Danny Luckert is a name you may not know, but he’s destined for great things. With only a few art credits to his name- his OGN Tethered with writer David Precht, and 8 issues of Haunted from Red5 with writer Scott Chitwood- he’s a fresh talent in the comics world. However, with REGRESSION from Image Comics, he’s jumping into his highest profile project to date. He’s joined on series art duties with color artist and letterer Marie Enger, a name you may have heard. Marie is a studio partner with Matt Kindt and Brian Hurtt, among others. Marie has made a name for herself as a contributor on Kindt’s Dept. H and Pistol Whip, and is a talented cartoonist in her own right. We had a fun opportunity to talk to them together about REGRESSION, before the series is released on May 10th.
Comic Buzz: In Part One of our interview, we talked to Cullen about the concept of the series. Can you tell us how each of you were brought into the team? Were you a package deal or did you each come aboard separately?
Danny Luckert: Hey! Thanks for having us. To answer your question, Cullen and I were introduced through a mutual writer friend, David Precht, who I had worked with in the past on the graphic novel TETHERED. Word came that Cullen was looking for an illustrator to work with on this creepy bug book he had in mind and David was kind enough to make the connect. After working on a few pages with Cullen, Marie was later brought on board to round out the team.
Marie Enger: Oh man, Danny and I weren’t a package deal, but it’s been a real blast to work with him on the art side of Regression. I actually work with a few of Cullen’s friends, Brian Hurtt and Matt Kindt – so he found me through them. I tested for the pages on a lark, and well…now I’m part of the team.
Is this your first time working on an ongoing series?
DL: Yup. My previous works have been original graphic novel and then two short 4 issue mini series that I worked on with Red5 Comics called HAUNTED vol 1 and 2.
ME: Kinda? I letter for Dept. H – so I have some experience working on a monthly title. It’s different work, but the deadlines are the same, well…they will be once we lose the nice little cushion of issues we have built up.
How is it different versus limited-run comics or commercial work?
DL: So far it’s been pretty similar. But this is mostly because we have a pretty good head start and the deadlines haven’t been an issue. I’m sure once the ball starts rolling that [could] change though.
ME: Ditto Danny on this – right now we’re not super worried about meeting deadlines because we have so much work done…but when our situation changes I expect Danny and I will be spending a lot more late nights with Regression.
Can you tell us a little bit about your process from receiving script pages to a completed page?
DL: Well, generally Cullen will sent me maybe 10-12 pages at a time. I’ll give it a few reads before sketching out any rough layouts that spring to mind. Once I feel like I have a nice understanding of the pages I’ll fire up the computer and get to work. I work digitally so the first layer is usually super rough layouts, where the characters and environments are little more than shapes and chicken scratch. Then I’ll jump to the blue line where I fine tune the faces, gestures and surroundings. The final ink layer is where all the detail comes into play. Occasionally, once it’s all done I may make some small changes like resizing panels and stuff like that. After that, I shoot the file over to Marie and let work her magic.
ME: I’m lucky because I get the whole script/art combo at once. Usually I read through the script first and makes some color key notes, then I move right on to the art. I flat everything, and then go back in and add shadows/highlights/texture. After all the colors are done I drag all the art into Illustrator/InDesign and add letters.
Do the two of you trade notes or collaborate especially close at any step in the process?
DL: I may leave Marie a note here and there regarding small stuff, but mostly I’m happy to just sit back and let her roll.
ME: I think there were more notes at the beginning as we were getting used to working with each other – but now that we both have a little more experience with each other’s work there are less notes.
What sort of design work did you do to prepare for this series?
DL: I don’t know if I did any specific preparation for the design of REGRESSION really, other than a lifetime of comic book reading that is. Since this book contains hallucinations, flashbacks, and all other manner of craziness, I knew there would be some fun visual tricks to play with. A lot of it comes down to the border layouts I use and more specifically, Marie’s color palette. The “normal” scenes I went with a more standard grid layout but as the creepiness seeps in it starts to affect the borders as well as the characters themselves. It’s a little wink to the reader that some things not right.
To answer the send part, I know there was some discussion in regards to muted hazy tones for some of the flashback scenes but once again, I’m more than happy to send Marie the inks and see what she works up.
ME: Hm…Well, the standard stuff on my part – I read a bunch of horror comics, saw what the colorists there were doing, and kind of got an idea for what I wanted to do. Took some pictures, watched some horror movies…and then got Danny’s art and just went with what creeped ME out. Those muted scenes Danny talked about? That was the only place I was super lost on what to do. It was great to bounce ideas off him and see what we both thought would work well.
Danny, what’s the creepiest (non-spoilery) thing you’ve had to draw so far?
DL: It may just have to be a scene from issue 2. It’s the first time I feel the reader is shown a glimpse of just how deep the rabbit hole goes, and what may be hiding at the end of it. And within that scene is a few moments that I feel would make David Cronenberg squirm.
Was it difficult to take perfectly normal things and turn them so grotesque in Adrien’s hallucinations?
DL: Honestly, not really, HA. Thankfully, bugs were never a big phobia of mine.
