Danny Donovan

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Last Updated: 
2nd May 2002

Before They Were Stars seems to have become an instant hit. Creators left and right are lining up to take my calls for this (yeah, right).

Today’s Before They Were Stars comes from the Rocky of comic books, Danny Donovan, a man who fought his way through indie companies to finally hit his mark on Marvel Comics.


Tom Toner: Anything you wanna say, Danny, before we start?

Danny Donovan: Crayons taste like purple.

TT: Of all the things to do in life, why comics?

DD: Actually, comics are the greatest art form, one that is aped by everything we see today. I can’t count the number of movies I'll see that mirror comics. There was that movie with Jet Li, THE ONE - that was almost shot for shot J. Michael Strazinskcy's Rising Stars. Comics are a lot of fun to do; you get all the joys and stress of working in the entertainment industry with the quasi-celeb status without all that hassle of big cash and fame.

TT: Oh yeah, I sure can see why you wouldn’t want those.

DD: Seriously though, I see us on the verge of a new renaissance, showing the world what a powerful and entertaining medium we can be. And where else can you get to work in your PJ’s?

TT: If you weren't doing comics, what would Danny be doing right now?

DD: If I wasn’t doing this? I’d probably be some weird hermit that lived in a cave or something equally as fun.

TT: Who was your influence in the biz? Did you meet them and how was it?

DD: Well, I don’t know. I mean, obviously there are a lot of people that I'm a fan of. I think everyone and everything influences you in one way or another, whether you like the person or not. One of the people that I have looked up to and admired for a long time before coming into the biz was Joey Quesada.

TT: Joey Q? You don’t say. Everyone seems to be thanking him lately. Almost like they are kissing.. ever get to meet the boss?

DD: I did get to meet him and his wife Nanci, and the newest edition little Carlie Q. Note: call her Carlie Q and face that wrath of Nanci Dakesian-Quesada.

TT: I’ll keep that in mind. So, how did you meet the man?

DD: I met Joe back at Heroes Con in NC. He did a few panels and I hung out with him while he did a signing. He's the coolest guy imaginable. Another cool guy is {Brian Michael} Bendis, whom I haven't met in person yet. Mike Oeming is another cool cat, which I've met. Actually, I've met and talked to a lot of people over the years of shmoozing with the in crowd to list them all. One guy, that is a shining force in my career that I have yet to meet is Kevin Smith. I'd love to get a chance to meet him someday. Perhaps at the Wizard Cons this year!

TT: Here’s hoping you do. Danny, how did you first get picked up to do comics? As a guy that had fought hard to get published, how did you land that job with Marvel? How did it feel when it happened?

DD: I want to say luck. Others want to give me all the credit and say pure and unadulterated talent and charming good looks (Thanks, Mom!), but it was one of those odd "right place at the right time" things that make great stories. I’ve told this one a lot, so one more time ain’t gonna hurt anybody.

TT: I think I’ve heard this one before, so I’m going to get something to eat.

DD: Back in Lord knows when, Joey Q and Bill Jemas, who is another really great guy and a good pal, took office and shook the foundations of the comic book industry. Their first sweeping move was to gut the bloated X-titles and save the faltering readership by cutting a bunch of popular books. Gambit's ongoing title was among them. Now I understood the reasoning behind the cuts - the books were telling the same kind of stories to the same kind of people instead of each playing on a different strength within the universe to go after the wider audience. I thought that Gambit was a book that was a potential strong seller - a great market for female readers, and more of a place for cool horror/adventure/romance stories then straight superhero. So I went to my buds at top brass and pleaded my case, unaware that I was actually pitching anything. Joe sent me an e-mail telling me he passed on my e-mail to Mark Powers and I began a fun ride with him.

Originally we were going to do a mini. I pitched an Indiana Jones-style mini called The Guild, which was met with interest, but Mark {Powers} kept losing the damn thing. (LOL) After some resends, I gave Mark a call just to see what was up. I assumed he'd say "Right, on yer bike." (well, if he were British) or something to that extent but he said, "How would you like to do a 12 page Gambit story? We'll bill it as an inventory and we can get you on something while we see about this Guild thing." My jaw literally dropped and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I was all shaky and nervous and was thrilled at the opportunity. And worked really hard and closely with Mark to get a good story. We spent a lot of time talking about X-Men, comics, and stuff it was probably one of the greatest experiences of my life!

TT: Mmm, that pizza was good. Oh yeah, I notice lately you do collaborations with Jeremy Rock. How did you two meet?

DD: Jeremy, (www.jeremyrock.com) has been hanging with me for a good long time! I honestly think (and my memory sucks) that I snagged him from another gig. I remember he was working on something for some indie company that I was a part of, saw his work and quickly became a fan.

TT: What characteristics of him made you want to work with him on so many books?

