Arts Desk

Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat with Dan Nokes

Dan Nokes is the third local creator I spoke to at the recent Capicons comic book show (which is trying to showcase local cartoonists as well as provide dealer space). Nokes has definitely taken the DIY credo to heart.

Washington City Paper: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

Dan Nokes: I am the writer/artist of a one-man comic book publisher called 21st Century Sandshark Studios.  The company was founded in 2002 for the sole purpose of publishing my creative endeavors. To date I have put out a 67-page graphic novel (The Reptile and Mister Amazing, 2002), a 12-issue megaseries (The Paranormals, 2003-2008) and a 3-issue miniseries (The Pistoleers, 2008-2010). Currently I am producing a second graphic novel (Adam & Eve: Bizarre Love Triangle In The Zombie Apocalypse).

WCP: When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

DN: I was born in Cheverly, Md., on Feb. 2, 1976.  I grew up in Langley Park and Silver Spring before locating to Calvert County, Md., when I was 14.

WCP: Why are you in Washington now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?

DN: I live in Lusby, MD.  I’m not quite sure if it’s part of the greater DC metropolitan area – it depends on who you ask.

WCP: What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

DN: I am self-taught for the most part.  I tend to gravitate to the “Thomas Edison approach” to my education via trial and error.

WCP: Who are your influences?

DN: Within comics: John Byrne, Walt Simonson, Jim Lee, Neil Gaiman, Garth Ennis, Chris Claremont, Geoff Johns, Simon Furman, and Geoff Senior.  Out of comics:  Ann Rice, Vincent Van Gogh, Clint Eastwood, Tex Avery, and Monty Python.

WCP: If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

DN: I’d get my backside in gear to do this comic thing about 7-8 years sooner.  I am a late bloomer, to put it nicely!

WCP: What work are you best-known for?

DN: Managing to put out a nice sized body of work with little to no resources, I think.

WCP: What work are you most proud of?
DN: The Pistoleers without a doubt!  That comic was me leaving my comfort zone and doing subject matter that I was relatively unfamiliar with.  I won good critical praise, but it was a financial disaster.  It was my “artsy” project and I will always be proud of my courage in putting out that book.

WCP: What would you like to do or work on in the future?

DN: My big goal is to have some company with oodles of cash front my endeavors, with me having total creative input.

WCP: What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

DN: That doesn’t come too often, once I have the initial idea down.  It’s a matter of realizing you can have whatever situation come forth in the story, as it doesn’t really matter, while the important thing is how your characters react to that situation.  That has been one of my guiding lights in storytelling.

WCP: What do you think will be the future of your field?

DN: Webcomics without a doubt.  Indie printers cannot compete with the big boys when it comes to sequential issue comics or rising printing costs.  Online comics give us a chance to compete on a level playing field.

WCP: What's your favorite thing about DC?

DN: The relative accessibility to most of the cool haunts from the Metro.  I like not having to take my car into town should I choose not to.

WCP: Least favorite?

That the Metro doesn’t run 24 hours…

WCP: What monument or museum do you take most out-of-town guests to?

DN: The Natural History museum.  It’s been my favorite since I was 6.

WCP: Do you have a website or blog?

DN: www.21sandshark.com

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