Dan Brereton, the prolific artist behind the Nocturnals franchise and decades of iconic monster paintings, launched his seventh Kickstarter campaign on July 29th, 2020. Since then, hundreds of fans backed the project for an opportunity to own the deluxe edition of Brereton’s Children of Night art book, his Octoberlands art portfolio, and a variety of options to include coveted sketches, remarques, and original watercolor paintings. We had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Brereton to gain more insight on his upcoming book and portfolio, his artistic process, and what he’s been up to since our last, pre-pandemic discussion.
What were some of your inspirations for the artwork featured in Children of Night? What similarities does it share with your previous art books? How is it different?
Dan Brereton: Since the publication of In the Night Studio in 2017, I’ve kept to a theme, followed by Night Owls and now Children of Night. They’ve all shared a major theme in my work, blending horror, pulp and comics in a way I hope people will find unique. They all very connected to my Nocturnals comic book property- as well as classic monster fiction. The Bride of Frankenstein, the aspirational she-monster, is a figure who fascinates me quite a bit and since I have come up with these female mascots for so many books in the past decade I thought it would be fun to put them on painting together with Halloween Girl, the primary mascot of my work for the last 25 years.
“The Gathering”— your ensemble cover painting for Children of the Night— features many of your famous interpretations of classic monsters mingling with some of your iconic Nocturnals characters. What are some of the things you need to consider as an artist when you bring the various worlds of different characters together for a group painting that do not come into play when you are working on a solo piece or a group shot featuring one specific brand or universe?
Brereton: Ever since seeing Jack Davis’ monster ensemble cover for Creepy number one I’ve been a fan of that motif. I’ve done it a lot of times including for a Creepy #1 cover in the early 90s.
It’s purely an imaginative thing or you can really just cut loose and lose yourself in the image. The difference between a cover like that and “The Gathering,” if you are a Nocturnals reader, you know that all these characters assembled with Halloween Girl is actually possible.
I try to have a theme for every book and making these new paintings and really getting lost in them myself when I’m doing them gives each book a kind of unique stamp.
Your Octoberlands portfolio focuses on the autumn season. What are some of the artistic freedoms and, perhaps, challenges that come with capturing a specific season throughout a portfolio?
Brereton: For me it wasn’t really a challenge. It’s kind of just where my head is all the time- in this sort of surreal realm of eternal autumn. The Greeks had an ideal of a paradise they called Arcadia. It is a kind of pastoral vision of Utopia. So the October lands are like that for me and figure in a lot of my work so it was an actual extension really.
The painting “Nóc, Queen of Darkness,” which is the centerpiece of the Octoberlands portfolio, is the kind of thing where I’m completely unfettered- it’s me cutting loose in ways I can’t do in my freelance work most of the time. I would paint subjects like this more often, if I could.
Octoberlands features a selection of some of your most memorable, fan favorite works from your seven previous art books. Which art plate from this portfolio is your personal favorite? Why do you love it?
Brereton: That would be giving away a secret! They are all my babies, but I’m probably most excited right now about the “Queen of Darkness” painting. I will say that the image of Halloween Girl in the pumpkin field with the scarecrow is a piece that’s hanging in our house. It’s one of those scenes of October land that gets me excited for Halloween with my kids. Halloween Girl is an important character for me and part of that reason is because she represents the giddiness of that season when we’re kids and how it still lives inside us as adults.
We added an eighth plate recently to the set, featuring the Bride of Frankenstein in a piece that I’m pretty partial to, as well.
This is your seventh Kickstarter campaign, and you routinely exceed your goals for all of your projects. You also regularly back other people’s Kickstarter projects. What is it about Kickstarter that makes it such an appealing and effective platform for both artists and their fans alike?
Brereton: Again it’s freedom- I spent way too many years of my career locked into the idea that I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do unless a publisher approved of them and would pay for them. To a certain extent that’s still true but it’s no longer a shackle. Because of Kickstarter and the boost you get from social media and being able to connect with readers and supporters I can do whatever I wanna do, or at least attempt it.
“The Curator” Kickstarter reward allows lucky fans to request three characters for their sketch, remarque, and 8×10 watercolor rewards. Who are some characters you are hoping you might get asked to draw or paint? What kinds of special requests inspire or entertain you?
Brereton: I usually set parameters such as no copyrighted characters, my characters, general subject matter like vampires witches etc.. Anything that fits the theme. But sometimes I’ll get a request for something pretty juicy and I can’t resist it. Basically as long as it’s fun for me and satisfying for the backer, where we are both happy- that’s the whole point.
We last spoke at Terrificon last summer, long before COVID-19 changed the way conventions are held. How has the lack of in-person conventions changed your routines as an artist over the past several months?
Brereton: Other than the things that we all enjoyed doing before this started, going to the movies, conventions, socializing with friends and family more often, my workday hasn’t changed. I have always worked from home. I have tons of stuff to do, so my day is usually centered around studio time and my family, and not much else. It’s funny how daily rituals can become cherished things like preparing a meal time with the family, but I just don’t have any free time. I’m still very busy between Kickstarter, Patreon, commissions and working on the next Nocturnals graphic novel when I can squeeze in the time.
Do you have any other upcoming projects you can tell us about that are on the horizon for after this Kickstarter project is completed?
Brereton: After the Children of Night/ Octoberlands campaign has run its course, I am planning on devoting as close to full-time attention as possible on finishing pencil on the next Nocturnals book by year’s end. I have several irons in the fire as far as other other projects. I can’t really talk much about them, but one of them is a follow up to the Nocturnals and Creeping Flesh wax wrapper trading card sets with Sidekick. They have been great fun to do and we plan to introduce some really cool items for this one based on a October 2021 release. Probably too early to talk about that one. Another is a book of illustrated prose ghost stories, centered around Halloween Girl, in collaboration with author James A. Moore. There’s always stuff going on here in the night studio.
Dan Brereton’s Children of Night Kickstarter campaign runs until August 27th, 2020. Stay tuned to Conskipper for complete coverage of this event, and all of Brereton’s upcoming projects, as soon as it breaks!