Arts Desk

Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat With David Miller

David Miller is responsible for The Writer's Block, a how's it done? comic book where comics writers "are given the same chapter of continuity to script without knowing anything about the plot or being allowed to speak to one another. The authors let their muses take them (and you) on a unique comics reading experience unlike any you're likely to find. Each chapter is accompanied by an interview with the author to discuss how they approached this exercise in comics writing in particular and writing in general." Miller illustrated the resulting script. He's also the artist on The Futurians, a superhero comic developed by the late Dave Cockrum, who was one of the creators of the "new"X-Men lineup of the 1970s.

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

David Miller: I didn't realize it until you asked that question but I do all manner of cartooning. A lot of action-adventure stuff, of course, but also humor work, caricatures, editorial cartooning. I like doing it all.

WCP: How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

DM: Mostly traditional pen and ink. I do embellish it from time to time with some computer enhancements, but I try to keep it all "on the board." However, I think it's inevitable that I'll be using computer tools like the wacom or cintique in the future. It would be the height of stubbornness to not experiment and see what the new technology can bring to the artform.

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

DM: 1963. The last of baby boomers.

WCP: Why are you in the Washington sphere now?

DM: I met my future wife here. And it's a great place to live.

WCP: What neighborhood or area do you live in?

DM: In the Springfield area. Which is considered a D.C. suburb.

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

DM: I did my four years of art school but my real education started when I graduated and apprenticed for working artists. It's a real renaissance school. There's nothing like observing an artisan work his craft and see it in print three months later. I really think there's no sub stitute for this kind of experience. I've been fortunate to work with comickers who were not only fine artists but were able to share their knowledge and were decent human beings to boot.

WCP: Who are your influences?

DM: That's a two-fold question. There are the artists you grow up idolizing and copying and then there's the artists you work for. My idols were guys like George Perez, George Tuska, Gil Kane, John Byrne, Dick Giordano, Neal Adams, Klaus Janson and more! But I am most influenced by the artists I knew personally: Bob Downs, Art Nichols, Joe Rubinstein, Peter Scott, Paul Harrington, Laura Schoppa, Karen Jones, Mike Jenkins, Jerry Gaylord and so many more. I still find myself doing some of their licks from time to time. They really got into my DNA.

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

DM: In college I almost changed from being an art major to video production. If I did it over again, I might have been a film major.

WCP: What work are you best-known for?

DM: Probably The Writer's Block series.

WCP: What work are you most proud of?

DM: There are a lot of things I'm proud of but in the area of comics creating it would have to be The Writer's Block. That title was my sincere desire to feature the unique contributions of the comics writer. I had the honor of working with such great talents as Mike Baron, Peter David, Jo Duffy, Fabian Nicieza, Gail Simone, Jim Shooter, Roger Stern, Roy Thomas and Mark Waid. I'll always be proud of what I managed to accomplish with that book. You can order the trade collection of it at www.createspace.com/3676520 or order it through Amazon.

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

DM: Oh! So much to do! Video, animation, prose fiction, a documentary about Shakespeare. The list is endless. My dream project in the comics industry would be to do a year of Fantastic Four or Legion of Super-heroes.

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

DM: I don't usually encounter that problem but I usually have two projects going at once and if I burn out on one I work on the other until I'm ready to go back to the first one.

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

DM: If I had to make a guess (and a guess is all it would be) I see the comics industry breaking into one of two paths. 1) It is embraced as a popular method of telling a story like movies are now or 2) It is recognized as a fine art and is regarded in the same way as poetry.

 

WCP: Do you have a website or blog? 

DM: I'm working on getting a blog together. My site for one of my series Dave Cockrum's Futurians: Avatar is www.futurians-avatar.com. You can see my animation work at www.youtube.com/doccivil

 

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