holiday as well. I, yeah, I deck my house out as well. [00:29:00] It’s. I don’t know all that dark creepy stuff, and I don’t know what it, what it is about it. Right? Like we just like being scared or creeped out.
Dan Watters: Yeah. I mean, I have, I have, I have really sort of like, I overthink all of this stuff and I think there’s also a side of horror where a horror is less or that it very much can, but it’s less inclined to leave or lead towards sort of.
Conservative, outcomes than, than most other genres,
Dan Watters: because it’s intrinsically dealing with things that are like traumatic and things that are, you know, very sort of deep, deep within us, deep and primal, but also don’t needs. Like my stories are about some form of overcoming or some form of learning and hierarchy and kind of invert that a lot easier than, than the most other genres.
And just sort of say, you know, [00:30:00] this is something that this is, these are the things that stray us, and these are the things that we cannot get over and we cannot, which I think is also, you know, very worth and, and very worthy. Looking at because it’s it’s facts of life. and if we, if we sort of think we can calm everything and, and, you know, as long as we face our fears, they won’t bother us anymore.
Then when they do come back around and kick our ass, you know, in, in, in sort of low moments. So anything else then. You know, we, we do like to buy our story. The story should lie to us.
Melissa: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that’s why, you know, with horror films, there’s also this feeling of, you know, redemption, you know, there’s always like a redemption arc, in.
In the film or the book or whatever, that, that you can appreciate because that’s, you know, it gives you something to root for. and then you also tend to, you know, you put yourself into [00:31:00] the story and think, what would I do? You know, how would I react? What I, you know, run or, you know, hide or whatever you would, you know, would react as a human being.
And one of those situations when your adrenaline gets going. So I think it’s interesting how we can kind of like, sort of re. Not relive, but you know, kind of imagine like what that would be like, but still from the safety of our own couch, you know what I mean?
Dan Watters: Yeah. I mean, I think there’s, there’s backing that sort of cathartic element.
and, but, but yeah, even, even I think even when they don’t get out of it, we can still kind of get back the losses from it because it’s sort of where the ones who have been at about point where the ones who’ve sort of. Gone somewhere, dark and into the unknown. And what’s, you know, seen something traumatic, like unfold.
And we, we emerged from that and we have to struggle with it. I also think was probably why the sort of. [00:32:00] Early two thousands, torture porn sort of movement was kind of intrinsically on it. Interesting.
Dan Watters: Because it was once it’s sort of siding. Yeah. So siding with the surveyors to sort of, you have sort of put more on the Boyer side and, you’re entirely on that, on that, on.
You know, seeing it through the eyes of the, of the killers and things, it’s like, it can work. It can be fine, but it’s not. As cathartic as not as interesting. It’s I think fooling ourselves into thinking we’re more in control.
Melissa: Yeah, no, I agree. I like more of the classic horror films. I mean, there, to be honest that there hasn’t been a lot of newer stuff that I’ve been like, Oh, that’s really good.
You know, I like the shining, you know, and then the. The Friday, the 13th movies and the Halloween movies. And, I feel like those for one thing too, of course, but I just liked those, that classic sort of simplistic [00:33:00] storytelling, you know, rather than some of these new ones that have come out are just so over the top.
Dan Watters: Yeah. I mean, I think, I think shining is, is wildly complex. I mean, that was one of our huge touchstones for, for homesick pilots. the idea that the, the overlook hotel is basically this basically the inside of Jack Tarryn’s his head it’s, it’s his, it’s his demons. And, you know, that’s, that’s, what’s being confronted, you’re walking around inside someone’s head and seeing their ghosts.
And that, that was our uptake sort of. I did with homesick pilots is the idea of a haunted house is a single psyche, basically like it’s a metaphor for the, for the mind, and, and ghost ghost the traumas, which I think, which I think is, is, is a lot of, I think that’s the primary thing, that thing that goes to there as a metaphor for, or at least have been historically.
and yeah, I also [00:34:00] think that a lot, there’s been a few. Quite prominent, recent examples that have really kind of messed up with that metaphor in quite major ways in that, in that they sort of use that metaphor, but because they want to round out the stories in satisfying audience, friendly ways, it becomes about if you confront your trauma and, and you know, you sort of face it head on and then, then you overcome it.
and that’s just not how trauma works. Right? You don’t overcome it. You, you can learn to live with it and you can learn to walk with it and you can learn to, to make it work for you if you’re, if you’re very, very lucky, but you can’t, it’s still gonna be there.
