Creator Donal DeLay is a freelance illustrator based out of Florida. He’s worked for Marvel Comics, Image Comics, and independent publishers such as Gray Haven Comics. He created his own webcomic which ran for several years and told the “Daring Adventures Captain David Dare” of the Saturn 1 Space Patrol who protects the innocent from the scum of the universe! His most recent project for Image Comics was ‘The Death of Love,’ which was just collected in a trade last month. Now he’s crowdfunding an all-new project on Indiegogo called ‘Brutas the Badass’ which we discussed in this interview. Donal is also remarkable in that he has come out publicly in support of the #ComicsGate customer revolt/movement against the current comic industry trends of emphasizing progressive politics in comics over simply appealing to the long-time fanbase with good storytelling and interesting art. Most comic fans actually believe the same way.
BF: Tell us the pitch for Brutas the Badass. Where did this idea come from?
DD: Brutas The Badass is about a intergalactic psychobilly bounty hunter with amnesia & his psychotic robot sidekick running into a heap of trouble when they discover someone from Brutas’ past is hunting him. The core of the story is about confronting your past & discovering who you are but the heart behind the book is I wanted to draw everything I loved about comics when I first started reading them in the early 90s. The story started to take shape when I paired up with Nasser Rabadi to write it & let him run with the amnesia aspect. He came up with some great origin bits & we went back & forth building on that to come up with a fun, purely escapist comic that would have fit right in with Image Comics in 1993.
BF: Who is the intended or ideal audience for Brutas?
DD: It’s definitely intended for immature readers. Mentally, that is. People like myself who laugh at movies like Planet Terror. Anyone who enjoys movies like Deadpool or Naked Gun. Or enjoys comics like Nextwave, Lobo, or Body Bags. It’s definitely a book that’s targeting the Heavy Metal magazine crowd.
BF: What stage is the project currently in?
DD: As of my answering this, on Sept 28, we’re in the drawing stage of production. We’ll be going directly into coloring and lettering in the beginning on November. We need to hit the $20,000 stretch goal to hire a colorist and letterer but I’m fairly certain a we’ll make that stretch goal and having them aboard will help get this book ready to print before the end of the year.
BF: Brutas appears to have a strikingly similar haircut as another of your creations, Captain David Dare. Coincidence or something more?
DD: Definitely not coincidence. Brutas’ look was born from joking around on twitter. I was originally going to begin work on Daring Adventures when some followers said I should do a Lobo-esque book, because of my love for the character & artist Simon Bisley, so I drew Captain Dare as a biker & called him Brutas. People seemed to love it & it occurred to me that making him a bounty hunter allows me to really draw the kinds of things I like drawing. And it gave me an excuse to redesign Captain Dare to make him a bit more commercially viable as well as play better with the reveal of his origin. I’ll get to that book one day, but I’m having too much fun with Brutas right now.
BF: How did you hook up with writer Nasser Rabadi?
DD: Nasser sent me a couple of emails asking if I was looking for a writer to work with, but at the time I was going to just write for myself. After quickly realizing that writing is crazy hard for me, I sent him an email asking if he still wanted to work together, then sent him my one sentence idea of Brutas. I realized I’m not an idea man. I’m better at building onto them. Give me a seed & I can help it grow.
BF: Brutas also slightly resembles your style for another project you were recently pitching called “Killblood“. What the status of that project? Can you tell us about it?
DD: Killblood is a dead project for me. The concept was created by Justin Jordan & I designed the characters, but when we parted professional ways, that concept stayed with him. It fed right into my drawing likes of brutes, action, violence & visual humor. Apparently I have a type.
BF: How does the pitch process work? Do you create a fully realized comic and pitch it digitally to publishers?
DD: It depends on the publisher, but you generally only need a cover letter, a script, and 5-10 pages of colored/lettered art to show. The publishers don’t want to be given the same kind of pitch you’d give to a potential reader. Readers generally don’t want spoilers. Publishers want to know you know what you’re doing, where the story goes & how it ends (if it’s a finite tale). They need that information to assess marketability.