Did you do anything to get in the mind set to draw the book? Any particular music or anything like that?
DL: I had once heard Grant Morrison talk about how to get his mind in the right gear when writing ARKHAM ASYLUM: A SERIOUS HOUSE ON SERIOUS EARTH, he would just stay up for days on end. Now, that sounded like a cool experiment to me so I gave that a shot. The results however were less than ideal so I scraped it and went with the trusted and true method of drawing while watching Happy Endings for the millionth time or listening to whatever podcast I happened to be into that week.
Marie, you pencil and color both. Is it a hard shift to make between the two?
ME: Oh man…Short answer, no. Danny and I draw very differently, but the subject matter we draw is the same. I think if Regression was a different genre than I like to work in it might have been harder to make a switch, but I’m really at home with this subject matter and color scheme.
Which do you prefer?
ME: WELL – For Regression? I much prefer coloring. But I usually like drawing more.
What techniques do you use when coloring Regression?
ME: Careful palette planning and a really upsetting amount of overlay effects.
Are there any tricks you use in your colors to help shift the mood?
ME: Oh yeah. The palette is really, really natural and bright…until something horrible happens. When everything starts to go wrong for Adrian (or anyone else) I switch over to hyper-saturated colors (mostly green) to really foster a sense of unease and nausea.
What do you think about the greater prominence color artists have been given in comics in the last 5 years or so?
ME: I LOVE it. I can’t speak for all colorists…but you put so much work into the book for so little recognition. Hearing so much praise for colorists recently has been heartwarming. Plus, it exposes you to so many more coloring techniques, so I think collectively we’re all creating a real coloring renaissance.
Who’s been your favorite character to work on for each of you so far?
DL: Mine would have to be Adrian. I find over the course of working on this book, I’ve been putting more and more of myself into him so that some of my mannerism have drifted over to Adrian and vice versa He doesn’t bite his nails like I do though, so he’s got that going for him.
ME: Sutter. Well, I guess that includes Adrian too. He’s so unsettling and whenever he shows up I know I’m gonna get to color some blood. I love coloring blood.
Was there any special research either of you had to do into the past life era or the arcane?
DL: I actually did a lot of research to prepare for REGRESSION. This may go back to your question about the design preparation but I had read every book I could get my hands on in regards to past life regressions, reincarnation, the occult, symbology and chaos magic along with books about the Elizabethan era and how to properly thatch a roof. You name it, I read it. On top of that there’s a note book somewhere in my place filled front to back with weird bug symbols and sigils. I wasn’t kidding about some of Adrian bleeding into our world.
ME: I just watched a lot of horror movies and read a lot of horror comics. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about the drawing details that Danny does!
What was your favorite part of issue one, either from a creator or reader perspective?
DL: I would say my favorite part about issue 1 would be Adrian’s relationship with Molly. That may be my favorite part of the whole book actually. It’s where all the heart is.
ME: Those last few pages when Sutter shows up and just…yeah. No spoilers…but that sequence is just everything a horror-fan loves.
What do you do outside of your art for fun?
DL: It would probably be the usual kinda stuff. Go running. Hang with friends and family. You know, all that good stuff. I will say though that I got into the comic business because I find working on comics to immensely fun.
ME: I hang out with friends, I do a trivia night every week, chill with my birds…knit. That’s kind of it. I don’t have a lot of hobbies outside of art and comics – like Danny, working on them is a blast.
Do you have any other projects coming up?
DL: Nope. All REGRESSION all the time. That said, people can always check out my previous works like TETHERED with writer David Precht or HAUNTED Vol 1 & 2 by my man Scott Chitwood and the fine folks at RED5Comics.
ME: Yup! A few things I can’t mention right now, but aside from REGRESSION I’m working with the band PUP on a comic adaptation on a few of their songs and a second volume of my ode to punk and horror comics PUNX WIN. I also have a collection of short-horror comics called WE ARE IN A DARK PLACE out (online and in book format).
What are you reading right now?
DL: The comics I’m reading (or re-reading in some cases) now are Hellboy, Jupiters Legacy, Invincible, Jeff Smith’s BONE, Postal as well as SUPERMAN and SUPER SONS. I love me some superhero action! Book wise, I’m chipping away at Alan Moore’s Jerusalem, although I don’t plan on finishing that beast any time soon.
ME: Comics wise? Rumble, Head Lopper, She Wolf, Abe Sapien, and I’m debating if I want to start re-reading Swamp Thing (so good…but so time consuming!) Prose-wise I’ve gotten on a real Paul Tremblay, Laird Barron, and Brian Evenson kick. I devoured their whole catalogue in like…2 months.
Thanks guys! Do either of you have anything to add for ComicBuzz readers?
DL: Thanks for having us! Nothing really to add other than to pick up REGRESSION and enjoy. Also, no one will judge you if you read it with the lights on and a bug zapper at your side.
ME: Oh man, just so glad you took the time to talk to us…and read…my…words…carefully. On the count of three you’ll wake up, go to your LCS and buy a copy of REGRESSION. One. Two. Three.
And all our readers just woke up with #1 pre-ordered, look at that! Thanks again!