Dan Watters: I think the Baba is a brilliant film.
recent, recent horror film.
Melissa: Oh, I haven’t seen that one yet.
no, it’s [00:35:00] okay. I’ll watch it anyways. I mean, if it’s a good film,
Dan Watters: that’s a great one though. I think that one was really good. from the last couple of years,
Melissa: Okay, good. Yeah, no, I, I haven’t seen, I haven’t seen any good ones lately. I, you know, actually this Halloween, I just watched all of my old favorites because I was like, you know what, I’m just going to sit here and watch, you know, the campy.
They can’t be ones like the faculty and H2O and,
Dan Watters: you know,
was, I wish the woman in black, too.
Dan Watters: I’m, so I’m such a, so starved for anything, period. Any period ghost thing, I’m an absolute sucker for,
Melissa: are you yeah. What was the other one? That was, it was actually better than I thought it was going to be. I think it was called the, the others with,
Yeah. I mean that movie, like when, you know, when it first came out and you watch it for the first time, I mean, I don’t know about you, but I had no clue that [00:36:00] they were the ghosts.
Dan Watters: Oh yeah, no. Yeah. The first time. Yeah. I mean, I watched that film quite young. Yeah. We watched that. We watched it in school. I kind of a Y we watched at school.
yeah. I, I, what teacher was just. You know how to hang over that day or
Melissa: like watch there. Yeah.
Dan Watters: She’s the only, the only, the only VHS that they had, I would go and get, you know what I’m saying to think about it.
I went to it, I went to a very Catholic school and it might’ve been. I think it was in religious studies.
Melissa: They were like, this is what not, yeah, this is,
Dan Watters: yeah, this is if you’re, if you’re not good, if you’re not good Catholic boys, this as well,
Melissa: show you the exercise. That’s so funny. well, I also want to talk to you about your other comment cause you have to coming out and does them awesome. Busy guy. your, your [00:37:00] other comic, the picture of everything else?
yeah, no, but this is a really cool and interesting take on Oscar Wilde story and great character. yeah. What inspired you to tell this version of the story?
Dan Watters: I just think there’s a lot of potential in that. Concept, which hasn’t really been explored. I think when people go back to Dorian gray and use it for other things, as they never really do, because it’s probably the main, they tend to fixate on Dorian as this sort of.
You know, because it’s that sort of the late Victorian era and as the sort of the whole decadent angle and they go, Oh, look at this sort of, you know, it’s, it’s a beautiful young man. It’s very, very romantic, you know, and what will be if we don’t manage those horrible things. and doesn’t age because, because he has this, this painting of himself in his attic and yeah, that, that that’s great.
But no one, I’ve never seen anyone [00:38:00] talk about the guy who painted them or painting. That is way more interesting. He, he, you know, he painted it and, and, and, you know, if you, if you going through the Burkey’s also clearly, there’s clearly a lot of Oscar Wilde and him as well. Like I think people think that.
Dorian is Wild’s interpretation of himself. I don’t think it is at all. I think Dorian is far closer to posi who was Oscar Wilde’s, young lover who basically entirely caused his downfall. who’s whose father was the, was the one who sued, Oscar Wilde into, into, into prison. and, which, which basically destroyed his entire reputation and then, and essentially killed him.
He died, he died two or three years later, in, in poverty, in France. so [00:39:00] I think, but, but he was notoriously, you know, he, he was, So always having sort of out busts and, and screaming at Oscar and treating him like crap, right. Again, Oscar was, you know, wow. It was really the vote it’s and I think if you read the no Boswell, Howard, who’s the guy who paints the picture, everything else is really devoted to Dorian.
And I think there’s more of wild in. How would then there, then there probably is in Dorian. Yeah. So, being, you know, being a right or an all right as being a narcissist. So I wanted to say thinking on the riot, so the, the, his character in, in, in that, but also I just felt it was such a ripe sort of metaphor for looking at all sorts of things.
The idea that you could, you can [00:40:00] paint things that.
Dan Watters: do not change, or you can change things. You could, you could change the paintings. things could happen.
Melissa: So are you sort of like exploring that theme of that old adage, you know, where art imitates life?