BF: Tell us a bit about your process, do you work on the visuals first or the words?
DD: I get a script, then I do thumbnails like I’m storyboarding a movie. Just to get simple information down (angle, composition ideas, etc). After that, I design each page and panel according to what kind of space each “storyboard panel” will need while keeping an appealing overall page design in mind. Then I pull up a digital page template, blow up my thumbnails, and get the page ready to begin pencils by setting up my layers, drawing the panels. I do that for the entire script so i can just open a page file and start drawing. Kind of like working in batches of production stages.
BF: Let’s talk about Image for a moment. What was your relationship with them like?
DD: My relationship with Image is great. Everyone that worked with me was as professional as you could ask for and I’d love to do more books under the “i” one day.
BF: How was Death of Love received?
DD: The sales weren’t great, but everyone I’ve interacted with that read the book really enjoyed it. I’m still very proud of the work I did in it and you can see a lot of artistic growth from me in that series.
BF: Over this past summer, it appeared that you were considering getting out of the industry altogether. What changed your mind?
DD: The overwhelming support and enthusiasm from Comicsgate readers and pros. It made me excited for comics again, the way I was when I first started reading them. Every day I get to interact with a lot of wonderful people that literally put their money where their mouth was and supported Brutas The Badass to keep me making comics. It’s been an amazing experience so far.
BF: You also came out as sympathetic to the concerns of those comic consumers and creators who have sided with the #ComicsGate customer revolt? Can you express your reasons for that?
DD: I’ve held a lot of the same concerns as many Comicsgaters for years, but there just wasn’t a community the way there is now. I’ve been watching an industry I love slowly wither away instead of being the lucrative one I know it can be again. And it was all because creators who should be trying to sell books to readers were telling them NOT to buy their books at the first mention of anything negative. But you don’t dare say anything or you quickly get bullied right back into place. It’s a toxic way to run a business, to run an industry and toxic way to treat people who are responsible for your electricity being on.
BF: Why do you think there seems to be a divide among so many outspoken comic creators and fans?
DD: Because the creators see themselves as fine artists instead of commercial illustrators/writers & the attitude associated with that is one of self importance that looks down on the reader as expendable. That’s offensive to readers whose opinion and support should be valued.
BF: What do you think is the worst thing about the current state of the comics industry and what would you say is the most hopeful?
DD: The toxicity from creators who call themselves “professional” but refuse to be an example of what that title represents and the refusal to take customer complaints into consideration where the comics are concerned is probably the worst thing about the current state of comics. The most hopeful is Comicsgate. We’re showing companies that when you value customers, treat them with respect & take their complaints into consideration you can make money. We’re showing companies that you can heal the industry. Sales don’t need to decline the way they are. Sales can increase. They WILL increase when respect for consumers increases.
BF: I noticed you have a support the troops perk offered for Brutas the Badass. What’s the deal there and what’s the motivation?
DD: It’s basically a 3 book deal. The troops get sent two and the backer gets one. I saw Mike S. Miller doing it, and saw Diversity & Comics sending comics to his deployed friend & thought it would be a good thing to do. Something to help entertain them and take their minds off homesickness or worse, like being in a war. It’s a small way to thank them for their service and sacrifice.
BF: What sort of person puts pineapple on a pizza?
BF: We couldn’t agree more. Best of luck on the crowdfunding campaign. We’re rooting for you Donal!
As of the publishing of this interview, Donal’s Indiegogo campaign for Brutas the Badass has raised $15,873 by 474 backers with a remaining 11 days to hit the next stretch goal of $20,000 so the book will be full color. Currently the book will definitely be fulfilled because the original goal for a b&w book was $8,000. I hope you’ll consider backing the campaign here, and follow Donal on Twitter @DonalTDeLay