Hey Guys! Today I’m interviewing some great guys from the comic Snow Daze. I met Marcus and Leo a few years ago and we’ve kept up with each others work via Twitter, and I have to say I’m a big fan of their comic! They’re on one of my special Twitter lists because I don’t want to miss any news from them, and I have to say they’re some of the most genuinely awesome people in the webcomic/indie comic community!
Thanks for joining us!
Leo: Yo yo yo what’s crackalacking. Thanks for doing this.
Marcus: Whatup! Thanks for having us.
Of course! You guys are awesome. So tell us a little bit about yourself!
Marcus: I’m an art teacher by day and a comic drawing vigilante after sundown. I also do a lot of fine art stuff, as well as murals and community projects.
Leo: I’m a super-busy procrastinating shitty polymath. A jack of all trades and master of fuck-all. I like comics.
Awesome! So tell us about your comic!
Leo: Snow Daze is a dream project I’ve been sauteing with Marcus over the course of several years. After many discussions he made time in his very busy schedule and came fully on board to help realize the vision. Snow Daze is a crime comic peopled by adolescents, taking place in the nostalgic nineties, containing violent episodes but devoid of guns or death. There’s racism, school lunches, video games, graffiti and macho posturing. The suburbs get invaded by brown people with ambition, and school-tinted chaos ensues.
What was the origin of the project? Was there any specific event that happened that made you want to create it?
Leo: I used to shovel snow when I was a kid and made a shit-ton of money. My friends and I, more or less, controlled the neighborhood on this front. I spoke about this on the Wombmates Podcast (shoutouts to those dudes, down with the cause from the jump), but I’ll quickly reiterate. My friend Nick and I were shoveling a neighborhood in our second year doing it, and ran into some kids we didn’t know knocking on a door down the block. We yelled at them and posted up like “WHAT?” Scared them off. The block was ours. That tiny, private moment was the seed that germinate into this comic many years and a few lifetimes later.
How did the style of your project come about? Are there any direct styles or inspirations you draw from?
Marcus: The inspirations of Snow Daze’s visual style are pretty eclectic. Leo and I knew that we wanted it to be black and white from the beginning. I’ve always been a big fan of the high contrast black and white style of The Hernandez brothers, and other artists like Kyler Baker and Jeff Smith. My approach was to take those sensibilities and add my own style to create Snow Daze’s visual language. I wanted a clean look that would reflect the cold northeast, snow blanketed urban landscapes that I know so well. A lot of the environments in the city of Oxenvale are based on parts of Albany and Troy, NY.
Leo: I think I speak for the both of us when I would say first and foremost: Love & Rockets. It’s my most beloved and inspiring comix beacon. Overall I think we both read a lot of indie, and have special warmth in our hearts for the great world-builder stuff. I am obsessed with Carla Speed-McNeill, was really digging Layla Marie Lawlor (what is she up to?), Brendon Graham is like one of the greatest new voices I’ve read in years, Matt Kindt can do absolutely no wrong. I like stuff with edge and sensitivity, that doesn’t always take the easy way out of a story. I really loved The Bulletproof Coffin.
Leo: Considering that Marcus and I live in different weather-zones, phone and Skype is key. We obsessively trade notes, images, sketches, ideas and bullshit over google drive and text. We have a “no stone left unturned” approach to offering new ideas to the shrine of this work, and get really jazzed about drilling hidden secrets and little ideas into the texture of it. Our process tends to take a while, but we’ve been working towards a brisker schedule. Marcus and I have been collaborators in one way or another for a long time, from music appreciation and poetry to music creation and performance. We have a keen sense of creative discourse. We work well together and honor each other’s notions and inspirations.
Many of the scenarios in the comic are drawn from our personal experiences, usually amped up to creatively absurd measures or as thoughtfully mashing together disparate moments.
Marcus: I draw all the time. I’m always sketching ideas. Even when I’m not drawing, I’m looking at things I see throughout the day that would add to the texture and environment of our stories. Leo writes detailed scripts with notes that help me visualize what he envisions, but he’s also cool with me making adjustments visually based on what works the best. We have a very organic process where the writing propels the art and the art propels the writing at times.
Do you listen to music or watch tv when you work? Is there a specific tv show, music album, etc. that gets you in the zone?
Leo: I typically require either silence or music without words. I get good ideas at the gym, and rush to note them on my phone to expand upon later.
Marcus: I have two stages when I work. I usually work in silence during the first stage because I need to concentrate while I’m working out page layouts and storytelling elements. Comic illustration is like being a movie director, set designer, costume designer, and cinematographer all at the same time. I don’t like to have anything that might distract me while I’m working those things out. Once I know where I’m going and it’s time for the final page, I’ll put on a podcast, or whatever music or movie I’m in the mood for. It depends on the day.
Marcus: In no particular order, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Romare Bearden, Fabian Moon and Gabriel Ba, Jeff Smith, Kyle Baker, The Hernandez Brothers, Fiona Staples, Jim Lee, Greg Capullo, Becky Cloonan, John Byrne, and a bunch of other people that I’m sure I’m forgetting.
Leo: David Choe. Period. I’ve been following his work for many years, and was lucky enough to meet him a few times. He’s my favorite living artist aside from my Pagemaster. I’m a huge fan of Dash Shaw’s work and am always excited to see whatever the fuck he’s deciding to work on. David Lynch is an omnipresent inspiration and font of discussion for Marcus and I. We’ve been trying to get to the bottom of Lost Highway for a million years. I gravitate to eccentrics.
Do you consider them a strong influence on your work?
Leo: I don’t know how readily the comparison could be made with what they do, but we try to make an artifact of our interests and heroes.
Marcus: Not directly, in the sense that you probably wouldn’t look at my work and say it looks just like (insert name here), but each one of those people has inspired me. I really respect their dedication to their craft and the unique voices that they bring to their work. Like most people who draw comics I copied my heroes as a kid, but I’ve worked really hard over the last 15 years or so to find my own style and voice artistically.
How do you juggle your daily life with the comic? Are there ever any challenges?
Leo: Constantly. Both of us work dayjobs, and both of us enjoy our vices. Marcus does illustration-for-hire work along with his job, and is working on a super-secret comic book situation in addition to Snow Daze. I write poetry and contribute to a videogame blog (www.bliptalk.org). We meet in the middle of all of it to work on our passion project here.
Marcus: How do I juggle it? Precariously. It’s always challenging. I’m a father and a husband and I work full time in addition to doing a bunch of side work. I lose a lot of sleep getting it all done, but it’s worth it.
Leo: We’ll have a graphic novel of the first story arc and more shirts than you can shake a stick at.
Marcus: To quote Raekwon the Chef: “Domination, baby!” Nah, for real, In the next year I see our story advancing a great deal and I look forward to giving the readers even more insight into who the characters are. We have the arc planned out and I’m excited about revealing it to the readers. In the next five years we’ll be everywhere with a lot of material in print and digital form.
What are your future plans for your comic?
Leo: The more we write Snow Daze, the more we want to spend more time exploring the ancillary characters. We’ve cooked up a few side stories that require more pages than what we can perform in the Mientras, so I expect us to expand on our world with installments to come after the initial narrative. Oxenvale is a PLACE. Come hang out in it.