The only thing surprising about Dan Mora winning the Russ Manning Award for Promising Newcomer at last night’s Eisners is… has he really only drawn two books? Because his art is assured and exciting in a way that seems like he’s been at it for a long time. But no, this Costa Rican artist has done two books for BOOM! Studios — Hexed and the very fun with Grant Morrison — and then, who knows?
Mel Caylo at BOOM! had arranged for me to sit down with Dan a few days ago, so it’s fortuitous that our interview ended up being scheduled the morning after an emotional win at the Eisners. Dan Mora is soft-spoken, gracious, and a heck of an artist.
Derek McCaw: You won the award last night. It’s kind of dazzling.
Dan Mora: Yes, it was. So amazing.
Derek McCaw: How did you get involved in Klaus?
Dan Mora: I am not sure (where to start). I used to work at a newspaper, and every day before work, I would be at home and start to draw anything related with comics. I did a Wonder Woman on a motorcycle, and one of the editors at BOOM! Studios saw my Wonder Woman, and they thought that I could draw comics. He wrote me an email, and that’s why.
Derek McCaw: Was that to be working for BOOM! in general, waiting for an assignment, or did they say, you’re the right artist for Klaus right off the bat?
Dan Mora: They hired me, but they didn’t know what comic to give me. So they first gave me Hexed. After that, they trusted me a lot. I don’t why. But they gave me Klaus.
Derek McCaw: I know why. Because you’ve done a fantastic job on the book.
Dan Mora: Thank you. But I was really new. They didn’t know if I was going to do a good job. I was really, really new. They trusted me, and I am really grateful to them for that.
Derek McCaw: What kind of research went on to create this Medieval story for Year One of Santa Claus the superhero?
Dan Mora: I searched for Joe the Barbarian, from Grant Morrison and Sean Gordon Murphy. That was the first thing I researched. I don’t know — Bruce Timm has always been an inspiration.
Derek McCaw: I could see that influence.
Dan Mora: Bruce Timm has always been a big influence for me. Almost every style of all the artists that I like, I think I that I have taken something from all of them and put it together to be all of this.
Derek McCaw: Every time I read an issue, it is veered differently, but it reminds me of the children’s special Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, but in a very dark way. Did you grow up with that?
Dan Mora: No, no. In Costa Rica Santa Claus is not like that big a deal. I don’t know. For me, it was very weird to do Santa Claus because, I don’t know, it is something very different from Costa Rica.
Derek McCaw: It’s kind of interesting to come in cold like that. What kinds of Christmas traditions did you grow up with?
Dan Mora: Baby Jesus. (laughs)
Derek McCaw: Oh sure, you’re going to make it about Him.
Dan Mora: Santa Claus is part of all the things, but it’s not like here. Kids, they really like Santa Claus here.
Derek McCaw: But not a major part in Costa Rica. What’s the process like working with Grant Morrison?
Dan Mora: I was so afraid at the beginning, like “I can’t believe I’m going to work with Grant Morrison.” I didn’t know what to expect. But he’s such a cool guy. He trusted me, with all of the book. I’m really grateful for that. It was pretty fun. It wasn’t that difficult.
Derek McCaw: At what point in the process did you and Grant meet face to face, or have you yet?
Dan Mora: No, no, I haven’t.
Derek McCaw: So later today?
Dan Mora: Yes, today is going to be the first day that I see Grant Morrison face to face.
Derek McCaw: Do you talk on the phone, or is it all just email?
Dan Mora: He usually writes me some stuff at the beginning of the scripts. “Hey, Dan, this is what it’s going to be. I like what you did.” He usually writes something for me.
Derek McCaw: Now that you’ve got the Russ Manning award… what was that moment like, when you heard your name called out?
Dan Mora: I don’t know the words. It was so amazing; I wasn’t prepared for that. When they said my name, it was “are they right? Did they say the right name? That’s my name!” And all those people… I almost cried. It was so important for me.
Derek McCaw: You are absolutely deserving of it. So what’s next for you? Because Klaus is wrapping up.
Dan Mora: I don’t know. I really don’t know. My editor — I know he has some stuff, but he hasn’t shared it with me, so I don’t know what’s next. I hope that we are going to have a dinner and he’ll tell me all the details.
Derek McCaw: And I look forward to that next book. Thank you for your time.