We recently talked to Image Comics Horror/Comedy series Vinyl writer Doug Wagner. During our interview, we touched on the new 5 issue series and his great collaboration with artist Daniel Hillyard. Well obviously, we need to give Daniel equal time. So let’s welcome artist Daniel Hillyard to GVN’s Talking Comics, Interview.

GVN: Thanks for giving us some of your time, Daniel
DH: Hi, nice to meet you.

Daniel’s Beginning

GVN: So, before we start spinning the “Vinyl,” let us start in the beginning. What first got you interested in art and comic art in particular? Did you have any artists whose style you admired or wanted to emulate?

DH: [Laughs] I see what you did there. I always loved drawing for as long as I can remember. Then, I picked up a big box of Alien and Predator comics from a car boot sale as a child. I was really into those films (I know I should not have been watching them at my age, but I loved them), and when I read those books, it just blew me away. After, I borrowed the “How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way” from a friend,  I was hooked.

You know, I really like manga too! When I was in school, it was popular to draw in the manga style. I looked up to people like Otomo and Toriyama whilst copying Byrne and Kubert. Then it just spiraled from there. Brian Stelfreeze, Cully Hamner, Frank Quitely, Cory Walker, Ryan Ottley, Greg Capullo. The list could go on forever. So many artists just blow me away. I look at something that someone is doing with, spot blacks for example, and just think, “That is insane! How can I incorporate something like that into my own work?”

Working with Doug

GVN: I can certainly relate to that. I first bought How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way when I was in my early teens. I was and still am a HUGE fan of John Buscema so I thought that maybe, just maybe, I could learn to draw like him. BZZZZZZZZ. It didn’t happen. But I still have the book. You have worked with Doug several times now. I believe he said that ICE was your first collaboration. What was it about that first project that made you decide to do more books together?
DH: This is an easy answer. For me, it was Doug. He is such a gent. We just clicked. Everything about working together was just great! We gelled really well and have become really good friends.
GVN: He obviously feels the same way and your great chemistry reflects in your work together. So, back in 2017 when you and Doug put out Plastic for Image, how did that storyline come about, and did you expect it to be as popular as it was?

DH: We are so blessed with all the love out there for Plastic! If I remember correctly, Doug and I had just finished or were coming to the end of another book and wanted to start work on something new. Doug had a list of potential ideas that he had brewing and asked me to have a read through them. (See what I mean by such a gent.) Plastic was tucked away at the bottom of the list. A retired serial killer in love with a blow-up sex doll. I just knew when reading those words, that was the one.

Turns out, that was the one that Doug really wanted to do as well. I guess neither of us knew how crazy each of us was then [laughs]. When we first started pitching the book there was some initial trepidation. But we really believed in it and were willing to do anything to make it. Doug and Keven at 12-Gauge Comics pitched the book in a meeting with Eric Stephenson for Image Comics and the rest is history.

The Groundwork for Vinyl

GVN: Because of the success of Plastic, at what point did you and Doug consider doing another similar book?
DH: Pretty much as soon as we finished Plastic. We had a few other projects that we needed to finish up. So, it took some time and then Covid delayed the release of Vinyl, but we knew as soon as we finished Plastic, that we had found our speed. The horror and comedy elements were something that we both had so much fun with, we just knew that we could keep playing there forever.
GVN: Vinyl is a separate story but shares much of the DNA of Plastic. How important was it for you to explore some different ground while maintaining that familiar connection?
DH: DNA is a brilliant way to put it. We knew we’d found our gear with Plastic and wanted some of those same flavours for Vinyl. With each story, Doug and I are trying to work with contrasting themes. In Plastic we played around with Love and Horror a lot, trying to intersect them in unusual ways to create something unsettling. With Vinyl, beauty and horror are the themes at play.
GVN: Did you or Doug do any research into the mind frame of serial killers or base their MO’s on any real-life individuals during either book?
DH: We talk about real life and fictional serial killers quite a bit. For example, the cult elements of the story came from a talk about Manson’s cult of flower-girls singing outside the courthouse during his trial.

How Collaboration Works

GVN: Doug was very effusive in his praise of how your story collaborations work. He describes it as a continuous sharing cycle. What would you say are the most important elements, story-wise that each of you brings to a story like Plastic or Vinyl?
DH: Doug has this brilliant ability to just absorb and work elements into the story that I would never have thought of. It might be something we’ve talked about the night before or something in a character design that I wouldn’t have thought of as a focal point. But he sees it and builds it into the story and creates a whole other depth that I would have never imagined. We tend to work our way through a book together, going scene by scene, reviewing everything as we go. That way if ideas come up along the road it’s easier to incorporate them into the story naturally, and in a way that would be impossible if we didn’t work as close.
GVN: You had a particular challenge in both Plastic and now Vinyl to capture the blood and the violence of both Edwyn and now Walter but not make it unpalatable for readers. In both cases, you have proven up to that task. Did it present any difficulties for you to know where to draw a line? (so to speak).
DH: That’s very kind of you to say, but honestly, there isn’t a line when it comes to the gore [laughs].
GVN: I don’t know about that. Part of the reason I don’t watch current horror films is that they do TOO good a job of making it look realistic. Somewhere since the original Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th, I have become a wuss. But while there is blood in Plastic and Vinyl, its not so graphic that I cannot handle it…But that’s my problem. [laughs] So, you have done Plastic, and now Vinyl…is there a third story to tell in this continuing serial…Killing? Doug has already intimated there is a third part in there percolating. Is there a particular direction you would like to go or a story you would like to tell?

A Possible Third in the Works

DH: There is a third part in there. From the beginning, we had thought of doing a trilogy of sorts in this universe, but other than that, I’m not sure how much I can say without getting my head chopped off [laughs].
GVN: I see what YOU did there. I think that was Edwyn’s gig. Thank you so much for sharing a bit of your day, Daniel. Before we close, besides Vinyl, do you have any other projects coming up you want to share or can share with our followers?
DH: I can’t really say much (always seems to be the way), but Doug and I are cooking something up as we speak. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat. It’s been a blast!
You can pick up the first issue of Image Comics Vinyl when it releases on June 23rd. You can listen to the other half of the Vinyl Creation team, writer Doug Wagner here. And thanks to Daniel, check out these Vinyl in process works by him.

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