Dan Watters: Yeah. and, and sort of, I suppose. All right.
So it’s, it’s definitely about. That, but the, you know, we could the picture, everything else. Cause it’s also about the idea that it’s about everything else. I’m always a bit wary of art, just being about art because, You know, art is art is, you know, I think one of the things worth living for, and you know, why, why would we do it otherwise?
Melissa: why do we torture ourselves?
Dan Watters: But it’s also the most rewarding thing you can, you can do. And also I think the most rewarding, you know, it’s, it’s one of the things I think makes, makes life worth living. [00:41:00] But it’s, but part of the reason that, you know, it is, it is all of these things is because it’s, it’s something with which we can communicate it.
I mean, that’s, that’s what it primarily is. Right? In spoken communication. It’s a way of like talking to each other about anything and things that are hard to articulate. you know, that’s, I always think that those are the best works of art, ones that. Communicate, something are able to communicate from, from the creator to the T the audience, something, something that would be really difficult to just put into, into a couple of words.
you know, you be at a feeling or an emotion, or those are the same thing, but be it bit a feeling we’ll be able to sort of, you know, just a sense of a place or a time or whatever. Yeah. I was just like, you know, this is how it was, this is, this is, Oh, this is how I feel. You know, those are, those are the really worthless things that are can do.
So I’m always very wary of [00:42:00] art becoming just about itself. I’ve always, I’ve always pretty much like for sort of, you know, over the top postmodern stuff, which does collapse into that sort of Naval gazing, but. If we just do that at a time, then I think we’ve really missing the opportunities that are gives us because our.
It’s supposed to be about everything else.
Melissa: Yeah. Well, and it’s, you know, like about the human connection and, like you were saying, I think some things get really caught up in the actual setting or a vagina or the, you know, the lights flickering in the fog, but forgot to realize that. You need a character to drive the plot and to, you know, make people interested.
Dan Watters: I think it could also get, I think art can also get very neurotic about its own limitations. Like the amount of comics that I’ve read the do the sort of meta thing, you know, the, that becomes a metal fiction sort of [00:43:00] ethanol acknowledged that they are comics of the characters know that they’re in a comic or whatever, but how often those become about justifying the existence of comics.
I find strange. Yeah. Cause it’s like, it’s like, all right, it doesn’t have to be, you know, we don’t have to justify it. We’re here. We, you know, we’re here. We’ve, we’ve bought, we bought into this whole thing. you don’t need to justify. Why were hit. but I, I think, I think a lot of does that as well, right.
When it becomes about itself and it becomes about writers and it becomes about writing and it becomes like, Oh, you know, the sort of angst of, of, of am I writing something that’s worthwhile? Is this, is this. Shooters. I mean, it’s, I can see why it’s such an easy thing to fall into as well when, when you’re a writer and you really want the communicate truth.
And then you know that I can see how easily that becomes a feedback it’s like, is this art worthwhile? That’s my truth. And therefore I’m going to make more art about, is this all worthwhile? You know?
Melissa: Yeah. You just describes my inner dialogue [00:44:00] now.
Dan Watters: I mean, You know, I, you know, I, I say it because I, because I recognize, you know, I know it, I felt that,
Melissa: But yeah.
Dan Watters: Even answers the question though.
Melissa: Yeah, no, you definitely did. but yeah, no, it’s this, it’s a cool concept. just taking it from a completely different, you know, like you were saying a different take on it that nobody ever has focused on, you know, in past, interpretations. and there there’s a lot of possibilities when you start exploring stories in that way.
You know, like, what they did with pride and prejudice and som bees and, Abraham Lincoln, vampire Hunter, you know, when you start taking these twists on historical figures or literary characters, are there other ideas now after writing this one, like, is your head going like, Oh, I could do this, you know, with that or for, you know, future comics based on like, re-imagining.
Dan Watters: what I actually do [00:45:00] have one of, But, I won’t talk about it cause I, cause I think it’s probably gonna to have say yes is, is the, is the boring.
Melissa: Perfect. So we’ll have to have you on again so we can talk about that. Yeah, that’s right. do you find it more challenging to work on your own material or is it easier like compared to writing in an already established universe, such as Dan man.
Dan Watters: Awesome. That’s a good question. it is different when you’re, when you’re doing something from the ground up. I mean, I guess you could argue that the picture of everything else is a little, the most similar to something like sign-on and the, I am, you know, we are considering the, the novel, while it’s normal to be, to be essentially our Canon.
