Continuing my series of articles featuring the fine folks who’ve contributed artwork to www.lastoftheliving.net, here’s a long overdue piece on the great Dan Boucher – excellent artist, Flash guru, and founder of www.thenovelblog.com. I recently talked to Dan about his techniques, philosophies and inspirations. But first, a quick reminder of his work. Dan’s the man behind the animated artwork for Duck and Cover which you might remember from last year. If not, click on the image below.
Dan recently gave the Hater website (www.thehatertrilogy.com) a lick of paint, turning an image of a Lowestoft housing estate (home to Danny McCoyne in THEM OR US) into a post-apocalyptic ruin. He has a talent for manipulating images, as can be seen from the before/after pictures below.
I first ‘met’ Dan when he featured HATER and a subsequent interview with myself on his site www.thenovelblog.com. He produced a striking animation for the top of the page, which impressed me so much he was the first person I thought of to ask to work on the idea I had for Duck and Cover. I knew what I wanted to illustrate the story, but it was way beyond my very limited technical and artistic skills. He turned this photograph of Birmingham City Centre into the image at the top of this post.
I asked Dan how he approaches his work – does he consider the technical or the artistic side of things first? He explained that he has no formal training in either, and that he’s completely self-taught on all counts. “I’ve always enjoyed being creative and the creative, be it another artist’s work, taking time to draw with a pencil and paper or creating a functional software that’s aesthetically pleasing—an art form I might add, all its own. It’s not easy to design interfaces for end users, they’re picky and usually have a tech-level that hovers just above dangerous. There’s a fine line between looking good and being functional, and the real art for me anyway, lies in finding that balance.”
Dan’s now branched out with a new company, Wicked Concept Creations. For him it marks the first step in moving from building data-driven applications to creative content. It’s something he’s been looking to do for a while, and already he has some impressive clients including a major Hollywood FX company and a film score producer. “I‘m really looking to step into the creative side of entertainment in a big way and being able to feature work like I’ve done for you goes a long way. I’ve no delusions about this though, I know it’s a lot of time and effort and can be a significant source of stress, but I’m passionate about books and movies, so it never really comes across as work.”
I asked Dan about www.thenovelblog.com. Launched in December 2008, it aims to provide independent, unbiased book reviews. “I’ve often struggled with the spending of $25 – $30 on a hardback that reviewers had raved on and on about how awesome it was, only to find out that, well, it sucked. I’m also extremely aggravated by all those “reviewers” out there who give a book a one-star review on Amazon with nothing more to say than they hated it. No reason as to why or where it fell short, they simply hated it. To me, that’s not a review, that’s another author who’s jealous over someone else’s success. My point is if it sucked, say so, just back it up with facts—which is what I hope we do.”
As an aspiring author himself, he’s well aware of the ‘reviews game’ played by some publishers and writers. “If you read one of our reviews, you can rest assured that there’s no outside influence, it’s simply our opinion.”
Dan cites Stephen King as his foremost literary inspiration. With CUJO, King opened the floodgates for him to devour any books he could find by a wide range of authors including Peter Straub, Richard Matheson, Peter Benchly and William Blatty. “I would love to be a full-time writer,” he says, “and that is my ultimate goal.” And after a number of false-starts, he feels that 2012 will be the year he makes it happen.
I want to wish Dan the very best, both with his writing and with Wicked Concept Creations, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank him again for the AUTUMN and HATER-related artwork he’s provided. Cheers Dan!