I’ve known Donal DeLay for several years now. I knew he would (or at least deserved to) make it big in comics. His linework and character designs reminiscent of classic Calvin & Hobbes impressed me as early as the first issue of GrayHaven Comics anthology The Gathering. I was incredibly lucky to have the chance to work with him on a comic just months before he and Justin Jordan pitched and subsequently got the go ahead from Image Comics for Death of Love.
The miniseries tackles the too-positively-portrayed “nice guy” archetype and puts him at war with an army of Cupids. I chatted with Donal about the book, his stylistic choices, and much more. Check out what he has to say about depicting the Death of Love.
All art illustrated by Donal DeLay with colors by Omar Estevez, unless otherwise noted.
How did you become involved in Death of Love?
Justin has a great habit of posting random concept thoughts on his Facebook. Death Of Love was one of them, and I thought it sounded like a rad concept, so it pumped me up to draw something based on it as my warm up one morning. That warm up actually ended up being the basic idea of pages two and three in issue one, too. Well, Justin liked the drawing enough to say “want to draw the book?” Who would say no?
The actions of the main character, Philo, are more unlikable than those of most protagonists you come across. Does that influence how you draw him?
It does. I tried to give him arrogant facial expressions and body language as much as I could to make him come off as the kind of guy that thinks he’s god’s gift to women.
I’m fascinated by how you draw Philos’ glasses through the issue, and how they serve as a tool for showing expression. In what ways did you use them to convey his attitudes and moods?
Glasses have a tendency to hide the eyebrows, and especially the eyes when you have to draw them at certain angles, and since expressions and body language are my favorite things to draw, I wanted to use them as an eyebrow substitute. Because it’s comics, why not? I tried to keep it subtle so it wasn’t a distraction from the emotion going on in the scene, though.
The art in Death of Love looks very “angry” in certain scenes, very fitting given Philo’s romantic frustrations and view of the opposite sex. How do you convey that in the line work?
I’ll use more rendering, have their gestures be more subtle, and be more mindful of thick to thin linework to have the characters look more “serious” and “real” than when it’s a crazy, or comedic moment where I’ll use more exaggerated gestures and wildly expressive faces.
Did you discuss the colors, specifically the harsh reds, with Omar Estevez?
I didn’t. I try not to interfere with what Omar is doing, because he’s an artist in his own right, and did a fantastic job on the series overall. I think the only time I discussed color with him was a particular double page spread in a later issue where I wanted it to look more like a cartoon from the 50s.
This is a really interesting interview for me because we actually worked together, on a comic book called DareHaven. That’s all-ages, while Death of Love is decidedly more adult. How do you approach those two kinds of books differently?
Really just in the amount of blood drawn.
How does working at Image compare to creating something on your own?
I don’t really work AT Image so much as WITH Image. Having some of their staff helping to promote the book, set up interviews, press releases, and getting it into hands is a huge advantage I’ll welcome any day of the week.
Taking it back to the beginning, how did you become interested in comics and art?
Like most artists, I started drawing young, and just kept going. Drawing comics was always more of a hobby, and something fun to do, but I got interested in comics around the time Image was forming, and dreamed of having a book with them, but I never made a run for it and took the craft as seriously as I should have until a few years ago when the folks at GrayHaven gave me a chance at some short stories.
Who (or what) are some of your biggest influences as an artist?
Oh, man, that’s a huge list, but lately the biggest influences on me have been cats like Yasuke Murata, Andrew Huerta, Joe DellaGatta, Eric Canete, the Zaffinos, Joe Maureira, Tradd Moore, Keith Giffen, Sam Kieth, and the list goes on.
You’ve drawn an Image comic. Where do you go from here?
Hopefully drawing more Image Comics!
Do you have any dream projects in mind?
Not projects so much as a dream list of writers I’d love to work with on creator owned projects some day. Rick Remender, Mark Millar, Felipe Smith, Skottie Young and as many Justin Jordan ideas as I can.
A story about a purported “nice guy” is very worth telling, especially given recent happenings in the news such as the #metoo movement. What do you hope readers take away from Death of Love in regards to what it actually means to be a nice guy?
I hope the big take away is that being a deceptive creep will always come back to bite you in the ass.
You can follow Donal DeLay on Twitter @DonalTDeLay. The first issue of Death of Love releases Valentines Day, February 14th.
MATT CHATS is a weekly interview series that goes live every Tuesday, conducted between Matt O’Keefe and a creator and/or player in the comic book industry, diving deep into industry, process and creative topics. Find its author, Matt O’Keefe, on Twitter and Tumblr. Email him with questions, comments, complaints or whatever else is on your mind at firstname.lastname@example.org.