So it does, it does carry on from that, I mean it’s, it’s, it’s always interesting. I don’t know. I just, I think, I think my mother, she wants answers. There’s just different [00:46:00] building something from the ground up is, is a joy. And it’s why you get into, I already least I think it should be why you get into empty doing this.
It’s the sort of create worlds and play God and, and be a lunatic narcissist. Whereas getting, going into the other sandboxes, especially ones like salmon or, or the DCU, which are, which are technically the same thing. but they have that. There is, there is a sort of joy, and I think there are certain ideas that work better with that way of history behind them.
Dan Watters: you know, and, and these sort of mythos that, that have grown through hundreds and hundreds of writers and artists, so doing, doing things in a shared space, like that’s just a joy to that. That’s cool. That’s cool.
Melissa: Yeah. It’s cool to get to work on both [00:47:00] via to, you know, do your own thing, but then you can also be part of these shared universities as well.
Dan Watters: Yeah, it’s definitely nice to sort of dip in and out and have your own thing.
Melissa: Right. and then, I did see something on Twitter today, that you shared. Can you tell us anything about the story you’re working on for the razor blade, horror anthology?
Dan Watters: yeah, I don’t, don’t see. Why not? Don’t think. I think James or Steve, we’re going to sort of fly in.
Dan Watters: James has Batman on the side now, so sounds a little bit nerve wracking, but, I mean, that’s actually, now that you mentioned that as another horror, another horror thing, obviously it’s razorblades, but it’s also another historical,
Dan Watters: figure. yeah, we’re doing a story about.
Melissa: Oh, yay.
Dan Watters: Awesome. And the sort of, I think there’s a very different, sort of knowledge [00:48:00] base of that character between, sort of, I don’t know if it’s just London or Britain, and the sort of American interpretation. Cause, cause when I sorta talked to. I talked to James and Steve, that the editor is razorblades about the character.
They’re just like, Oh boy, like, yeah, we know the, the musical and that’s where, that’s why we, we will know him from where it’s in, in like both Lucy and I, we were talking about Sweeney Todd and swing. Satsang you hear about when you’re a kid, it’s kind of like a, like another. Legend thing, especially if you’re, if you’re in London and you know, you sort of know those streets, my dad used to work, close to fleet street.
So I knew that was a real place and that, but there are also a lot of people who believe that swinging towards the head, which is not, he, you know, comes right. He comes for a penny dreadful in a really bad one as well. Like I’ve, I’ve tried to read it. I tried to read it for this thing, like the whole way [00:49:00] through, and it’s just not worth it.
It’s one, it’s very much one of those sort of. Written written, you know, week by week for the paycheck and
Melissa: Oh God,
Dan Watters: we need to spend, you know, 50 pages talking about sailor just to get the paycheck, then we’re going to do it.
Dan Watters: yeah, well, you know, I guess people will never change. but yeah, this, this, this idea of, as a kid, as a kid, I knew he was.
Fictional, but I, then I’m talking about as, as quite a, quite a young kid, like maybe seven or eight, and I knew this, I knew this story, but I knew it perfectional, but then they were adults and like teachers and stuff who would, who would insist to me that it was real.
Melissa: It’s a scary answer.
Dan Watters: No, no, because they believed that it was real because, because there is this sort of.
A lot of people just assume, am I? And I remember talking to my dad about it and he was like, Oh, I, [00:50:00] I, I thought that was real as well. And, I mean, like as in, within the last couple of months, because I was doing the story, I was like, Oh, do you remember me talking about Sweeney 12 as a kid? and he was like, Oh, I, I still thought that was a real thing.
so, so it’s a weird. I think, especially as a care, that’s a very weird space to find yourself in where you sort of know somethings or you’re convinced something’s fictional and then people who trust them and who have authority and should know better than you are telling you that it’s real. and it’s a weird sort of almost.
Dream-like confusion for a child and yeah. So that’s kind of what the story is about.
Melissa: Okay. Sorry. You were living any trauma and writing
Dan Watters: just bafflement
Dan Watters: trauma, just childhood sort of bafflement.
Melissa: And when is that coming out?
Dan Watters: I think that’s going to be in the wind. The winter edition, say [00:51:00] it’s December.
