28 Words Later
with Declan Shalvey

by David O'Leary

We return to our exclusive monthly chat with 28 Days Later artist Declan Shalvey here at CR where we learn that a core member of the production team is moving to Marvel after the next issue and a link is provided to buy some original art work of the series, a list of Dec's favourite horror flicks and much more besides so read on...

David O'Leary: We focused a lot on the character building that went on last issue but Christ almighty, the action ramped up tenfold in this issue. A breathless issue as they say.

Declan Shalvey: Yeah, I think the slow build up in the last issue allowed for this issue to just go nuts. It was a tough one to draw, but lots of interesting set-pieces to design, plenty of action to draw, and many cool shots of rampaging Infected. A lot of work but a lot of fun.

DO'L: I must ask you how you differentiate your style when you have an issue that was a polar opposite to the previous in terms of tone. There are several instances in the book that you use a ';widescreen' shot of the action and have the ';camera' looking down from above to show it. Whereas in the last issue you had the ';camera' looking from a low shot up to highlight the tension, I'm thinking of the alley shot at dusk here for example. How much does the tone of a particular scene determine how you present the story?

DS: I don't really think I change up my style at all to be honest, but the type of story I'm drawing will affect the way I approach the storytelling. I'm quite fond of widescreen shots in general, as I think the composition of those panels really helps direct the eye in a left-to-right motion. With widescreen you can help the reader along and point them in the direction they need to look. I generally do a ';looking-down' shot, as you say, when I want to properly establish a scene. In the first panel of page 4, I had to properly establish where the door they came in was, the size of the room, the cage Douglas would eventually fall into was, the catwalk where the group would head up, and that the catwalk was at window-level; all to set up what was going to happen in the next few pages. What happens in a scene and the design of a location has to be carefully worked out before I ever start pencilling on the page. Contrast that with the last issue, where I established the farmhouse in a similar fashion, but otherwise I pretty much concentrated on the characters faces as the location has been properly established.

DO'L: This is the first time in several months that the horror aspect was pushed into our faces with such a fast paced issue. With little dialogue to direct the story during the high action scenes, the emphasis was on yourself to lead the story somewhat. How does your mindset change when the sole driver of the story is you. Did you receive direction from Michael on this from the script or at this stage of the production or are you left to your own devices?

DS: Same as usual, Michael did a great job of pacing the action so it made it a lot easier to plan the action scenes but it was pretty much all left to me otherwise. I think I had to add a couple of beats here and there where I felt they were needed. Again, Michael is a good enough writer to know when NOT to have dialogue. There's nothing more annoying when reading a comic where say, characters are running to say; a space-ship and they yell "Quick; let's all run to the spaceship". You don't need that kind of narrating dialogue if the artist communicates it well, and I would hope I managed to pull that off.

Issue #8 Cover Art

DO'L: With this issue the last of the current arc, will we see you on the next issue apart from cover duties or will you be taking a break?

DS: Actually, I'll be taking a break for the next issue. Issue 9 will be a one-part issue set after this arc, that sets up the next arc that I'm currently drawing. Issue 9 will be drawn by Leonardo Manco, who is a fantastic artist and most will probably know from his work on Hellblazer. I wish the artists who fill in for me did not make me look so bad J

DO'L: Mention must go Nick on this issue for his great colouring. The issue took place predominantly at night but there are several instances where a light glimmers of Selena's blade or the night sky highlighted on the double page spread near the start to highlight his strengths in colouring in a dark setting. We have highlighted him before as being essential to the production but his presence can't be over stated can it?

DS: Absolutely. Nick has done so much to help create the look for this book and working with him has been a dream. I asked Nick to take black splatter from the line art and turn it white for a star-effect but he went above and beyong with that spread. I was so delighted when I saw what he did with those pages. Unfortunately, this issue is a little bittersweet as it was the last issue we got to collaborate together. Issue 9 will be his last issue, as he's become extremely busy colouring Powers for Marvel. I'm really bummed he's leaving, but I'm really grateful to have had a colourist as talented as Nick in the book for as many as 9 issues.

Interior Art from Issue #8

DO'L: This issue had the look of a carefully choreographed film. When planning the layout of the story, do you think in terms of the camera position like that of a director?

DS: In a word; yes. In more than one word; to me drawing comics is a lot like directing a movie. You are essentially taking someone else's ';screenplay', then figuring out the pacing, the casting, the lighting, and eventually the angles to use. A lot of it actually comes down to who speaks first in a panel, as they always need to be on the left hand side of the page, as that's where the reader will look first. For me, the ';camera' angles follow from how I've worked out the storytelling.

DO'L: My favourite panel is the classic ';he's behind you' moment on page fifteen in the chemists. The nods to the classics are pretty cool when we see them even though the book is its own entity. I've never asked but what are your favourite horror flicks?

DS: Oh, yeah, I enjoyed that panel; I tried to make that Infected especially ferocious-looking to contrast with how relaxed Clint was in that panel. Simple, bit very effective.

Actually it's funny; between 28 Days Later and a Frankenstein graphic novel, my career to date has pretty much been on horror books but I'm not really that much of a horror fan. However, I've always been a big sci-fi fan. I kinda look at 28 Days Later as a sci-fi film; the high concept is really a post-apocalyptic world after infection on a huge and overwhelming scale. The horror follows on from there for me. At the top of my head, I'd have to say I love The Sixth Sence, The Mist and The Shining. I only recently saw Aliens for the first time, but have watched it about 5 times since!

DO'L: Are any of your original 28 Days Later pages for sale?

DS: Sure, I've barely sold any to be honest. Plenty available to sell J

If you are interested in buying some original artwork from the series, just contact the man himself on dshalv@gmail.com We won't be back with Dec until issue ten hits the shelves but next month marks the first cover that Dec has done for the series so pick that up and check back soon for another edition of 28 Words Later. Thanks for reading.

Interviewer Bio

Name: David O' Leary
email: idwfan@yahoo.co.uk

Been reading comics: for about 12 years now.

Review Bio: I am a 26-year-old Hotel Manager from the west coast of the Republic of Ireland and think this is a great way to talk to others about this cool medium. I am a husband to one wife and father to one girl (so far).

Favorites: ONI's Whiteout, Vertigo's Scalped and Garth Ennis Preacher and Punisher in Trades. In comic form I am reading a lot of Marvel and a bit of IDW, Dark Horse & WildStorm among others.

Website: Sorry, I don't have one!

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