DD: Jeremy has a kinetic style that really is what comics are missing these days. He tells good stories and his action sequences really pop! And he's always improving on himself. What made me want to work with him on so many books? He works free (just kidding). The guy is a super talent and I’m lending all my ability to see that he becomes a driving force in the art community. (Or at least gets a fat comic book check so his gal Sara doesn't kick his slacker butt off the couch! Again, kidding.) But "The Rock" is going to be doing some incredible stuff soon. He’s begun work on a 12-page story for Tidelwave Studios, which used to be through Image and now is with Avatar -- But he’s doing a story with a character called Orion The Hunter, should be out later this year. (I hope) JROCK was one of the few people that actually got to see *my* 12 pager. He even did a cover for it, then got a little crazy and added Rogue and Sinister who weren't in it. But we've been collaborating ever since!

TT: I spied your name on a few of them 9-11 books. How did you get picked for that?

DD: One 9-11 book, 9-11 Emergency Relief from Alternative Comics. And actually, I did the picking.

TT: Oh really?

DD: I co-created the book with my friends A. Dave Lewis, and Neil Klied. Dave and Neil got in touch with indie talents and I started pouring through my little black book of creators from the big time. I had assembled Mike Avon Oeming, Tom Denerick, Eric Wolfe Hanson, Dan Fraga - whom was late with his contribution and it sadly never saw print - etc.

It was Neil that got Jeff Mason to help out and Jeff, well, stole the show! But I have to admit he did a better job then us three mooks could have done getting it printed and distributed etc. It was a fantastic effort for a fantastic cause. We made a real difference I think, and raised a lot of money for the Red Cross. We were actually the only 9-11 book that was ALLOWED to use the Red Cross name and logo even if they didn’t specifically license us. The people at the Red Cross were great. And we became the #1 TPB in January with some amazing sales. We broke the barrier and got into bookstores and did lots of TV, print and radio stuff. It was great to see how many people were supporting what were doing and seeing so many people come together on a book like that. I applauded everyone on 9-11 and all the other charity books that came out on that day.

TT: What was the first comic that got to grace that name of Danny Donovan on it? You still own it? Does it has any worth to it now days?

DD: Lord, I don’t know. Over the years I’ve done so many things that either had a small press run or never materialized. The first thing that ever had my name on it was a webcomic called Hardcore located at www.htcowcomics.com. The only thing I’ve done that's made it into the Wizard Price Guide was 9-11. Everything else you can more likely pick up at cons from people that got gypped by some of the fly-by-night guys I worked with.

TT: Of all the indie companies that you got to work with, which would you list as your "favorite"?

DD: I don’t know. Every one of them was sort of the same. To be honest, I’m really not sure what classifies as indie. My classification has always been, if it's not Marvel or DC, it’s indie.

TT: Add Image to that list and that’s what I consider to be "indie".

DD: But in order to at least promote SOMETHING that has the possibility of coming out, I’ll say Committed Comics (www.committedcomics.com). It looks like I’ll be making an appearance in their anthology Threads #1 and #3. Threads #1 sports a cover by western artist and silver age Fantastic Four inker Dick Ayers - In #1 I wrote a western called the Black Rider. I have no idea which of my many stories I did for them will be in #3. I hope the Samurai one comes out soon.

TT: Any embarrassing stories that you want to share from the biz?

DD: Once, when I was out of underwear... Actually I don't know if I *have* any embarrassing stories. Well at least none that embarrass me, but I’m hard to embarrass.

TT: As the king of shameless plugs, do you have any more that you have yet to plug?

DD: Hmmm. Just my website, www.dannydonovan.com -- Jeremy's site www.jeremyrock.com. And I think I'll plug my favorite little comic gals the LM3 for the heck of it - Sara, Lauren, and Jen! (Toss in Kat for good measure!)

TT: Here’s hoping they’ll read it, now that they’ve been mentioned. Anything going on right now that you can spoil us with?

DD: Hmm. Well, as soon as his schedule clears I plan on doing a project with Dave Finch. But I’ll have to wait until after his commitments on Wolverine, and The Call are complete - buy anything with {Dave} Finch's name on it! Always waiting on that fella that does all those pretty pictures, Tom Denerick, but yet another guy whom a little Canuck with claws comes first! - go buy Captain America/Wolverine. I’m working on something with Jeremy, which will either go to MAX Comics {of Marvel Comics}, or another player that’s popped up recently.. I’ll be taking your bids now fellas!

TT: I hear you’ve looked at Hollywood recently. Want to share?

DD: I’ve been poking around for the simple reason that Bendis told me there were cookies there. But seriously, I’ve been in contact with Marvel Studios’ executive producer, Kevin Feige, and a couple of other Production houses in sunny California, so who knows what that'll turn up! I know that I’m forgetting something big. Ahh well, just keep tuning into my message board on XFAN (Danny's Deck) or my website, (that name again is Mr. Plow) www.dannydonovan.com for updates as I go.

TT: Whelp, thanks for taking the time out of your schedule, Danny. Got any final words?

DD: My pleasure. Final words? Hmmm. SOILENT GREEN IS PEOPLE! And Buy Black Panther and Spider-girl, hot dammit!

Before They Were Stars #2
Written by - Tom "2TUM" Toner
Edited by - J. Danielle Daniels