Melissa: Awesome. That’s great. and so, I mean, you mentioned briefly, that you worked on, at Eastern Superman. but have you, have you ever thought about tackling another genre other than horror, like with your own material?
Dan Watters: yeah, for sure. I have. How about, I mean, limbo wasn’t really horror. right. I think the thing that interested me about being Cora and comment on I’m just going to talk about her again, but not hard.
The thing that interests me about horror comics is that I don’t think straight up horror, horror, works in comics. you don’t have jump scares in comics because you don’t have, you don’t have the sort of surprise which pros can can do because you know, words can sneak up on you, but the picture you can kind of see it in a peripheral before you, before you get to the next panel.
So you can’t make people jump.
Melissa: That’s true. Yeah. I never thought [00:52:00] about it that way. Yeah.
Dan Watters: So when you do horror in comics, you have to plug it into other things and you have to work around that kind of, that kind of thing. which is what I think is why I always, I, which is why I like doing Horan comics, because it always makes you kind of innovate if you want to do something interesting.
But that also means that I ended up plugging other genres into it, like homesick pilots is, you know, how does that sort of nineties, Teen angst stuff. And, the picture, everything else is definitely a sort of a historical drama as well.
Melissa: some steam punk.
Dan Watters: Yeah. How I, at least the one that went all over the place, you know, it, let us, let us sort of tell any kind of story.
Yeah. I like the sort of trappings of horror.
Dan Watters: very much like other things, I would say 90% of the stuff I read isn’t horror. so I’m sure I’ll get the,
[00:53:00] at the moment, I’m kind of caught up on ghosts and ghosts as a, as a concept. And I don’t think those, I don’t think ghost stories have to be horror stories at all. that’s true. You know, we’re all very pointed things and I don’t think most of us are that scary. Really?
Melissa: Yeah. Well, I even think that like, with, with lock and key, for example, it’s, it’s not really about ghosts, but it has a ghost like feel, I guess
Dan Watters: I would say luckily I can keep those a very good example of what I’m saying about econ.
Sort of scary horror and comics because lock and key, doesn’t really try to either it’s it feels very Joe Hill, you know, the way his like horror novels do. And, and it does feel quite, quite Stephen King, but in a sort of trappings, but it’s not sort of focused on the horror stuff. At least once you get past that first book, it really opens up and it tells all kinds of stories.
Melissa: Yeah. Once you get [00:54:00] past the initial. Like shock of what’s happening. it gets,
Dan Watters: it gets more,
Melissa: yeah, it gets more into like, just the story of the family. It felt
like group therapy really. do you think you’ll ever write a novel actually like a horror novel? Have you ever wanted to, or,
Dan Watters: yeah. I, I. Kept making. I kept making noise about getting them all done before I was 30 and another two months. So that’s not going to happen. yeah, I’ve started one, which it, which I’m, which I’m determined to finish, which, which isn’t a horror novel at all.
I think, and I, when I did John rhe stuff, it pushed it. I pushed towards horror very, very naturally, but, I think. When I do prose it, it tends to, it tends to be a little bit more, I don’t know. It’s still, it’s still in the realm of something. Maybe like, like [00:55:00] Bonica, I love that kind of stuff. I love stuff.
so yeah, so, you know, and, I love still Don DeLillo and David Foster Wallace and all that sort of. May be pretentious, but very interesting stuff. So, yeah. I think that will probably be where. You’ll see me push away from or the quickest.
Melissa: Right. Okay. Well, you never know, you might, once you make the, you know, do the first novel and get the, you know, the hang of it, the feel for it.
you’ll, you’ll be surprised you might, you might want to start, Oh, maybe I could do this in horror. Sci-fi even, you
Dan Watters: know, and then the second one we’ll just do will be just. Patches. Yeah.
Melissa: It’s chopping people up. That’s it? That’s true. Horror, novel horror into itself. so random question, if you could live inside any of the worlds that you’ve created, which one would it be?
[00:56:00] Dan Watters: Oh,
so it’s an interesting question for her, right?
Dunno. This is interesting. There’s always the interesting sort of, of, of side of it where I guess like, and homesick pilots, there are ghosts and they do some scary things, but I guess if you have straight up ghosts like that, you’ve, you’ve got, proof of an afterlife, which nice.
Melissa: That’s true.
