The “Once & Future” King of Art

Artist Dan Mora discusses his work in his hit BOOM! Studios series, Once & Future

Dan Mora is an artist who I’ve had my eye on for a while, as he always does very good work. As much as I’ve enjoyed what he’s done, though, I’ve always felt like he might have another gear if given the right project to work on. It feels like he’s found that on Once & Future at BOOM! Studios, Mora’s new series with writer Kieron Gillen, and colorist Tamra Bonvillain about a man, his grandmother and their adventures to, you know, save the world from a whole bunch of nightmare, Arthurian legend business.

While Bonvillain is a huge part of what makes these visuals pop – her colors are A++++ through two issues – Mora is someone I just had to talk to, because I love what he’s doing here. So I did! I chatted with Mora about getting into comics from Costa Rica, his love of Bruce Timm, why this project appealed to him, and more, before we discuss some of the pages from the first issue that made me fall in love with the book. Give it a look below, and hey, check out Once & Future…if you can find it. It’s quite good, and certainly well worth a read across the board, not just for Mora and Bonvillain’s work. 1

Let’s start with a bit of background. You’re from Costa Rica, and in art school, you studied painting and graphic design. What was your path to comics like, and did you find that coming from Costa Rica made your path any more difficult, or did the Internet make the distance a non-issue?

Dan Mora: It was very difficult just to imagine it was a real possibility. I’m from Costa Rica, a country without a big comics industry, and at the time, we didn’t have many professionals working with comics, so it wasn’t a career that most of us thought we could build but I got lucky enough to be noticed by BOOM! The internet can help some of the barriers disappear.

When I was reading interviews with you, there was one influence for your art that stood above the rest: Bruce Timm. What is it about Bruce Timm’s art that speaks to you so much, and how do you feel that manifests itself in your art?

DM: I think Bruce Timm’s art is so important to me because, when I was a child, his style in the TV animated series was one of the first things that I decided that I liked and wanted to do more than anything else.

Once & Future is a creator-owned project, but it’s also a BOOM! Studios project, a publisher you have a well-established relationship with. How did you get signed up to draw Once & Future, and what appealed to you about it as an artist?

DM: My editor asked me if I was interested in a new horror/Indiana Jones project with Kieron Gillen, and I immediately said yes because I love Kieron’s work and drawing weird stuff! So, really, I didn’t have to think twice.

Let’s talk about how you work, most specifically on Once & Future. What’s your process these days, starting with receiving a script from Kieron or your editor, all the way to when you hand your line art off to Tamra? Do you work traditionally, digitally or a mix of both?

DM: I start my day with a cup of coffee, then I go to check my email and see if I have all the projects for the day. I do digital pencils and then digital inks. Sometimes I print the pencils and use a lightbox for the inks. I do it traditionally when the page has some potential to be sold, then I scan and upload everything and the very talented Tamra Bonvillain takes it from there!

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  1. That Gillen fellow has a future in comics himself.