Darko Macan interviewed by Alexander Bubenheimer, August 2016
Darko, thanks for taking some time off!
What we noticed right from the beginning is your excellent pacing of the story. Where does your deep understanding of the structures of the medium “comics” come from?
Thank you for the compliment. As for your question, every medium has its language and the best way to learn any language is to immerse yourself in it. Which, in the case of comics, is what I have been doing since I was 4 years old, reading just about every comic I came across. I still do and some of it does rub off.
Unfortunately for our readers your ironic comments in the script were only intended to the creators of this story, but made it an even funnier read. Would you say that irony is one of your main character streaks? What are the others?
Someone once said about me that I would do just about anything in order not to be bored. Since typing the panel descriptions is a necessary but awfully boring job, I use every opportunity to liven it up with humor, which is one of humanity’s saving graces … And if it is only read by the artist and the editor – I’m sure I’ve written stories that had an even smaller readership.
Do you also draw?
To the best of my abilities, yes. For a long time the comics were an artist-centered medium and nobody entered the field wishing to be a writer. I, too, started wanting to do everything and later diversified, keeping humor and children comics for myself and writing realistic adventures for more patient and overall better artists, like Riccardo.
You have a degree in history and archeology, why have you left this for writing?
My studies were never a career choice but a clever ruse in which I pretended to be a good son and a decent citizen while waiting for my comics’ career to take off. Once it happened, I stayed in the academia long enough to pick up the degree and then never worked a day in either one of those fields.
A question that every writer and artist hates is “where do you get your ideas from”. Well, where do you get your ideas from?
I steal them. 🙂 In the case of “Riders of the Storm”, however, it was even easier. The BMW people had a pretty clear picture of what they wanted: what characters, what props, what kind of plot etc., so my job was to make it all work within the space of a single story. It was most akin to those masterchef cooking shows when the contestant get a basketful of ingredients that at first seem incongruent, yet they have 45 minutes to make a palatable dish out of them. I enjoyed the challenge and I am quite pleased with the result.
Are you a meticulous and disciplined writer with a certain time slot every day or do you work in a hurly-burly burst of creativity?
I dream of being organized but then I wake up and do work in my customarily chaotic way. When I accept a job I usually spend some time on it immediately to generate ideas and produce 5-10% of the story, just to see how well it goes. If it goes well, I drop it and return to it at the last possible minute to write the remaining 90%.
The story you wrote for the BMW-project is a wild mix of topics, how did you approach it and how fast have you written it? It reads like a very fluent dream penned down in a fever…
The main challenge was to make the required mix of magic and technology work. This asked for a world similar to ours but slightly out of whack. This then suggested some ecological and authoritarian concerns that were touched upon briefly in the script, and led to the idea of the series of worlds united – as it turned out – by the overarching menace and the fact that on every world they love motorcycles. 🙂
What I think is remarkable that the whole project has a certain feeling I missed in the recent years when new stories had to last for at least 120+ pages for a first arc. In just 30 pages you have established characters and certain relationships between them, adding hints about their shared past, and then threw them into a fast paced action story with a culmination point. Do you share this feeling, and is this a special challenge?
Thank you. I love short stories, the quick in-and-out of it, the feeling of completing something fast. Some of my first professional jobs were 6-8 pagers for Tom & Jerry and – would you believe it? – Gespenster Geschichten and those were excellent skill-honing exercises. If you can make a story work in six pages, you can make it work in 60 or 600. The longer stories, however, are the predominant form these days for a number of reasons: the creators get to exploit all the facets of their story idea, the readers love the continuation of the worlds they got involved with and the publishers make better money from making those two desires meet. So, there is no simple answer to your question: I love that “Riders of the Storm” was a done-in-one quickie yet the very act of writing it suggested at least half a dozen potential follow-up stories.
From all the stories you have written so far, spanning Star Wars to Mickey Mouse, what’s your favourite, your “child”?
Although that is a common comparison, the stories and children are nothing alike. With children, the real job starts when they are born, while with the stories it ends there. The stories are, therefore, more akin to byproducts of some thought-digesting system. 🙂 That said, I am most proud of the creator-owned graphic novels like Grendel Tales with the late Edvin Biuković, La Bête Noire with Milan Jovanović, Svebor i Plamena with Goran Sudžuka and Matija Pisačić or Nous, les morts with Igor Kordey. And I have the most fun when I’m writing and drawing myself.
We hope that this is a promise and are eager to follow your next projects. Thank you for sharing your time on the occasion of this funny interview!