Dan Watters: Yeah, I guess, I guess that picture everything else is very much like our world, but with Sarah Kim, the painters.
Melissa: Nice. Well, before I let you go, I just want to do some fun, random questions. just five quick fire ones, star Wars or star Trek.
Dan Watters: Neva
Melissa: neither. Okay. Favorite game of Thrones character.
Dan Watters: Oh,
[00:57:00] Melissa: I mean, there’s like a hundred to choose from, but no pressure,
Dan Watters: Jon. Snow’s the really boring one. Isn’t it? But it’s good
Melissa: character. He’s a good one.
Dan Watters: Yeah.
Melissa: Coffee or tea,
Dan Watters: coffee, but I wouldn’t survive without coffee.
Melissa: Nice. do you have any tattoos?
Dan Watters: Yes. How
Dan Watters: three or four. I was meant to get more and then I just lost interest.
Melissa: And lastly your favorite Batman actor portrayal.
Dan Watters: I’m very much looking for the partisan because, mainly based off how he basically played psychotic, Bruce Wayne already and cosmic [00:58:00] bliss, I don’t know. I might ask the guy, I might have to go right back that and West is just,
Melissa: Oh yeah,
Dan Watters: it’s just joy. I love it so much.
Melissa: Yeah. Well, that’s good. I’m glad you didn’t.
You didn’t say like, you know, one of the other ones that we won’t mention, but yeah, I, you know, I think Michael Keaton’s version actually is very underrated.
Dan Watters: it was,
Melissa: I mean, it was sort of a. You know, at the time it was, I remember it was a big hit when it came out big blockbuster, but I think he did a good job, you know, considering, I mean, it’s evolved so much from since then. And, it’s gotten pretty dark, dark. Yeah. And I can only,
Dan Watters: I can only imagine, like when that film was announced, the sort of like, it must’ve been a fair bit of bafflement Keyon was cast, right?
Like, cause he was, he’s a comedian.
Melissa: And, and like a rom com you know, it’s a [00:59:00] lot of romantic stuff. Yeah.
Dan Watters: but yeah, I mean, the fact that he’s still kind of doing, you know, the, the amount of, sort of legacy he has from, from that film and, you know, obviously it’s, you know, sort of intertextual with, with how they cast him as the poacher around, but man, and like all of these sort of things, like it’s, it’s still, you know, he, he really sounds like a shockwave out with that, with that role.
Melissa: Yeah. And it had, it’s sort of like, yeah, with Birdman, it, it kind of like re you know, like a resurgence, you know, people, you know, That were younger that, you know, hadn’t seen it, I think went back and watched it, you know, that maybe didn’t even bother beforehand. So yeah, I think he did a good job and Christian bale of course did a great job too, but
Dan Watters: yeah, I mean, Kristen bell, that’s similar to similar for the Roman person thing.
Like I, I’ve always been convinced that they cast Christian bale because of his American psycho row. Like, I, I do find it interesting that we’ve had [01:00:00] to. Batman actors who’ve played sort of psychotic city, guys, in the very recent past when necklace was Batman.
Melissa: Yeah, no, that’s a good point. I mean, I think they brought it, but brings like more of a.
I guess like an edgier, you know, roll to it. I I’m, you know, cause I think what the comics, people think that comic books, especially with superheroes, that a lot of them are light and fluffy or whatever. but when you start reading the different variations of Batman that are out there, there were some really dark and twisted, you know, Batman stories.
So yeah, I think he’s
Dan Watters: got to have it. He’s got to have some crazy behind the eyes, right? If he’s going to dress up like a bat and like beat people up.
Melissa: Yeah, exactly. It’s gotta, and it’s gotta be a good, Bruce Wayne, too, right?
Dan Watters: Yeah. I mean, that’s the guy he’s dressing up like a bat, say you got to believe that he’d get away with it as well.
Melissa: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I know it’s super late, so you’re probably wanting to go to sleep [01:01:00] at this point. I really appreciate you coming on, especially with the time difference. I had a blast talking to you. It was really, really fun. So thank you for coming on.
Dan Watters: Thanks very much for having me.
Melissa: Yeah. So everybody makes sure to get a copy of homesick pilots on December 9th and then the picture of everything else is on December 12th.
Dan waters. Thank you again.
Dan Watters: Thank you.
Melissa: Thanks so much.