Today’s interview (transcribed from the audio recording) features David McAdoo, writer and artist for the self-published graphic novel Red Moon, recently reviewed at Good Comics For Kids by my colleague Kate Dacey. This interview is part of a series of interviews with creators who make comics for kids and teens. All interviews were originally recorded on Friday June 4 and Saturday June 5 at Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC.
GCFK: How did you get started in comics? Have you always drawn?
David: I’ve always read comics, even as a kid. Some of the first stuff I drew was Superman and Spider-man; I’d copy it straight out of the comics. In fifth grade a friend of mine and I tried to draw and produce and Xerox and everything our own comics. Then when I got older, I decided that I needed to do this myself. I tried taking portfolios around, but my style didn’t fit at the time, so I just started doing my own [comics] and self-publishing. “I’m just going to have to do the foot work and get it out there.” Once the internet hit, it was a lot easier.
GCFK: What kind of work went into self-publishing Red Moon?
David: Mostly perseverance and budgeting. You haven’t got a budget; it’s just whatever you have. Then that gets complicated; you have to think, “Okay, that’s going to be six months from now, or a year.” Knowing that it’s eventually going to happen, that something’s going to happen if you just get it out there. If I do it professionally enough, then something’s going to happen.
GCFK: How long have you been working on Red Moon?
David: The graphic novel has been about two years. It is 200 pages, so the way I figure it if that was a series, it would be about the same amount of time as it takes to do a six or eight issue series. But I actually wrote it as a script for a film many years ago and I had just been tweaking it and tweaking it. I was getting ready to animate it myself, when Steve [Kozak, producer of Red Moon] came up to me and said, “Hey, I want to see it as a graphic novel.” So that’s when I stopped that and started doing graphic novels.
GCFK: Where did you get the idea to have a dog as a main character, told from his perspective?
David: I’m a Disney fan and it’s all talking animals and stuff like that. My book has a little bit of a twist on the talking animal stuff, but essentially that’s what it is. The lead character, Mox, is a schnauzer-terrier mix that I had as a child and he was the best dog. He had so many fun quirks; I put them all in the book. I knew I had to do something like Watership Down, The Secret of NIMH, with talking animals, but I wanted to take it to a more epic level.
GCFK: Is that because you have always been a science fiction, a fantasy fan?
David: Absolutely. It was nothing but fantasy stuff when I was growing up. Artists that influenced me were Frank Frazetta; I had books of his work early on. All that kind of stuff. Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings. I was big into fantasy.
GCFK: What comic creators have influenced you?
David: Neil Adams. Mostly artists. I’m an artist first and a writer second. Frazetta was a comic artist also. Bernie Wrightson is another one who influenced me.
GCFK: Is there anyone working today who you are following?
David: I’ve always followed Jim Lee. I’ll look at anything he does. J. Scott Campbell is here this weekend and is awesome. Mike Mignola, who is also here this weekend. There’s a lot of good stuff out there. There’s a newer guy, Sean Murphy, who I just discovered and is great.
GCFK: Do you have any other projects you’re working on right now besides Red Moon?
David: Steve and I have just started a project of his. He wrote it and I’m going to draw it. It will be another graphic novel. We both love the stand alone graphic novel. He’s finishing writing it right now and I’m doing character sketches.
GCFK: Do you think you’ll ever do a sequel to Red Moon?
David: I’d love to. A little bit further down the line, once the first one takes off a little more. I’ve tons of ideas for both sequels and prequels.
GCFK: Do you have any advice for young people who are interested in creating their own comics?
David: The best advice I ever got—and I use it all the time—is that no matter what you feel your style is, make it look professional. You can use the excuse of “Oh, that’s my style” only to a certain extent. Outside of that you have to make it look professional. Use what the professionals use; do everything like that. Then within those parameters, you can get your own style, find your own style.